If one had to pare the prog-rock story down to a handful of essential albums, this would undoubtedly be one of them. SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND was the culmination of all that Genesis had been striving for since their late-'60s inception, the refinement of the vision that developed on TRESPASS, NURSERY CRYME, and FOXTROT (somewhere in the world, there's been a second-wave prog outfit named after every one of these albums). The fusion of a complex classical mind with an electrified rock heart and pastoral folk spirit defined Genesis' anatomy, and never more effectively than on SELLING ENGLAND. Peter Gabriel's startlingly unpretentious tale-spinning is at its best on "The Battle of Epping Forest." Tony Banks's elegant, sophisticated keyboard work is a vital element of nearly every tune, and the electric/acoustic guitar tapestry woven by Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford is the perfect icing on the cake. Somewhat anomalous but entirely welcome is the Gabriel-era band's catchiest, quirkiest song "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)," the tale of a somewhat daft gardener. Phil Collins's lead vocal on the gorgeous acoustic ballad "More Fool Me" paints the shape of things to come. If you only buy one Genesis album, make it this one.