Now that workouts are behind me and the taste of today’s epic shit show at Corporate Hell has worn off, I’m kicking back with my new book ‘Rowdy‘ by Ariel Teal Toombs and Colt Baird Toombs (don’t judge!), a pork schnitzel sandwich, a pint of Undercover Brother Golden Stout from Brimstone Brewing Company and one last record of the day, ‘Selling England By the Pound‘ by Genesis.
Prior to moving in with Kelly and becoming HRH‘s step-dad I had a record collection. It was a mighty collection; proud and noble and perfect. And that mighty collection, truth be told, was rather light on the Prog Rock since I was never really a fan. No self-respecting stoner hippie ever listened to Prog Rock outside the 70’s. Actually, this was the only prog album in it. And I hadn’t even listened to it, like, ever. In fact, I never even purchased it…it was “gifted” to me. I didn’t even care for Genesis.
Of course, that opinion has changed a bit largely thanks to HRH‘s own interests and “my” mighty collection has now become “our” mighty collection and not only does it have a lot of Prog in it, but a lot of Genesis as well.
And, yes, I might even consider myself somewhat of a convert.
But really, that’s not the story behind this particular album.
Far from actually.
This album originally belonged to my landlord and friend, Paul, when we I rented an upstairs apartment from him in downtown St. Catharines.
This was his favorite album.
Yes, he was a HUGE Genesis fan but more than that, this album is what he used – for years mind you – to roll his joints on. So decades worth of weed has likely been cut, trimmed and rolled out on this very album cover which is quite evident given the particular shape it’s in. In fact, prior to packing it up and moving here I don’t think I ever saw it not covered in bits of weed and rolling papers.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d get high simply by sniffing the cover.
One night, likely in a drunken stupor – for whatever reason – he decided to bequeath it to me in order to “carry on the torch” as he put it.
And I did, in exactly the same capacity for another few years until our relationship fell to shit, he lost the house and I ended up moving here.
So now here I am actually listening to it, in what has to be at least 12 years, with my 12-yearold step-daughter.
I’m not sure that this is exactly what he had in mind by “carrying on the torch” but, hey, “c’est la vie…”, right?
What’ya gonna do?
Genesis proved that they could rock on ‘Foxtrot‘ but on its follow-up album (1973) didn’t follow that route. Instead, 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‘, the band 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.
It’s a good listen of course but, still, all I can think about is trying to calculate how many joints have been rolled on this album. Shit, you’d practically need Alan Turing’s computing machines just to figure it out as, easily, this equation would be on par with the best that the Nazi Enigma machine could put together.
Of course, HRH knows none of this story; she just digs Gabriel’s trippy flute solos n’ shit.
Actually, come to think of it, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea lest she gets a contact high from handling it and this album then ends up being her “gateway album”, so to speak.
God, I hope they don’t take away my “Step-Father of the Year” Award!