Genesis – Nursery Cryme (1971)

Zuzanna Wężyk

Musician, aged 28

Genesis’s Nursery Cryme is their 3rd album released in 1971. This LP received a various responses from critics.

The record welcomes us through The Musical Box piece with the guitaristic and kind of ethnic vibe intro part. Even the word “musical” gives the persuasion of the musical theater character which could be expected in this tune. 

The music in this song is illustrative due to the musical treatments achieved and also, intending to tell the story behind – the macabre story about Henry and Cynthia happening in Victorian Britain. Listening to the song itself could give an incoherent impression. I believe the performance of this piece on the stage could be more attractive with choreography added, for instance. Moreover, if we do not listen to this piece without visuals, the musical piece could be interpreted as a chaotic piece of art. In terms of instrumentation, this piece reminded me of the multi-part piece composed by Polish composer, Katarzyna Gärtner – Msza Beatowa (Beat Mass), created in the late 60s (Wikipedia, 2024)2. Among others, I related these similarities to the instrumental choice of guitar, voice, flute and organ. 

The fourth song of the album – Seven Stones – took my attention and has an original treatment of harmony, nicely high-pitched notes reached by Phil Collins, and better sound engineering aspects. In most of the songs in this record, I believe the work on the sound design elements or other settings of mixing would be beneficial. The Harold the Barrel song is one of the most dynamic pieces in this release with a dancing character as well. Definitely, it gives a break from longer, and more illustrative songs in Nursery Cryme

Robin Hutchinson

MBE, Chair of Creative Youth, Director of The Community Brain, aged 65

Genesis were one of those bands that people were talking about at school when I was about 13. And people’s descriptions of them didn’t align with the way my musical tastes were going. But one day in a record store, probably Bentalls, I thought I’d give it a go and thought the album artwork of Nursery Cryme was really rather good fun.

When I took it home and started to play it I found it quite intoxicating because it was very different to a lot of the stuff that I’d been listening to. I was listening to it musically and not really listening to the lyrics, seeing them as rather nice pieces of music. It was only later I realised that ‘The Musical Box’ was actually the story of a child being decapitated in a game of croquet! The musical box was him haunting her which gave it an entirely new depth to it all. The album artwork should have given me a clue because it’s a woman carrying a croquet club and then there’s a head of a child in front of her! But I think I just took that as a piece of graphic intrigue rather than the lyrics to the opening track. 

The lyrics of ‘Harold the Barrel’ crease me up. “A well known Bognor restaurant owner disappeared early this morning, last seen in a mouse-brown overcoat suitably camouflaged…” And ‘The Return Of The Giant Hogwood’ is a great song about giant hogweed taking over the world – it’s brilliantly weird, as Peter Gabriel was.  

I got really excited about what they were doing. I think people who know Genesis after Peter Gabriel had left will have a Phil Collins view on them, which is kind of like middle of the road entertainment. But at this point, it was Peter Gabriel leading it and it was quite provocative, adventurous stuff. 

It’s an album that subsequently means quite a lot, because like with a lot of music, it captures a period of time, and this time reminds me of a slight insecurity: how you look in school, what albums you’re carrying, or whether you’re part of a gang or not…

Kingston link:

Genesis played at The Toby Jug on 27/1/1972, a few months after the release of Nursery Cryme.

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