“Can you tell me where my country lies?
Said the unifaun to his true love’s eyes.”
Peter Gabriel’s plaintive voice begins an album that is at once quintessentially English and possibly Genesis’ best work. All the usual elements are there: the word-play, the superb musicianship and the complex song structures which still manage to have really great, hummable tunes. But this time they seem smoother and more streamlined, with nothing that is surplus to requirements. The guitar sound is totally unique and, along with the keyboards, helps create the pastoral mood, even in the comic-book violence of “The Battle of Epping Forest”. The England it portrays wasn’t the England I was part of – there was no mention of steelworkers and factories or sitting on the smoky top-deck of a bus looking out at the dirty rain-soaked streets by the Wicker Arches – but it was unmistakeably England. Even the Green Shield Stamps they sang of didn’t equate to the Green Shield Stamp shop that I knew. We got a kettle from there once. The closest I ever got to the cups-of-tea-and-croquet-on-the-lawn of what I imagined public school life to be, was going to a school that used to be a Grammar School and still had a few posh kids in the sixth form!
Even the drumming was great and Phil Collins is undoubtedly one of the best drummers to ever sit behind a drum kit. He should have stayed there!