Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Genesis: Selling England by the Pound [Charisma, 1973]
The best rock jolts folk-art virtues--directness, utility, natural audience--into the present with shots of modern technology and modernist dissociation; the typical "progressive" project attempts to raise the music to classical grandeur or avant-garde status. Since "raise" is usually code for "delegitimize," I'm impressed that on half of this Peter Gabriel makes the idea work: his mock-mythologized gangland epic and menacing ocean pastorale have a complexity of tone that's pretty rare in any kind of art. Even more amazing, given past performances, organist Tony Banks defines music to match, schlocky and graceful and dignified all at once--when he's got it going, which is nowhere near often enough. As for the rest, it sounds as snooty as usual. B