Released in 1971, this is the first album with the "classic" Genesis lineup and the first to feature the distinctive ensemble sound that would characterize their work up to late 1976.
What is particularly noticeable about some of the longer pieces on this album including "The Musical Box" and "Return of the Giant Hogweed" is an aggressive and harsh sound that is largely reflected in Steve Hackett's guitar work. Although I do not know this for certain, I suspect that this heaviness may have resulted from exposure to the music of fellow Charisma label band Van der graaf Generator while on "package" tours in Britain.
One other new element that helped shape the classic Genesis sound was the addition of superb drummer Phil Collins, who brought a superior level of musicianship to the band that the previous drummer (John Mayhew) was not able to. As such, the use of unusual time signatures increased and the ensemble work became a bit more sophisticated over that found on Trespass (1970). Other interesting developments include the use of the mellotron by keyboardist Tony Banks, an instrument which is featured prominently on "Seven Stones" and the excellent "The Fountain of Salmacis", a piece that Tony wrote while studying physics at Sussex University. Quieter pieces on the album include "For Absent Friends" (which features Phil Collins on vocals) and "Harlequin", while "Harold the Barrel" is somewhere in the middle.
Interestingly enough, Tony Banks has been quoted as saying he did not feel that Nursery Cryme was much of an improvement over Trespass (1970). Although this may only hold partially true musically, conceptually and lyrically this is a completely different story. With regard to the lyrics, the cosmic and surreal imagery that would dominate the Peter Gabriel years was first expressed on Nursery Cryme. For example, "Return of the Giant Hogweed" describes (in anthropomorphic terms) how the invasive wetland plant species Heracleum mantegazziani (giant hogweed) threatens to take over the countryside. As a biologist, the thought of an invasive plant (that grows to 15-20 feet in height) shouting, "Human bodies soon will know our anger. Kill them with your Hogweed hairs!" tickled me pink.
Other bizarre imagery includes a young boy that ages suddenly, dies, and his spirit then takes up residence in a musical box belonging to his playmate. Consumed by a "lifetimes worth of desires", the spirit of "young Henry" lunges at the girl, only to have the nanny rush into the room and destroy the musical box, thus killing poor Henry.
All in all, this is a great album that initiates a four-year period where Genesis was at a creative and artistic peak. Although the production quality is somewhat muddy, and it does not possess the polish and sophistication of "Selling England by the Pound" (1973), this is still an excellent album and is recommended.
on May 6, 1999
After hearing Tresspass, I didnt have very high hopes for NC. So I skipped it and got into Selling England, The Lamb and so on. Boy was I the fool. The production quality of this album really gives Genesis a distinguished sound. Also, with the appearance of Phil Collins, it makes the album that much better. The album begins with a really incredible 10 min song named The Musical Box(probably the best tune on the album). The drumming is truly intense, which keeps up with the furious guitar work. Gabriel really lets loose on this tune vocally, and helps Collins out with his old beat up bass drum. Rutherford, truly underated as a member, gives his all in this tune as for Banks who makes the tune, with his incredible talent. As for the rest of the album it can make you go from the sadest of moods with songs like, for absent friends and seven stones, to really angry moods like the freakin amazing, return of the giant hogweed, with a really heavy incredibly kicking ending. The rest cannot go unnoticed, no matter how hard you try. Its just too amazing. Especially the vocals on Harold the Barrel and the lyrically and musically beautiful, fountain of salmacis.
on April 1, 2004
Nursery Cryme came at perhaps the most interesting time in the band's career. They had just picked up much needed muscle with Hackett and Collins, but were still trying to find their voice as a band. The result is some of the oddest, most original music they have ever composed, played at a new level of competency. For me the most fascinating progressive rock can be the strangest, and--make no mistake--Nursery Cryme is Genesis at their strangest. Here they move away from the folky tendencies of the albums that preceeded it, but are not yet producing music as streamlined and professional as that which would soon come. This is one of the most unique albums in prog rock history.
One of the best things about this album is that the ego jostling has yet to set in. Steve Hackett plays a large role and Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford sing background prominently in some places. Banks even delivers the "Mighty Hogweed" line in "Return of the Giant Hogweed," which is, by the way, a good example of a song with the bizarreness I alluded to earlier.
There are others. "Harold the Barrel" is a off-center but moving mini-opera that takes place in about three minutes, and "Seven Stones" reveals the influence that the first King Crimson album must have had on the band, especially Hackett's guitar solo in the middle and the Mellotronic thunder at the end. Kind of a creepy song in its own way. And speaking of creepy, while "The Musical Box" is an acknowledged epic masterpiece, its theme of a reincarnated (...)fixated villain is so disturbingly obscure that they had to explain the story on the liner notes of the remastered CD (whose sound IS much better than the original vinyl pressing).
The oddness of the music of this record is certainly reflected in the band's colorful stage persona at the time, all infused with a wonderful sense of artistic discovery. We know the three albums to come are the five star classics, but there is something singularly exciting about this record that you won't find anywhere else.
Led Zeppelin, The Who and Black Sabbath were at the top of their prime and another little known band from England was starting to make a name for themselves. A band to be known for the theatrical performances by their lead man, Peter Gabriel. 'Nursery Cryme' was to become the first album by the lineup that made Genesis famous: Gabriel on vocals, Phil Collins on drums (and backing vocals), Tony Banks on keys, Steve Hackett on guitars, and Mike Rutherford on bass and guitars.
Although it is not the band's best album, it has a handful of some of the best music they ever made. "The Musical Box", one of the band's standards, evokes feelings of victorian nostalgia, in line with the cover of the album, combined with a nightmarish and lunatic discharge that is perfectly framed by the latter part of the song. Viewing this song in a live setting is an experience that can be very hard to compare with anything you run into these days, as Gabriel strolls through the stage wearing the costume of an old man shaking and rattling as the song reaches its climax.
Second to "The Musical Box" is the closing track, "The Fountain of Salmacis", which opened Gabriel up to a stream of mythology-driven writing that would ensue until deep into 'The Lamb Lies Down...' his last album with the band.
Overall, 'Nursery Cryme' deserves four stars due to these two songs (the album sports only seven tracks) and the interesting tale of "The Return of the Giant Hogweed", but it lags behind the albums that would follow it until the departure of Gabriel. If you want to get into serious Genesis music, although this album will end up been a must in your collection, you need to jump first into 'The Lamb...', 'Selling England by The Pound' and 'Foxtrot', in that order.
on January 2, 2005
The first time I bought a 'real Genesis album,' the CD was "Nursery Cryme" & I did not know what to expect. I was hoping to hear cuts like "Abacab" or stuff from "The Numbers Album," or "Duke." Was I in for a rude awakening! It was late June, early July 1995, I was 17 years old. I just finished up my junior year at East Detroit High School & was over a month away from beginning my final year as a Senior in High School. At that time, Green Day's 'Dookie'(released 'Insomiac' in 1995), Soundgarden's 'Superunknown', Pearl Jam's 'Vitalogy', & Alice In Chain's 'Jar Of Flies' were the albums that were the order of the day. People were still trembling from Kurt Corbain's apparent suicide a year later. The Eagles were on a comeback tour. The Smashing Pumpkins would release the double album, 'Meloncholy & The Infinate Sadness' that year. Korn & Rage Against The Machine came out of nowhere. The Red Hot Chili Peppers released 'One Hot Minute' which was a departure from their previous albums. However, Alternative/Grunge was at it's final death stages at this time (but we didn't know it then). 1995 was also the year of the Page/Plant Unledded show on MTV which was huge! The O.J. Simpson trial was still lingering in the presence of the media circus. Pantera's 1992 album, 'Vulgar Display of Power' was the album to have (if you didn't have that album in high school, you were considered that something was wrong with you). The beginning of New Year's Day, 1995 marked the 10 month countdown to the Beatles Anthology special on ABC. Z-Rock was THE radio station. Flannel, band shirts & faded different coloured jeans with sneakers or military boots & long hair was the fashion as well.
And so here I am at Record Time on 10 Mile & Gratiot (They now moved to 11 & Gratiot), buying a CD. When I saw "Nursery Cryme" I was like "What is this? An album cover with a Victorian Nurse w/ a mallet in her hands & severed heads on the ground? Interesting." I bought it for 10 dollars & took it home for a listen. Now mind you, I didn't even hear a note on this album at all....yet. Thinking that it would be only Phil Collins, Tony Banks & Michael Rutherford on this album, I was in for another surprise: "Peter Gabriel was in Genesis?" I said to myself. "And who's Steve Hackett? Oh this I have to listen to." The first song I played was of course, "The Musical Box." Right from those beginning chords, the song was like 'the performance had already started & we the listener have arrived late to the concert' type of feel. It was unusual listening to Peter Gabriel singing in Genesis (I was familar w/"Shock The Monkey", "In Your Eyes", "Sledgehammer"....but then again I was a sucker & naive in what to believe). When the quiet slumbers turned into explosive blasts from Rutherford's 12 String Rickenbacker & when Hackett's Gibson Les Paul comes flying in like a bottle rocket, my jaw hit the floor! I never heard anyone solo that different in my life. Let's just say that my life had changed forever. Now enough of my life story, let's go through all the songs.
THE MUSICAL BOX: This song is exactly like the tune "Stagnation" from their second album, "TRESPASS." However, with newcomers, Drummer Phil Collins & Guitarist Steve Hackett, it becomes immediately known that the final 2 pieces of the puzzle are finally in place & the 'Class of 1971' lineup is now complete. A somber tale about 'Old King Cole' as Gabriel desperately wants to be touched "NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW!" behind the roaring of Tony Banks' Hammond Organ L122 & Hackett's mournful outro solo.
FOR ABSENT FRIENDS: This is where Phil Collins makes his first lead vocal debut (Not "More Fool Me" from "SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND"). Phil's 'sensitive voice to 12-string guitar' was beautiful in blending his voice w/ the acoustic about 2 widowed ladies remembering about their lost loved husbands while going to church. The song title itself would be an errie forshadowing of what was to come within a few years down the road with this band.
THE RETURN OF THE GIANT HOGWEED: The title itself is hilarious when I first saw the name of this song. The opening of this tune was like a hogweed dancing through a distorted swriling pattern behind Hackett's fuzzed Les Paul & Banks' distorted Hohner electric piano. The song was based on an actual newspaper article when hogweeds were 'spreading' in English countryside. Gabriel has some unusual lines in this song like "They all need the sun to photosensitive their venom" and "They all are inmune to all our herbicidal batterings." Hackett's guitar tone is almost like an army of hogweeds that are "threatening the human race." Phil Collins tries to slash on through behind his Gretsch drumkit, but there is no hope-THE GIANT HOGWEED LIVES!
SEVEN STONES: A dreary tale about an old man who makes a living on greed & chance. Here's where Tony Banks' Mellotron MK II makes its presence adding more to the mournful landscape. When you hear this song, sit back, close your eyes, and hear "the old man tell his tale."
HAROLD THE BARREL: Here's where everyone, except Hackett but he makes his Black Beauty Les Paul sound voicelike, joins in on vocals. Here's where Peter Gabriel's dark disgusting sense of humor comes in. A quick story about a restarunt owner who flees & tries to leave town for 'cutting off his toes & serving them for tea.' Once the angry people surround Harold in a house, he threatens to 'take a running jump' from the upstairs of the house. His mother is brought in she begs Harold not to jump because "His shirt is all dirty & there's a man here from the BBC." This song could've been processed as a rock opera for it was a funny story.
HARLEQUIN: Another pretty song on this album where Phil & Peter take the lead on this one where 'all is not lost'. The tune has a hint of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young in a way, but still worth listening to.
THE FOUNTAIL OF SALMACIS: This was the song that really sold me. If there was one way to end this album this was the way. As the Hammond Organ & the Mellotron plays call & response in the opening of this tune Gabriel tells the tale of Hermophidites. Hackett & Banks once again develope their musical swriling patterns that would eventually become a trademark of Genesis. Lastly, the way this song ends the album, no other band created such an atmospheric ending to a wonderful album even before or after.
THE MUSICAL BOX & THE RETURN OF THE GIANT HOGWEED sound even better in the 1973 "LIVE" album. THE FOUNTAIN OF SALMACIS & the other 2 mentioned songs are also great when Genesis was on Belgian TV in 1972, otherwise known as "THE WHITE ROOM SESSIONS."
This is a great album from start to finish eventhough it's just over 39 minutes, but well worth it. For me, it finally grew on me & it was because of this album, it was the beginning of exploring progressive rock & the end of listening to 90's music, and mind you, this is coming from a 26 year old who 'shouldn't be listening to this.'
on August 10, 2003
While Trespass was an important album, Nursery Cryme was the first Genesis album on which the band fully realized the magical potential of the sum of the parts.
NC is a quantum leap from Trespass and the springboard into the majesty of Foxtrot. I still remember the sheer thrill of being a Genesis fan at this time, this being before they started on the highway to mega stardom. Even the fan club communications came in hand-written envelopes, often stamped with hearts and flowers and words such as 'LOVE'. Alas, I can't remember the names of the original UK fan club women, but they did a superb job.
Everything from the haunting Paul Whitehead cover to the lyrically and musically intriguing songs - all of them - make this a landmark album in progressive rock and therefore in the career of the mighty Genesis. Even though they may have technically surpassed NC, it still remains the album for which I have the most affection.
Favorite track? Hmmm, either The Musical Box, Seven Stones or The Fountain of Salmacis, but then Hogweed is a unique masterpiece in itself. A classic album with absolutely no dud tracks, and highly recommended.
on January 11, 2015
This review is not about the actual music,, rather, is focus on the edition..as i could not find this type of info when i want to buy this CD, here is the info for you...
First this is THE ORIGINAL MIX of this wonderful album.. NOT the new remix stuff , which i personally hate!! made by Nick Davis in 2007 or 08...
this actual edition is an import made in Canada , since is out of print in the USA, and is basically a reissue of the DEFINITiVE EDITION remaster (DER) of 1994,, the date in amazon description is wrong!! it says 1990 and is NOT...the CD sounds amazing..
if you want the original mix go and buy this CD album with confidence
A final note: Phil Collins is the lead vocals on the second track, title For Abstent Friends, NOT Peter Gabriel..this is the first time that He sings lead vocals on a Genesis album.
`Nursery Cryme' was recorded at Trident Studios in 1971 and released by Charisma Records the same year. It is the first to feature Steve Hackett and Phil Collins, so kicking-off the classic-era Genesis lineup which continued unchanged until the departure of Peter Gabriel in 1975.
The album features seven pieces, the best-known being the opener `The Musical Box' during which Gabriel exercises his bizarre imagination to weave a sinister horror story of child murder, a back-from-the-dead spirit and repressed sexual urges set in an Edwardian-era country house. Musically however it's a near-masterpiece, one of the band's all-time greats. The album's title and archaic B-horror-movie cover-artwork are inspired by this song.
The rest of the music is technically good, even adventurous and interesting, but (for me, anyway) has always lacked the memorable hooks which made so much of Gabriel-era Genesis output truly great. Other high spots are the closer `The Fountain of Salmacis' and Phil Collins' first outing at the mike, when he sings `For Absent Friends'.
Chris Jones once observed: "Genesis virtually invented their own genre of Edwardian rock", encapsulating precisely the mood of this album and period theme of the songs.
Some controversy rages among Genesis fans as to whether the 2008 remaster is an improvement over previous releases of NC, notably the 1994 Definitive release. For what it's worth, I prefer (as with 'A Trick of the Tail') the Definitive version. Though the sound is brighter on the 2008 release, it suffers from too much `loudness' and excessive compression makes for a soundscape too hollow and shrill; at the same time the drumming is muffled, and the bass too `muddy'. So the 1994 `Definitive' release of this album with better overall dynamics would be my recommendation. True audiophiles (who have the high-end sound equipment) are likely to go for the excellent SACD.
on March 7, 2009
For those of us who were so appalled at the execrable job done on the initial CD release of this landmark 1971 album, the time has come to rejoice. This is truly a masterful remaster, with loving attention given to the sounds of the individual instruments, an awesome dynamic that makes the album sound like it was just recently recorded rather than just run through an industrial meat grinder like the last effort. The screaming guitar intro in "The Musical Box" is restored (rather than muffled under everything), brightness and overall clarity has enhanced and improved problems in the original mix (in which overmodulation had kind of mushed things together, particularly in "Giant Hogweed" and "Fountain of Salmacis"), and overall the tracks are finally afforded the respect they deserve. In places it almost sounds like new instrumentals and vocals were inserted; during the descending "aahhhs" in "Fountain" I'm hearing someone singing or playing an octave higher, absent or obscured in the original release. It's that clear. One problem, if any, with cleaning up a master recording so much is it gives the illusion of having a bit less energy since the distortion is gone. That can be solved of course by turning it up much louder.
This was the first Genesis album to feature the lineup of Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins (in his debut), Steve Hackett (also in debut), Michael Rutherford and Tony Banks. They were just bouncing back from losing 2 key members, and were apprehensive; they needn't have been. Genesis at the beginning of the 70s truly lived up to their name as the beginning of a chapter in rock, with material that was at once symphonic, dynamic and full of whimsical fantasy courtesy of the visionary Mr. Gabriel and the creative contributions of accomplished musicians. Not bad for a band that started out as guys writing songs for OTHER artists to play. This collection and its follow up, the conceptual Foxtrot (also sporting an outstanding 2008 remaster), are among the most vital additions to any serious collection of vintage progressive rock. It is so gratifying to finally hear it produced with a quality that matches the level of the music itself.
on May 12, 2000
"Nursery Cryme" is the first Genesis album with Phil Collins on drums and Steve Hackett on guitar. The addition of these two, more accomplished musicians allowed the band to take the next step forward from the excellent, albeit admittedly unpolished "Trespass". "Nursary Cryme" is an album which shows Genesis approaching their creative peak, having finally put together the winning pieces of a great prog-rock band.
The album starts off with the ten minute masterpiece, "The Musical Box", a perfect example of the band's mastery of dynamics and emotion evident in their early albums. The song begins with a light vocal/12-string arrangement, eventually building to its aggresive, conclusion.
Perhaps the best song on the album is "The Return of the Giant Hogweed", which is surprisingly heavy for a genesis song, and portrays the same kind of intensity that, among Genesis songs, is rivalled only by "The Knife". From the menacing, arpeggiated guitars that start out the song, to the thundering drums and electric guitar at the end, "Hogweed" is a perfect example of a song that does not waste any of its eight-plus minutes.
Other highlights of "Nursary Cryme" are the hilarious, more pop-sounding "Harold the Barrel"; and the mellower epic, "The Fountain of Salmacis". Also, Phil Collins makes his vocal debut on "For Absent Friends".
Although the band would go on to see infinitely greater success several years down the road, it was, in my opinion, the earlier albums with Peter Gabriel that deserved the most acclaim. "Nursary Cryme" is a great album, which is both lyrically and musically accomplished, and it is due the recognition which it so rightly merits.