progressive rock band Genesis, released in October 1973 on Charisma Records. It reached number 3 in the UK and number 70 in the U.S. A single from the album, "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" was released in February 1974 and became the band's first top 30 hit in the UK; November 1973 in the U.S..
The album was recorded in August 1973 following the tour supporting the previous album, Foxtrot
(1972). The group set aside a short period of time to write new
material, which covered a number of themes, including the loss of
English folk culture and an increased American influence, which was
reflected in the title. Following the album's release, the group set out
on tour, where they drew an enthusiastic reception from fans.
Critics and the band have given mixed opinions of the album, though guitarist Steve Hackett has said it is his favourite Genesis record. The album has continued to sell and has reached Gold certification by the British Phonographic Industry and the Recording Industry Association of America.
It was remastered for CD in 1994 and 2007. Several of the album tracks
became fan favourites and featured as a regular part of the band's live
setlist into the 1980s.
By late 1972, Genesis had stabilised around Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett and Phil Collins. The group had been regularly touring, achieved commercial success with their previous album Foxtrot, and were starting to gig in the U.S., particularly in New York City, where they had a positive response. However, journalists were still criticising the band and comparing them to other progressive rock bands such as ELP, Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd.
The group were too busy touring to write new material, so after coming
off the road in spring 1973 they set aside time to create new songs. The
group's record company, Charisma Records insisted they had three months to come up with a new album, which Rutherford considered "the kiss of death". Collins formed a pick up band with former Yes guitarist Peter Banks for a few gigs, and Rutherford revealed in an interview to Sounds in 1976 that "there had been worries that Phil might want to leave the group".
Gabriel chose the album title, a slogan adopted by the UK Labour Party manifesto, to ensure that the British press would not accuse them of "selling out" to America. Overall, it represented a decay of English folk culture and an increase in Americanisation.
Genesis proved that they could rock on Foxtrot but on its follow-up Selling England by the Pound
they didn't follow this route, they returned to the English
eccentricity of their first records, which wasn't so much a retreat as a
consolidation of powers. For even if this eight-track album has no one
song that hits as hard as "Watcher of the Skies," Genesis hasn't sacrificed the newfound immediacy of Foxtrot:
they've married it to their eccentricity, finding ways to infuse it
into the delicate whimsy that's been their calling card since the
beginning. This, combined with many overt literary allusions -- the
Tolkeinisms of the title of "The Battle of Epping Forest" only being the
most apparent -- gives this album a storybook quality. It plays as a
collection of short stories, fables, and fairy tales, and it is also a
rock record, which naturally makes it quite extraordinary as a
collection, but also as a set of individual songs. Genesis
has never been as direct as they've been on the fanciful yet
hook-driven "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" -- apart from the
fluttering flutes in the fade-out, it could easily be mistaken for a
glam single -- or as achingly fragile as on "More Fool Me," sung by Phil Collins.
It's this delicate balance and how the album showcases the band's
narrative force on a small scale as well as large that makes this their
arguable high-water mark.
Selling England by the Pound is to Genesis as Hamlet is to Shakespeare.
It is a timeless masterpiece of musical ability and performance combined
with themes of classical literature and poetry. After 42 years some of
the techniques do sound dated but it's true brilliance is in the
performance. It is an album performed without shame or excuse for it's
near perfect execution. It is the pinnacle of this version of Genesis in
both creativity, songwriting and musical ability. Never before or after
would Genesis work so well together to produce music of this caliber..
It is a brilliant star in the firmament of progressive music.
1. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (8:01)
2. I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) (4:06)
3. Firth Of Fifth (9:34)
4. More Fool Me (3:09)
5. The Battle Of Epping Forest(11:43)
6. After The Ordeal (4:12)
7. The Cinema Show (11:06)
8. Aisle Of Plenty (1:31)
Total Time: 53:22
Line-up / Musicians
- Peter Gabriel / lead vocals, percussion, flute, oboe
- Steve Hackett / electric guitar, nylon acoustic guitar
- Tony Banks / keyboards (piano, Hammond, Mellotron, ARP Pro Soloist synth), 12-string guitar
- Mike Rutherford / bass, 12-string guitar, electric sitar
- Phil Collins / drums, percussion, lead (4) & backing vocals