‘Selling England By The Pound’: Genesis’ ‘Pretty English Pictures’

Expectations for ‘Selling England By The Pound’ were high in the UK, and it didn’t disappoint, with a No.3 debut.

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Genesis ‘Selling England By The Pound’ artwork - Courtesy: UMG
Genesis ‘Selling England By The Pound’ artwork - Courtesy: UMG

The early days of Genesis were about incessant touring around the UK, with close to 300 shows in 1970 and 1971 alone as they built a following on stage and on album. Their first American performances came at the end of 1972, but it was another year before they finally made their US chart debut. That happened when Selling England By The Pound, released on October 12, 1973, took a bow on the Billboard 200 on December 15.

The band had missed the charts at home with 1970’s Trespass, and the following year’s Nursery Cryme didn’t make the bestsellers until 1974, when they were much better known. But Foxtrot was a No.12 success in the UK and the Genesis Live set became their first domestic top ten album, at No.9.

Genesis - Firth Of Fifth (Official Audio)

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So expectations for Selling England were high in the UK, and it didn’t disappoint, entering the chart at its No.3 peak behind Slade’s Sladest and Gilbert O’Sullivan’s I’m A Writer Not A Fighter. The Genesis album spent four consecutive weeks in the top ten and 21 in the chart overall.

Pretty vocal and word pictures

Its American release was more low-key, but the band had media supporters, and FM rock radio support from the likes of KSHE in St. Louis, Missouri; WHCN in Hartford, Connecticut; WRAS in Atlanta, Georgia and KAFM in Dallas. “This popular English band’s first for its new label showcases their pretty vocal and word pictures about life in England,” wrote Billboard. “Pretty [their repetition] piano playing, which leads into a crescendo on organ with rippling guitar runs, highlight…‘Firth of Fifth.’”

Listen to the best of Genesis on Apple Music and Spotify.

All of that helped the Charisma release to make its chart debut at No.167, and Selling England went on to climb to No.70. Having toured the US in the spring of 1973, Genesis were back there to help the American album release along, with a university and theatre tour and no fewer than six shows, two per night, at the Roxy in Los Angeles.

Buy or stream Selling England By The Pound.



  1. Øystein Hamran

    December 30, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    “seiling England..,” one Of the best albums ever…

  2. Brent

    December 31, 2014 at 1:24 am

    Cinema Show 7/8 time masterpiece!!! And it’s the best section of the live medleys. Inspired.

  3. Barry Schlosman

    January 1, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Selling England by the pound introduced me to the wonderful world of Genesis. Genesis revealed to me, at an early age, that music can be a form of art and that songs can last more than 3 minutes. Steve Hackett has issued recent material that revisits many on these gems from the 70’s.

  4. Brian

    January 1, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    As a Canadian from Toronto, I might also add the strong welcome and connection they made here…while I’m sure the American cities and hype helped, my recollection is how strong a push they got from FM radio play here and how they often attributed their breaking in NA to the Toronto connection, playing two shows the same night at Massey Hall in Toronto (I was at the first one). It was such that when Gabriel left, they rehearsed here before touring (a friend became Chester Thompson’s drum tech and a photographer on the band’s tour) and PG sought out Toronto producer Bob Ezrin (Alice Cooper, Floyd’s “Another Brick…”) as the producer of his first solo album. So props to the American cities, but let’s give credit to the Canadian connection as well….

  5. JJ

    January 1, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Genesis was know in Toronto and Montreal before anywhere else in North America.

  6. Clem Dallaway

    December 15, 2016 at 11:43 am

    Firth of Fifth isn’t an instrumental

  7. Diego Morales

    December 15, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Grandes los stones lo fui a ver el 13/02/16 estadio unico la plata Argentina inolvidable!!

  8. Jorge rojas

    December 15, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    Los indestructibles , los jailanders de la musica los mejores de todos los tiempos un abrazo y cuidencen

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