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Selling England By The Pound - Release Date Mystery IV

Release Date Mystery (IV)

When was "Selling England" released?

About the search for the right release date

In the fourth part of our series on Genesis album release dates, we take a closer look at Selling England By The Pound and focus on the UK release.

As usual, we first check the Wikipedia articles. On the German Wikipedia website, 12 October is stated as the release date in the article on the album itself, and 06 October in the general article on Genesis. And indeed, the 12th is a Friday, the day of the week on which albums have long been released in the UK. 06 October, on the other hand, is a Saturday. The English Wikipedia does not give a specific date, only October. Apparently, 13 October was also discussed for a long time (also a Saturday).

Mic Smith, in his series Get 'Em Out By Friday Genesis: The Official Release Dates 1968-78, has also looked at the release date of Selling and comes up with a much earlier date, 28 September 1973.

So we started researching again and indeed more and more interesting evidence came to light, but the results were rather ambivalent.

1At the end of July (Melody Maker, 28 July 1973) and beginning of September (Sounds, 01 September 1973) the music magazines reported about the preparations for a new Genesis tour in October and about the rehearsals and recordings for a new album.

I Know What I Like was announced as the first single of the album (Genesis Battle Against Forest And Fire, Sounds 01 September 1973).

On 01 September 1973, the front page of Sounds also reads:

"The album [...] will be [...] released by Charisma at the beginning of October."

On 08 September 1973 Sounds magazine also wrote "GENESIS TOUR IS CONFIRMED". According to this, a 15-date UK tour is to start on 05 October in Glasgow. In the same article the new album is announced: "The band's new, as yet untitled album will be released on Charisma to coincide with the tour and has been tentatively announced for 21 January [should probably mean September]".

Disc magazine also reports on 15 September that the new album is scheduled for Friday, 21 September 1973 and thus should be released in time for the tour.

The release

2However, Selling England By The Pound was not released on 21 September.

Advertisements in Melody Maker and New Musical Express on 22 September read: "NEW GENESIS Out October 5th" and "New Album Out Soon" respectively.

On 29 September 1973 things got serious. Various music magazines (Melody Maker, NME) announced in large ads: "NEW ALBUM OUT NOW".

At the same time, album reviews appear in NME and Sounds.

Everything points to the release on 28 September. What other reason could there have been for the advertisements and reports?

3But now it becomes paradoxical. In the same issue of Melody Maker (29 September) one retailer (Simons, Retailer) writes "Out very soon". Another retailer (Virgin) has a banner in its advert announcing: New Genesis Album Out October 5th.

Mic Smith finally takes the folowing article from the NME of 6 October ("Nationwide Gig Guide") as final proof that the album was already released on 28 September 1973. It literally says: "Genesis, whose new album Selling England By The Pound was released on Friday, open their 14-date UK tour tomorrow (Friday) in Glasgow.
So the NME article was published on 04 October 1973, a Thursday. This can only mean that the Friday before is meant, i.e. 28 September, right?

4To support his thesis, Mic Smith had previously used an image from Music Scene (a monthly magazine) from December 1973, where the release date is also written in the charts: 28 September 1973. In the January 1974 issue of the same magazine, however, it says 29 September 1973, a typo?

But was the album really released on 28 September?

First doubts arise, because in Sounds of 06 October there is only now an advertisement with "Out Now", although the same magazine had published a review on 29 September.

Virgin's ad in Melody Maker from 6 October also has a banner, this time also with "Out Now". In addition, the album can also be found in the "Just Out" section. And the retailer Simons now offers the album regularly. The retailer "Express Record Service" even has the album listed as "New releases to come".

So was the album released on 05 October 1973 or even later?

5Maybe the chart entry of Selling gives the answer. This was on 20 October 1973, 21 days after 28 September and 14 days after 05 October. This, of course, raises the question of whether the chart entry could have taken place after 14 days.

Interesting here is a piece by Mic Smith in his Get'em Out By Friday Genesis: The Official Release Dates 1968-78, which deals with the connection of releases and chart entries.
According to this, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was the first Genesis album to chart within 15 days, which was achieved by all but one album between 1976 and 1978.
However, Mic Smith may be mistaken about Selling England or he may not have had the retailer ads.

The following evidence could prove it:

Particularly interesting is the article "Selling records by the pound" in Disc magazine of 10 November 1973. Among other things, it is about the Shepperton film and Peter Gabriel is interviewed. Somewhat tongue-in-cheek but certainly with a real background, the following statement is made: "The band's last album, Selling England By The Pound, was way up in the LP charts almost before its release, and their recent UK tour was almost sold out."

Another indication could be the actual sales figures. While Foxtrot has sold +225,500 units, Sellling England has already sold +825,000 units (Wikipedia dt). However, there is no reliable evidence for the actual sales figures.

6Finally, we come to the Chris Briggs collection (14) of Charisma 1974. This was sold as a "tour book" during the Selling England tour, is set up like a press kit, but it is an official Charisma creation (Genesis Museum). The album is listed there as October. Briggs, by the way, was Charisma's press officer at the time.

Also an article in the Record Mirror of 15 March 1980, listing all Genesis albums again, has "October 1973" as date and seems to support 05 October 1973.

Finally, there are more album reviews, e.g. in Record Mirror (13 October) and Melody Maker (20 October 1973).


In 1972/1973, Genesis were mainly known for their fantastic live shows. Therefore, it was only logical that the new album and the upcoming tour should be timed so that the fans who attended the shows would also buy the album. But this does not mean, and was not planned, that the album should be released on the day of the first show.

The fact is that in the meantime the release was planned for 21 September and the tour was supposed to start on 05 October.

In any case, the album did not come out on Friday 21 September in the UK, but not on 12 October either, as a chart entry after one week is unrealistic.

There is some evidence for 28 September, such as the first reviews that appeared on 29 September. However, this is not conclusive. They could also have been written on the basis of advance copies.  

In fact, there is a lot more evidence for 5 October. On the one hand, there are the two Virgin advertisements (22 and 29 September 1973), which already list the new album on sale and name 5 October as the release date. The ad of another retailer also supports the 05 October 1973 version.

The pre-sale also seems to be important in relation to the chart entry of Selling. Disc Magazine wrote on 10 November: The band’s latest album "Selling" was way up in the LP chart almost before it was released ... A possible explanation for the earlier chart entry, i.e. already 2 weeks after the release?

It should also be mentioned here that the sales figures of Selling England were significantly higher than those of Foxtrot. This also suggests an earlier chart entry than only after 3 weeks.

And finally there is the Chris Briggs collection that was available on the following tour and the article in the Record Mirror of 15 March 1980, both of which point to October.

We therefore consider 05 October 1973 to be the likely release date of Selling England By The Pound. Perhaps a contemporary witness or new evidence could remove the last doubts.

Authors: Peter Schütz/Alex Sturm
Special Thanks to Mic Smith and Phil Morris for the detailed exchange of thoughts!

Release Date Mystery series - Find more research reports here:
Nursery Cryme
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway


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