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Genesis - Foxtrot CD (album) cover

FOXTROT

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.61 | 2551 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The Apocalypse in 4.5 (With the Delicious Talents of Gabble Ratchet)

You always have to take a certain reverence when reviewing the classics. Or, you can just tear 'em a new asshole, much like I famously did with Close to the Edge (AND Thick as a Brick...in a way). This is, by and large, where the Genesis blood clot sticks, and it's up to me to tear it down. Gabriel and Friends still had a tiny bit to go before growing into masterfully intelligent songsmiths.

Still, I really do like this album a lot. I mean, I really dig the cover, with all the tiny whales and crap. Hmm. That's not terribly philosophical and album-delving, is it? Best move into the songs...

Once again, and as usual, I love this album for all the wrong reasons (take THAT "real" Genesis fans!). For example, opener "Watcher of the Skies?" Some call it a masterpiece. I call it annoying. The mellotron intro isn't majestic in the least (this is just me, but it sounds like proto-synth pop, and that ain't a good thing), and the start-n-stop riff gets a tad on the silly side halfway through the piece. Not to mention that it's about aliens, but I suppose we should come to expect that from Pete by now. I've come to expect child-like charm from Mr. Gabriel in the past, but this number is just childish.

Strangely enough, the next piece takes a very different path. The intro to "Time Table" is pure baroque piano, and it develops into a stately medieval ballad of sorts. Literally medieval too; dig the pompous- but-silly-but-maybe-thoughtful-? lyrics. It's cute, but not exactly jumping out to getcha.

Now, it's on "Get 'Em Out By Friday" that we REALLY get cooking. Another miniature sci-fi opera in the style of "Hogweed," but probably better. It's a constantly shifting piece, and every part is entertaining, from the boppy fun of the title refrain, the moaning of "Oh, no, this I can't believe," and the weird beauty of the announcement of Genetic Control. "Can Utility and the Coastliners" is a little less fun to listen to (plots to shrink people are replaced with medieval stylistics), but no less well crafted, and is one of the best places on the album to hear the band gelling instrumentally, particularly in the latter half.

"Horizon's" is probably the most interesting piece on the album; less than two minutes, it's a wonderful, simply wonderful, piece of Back-inspired classic guitar. No over the top lyrics or synths or sound effects, just...gorgeous guitar. And I love it. Some people view this as just an intro for the epic that follows. Ignore them; this is practically the best song on the album.

Still, the definitive song of the album, if not Genesis' entire career, is "Supper's Ready." It probably contains the lowest points on the album, but it easily takes the highest parts too. Take the opening medieval ballad "Lover's Leap," for instance. Pure beauty that one, both melodically and lyrically, probably the best part of the suite. It slides flawlessly into the stirring, anthemic "Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man," which raises a few less emotions, but is still cool.

Things pick up a tad with "Ikhanton and Istacon and Their Band of Merry Men," in which Genesis tries to rock out. Heh. Well, they do a nice attempt, mostly driven by Phil's booming drum kit, although Hackett's guitar and Bank's synths get a nice workout too. This eventually fades into "How Dare I Be So Beautiful?" which is nothing more than slow ambience, and never ceases to bore me. Least it's short...

Oh well. "Willow Farm" more than makes up for it though; this has got to be one of Pete's most psychopathic tunes. It starts out as an eerie, somehow compelling march. But halfway through, it mutates into some kind of bizarre take English music hall, complete with classic Gabriel vocals bursting from every direction. And catchy as hell too.

"Farm" dissolves into a strangely pretty instrumental break (dig the flute!), which in turn builds into the "Apocalypse in 9/8 (co-starring the delicious talents of Gabble Ratchet)" (GODS I'm getting sick of writing all these titles out). That one is gnarly, and pretty much lives up to the title (both in the "Apocalypse" part, AND in the "Gabble Ratchet" department). The instrumental sections are a little long, but dig those spooky-ass noises Hackett's producing with his six string. And the closer "As Sure As Eggs is Eggs (Aching Men's Feet)" is no slouch either; a soaring anthemic retake of "Lover's Leap," it ends with a whistle, a bang, and absolutely fits. Nice job.

So, as I hope I've indicated, these are all pretty solid tunes. They're all pretty memorable, mostly fun, and occasionally even...well, pretty. They're also fun. They're also headbanging! Well, maybe nothing REALLY rocks my socks, but when Phil and Steve get cookin', everything bounds along with an even tread.

But it's not the instruments that cut the album for me. The instrumental parts are all very well thought out and flow nicely, but they still lack a certain...oomph. I dunno. If you have to pinpoint something that really makes the album, it's Pete's flopping and gasping around like a dying fish. It's his weirdness that holds everything together and makes you want to keep listening.

This would be solved on Selling England next year, where Pete's weirdness would be evenly competed with his bandmates skill, but for the moment, it's still Pete's show, and Mr. Gabriel is a master showman here. Selling England is probably better in the end, but Foxtrot is one of the most consistent albums the band ever produced, and will always have a special place in my heart.

The Whistler | 4/5 |

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