Although it was Genesis’ third album, Nursery Cryme was the first to feature the classic quintet; Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford were joined by guitarist Steve Hackett and drummer Phil Collins. Even though it’s their third album, the young group are still on an upward learning curve. ‘The Musical Box’ and ‘The Return Of The Giant Hogweed’ both have plenty of fine moments, but don’t demand attention like Foxtrot‘s ‘Watcher Of The Skies’ or ‘Supper’s Ready’.
My favourite of the longer songs in ‘The Fountain Of Salmacis’, driven by Rutherford’s bass-line. Nursery Cryme is filled out by four shorter songs, of which ‘Harold The Barrel’ is the highlight, compressing a mini-opera into three frenetic piano driven minutes, but ‘Seven Stones’ and ‘Harlequin’ are two of the most overlooked tracks in the Genesis canon, both pretty and succinct. ‘Harlequin’ features Phil Collins’ vocal debut, singing a charming co-lead with Gabriel, while Gabriel contributes a lovely flute riff.
When taken as a whole, Nursery Cryme isn’t as consistently enthralling or thematically coherent as Genesis’ following albums with Gabriel, but on a song by song basis it is still an excellent effort. If you are interested in prog-era Genesis, you may as well start with Nursery Cryme and work your way through the group’s following four albums.