The early days of Genesis were about incessant touring aroung 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’ took a bow on the Billboard 200 41 years ago.
The band had missed the charts at home with ‘Trespass,’ and its follow-up ‘Nursery Cryme’ didn’t make the bestsellers untll 1974, when they were much better known. But ‘Foxtrot’ was a No. 12 success and the ‘Genesis Live’ set became their first domestic top ten album, at No. 9.
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 album spent four consecutive weeks in the top ten and 21 in the chart overall.
Its American release was more low-key, but Genesis 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 word repetition] piano playing, which leads into a crescendo on organ with rippling guitar runs, highlight the interesting instrumental ‘Firth of Fifth.’
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.
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