Selling England by the Pound

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Selling England by the Pound
Studio album by Genesis
Released 12 October 1973
Recorded August 1973
Studio Island Studios in London, England
Length 53:39
Label Charisma
Producer Genesis and John Burns
Genesis chronology
Genesis Live
Selling England by the Pound
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Singles from Selling England by the Pound
  1. "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)"
    Released: 3 August 1973

Selling England by the Pound is the fifth studio album from the English progressive rock band Genesis, released on 12 October 1973 on Charisma Records. It was recorded in August 1973 following their tour supporting Foxtrot (1972).

Upon its release, Selling England by the Pound was the band's greatest commercial success. It peaked at number 3 in the UK[1] and number 70 in the US.[2] The album reached Gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America. It was remastered for CD in 1994 and Super Audio CD in 2008, the latter release including new stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes.



A sample of "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" from Selling England by the Pound (1973), the band's fifth studio album.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Gabriel added English-themed lyrics to counter the impression from the music press that Genesis was trying too hard to appeal to the American audience. The album title refers to the slogan adopted by the UK Labour Party manifesto at the time.[3]

"More Fool Me" is the second of two songs (the other being "For Absent Friends" from Nursery Cryme) to feature Collins on lead vocals prior to becoming the band's lead singer in 1975. The song is about a man whose lover walks out on him yet he is sure things will work out in the end. Collins and Rutherford wrote the song while sitting on the steps outside the recording studio.

"The Battle of Epping Forest" was inspired by a news story about the territorial battles by two rival gangs. The lyrics feature characters such as "Mick the Prick" and "Bob the Nob" as they battle for turf in London. The song is characteristic for Gabriel's changing of voices for different characters as well as the frequent changes in tempo and time signatures. The band's feelings about the song are mixed. In Hugh Fielder's The Book of Genesis, the band members seem to agree that the song had good ideas but suffered from too many lyrics and a busy arrangement.

"After the Ordeal" is an instrumental; the first half is a classical guitar and piano piece with followed by an electric guitar solo. Banks and Gabriel expressed disagreement on the song's inclusion on the album.

Banks performs the keyboard solo on "The Cinema Show" on an ARP Pro Soloist.

"The Cinema Show" is divided into two sections. The first section is a 12-string guitar-based piece, featuring vocal harmonies between Gabriel and Collins, as well as a short flute/oboe solo. The song concludes with a four-and-a-half-minute keyboard solo on the ARP Pro Soloist,[4] with Rutherford and Collins playing a rhythm in a 7/8 time signature. The lyrics, written by Banks and Rutherford,[citation needed] draw much of their inspiration from the T. S. Eliot poem The Waste Land. They refer to a couple named Romeo and Juliet who are getting themselves ready for a date at a cinema. The chorus makes reference to Tiresias of Greek mythology who had lived as both a man and a woman.

The album closes with a segue from the end of "The Cinema Show" into "Aisle of Plenty", a reprise of "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" which gives the album a book-end effect which is adopted on the band's later albums A Trick of the Tail (1976) and Duke (1980). The track uses word play such as "Easy, love there's the safe way home" and "Thankful for her fine fair discount, Tess co-operates". At the time Fine Fare and Safeway were British supermarket chains while Tesco and the Co-op still operate today.

Sleeve design[edit]

The album cover is a painting by Betty Swanwick titled The Dream. The original painting did not feature a lawn mower; the band had Swanwick add it later as an allusion to the song "I Know What I Like" as Swanwick told them that she had not enough time to paint a new picture for their cover.


Selling England by the Pound was released in the UK on 12 October 1973. It peaked at number 3 in the UK[5] and number 70 on the US Billboard Pop Albums chart.[6] "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" was released as a single. It was the band's first single to enter the UK chart, and peaked at number 21 in April 1974.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[7]
BBC Music (very favourable)[8]
Robert Christgau B[9]
Rolling Stone (mixed)[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2/5 stars[11]
Sputnikmusic 5/5 stars[12]

Contemporary reviews for the album were mixed. Rolling Stone's Paul Gambaccini praised the band for attempting something utterly different amidst "a stagnant pop scene", but criticised the album's lyrics for their bad puns, their overuse of specifically British pop culture references, and their sometimes overtly silly rhymes. Despite additional complaints with some musical passages, they offered that the album "merits some recognition".[10]

Retrospective reviews have been considerably more favourable. AllMusic, BBC Music, and The Daily Vault all commented that the album returned to the whimsical eccentricity of Nursery Cryme while retaining the hard rock intensity and pessimism of Foxtrot, combining the best of both elements to make Genesis's best album up to that point.[7][8][13] The album's focus on storytelling was particularly applauded,[7][13] and while The Daily Vault criticised the track "More Fool Me" as being jarringly out-of-place, they offered special praise for Tony Banks's distinctive keyboard work throughout Selling England by the Pound.[13] Even Robert Christgau, who thoroughly panned most of Genesis's albums, admitted that the songs "Firth of Fifth" and "The Battle of Epping Forest" have "a complexity of tone that's pretty rare in any kind of art", though he summarised the rest of the album by saying "it sounds as snooty as usual."[9]

In 2012, the album ranked seventh in Rolling Stone's "Readers' Poll: Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time".[14] It was also included in IGN's list "10 Classic Prog Rock Albums" in 2008.[15]

Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices considers Selling England by the Pound one of his ten favourite records of all time.[16]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, and Mike Rutherford.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight"   8:02
2. "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)"   4:03
3. "Firth of Fifth"   9:36
4. "More Fool Me"   3:10
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "The Battle of Epping Forest"   11:43
2. "After the Ordeal"   4:07
3. "The Cinema Show"   11:10
4. "Aisle of Plenty"   1:30

Original North American pressings on Charisma Records distributed through Atlantic Records combine "The Cinema Show" and "Aisle of Plenty" into one track with a running time of 12:40.


  • Tony Banks – acoustic & electric pianos, organ, mellotron, synthesizers, 12-string guitar
  • Phil Collins – drums, percussion, backing vocals, lead vocals on "More Fool Me"
  • Peter Gabriel – lead vocals (except on "More Fool Me"), flute, oboe, percussion, additional backing vocals on "More Fool Me"
  • Steve Hackett – electric guitar, nylon guitar
  • Mike Rutherford – 12-string guitar, bass guitar, bass pedals, electric sitar
  • John Burns – producer, engineer
  • Rhett Davies – assistant engineer
  • Betty Sanwick – cover painting
  • Nick Davis – 2007 remastering


Organization Level Date
RIAA – US Gold[17] 20 April 1990


  1. ^ a b UK Chart Stats Genesis hits
  2. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum Searchable Database – May 02, 2013". Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Bowler and Dray, p. 80.
  4. ^ Sound on Sound (April 2009). "ReGenesis : Early Genesis for the modern keyboardist". Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Selling England by the Pound by Genesis Search". The Official Charts Company. 4 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Selling England by the Pound – Genesis | Awards | AllMusic". Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Selling England by the Pound – Genesis | AllMusic". Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Jones, Chris (23 April 2007). "BBC – Music – Review of Genesis – Selling England by the Pound". BBC. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Genesis". Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Gambaccini, Paul (14 March 1974). "Genesis: Selling England By The Pound : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 18 June 2008. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  11. ^ Nathan Brackett; Christian David Hoard (2004). The new Rolling Stone album guide. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 327. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8. 
  12. ^ "Genesis – Selling England by the Pound (album review 5) | Sputnikmusic". Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c Hill, Herb (8 April 2002). "The Daily Vault Music Reviews : Selling England by the Pound". Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  14. ^ Greene, Andy. "Readers' Poll: Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time, page 5 of 11". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  15. ^ "10 Classic Prog Rock Albums". 28 August 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  16. ^ "The Onion Interview with Bob Pollard". 1999. 
  17. ^ "RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for albums by Genesis". Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  • Bowler, Dave; Dray, Bryan (1992). Genesis: A Biography. Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd. ISBN 978-0-283-06132-5. 

External links[edit]