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Genesis - Foxtrot CD (album) cover

FOXTROT

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.61 | 2537 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

penguindf12
Prog Reviewer
5 stars This album is often heralded as the greatest in prog. I don't know about that, but I can see where they're getting the idea. It's a masterpiece of symphonic rock, and in true GENESIS form lacks any trace of the blues roots of rock. This makes it harder to get into than say, YES or PINK FLOYD. But if you keep at it it, you might find that you like it.

"Watcher of the Skies" opens with a sci-fi keyboard soundtrack intro, creating a spacey, alien sort of feel. A driving moog line emerges from the sci-fi drone, and never quits. The song weaves up and down, becoming sharp then searing and fuzzy. The lyrics seem to be about an alien who descends to earth and laments, or ponders, over the state of humanity. It could be interpreted any way you like, however. The ending to this song is simply beautiful.

"Time Table" is a shorter, piano-oriented song which compares the honor-driven days of valor and "truth thru lance and sword" to modern days by way of a table in a medieval castle. The guitar here is sharp and very stately, matching the lyrics perfectly. The lyrical point here is that "the more things change, they more they stay the same -- but it shouldn't be that way."

Following is the expected mini-opera, "Get 'Em Out By Friday" (GABRIEL always has one of these per album). The music changes for each character that speaks. It opens with a fast-talking business man telling his associate to drive a family out of its home against a fast, in-and-out bass-driven beat. Then it slows down as the associate tells the family they must leave. Then the businessman speaks again, then the matriarch of the family speaks, lamenting the strange position they are in. The family agrees to relocate, but then they realize too late that they have been conned. The music speeds up, then slows down as time passes and we are taken into the future. As it turns out, the businessman was relocating the families to smaller houses so as to reduce their height and make it so he can fit "twice as many in the same building size." Absurd, yes, but chillingly close to reality when you think about it. This sort of absurd stuff could become not-so-absurd very easily, if we don't watch out.

"Can Utility and the Coastliners" is very HACKETT-oriented, with the etheral guitar standing out. It is about a king who thought himself a god, but he soon dies and the people realize what a phony he was. A repetitive guitar solo sits in the middle of the piece, and may appear annoying at first but it grows on you.

The next song is "Horizons," a short HACKETT acoustic guitar piece in the vein of Steve HOWE's "Clap". It's fairly simple, but beautiful -- a great song to play at a church offertory.

But by far the greatest song here is "Supper's Ready," a long epic based firmly on the book of Revelations. It opens with "Lover's Leap," another etheral acoustic HACKETT song. Multiple overdubbed guitars create a sort of echo effect. This part of the song is inspired by an actual experience by GABRIEL, who was in a strange upper room of his mother-in-law's (I think). He and his wife (or girlfriend, one of the two) felt a strange presence and felt as if they were transported to another world. In the song, two lovers are taken to another world after a strange experience in which they see "six saintly shrouded men" and a "distance forms around their bodies."

After a short, haunting interlude, "The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man" builds up into full song. The lovers find themselves in a village, with two main personalities living there: a benevolent farmer and a "fire man who looks after the fire." The former is a metaphor for Jesus Christ, and the latter is a con man, the Antichrist. He gets others to sell his soul to him by signing a lease and guaranteeing salvation. The lovers too are conned, and sign up for his "services." The music comes to a halt, and a strange childrens' song enters, promising to keep a snake "snug and warm."

The lovers are taken to a battlefield to fight in the name of the GESM in the sarcastically titled "Ikhnaton And Itsacon And Their Band Of Merry Men." This is one of my favorite moments in the song, in which HACKETT delivers an excellent guitar solo in which he uses some pre-Eddie Van Halen tapping. The battle is fought, and evil has apparently won. The troops of the GESM are ordered to celebrate, but the lovers sneak off to find a large mountain of the dead in "How Dare I Be So Beautiful?" They find a plateau in which a young person marked for death sits transfixed by a pool of water. The music is painfully slow, with only a slow synth separating us from complete silence. The quietness is rudely interrupted however, after GABRIEL asks, "a flower?"

Now the lovers are swept into the pool into a strange world in which everything is changing constantly and randomly at a whistle's blow. The music is insane, recalling the BEATLES in their weirdest stages. This movement has nothing to do with the song's link with the book of Revelation whatsoever. It's almost as if it were thrown in to throw us off...and it was. The lyrics at the end of the movement seem to mock the listener confused at what he hears. The narrator agrees to just get on with it, saying "we'll end with a whistle and end with a bang, and all of us fit in our places."

Another interlude follows, a very "Stairway to Heaven" guitar and flute bit. This steadily builds as horns are added, and a sharp guitar enters to begin "Apocalypse in 9/8." The lovers are returned to our world in time to witness the apocalypse of St. John in full swing. The GESM has cleared the way for Satan's rise in the lovers' absence, and the final battle between good and evil has begun. A long organ solo laid over a strange 9/8 beat begins as the battle is fought. Then we hear a reprise of "Lover's Leap" as bells ring to herald the end of the battle. Good, of course, has won, and the lovers have been allowed to return home.

"As Sure as Eggs is Eggs" reprises "The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man" in an epic epilogue. Humanity, as well as the lovers, has been allowed to "get back home." Heaven is wide open.

penguindf12 | 5/5 |

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