(All Album Reviews by Sean)
For some fans of Peter Gabriel era Genesis this album is where things really started to click. The introduction of new guitarist Steve Hackett and drummer Phil Collins make Nursery Cryme the first in a series of albums by the 'classic' lineup. This album is my favorite of this era.
This is one of the few Genesis albums that flows smoothly from beginning to end with nary a bit of filler. The album centers around three epic numbers that are easily some of the bands greatest music. There is a very cool rawness to this album that is appealing. It is an edge the band would polish off by the time they reached the Selling England By The Pound album a few years later.
The album opens with one of the band's most dramatic epics, "The Musical Box". This number clocks in around ten minutes and parts of it were left over from the previous era which featured guitarist Anthony Phillips. It is safe to say Phillips wrote more than a portion of this number. The pastoral quality of the bands previous album, Trespass continues and overlaps into the numbers on Nursery Cryme, but an underlying heaviness creeps in as well. The heaviness hinted at on the previous albums "The Knife" is followed up here ten fold. "The Musical Box" covers the range of all Genesis had to offer at the time. It is easy to hear why this is regarded as one of their finest, if not the best.
The next epic is a shorter tune called "The Return of the Giant Hogweed". It is a horticultural nightmare put to music, a demented nursery rhyme. This tune is noteworthy for it's intro which features the debut of Hackett's two handed tapping technique on the guitar fretboard. This line is played in harmony with Tony Banks' electric pianet.
Between these three epics are some shorter tunes. Of them I think "Harold The Barrel" is the best and most realized. It is a tale of a man that is on a ledge and thinking of jumping. Gabriel does a number of different voices depicting the townspeople begging Harold not to jump. It's a quirky little tune and a lost gem.
The last epic, "The Fountain of Salmacis" is a yet shorter tune that is drenched in Mellotron and peppered with Hammond organ. It goes through a variety of musical climates and meters. This songs lyric is inspired by Greek mythology, the story of Hermaphroditus and of Salmacis, one that is easily 3000+ years old...... Not a nursery rhyme, but in keeping with the storytelling theme of this album.
All in all this is one of the bands best albums and I highly suggest it.
Nursery is Genesis' first album to feature Steve Hackett and Phil Collins. I heard somewhere (I can't remember where) that there was lots of material prepared by Ant Phillips before his departure on the album, but that's something I can't tell for sure. Song by song review: “The Musical Box”: There are nice arpeggios in this song, and a good solo too. Collins, Banks and Rutherford are sharp as usual. The lyrics are very interesting. Who makes it one of the best Genesis tunes is Gabriel. His soulful and youthful voice makes a difference. You'll be astonished to listen to this lad. A "must have" prog rock tune. “For Absent Friends”: This is a very soft song, where I hear Collins above Gabriel. Very nice guitar work too. “The Return of the Giant Hogweed”:This is a little weird, if you're not a very deep prog rock fan. I didn't like this song until I listened it a couple of times (I don't know if I like it, or I got used to it...) “Seven Stones”, “Harold the Barrel” and “Harlequin”: Poor songs. I don't like them anyway... “The Fountain of Salmacis”: Very nice. It starts with a swelling flash by Banks and Hackett, then the bass-line sets the groove. The best instrument on the song. Gabriel is perfect too. Rating: There are very very very good tunes in here, but there are bad ones too. I will give it 7 on a 10 star rating.
This has to be the best Genesis album. When I first heard it about a year ago I was on the fence just like I was with other PG-era Genesis albums. The one day I realized I liked it was about a month ago and like most times I was lying down in bed relaxed (the best way to listen to Genesis.) This album was truly their first prog album
“The Musical Box” - This song took the least amount of time to grow on me. This song takes me on an adventure. Just like the lyrics "of a kingdom beyond the skies." Another reason this song got to me so quickly was because of Steve Hackett's work on the guitar, it had me tapping my feet (which is good for me anyway.) The lyrics after the middle sections shocked me at first then I found myself yelling "touch me!" right along with Peter (sounds weird but hey good lyrics make you do that.)
“For Absent Friends” - I could probably listen to this song five times before finishing this section, hehe. Phil Collins does very good at keeping this song on the soft side. It's a very sad song as its name suggests. It makes a good bridge between two heavier songs.
“The Return Of The Giant Hogweed” - This song hits you like a ton of bricks with its heavy guitar, and Gabriel's heavy vocals. In the background you hear the drums and keyboards working side-by-side which makes for a good sound. The lyrics also hit you. It reminds you of “The Knife” but this time there are images with the theme.
“Seven Stones” - I don't have much to say about this one except for the fact I enjoy the soft and relaxing mood it gives off.
“Harold The Barrel” - This song has a few personas which makes it worth talking about. A man ready to jump and people either preventing him or telling him to jump. Very interesting when you first hear the mayor. Then it breaks and you hear the pressure Harry is going through. The only problem I have is that you never find out if he jumps or not. I usually assume he does jump based on how the song ends sounding like someone is falling.
“Harlequin” - This song makes me feel like I'm in a dentist's office, but that's not a bad thing. It very relaxing and I could listen to it several times in a row.
“The Fountain Of Salmacis” - This song was the last to grow on me. I remember lying down falling asleep and waking up to the middle part and I was knocked off the bed. The themes of the song also make it an interesting listen, based on Metamorphosis, two become one. This song is my personal favorite from this album. I got chills when I first heard Phil crashing on the cymbals during the middle part and Steve just wailing on that guitar. "And then their flesh and bones were strangely merged, forever to be joined as one"
This album gets a 10 out of 10 in my book. If you are thinking about joining the Genesis bandwagon this is the perfect place to start.