Friday, November 13, 2009

Nursery Cryme


No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That is, indeed, a young girl dressed in Victorian garb, playing croquet with the recently lopped-off heads of her playmates on the album cover. Such is the strange and enchanted world of Genesis, circa 1971. Think of it as a pleasant cup of English tea, spiked with just a dash of LSD. Nursery Cryme refers to the subject matter of the opening track, “The Musical Box,” where Cynthia lops off little Henry’s noggin, Henry later comes back as a ghost, then begins to age rapidly, but still wants to get laid. Okay, I guess you had to be there. But back in ’71, with Progressive Rock just starting to flex its creative muscle (or rear its ugly head, depending on your perspective), why not? With its classic lineup now firmly in place, thanks to the addition of Phil Collins on drums and Steve Hackett on guitar, Genesis was ready to unleash its warped, uniquely skewed take on all things English. Thus, we have the aforementioned lopping off of heads; giant hogweeds invading the English countryside; and nymphs from Greek mythology fluttering hither and yonder around the fountain of Salmacis. These flights of fantasy are all adorned with very intense music, performed by intelligent players who studied their instruments well, practicing in their bedrooms while all the other English kids were outside playing soccer. Not your typical rock band, the members of Genesis all seemed very smart, very polite, and would most likely prefer sipping a cup of tea by the fire over chugging a few pints at the pub. However, don’t mistake our gentle lads for wusses. When Hackett’s staccato, knife-piercing lead guitar lines aren’t shredding your brain in “The Return of the Giant Hogweed,” his crying, wailing-widow solos in “The Fountain of Salmacis” will bring you to tears. Collins plays like an over-caffeinated maniac (tea does contain caffeine, after all) throughout the album, although his drums are poorly recorded and buried in the mix (the bad production of this album is still a sore spot among fans ). With a foundation of lush, classically inspired orchestral keyboard shadings from Tony Banks, lead vocalist/eccentric Englishman Peter Gabriel puts these sordid tales of hogweeds and harlequins to vocal melody – using his best angel-with-a-2-pack-a-day-habit rasp. Actually their third album, Nursery Cryme was really the opening salvo in what would become the classic Genesis trilogy: Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot and Selling England by the Pound. Yet, even after committing these serious musical crymes in '71, it would take several more years before fans in the U.S. caught onto the act.

Essential Tracks: “The Musical Box” “The Return of the Giant Hogweed” “Seven Stones” “The Fountain of Salmacis”


  1. 'Nursery',Foxtrot, Selling' Hard to pick three better albums a true Trifecta. I would not change a thing on any of these three. "Nursery Cryme' listening to these guys create music in the most brilliant fashion was breathtaking. You nailed it Gary. "The Fountain Of Salmacis' is mesmerizing.

  2. Genesis in all their eccentric English glory! Keyboards are scary-gorgeous on "Salmacis," definitely.