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Genesis - Foxtrot CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.60 | 3447 ratings

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4 stars I was a late arrival at the Genesis party, right along with millions of others here in the states. That's because this talented band received very little promotion or radio play during the first half of the 70s (if any) and, while I had many friends who were deeply into Yes, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and ELP not one of them owned a Genesis album. It wasn't until late '75 when the manager of the Sound Warehouse I started working at loaned me a copy of "Selling England by the Pound" (her favorite LP) that I really even knew they existed. Of course, I was very impressed with that two-year-old album and then the next thing I knew "A Trick of the Tail" hit the store and I became an instant devotee of the "new" lineup. (Bear with me, I'm going somewhere with this.) So in '77 Genesis came around on tour. I procured a date, purchased tickets and went to see these guys in person. It turned out to be one of the most memorable concerts I ever witnessed. They performed a long, epic tune during that show I'd never heard before that absolutely galvanized my soul. The song was "Suppers Ready." I still consider it to be the best single composition in progressive rock history. The next day I bought "Foxtrot."

"Watcher of the Skies," with its infectious, riveting guitar riff and sci-fi lyrics lets you know right away that Genesis never did sound like anybody else. Peter Gabriel's unique and expressive voice takes a while to get accustomed to if you've never heard him previously but it isn't a turn-off by any means. Plus his singing was steadily getting better with every album. The up and down dynamics of the song keep it from ever getting overly repetitive. "Time Table" is a quieter tune with a lot of nice changes scattered around. Tony Banks' piano playing at the beginning is very good. "Get 'Em Out by Friday" has many intriguing moods and creative blends of different instruments with the rhythm section of Michael Rutherford and Phil Collins keeping the ship firmly anchored. "Can-Utility and the Coastliners" is just as odd as its name but Michael's deep, resounding bass pedal effects and Tony's deft Mellotron work cause the song to rise above the rabble. "Horizons" is a drop-dead gorgeous acoustic guitar piece performed solo and unadorned by Steve Hackett that also functions as the perfect lead- in to the incredible "Suppers Ready." Rather than try to dissect it section by section I'll just tell you this. The musical and vocal performances, the arrangement, the phenomenally sublime lyrics and the overall imagination that went into constructing this amazing achievement sets it apart from all pretenders past and present and bestows upon it immortality. I know that's saying a lot but as far as I'm concerned it sits on the very top of Prog Mountain and you can quote me on that.

However, there is still an odorous elephant standing in the control room when it comes to this album and that same animal was there on "Nursery Cryme," too. It's the substandard and masterpiece-tarnishing poor production, engineering, mixing and mastering of the music. If those essential ingredients would have been even close to approaching the standards set by other progressive groups of that era the album would surely have been more widely accepted by the public (in spite of the fact that there were no track listings or acknowledgements of any kind on the LP cover). The inclusion of "Suppers Ready" alone makes this a great addition to any decent prog collection but, to be honest, both of the readily available live versions (with and without Gabriel) are far superior to this studio recording simply because they sound so much better. My overall feeling about "Foxtrot" is that there is a lot of truly fantastic music here but it's a shame I have to listen so hard to hear it.

Chicapah | 4/5 |


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