Genesis - Selling England by the Pound (1973) 8/10

Selling England by the Pound is a superb, complex follow up to Foxtrot's gorgeous and surreal tone that provides more layered satire and creativity in songwriting. It's hard to believe that the band struggled to come up with material before writing this record considering the end result and its superiority. You can, however, hear more of each member's individual contributions due to their piecemeal conception, which results in a more complete product. The jazz fusion influence of Collins' percussive performance on "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight", the Hackett crafted riff in "The Battle of Epping Forest" or the entirely self-composed Banks track "Firth of Fifth" exemplify this phenomenon. The performances here are even more technically impressive than we had previously heard from the group and certainly more impressive than much of what would follow. Perhaps other than the obviously Collins creation of "More Fool Me" you can hear how these performers are at their absolute peak of inspiration and prowess. The arrangements are elevated significantly by Gabriel's punchy, clever lyrics and typically endearing delivery, foreshadowing some of his later solo work. The perfect ensemble, clever and punchy songwriting and technically phenomenal performances from everyone come together flawlessly to produce a heavily emotional and influential work. There couldn’t be a more fittingly electric opener than the powerful “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight” from both an instrumental and a lyrical perspective. Not every moment shares the same poetic urgency but they all work together in unison and provide a very cohesive work that the band would not produce again other than perhaps the similarly impressive but more singular and unapproachable The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. There is a unique beauty to Selling England by the Pound that captures a specific, beautiful essence of time and culture, and along with its philosophical lyricism and optimistic charm combine to create the band’s best work.