Nursery Cryme

  • Continuing the album threads: see other threads established so far


    From Genesis To Revelation

    Trespass

    Selling England

    Calling All Stations


    Here's the next one. Nursery Cryme is obviously something of a significant milestone in being the first album featuring what is regarded by many as the classic line-up. For me, the most immediate and noticeable change comes with the arrival of Collins and his adaptable style of drumming, not to mention his instant presence in the vocals including a lead vocal. For the most part, Hackett seems to be taking some time to settle in but does make an impression with his solo at the end of Salmacis, a performance that helps establish what you might call the 'Genesis sound', or a notable element of it at least - a melodic solo that instead of going for flashiness has a more economical approach with sustained notes, and a sense that (as I find with other, later Hackett solos) the guitar is telling a story, sounding almost like a voice. There's a repeated, two-note phrase towards the end of this solo that has a plaintive edge to it, which I absolutely love. With this shimmering over those slow heavy mellotron chords, I genuinely believe it was the start of a new sound, but of course, no music commentator, and no magazine poll, will ever credit him for this.


    The Musical Box is a very significant track for me. So it might initially sound odd to say that I think it's for the most part just okay. There's some dynamic playing and nice vocal work, but it's the closing "She's a lady" section that had such an impact on me. Not at the time - I was only 6 when it came out and wouldn't hear this track until a few years later. But it was that segment that really stayed with me. The gradual build-up of tension, leading to Gabriel's impassioned "touch me!" refrain and then those huge Hammond almost church-like chords - it all still makes my spine tingle. And do you ever get those moments in music when bits that are probably of no significance to most other people really resonate with you? I have one of those in this segment, the line "Casting doubt on all I have to say". I don't know why, I don't really care, all I can say is the way Gabriel sings that line really does it for me.


    Two more things about that segment: first, I always assumed it's Banks singing the "...she is a lady" backing lines - the voice has the same precise quality as his speaking voice. It's definitely not Collins. Second, while I like the 2007/8 remasters, the one for this album does something unfortunate in that the DER one had the Hammond chords under the lead guitar line in the closing instrumental bit really huge, with an almost chiming quality to them. But the 08 version rather mutes the Hammond, sadly. Those chords really need to be massive.


    I like Seven Stones (suggested elsewhere on the board as being mainly a Banks song?) with its pleasingly doomy atmosphere, and the delicate Harlequin, and have a soft spot for Absent Friends. The remaining two tracks, Hogweed and Harold, don't do much for me. By the way, I always thought it's Gabriel singing Harold. I know his delivery is a bit Collins-like, but it is him, isn't it?

    Abandon all reason

  • Various thoughts on NURSERY CRYME:


    It's one of those albums that's hard for me to rank because I like most of the songs almost equally.


    I find it interesting how new members Steve & Phil get highlighted on what's only the second Genesis track to feature them ("Friends").


    CRYME may be the only Genesis album to have lyrical contributions from 5 different members. (I still don't know who wrote the lyrics to "Fountain" though.)


    I get a kick out of "Hogweed." The instrumental break really sounds like something associated with a noxious weed!

    Two more things about that segment: first, I always assumed it's Banks singing the "...she is a lady" backing lines - the voice has the same precise quality as his speaking voice. It's definitely not Collins.

    ...

    By the way, I always thought it's Gabriel singing Harold. I know his delivery is a bit Collins-like, but it is him, isn't it?

    "Musical Box": I think Tony & Phil sing the "she is a lady" part together.

    "Harold": Peter sings lead, but Phil does sing behind him quite a bit.

    The Seat Bunny!

  • While we await the sudden influx of people's opinions on NC here's a review I recently came across on Julian Cope's Head Heritage site.

    A couple of thoughts on the review:


    (1) Artist "Paul Williams"? I think he means "Paul Whitehead." And I never heard it claimed before that he came up with the titles for the Genesis albums that he did covers for. Anyone else ever heard this?

    (2) Regarding the first footnote: By the time this review was written, it was pretty much common knowledge that Ant wrote part of what became "Musical Box" but wasn't credited for it. I'm surprised that the reviewer didn't know this.


    BTW, I really like the reviewer's take on "Hogweed." He describes things that I wouldn't have had the words for.

  • Everything great about early Genesis was here on Nursery Cryme and in my humble opinion, it only got better from here (i.e. I think Foxtrot, Selling England, and Lamb improved upon this foundation). Some quick thoughts that maybe haven't been said before:


    Musical Box - I love it, of course, but the family doesn't always like it when I play it in the car when the parts get loud and soft so suddenly and so often--but I love it.


    For absent Friends - could have used a chorus, otherwise ok


    Hogweed - Love the guitar work - still sounds great today


    7 Stones - oh sweet mellotron!


    Harold the Barrel - people forget these guys had a sense of humor


    Harlequin - vastly underrated song (even by the band?)


    Fountain of Salmacis - nothing, nobody, nowhere, never has done anything like this and if they tried, it wouldn't be as great as this masterpiece - and if you haven't played the outro/guitar solo at bookshelf-shaking-full-volume (particularly the live version on 3SL) or at 11 then prepare to be transported out from your body

  • Listening to the DER and the remix back-to-back the other day allowed me to pick up on some differences I'd not noticed before. More importantly, it allowed me to enjoy the album, much more than I have in quite some time.


    The Musical Box still has tremendous power. From Peter's twisted lyrics to the unmistakable dynamics that the two new boys bring to the band.


    For Absent Friends now strikes me as being almost like a Beatles track. Small wonder given that Phil and Steve wrote the song out of their love for Eleanor Rigby.


    Hogweed. Genesis plays metal! The riff inspired Iron Maiden's Phantom Of The Opera don't you know.


    Seven Stones reminds me of Crimson's Epitaph. Not that that's a bad thing.


    Harold The Barrel. Another Beatlesesque track. Very funny. And of course it's Phil on vocals. Only me and Darren Locke seem to realise this, though.

  • I see the 'favourite tracks' threads have now reached back to Foxtrot. I was very disappointed after setting up this thread that so few members wanted to discuss the first album with the 5-piece line-up. If the NC favourite tracks thread exceeds this one - which obviously it will - grrrrrr that's going to burn me!

    Abandon all reason

  • This might be my least favorite of all of the Genesis studio albums, though I typically rank it a smidgen above From Genesis to Revelation. There just doesn't seem to be much of substance here; the subtleties on all of their subsequent albums that pull me in after several listens are few and far between here. I don't think that Phil and Tony are big fans of this album, either. It seems like it was rushed and that two more months in the studio would have helped a lot. It also lacks the cozy atmosphere of Trespass.


    Enough negativity - now for the positives. "The Fountain of Salmacis" works for me every single time I hear it. Easily my favorite track on Nursery Cryme. "The Musical Box" has some great moments as well. "Seven Stones" is kinda fun. And I like the album cover.

  • I prefer it to Foxtrot. I think it's more interesting, in particular it's more varied with the loudness and aggression of giant hogweed (and musical box) and then the gentle melody of for absent friends and harlequin.


    I also find the band has a raw energy at this stage. Steve's playing, and guitar in general, is quite prominent compared to foxtrot which I like. Don't get me wrong, I love the piano and mellotron as well (seven stones and fountain of salmacis are divine) but in general synth predominates in Genesis so it's nice to hear the aggressive edge here.

  • I prefer it to Foxtrot. I think it's more interesting, in particular it's more varied with the loudness and aggression of giant hogweed (and musical box) and then the gentle melody of for absent friends and harlequin.


    I also find the band has a raw energy at this stage. Steve's playing, and guitar in general, is quite prominent compared to foxtrot which I like. Don't get me wrong, I love the piano and mellotron as well (seven stones and fountain of salmacis are divine) but in general synth predominates in Genesis so it's nice to hear the aggressive edge here.

    On the whole I prefer it to Foxtrot too. I also agree there are moments of rawness and an overall sound that's kind of unique to this album.


    My top 3 Genesis albums are The Lamb, Abacab and Duke/SEBTP jostling for joint 3rd. After that it gets a bit muddled but NC will usually be 4th.

    Abandon all reason

  • As someone who generally prefers the PG albums, this is my least favourite PG album (other than FGTR).


    As a listening experience I definitely prefer Trespass - I can't put my finger on exactly what it is. I think that NC is further down the road to what Genesis would become - and objectively I can see the tracks like TMB and Salmacis are a step forward from Trespass. However for some reason I don't engage with them in the same way I engage with The Knife or Stagnation.


    I think FAF and HTB are as close to filler as Genesis got until the PC years - I like them a lot, but I think there are stronger tracks on Trespass. Even Hogweed leaves me a bit cold in comparison. Maybe its the production?


    I can imagine TMB, Hogweed and Salmacis were all great live, but they're a bit flat on the album IMO.


    Of course, we are talking in relative terms here - I still love NC and every track on it. But in comparison with the other PG albums I think it's the weakest.


    It was an excellent pointer to where they were headed, and they absolutely nailed it with Foxtrot, which is on another level IMO

  • I find this album OK. The Musical Box is great, but gets better live. Fountain of Salmacis is awesome - also some great bass playing in addition to what others have mentioned. The intro to Hogweed with Steve's tapping harmonized with Tony is great, but the main song doesn't do much for me. I can kinda skip the rest.

  • I'll echo what several others have already mentioned. Nursery Cryme feels a little too restrained for me at times. From a production standpoint it also sounds a bit too clean and a bit muffled, which sucks a lot of energy out of the whole thing. Phil's drums sound especially terrible on this album.


    It sounds obvious they were working quickly and wanted to get "good" takes on tape, especially since we have the luxury of hearing many great live versions of these songs from subsequent performances. While the "perfect" studio sound suits some of the later albums better (the Lamb especially IMO) I think most of what is on Nursery Cryme feels a little lacking.


    That said, I still think it's a good album, and it is one I've warmed to a lot over the years. I've also found myself appreciating the deeper cuts more. It's possibly due to overexposure with the bigger songs but I think Seven Stones, Harlequin, and even little ol' For Absent Friends help add a lot of texture and variety that keeps the album as a whole interesting.

  • Genesis only ever made two good albums. Abacab and CAS. Everything else was brilliant. Though it took several listens to NC for me to get it. It seemed so weird at the time. It was second G album I bought. I was 14. I had bought ATOTT and was so enthralled by it I had to get something else by them. I had no idea what to buy. No internet. No reference to hand. Never played on radio. So I plumped for the cover. Again! It was so different. I had never heard anything remotely like it. ( I might have found SEBTP easier) There were only bits I could instantly enjoy but all of it was intriguing. After playing several times I got it. TMB has be one of noevery G fans favourites . Really well balanced album . I like the story telling. throughout. HTB is quirky ROTGH is epic. The whole thing has an English, Lewis Carol quality to it. Really like Steve's solo's on the album. And of course there is Seven Stones. Where would any any respectable 70s prog album be without an old man. (Or a wise old magical blind man .) Whatever happened to him? Love the album .

  • As a listening experience I definitely prefer Trespass - I can't put my finger on exactly what it is. I think that NC is further down the road to what Genesis would become - and objectively I can see the tracks like TMB and Salmacis are a step forward from Trespass. However for some reason I don't engage with them in the same way I engage with The Knife or Stagnation.


    I can imagine TMB, Hogweed and Salmacis were all great live, but they're a bit flat on the album IMO.

    I get the thing about NC sounding like a very transitional album and that's very logical given they'd just lost a key founding member and writer, taken on two new members and continuing to develop as writers and performers. Those are the things that make it a very interesting album for me. I'm liking the comments on Trespass, which is an album that has two great tracks in Looking and Stagnation, but which overall has never clicked with me. I think I'm long overdue a proper sit-down straight-through listen to it, something I've not done for some time.

    From a production standpoint it also sounds a bit too clean and a bit muffled, which sucks a lot of energy out of the whole thing. Phil's drums sound especially terrible on this album.


    I still think it's a good album, and it is one I've warmed to a lot over the years. I've also found myself appreciating the deeper cuts more. It's possibly due to overexposure with the bigger songs but I think Seven Stones, Harlequin, and even little ol' For Absent Friends help add a lot of texture and variety that keeps the album as a whole interesting.

    I don't much like any of the PG-era production, though I think the remasters are good especially the Lamb. I agree about the more overlooked, as it were, tracks. I love Harlequin and FAF and like the fact that along with Happy The Man they had some quite simple straightforward numbers not yet characterised by Banksian chords - which, don't get me wrong, are one of the things I love about Genesis. Seven is a track I haven't listened to very much at all for years and must go back to it. I always liked it.

    Abandon all reason

  • I don't think the production of any of the albums before SEBTP was very good at all, I guess I was spoiled by the Moodies albums which were earlier yet so much better. the Lamb steps up the production values again massively.

    Ian


    Works with chess - Not with life

  • I can imagine TMB, Hogweed and Salmacis were all great live, but they're a bit flat on the album IMO.

    You're not the first to say that about Salmacis. I must stick up for the album version, which I like very much. I said earlier here that I have a major soft spot for the Hackett solo which I felt was really the start of something.


    I read a while back that the track was very poorly received when they played it live but perhaps they just meant initially, as they seem to have stuck with it from 71 to 73. It was premiered in a pub**, the Groovesville Wake Arms in Epping (kind of appropriate) 49 years ago a few weeks back - 9 May 1971. Regulars at that pub around that time would have also been able to go see Status Quo, Deep Purple, VDGG, Man, Family and Thin Lizzy. In the words of Marty di Bergi, don't go looking for it, it's not there any more - demolished in the 1980s although I read that it's commemorated by the nearby Groovesville Wake roundabout being named after it.


    They revived Salmacis in 1978 to give the newly arrived Stuermer a chance to prove himself to fans. Although I'll always go back to the original it did sound good in 78 and DS rose to the occasion.


    **EDIT: sorry, just realised FoS wasn't necessarily premiered at this pub on 09/05/71, rather that's the earliest reference to it I've seen being performed live.

    Abandon all reason

    Edited 2 times, last by Backdrifter ().

  • Oh yes. The production on that album has always had some bite to it. John Burns produced it but he also produced Selling England, whose sound I've never liked.

    Although I believe CD is vastly superior to vinyl, all things (mastering/compression etc) being equal, the best I have ever heard the album sound is the first time, at a friend's house, his copy on his Pioneer PL12 turntable. There was an "ambience", a quality to the acoustics of the cottage it was recorded in, that was truly startling, and which I've never heard on any copy since. It was like "being there!"

    Ian


    Works with chess - Not with life