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|Studio album by Genesis|
|Released||12 November 1971|
|Recorded||August 1971 at Trident Studios|
 Album historyAlthough not a success upon release in their homeland, Nursery Cryme became an unexpected hit in Italy, reaching number 4 in the LP charts — spurring on Genesis' European success—with the album eventually reaching #39 in the UK charts for one week in May 1974, and the re-issue reached #68 for one week in March 1984.
The album also marked the beginning on a steady, cohesive line-up for Genesis. With a solid drummer (Collins) and lead guitarist (Hackett) on board, the band entered their classic early period, which would entail a quintet of albums: Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Genesis Live, Selling England by the Pound and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway in 1974.
 SoundLike Trespass the preceding Genesis album, Nursery Cryme was also recorded at London's famous Trident Studios. Trident was one of only a handful of British studios to have 16-track equipment, which was state of the art for the time. Though not as polished in production terms as the albums that followed, Nursery Cryme was still a progression from the group's second album. The folky feel was retained on songs such as "Harlequin" and "For Absent Friends", but other tracks displayed a more aggressive and strident sound. Hackett's lead guitar playing contributed a lot to this, with strong solos contained within "The Musical Box", "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" and "The Fountain Of Salmacis".
Banks also contributed towards the more aggressive sound in various ways: for some time before Hackett's recruitment, Genesis had performed live as a four-piece, with Banks substituting for guitar by playing lead solos on his Hohner "Pianet" electric piano, played through a fuzz box. This technique can be heard on "The Musical Box" and the intro to "The Return of the Giant Hogweed". In addition, the band purchased their own Mellotron Mark II (from King Crimson). Banks employed the Mk II "three violins" sound to great effect in "The Fountain Of Salmacis" and "Seven Stones", whilst the climax of "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" used fuzzed Mk. II "combined brass".
A further element in the band's growing sound was Rutherford's use of the stand-alone electronic bass pedal unit Dewtron "Mister Bassman". Even a song such as "Harold the Barrel", which used none of this new instrumentation, was possessed of a sprightly energy quite unlike anything on Trespass.
 Songs"The Musical Box" began as an instrumental piece written by Anthony Phillips called Manipulation (later released on the Box Set remaster). He has never received credit for his part in writing the song. It is a story with Victorian overtones and was indeed presented as a Victorian fairy story. The song is a ten-minute epic touching on themes of death, reincarnation and lust; set in Victorian England, the story told of two small children in a country house. The young girl, Cynthia, kills the young boy, Henry, by removing his head with a croquet mallet. The lyrics of the song itself start at the moment when Cynthia discovers Henry's musical box, which played the nursery rhyme "Old King Cole" when she opens it. As this happens, Henry's soul returns in a restored body. However, Henry starts ageing very quickly but retaining a child's mind and vision. The life that he will never have, and its desires, start to pass before his eyes. As Henry attempts to have Cynthia pursue his romantic desire, his nurse hears the noise and goes to the nursery to investigate. Acting on instinct, she throws the musical box at the now elderly-looking child, destroying them both. (This story can be found in the inside booklet of the Nursery Cryme album.) The album cover is also a depiction of this song and story: Cynthia, holds a croquet mallet - there is a hoop visible close by - but instead of croquet balls, there are a few heads lying on the ground.
The climax to the song concerns itself with Henry's feelings towards Cynthia, representing his lustful view of her, shown by the words 'She's a lady, she is mine!' and in the finale when Gabriel sings, 'Why don't you touch me? Touch me, NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW!'. In live performances, Peter Gabriel would wear an "old man" mask for the final verse and unzip the chest part of his black jumpsuit. Dramatic lighting would be used each time he shouted "NOW!" At the end of the song, Henry, the old man, would die.
This song includes uncredited writing contributions from former member Anthony Phillips, having been based on a 1969 demo by him and Rutherford called "F Sharp". Pieces of the song also came from material the band had written for a documentary about the painter Michael Jackson - those recordings were never released at the time but ultimately appeared on the box set Genesis: 1970-1975.
This became one of Genesis's more famous songs, acquiring status as of one of the band's signature tunes from their progressive rock-era and was featured in their live repertoire right up to Phil Collins' departure after the We Can't Dance tour in 1992, albeit with only the closing section being included as part of a medley. It was also released on 1973's Genesis Live.
A Genesis tribute band, The Musical Box, is named after this song.
"For Absent Friends" is a short and understated folk-based song about two people going to church and praying for their deceased loved ones. It is also the first song by the band to feature drummer Phil Collins as the lead vocalist and was the first song written by the new members Collins and Steve Hackett within the band context.
Guitarist Steve Hackett recorded a waltz version of this song for his Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited album, with vocals by Colin Blunstone.
Peter Gabriel's lyrics to "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" tell an apocalyptic story about a "regal hogweed" being brought from Russia by a Victorian explorer to the Royal Gardens at Kew. Later, after being planted by country gentlemen in their gardens, the hogweeds take on a life of their own and spread their seed throughout England, preparing for an onslaught. The citizens attempt to assault the hogweeds with herbicide, but the plants are immune. After a brief instrumental (subtitled "The Dance of the Giant Hogweed"), the song ends in a crashing climax where the hogweed reigns victorious over the human race.
The inspiration for the subject of the song is a large, phototoxic weed, Heracleum mantegazzianum which poses a hazard in the United Kingdom and other countries.
The song was a staple of Genesis' live performances and appears on the Genesis Live album.
"The Fountain of Salmacis" tells the story of the nymph Salmacis who in Greek mythology attempted to rape Hermaphroditus. In the story Salmacis and Hermaphroditus become joined as one, which is mirrored in the lyrics where Peter Gabriel sings:
"We shall be one,The album version features much lead guitar work from Steve Hackett, and is remarkable for the epic sound of mellotron, in the beginning and the end. A live version is included on Three Sides Live.
We shall be joined as one."
A SACD / DVD double disc set (including new 5.1 and Stereo mixes) was released in November 2008.
 Track listingAll songs written and composed by Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford.
|1.||"The Musical Box"||10:24|
|2.||"For Absent Friends"||1:44|
|3.||"The Return of the Giant Hogweed"||8:09|
|2.||"Harold the Barrel"||2:59|
|4.||"The Fountain of Salmacis"||7:54|
 B Sides
|1.||"Happy The Man"||4:09|
- Happy The Man from the single Happy The Man
- Peter Gabriel – lead vocals, flute, bass drum, tambourine
- Steve Hackett – electric guitar, 12 string guitar
- Tony Banks – organ, mellotron, piano, electric piano, 12 string guitar, vocals
- Mike Rutherford – bass, bass pedals, 12 string guitar, vocals
- Phil Collins – drums, vocals, percussion, lead vocals (uncredited) on "For Absent Friends"
 ArtworkThe albums' artwork, which depicts scenes from each song, was painted by Paul Whitehead. Whitehead was also responsible for the artwork on Genesis Trespass and Foxtrot albums.
 Release historyAll releases of Nursery Cryme on Charisma Records in the U.S. were distributed by Buddah Records.
 U.S. LP releases
- Charisma Records CAS-1052 (1971): 1st issue with large "Mad Hatter" label design. Gatefold cover.
- Charisma Records CAS-1052 (1973): 2nd issue with "pink scroll" label. No gatefold cover.
- Charisma Records CAS-1052 (1974): 3rd issue with small "Mad Hatter" label. No gatefold cover.
- Atlantic 80030-1 (1982): Reissue with no gatefold cover