Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tales from the Progressive Oceans Part. 1

                         GENESIS: NURSERY CRYME (1971) 

   Nursery Cryme was the 3rd studio album recorded by Genesis, and it was released on the 12th November 1971. It is the band’s first album including Phil Collins on drums and Steve Hackett on guitar. (Phil Collins replaced John Mayhew and Steve Hackett came as a replacement of Anthony Phillips). This classic, five-piece line-up of Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, and Tony Banks, will remain unchanged until the departure of Peter Gabriel on 1975.
  Nursery Cryme signifies a major change in the band’s sound, by moving away from the folk-oriented sound of ‘Trespass’, and getting into a more aggressive guitar-driven Progressive Rock style.
   Upon its release, the album received mixed reviews and wasn’t commercially successful. It became famous only in Italy, reaching at No.4 in the album charts. (Italy always had - and still has - a devoted Progressive Rock fan base).  
  The album begins with one of the band’s most famous songs; The Musical Box, with the bizarre  and kind of twisted lyrics.
The story is written by Peter Gabriel and is taking place in Victorian England, concerning two brothers (a boy and a girl) that live in a farm. The girl (Synthia) kills her brother (Henry), by chopping off his head with a cricket bat. (That’s the picture on the cover actually). After his death, Synthia discovers Henry’s Musical box. When she opens it, Henry returns through it as a ghost, and he starts aging very fast. As he had already grown, he tries to persuade Synthia to have sex with him. At that point his nurse grabs the musical box, throw it at him, and they are both destroyed.
  The next song, ‘For absent friends’ is a ballad, about two widows that are going to church and pray for their dead husbands. That is officially the first song where Phil Collins is taking the role of the lead singer, and that is something he will do a lot later on, after the departure of Peter Gabriel.
  The lyrics in ‘Fountain of Salmasis’ are taken from the Greek mythology. It is the story of the nymph Salmasis, who tried to rape Hermaphroditus. In this version of the myth, Salmasis and 
Hermaphroditus are becoming one in the end.
   Another very interesting (lyric-wise) song is The Return of the Giant Hogweed, in which, Peter Gabrile tells the apocalyptic story of a "regal hogweed" being brought from Russia by a Victorian explorer to the Royal Gardens at Kiev. Later, after being planted by country gentlemen in their gardens, the hogweeds take on a life of their own and spread their seed throughout England,
preparing for an onslaught. The citizens attempt to assault the hogweeds with herbicide, but the plants are immune. After a brief instrumental (subtitled "The Dance of the Giant Hogweed"), the song ends in a crashing climax where the hogweed reigns victorious over the human race.
(Did I mention that one of the reasons I love Genesis so much is because of their lyrics)?
   In my opinion ‘Nursery Cryme’ is a brilliant album and a very good example of Progressive Rock of the 70’s. It's not an easy album to listen; perhaps it’s the contrary. But if you discover its hidden pleasures, you will love it for the rest of your life. (As I do for the last 20+ years now).
                        My Rating: 5 stars.
 If you click on the following link you will see a live performance of The Musical Box filmed for the Belgian TV.