How Genesis Shaped Their Career With ‘Selling England by the Pound’
They did just that with the Oct. 13 1973 arrival of Selling England by the Pound. There's a slew of literary allusions here (T.S. Eliot in "The Cinema Show," Tolkein in "The Battle of Epping Forest"), but there's also the almost glam-rock propulsion of "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)."
The literary references are apt, since Selling England might be best described as an anthology of short stories, loosely interwoven but separate rather than a true concept album.
Unlike their subsequent double-album opus The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, which marked the end of group's celebrated five-man lineup, each of the songs here works both together and of a piece.
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If commentary like "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight" was a touch too insular in its focus on modern English life, and the puns sometimes a bit over the top ("he employed me as a karmacanic"), it's all counterbalanced by a group performing at its musical zenith. Check out Steve Hackett's stunning solo on "Firth of Fifth," and Phil Collins' jazz-inflected cadences throughout.
While Tony Banks' underrated keyboard work (notably in "The Cinema Show") remains the album's other principal voicing, Mike Rutherford's bass begins to take on a more prominent role as well. Peter Gabriel is at his narrative best in "Epping Forest," Hackett gets another tasteful feature in "After the Ordeal" and there's even a hint of what's to come with the darkly emotional Collins vocal feature "More Fool Me."
All of this gives Selling England a layered complexity and an uncommon accessibility, even as it brings together all of the many disparate elements that made Genesis such a force. At least for the time being. Gabriel would be gone after the next studio project, then Hackett two albums later.
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