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Genesis - Foxtrot CD (album) cover

FOXTROT

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.61 | 2507 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review 11, Foxtrot, Genesis, 1972

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This is a rare example of an album where the tracks are divided very neatly into songs that I love and songs that I hate. Even after many listens spent trying to acquire the supposed greatness of Watcher of the skies and get past that hollow percussion sound on the chorus of Time Table, I still don't think of them as anything more than mediocre, or even annoying. Nonetheless, there are three absolutely classic prog songs on here, taking up most of the album, as well as a decent classical guitar solo from Hackett, and it'd be stupid to miss them.

The general consensus here seems to be that the thick mellotron opening of Watcher Of The Skies is majestic. Unfortunately, it goes on much too long for me, and then launches into something of much the same vein: lots of seemingly random components just thrown together with a couple of highlights. Gabriel's voice and style carries the song's softer 'From life alone...to life as one...think not now your journey's done' sections superbly, but when he's rushing to fit ten words into a second, it's hard to appreciate it, particularly when the lyrics don't seem that brilliant. I don't get lots of the changes from Hackett's screeching guitar to more organ, and the tune as a whole seems a little poorly constructed. That said, after about six minutes with vocals and mellotron opening left behind, it soars up into a powerful, trademark Genesis tune, with a great crescendo ending.

Time-Table has two features that annoy me: one is that annoying hollow sound on the first why of the chorus. Literally three notes on a random barely-featured instrument that manage to wreck an otherwise perfectly acceptable short song. WHY?! Secondly, the vocals are a bit more of a mixed bag than I expect from Gabriel. Not poor, per se, but it doesn't seem like the lyrics or style of the chorus fit him very well. I have to say that every other feature of the tune is excellent, but those two obscure all of the others. Ugh.

Get Em Out By Friday is one of the best, in my opinion. The perfect combination of riffs and musical changes, with tapping, militaristic drumming that suits the concept perfectly, a crisp, ferocious bass sound, dark, fluid organ and the best example of Peter Gabriel's ability to voice multiple roles in one song while still sounding very Peter Gabriel. Superb, somewhat sarcastic lyrics about an interesting reversal of the traditional genetic control to produce super-humans idea, with haunting echoes that haven't yet grown old on me. Not to mention, great shifts between guitar not-quite-solos and atmospheric additions. The instrumental middle section is powerful and tense, and its quietude doesn't actually remove any of the force that has been built up before it. The shift back to the story is handled perfectly, atmospheric chatter and all, and the ending no less so. Masterpiece. Probably my favourite moment for the Genesis rhythm section.

Can Utility And The Coast Liners is also brilliant, from the guitar interplay with added keyboards, occasional taps on percussion and Gabriel's voice on the opening to a mocking, not louder, but more powerful section to the beautiful mellotron-drums-and-guitar trio and a searing vocal ('but he forced a smile even though his hopes lay dashed where offerings fell.../Where they fell!') back to a slightly more flippant section, to another even more flippant section in the space of ten seconds, to the vocals' return, with a guitar echoing Gabriel skilfully to a random and mostly unrelated end section. Musically, this just won't stay still, and that's part of the charm. A six-minute song which is as complex and intricate as many of the much-lauded 10-20 minute epics. Occasionally I wish the stunning mellotron-guitar-drums section would last longer, but that's about it.

Horizons is a charming classical guitar solo piece from Hackett, which both fits quite nicely as a break in the album's mellotron-heavy work, and as an enjoyable listen in its own right.

Supper's Ready is another masterpiece, in my opinion, though views about it seem strongly polarised. The guitar interplay is taken to another level on the opening here, while the developing keyboards are managed very tactfully, as backing, but as an integral component nonetheless. Gabriel's lone vocals, as well as the duets with Collins, are handled soulfully, individually and originally. The occasional harmonies are very strong, and the throwbacks to the main theme of the song during connecting sections are handled very well, switching into diverse styles without a hitch. The Hackett-and-Banks combination on Ikhnaton and Itsacon and their band of merry men is particularly brilliant, and manages to both be great music and sustain and advance the concept. Through a fade, this moves on to How Dare I Be So Beautiful, which really displays how much emotion Gabriel can put into a vocal, even when only backed by a shimmering mellotron.

A Flower? And then it shifts to the bizarre Willow Farm, with a surprisingly intricate combination of instruments, including a few moments on the piano, for such a seemingly light and flippant song. But the real darkness is underneath this, the biting 'You've been here all the time/Like it or not, you've got what you've got/You're under the soil' completely changes the song's feel. It seems to me like the band is expressing both lyrically and musically an illusion of innocence over a much darker reality. Thought-provoking stuff.

Apocalypse in 9/8 turns up after some echoes of earlier themes. The bass-and-drumming backbone with occasional additions over the top is enjoyable, and the vocals are perfect, though it really only

takes off as it continues escalating up and up, building more and more musical savagery to powerful cymbal clashes, driving organ and more vocals...then it slowly shifts back to positive bells and drumming crescendo 'And it's...hey babe'. The final section Sure As Eggs Is Eggs section is perfect, with Hackett's guitar unleashed, amazing drum-work from Collins and optimistic vocals and lyrics. Overall, I think that this song is more connected that it's generally given credit for, a genuine, excellent epic, and a great way to annoy die-hard Relayer fans.

If you don't own this album, you should almost certainly get it, since it'll allow you to vote in those 'greatest epic' polls with Supper's Ready by making ad florem attacks or dribbling like a true Genesis fan. Furthermore, you'll then own another 3/4 of a masterpiece album. Not recommended for those new to Genesis, just because I personally found it very difficult to get past the first couple of songs.

Rating: Four Stars

Favourite Track: Get 'Em Out By Friday

TGM: Orb | 4/5 |

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