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Genesis - Trespass CD (album) cover

TRESPASS

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.16 | 1653 ratings

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Chicapah
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Even though a few of my friends were fans, it wasn't until early in '76 that I finally gave Genesis a fair listen (Yes hung the moon as far as I was concerned). I was between bands, questioning my life's direction and working at the flagship record store of the Sound Warehouse chain. One day the manager plopped the brand new "A Trick of the Tail" LP on the turntable. The delicious "Dance on a Volcano" blasted through the building like a force of nature. I became more and more impressed as the album played through. I was hooked and wanted more. She also turned me on to "Selling England by the Pound" and that got me started on collecting their backlog. But, despite the high quality of songwriting that "Nursery Cryme," "Foxtrot," "Genesis Live" and "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" held between their grooves, each one suffered from such bad production that I never had the urge to travel any farther back. When I sprang for the expensive "Archives 1967-1975" compilation some time ago the disc that featured a slew of their early demos seemed so amateurish it further convinced me that "Trespass" would be a waste of money. My bad. I recently picked up a pristine vinyl copy for $7.98 and soon realized that for forty years I've ignorantly missed out on a splendid album that's quite unlike any of their others.

It turns out that the lineup sporting the talents of Gabriel, Rutherford, Banks, Phillips and Mayhew is nothing to scoff at. For five guys barely out of their teens this is an extraordinarily mature offering. They really had a unique blend of acoustic and electric instrumentation going for them and it makes me wonder where they would've ventured if they'd stayed intact. The aforementioned albums that were to follow this one certainly had their admirable merits but in every case they were poorly executed and/or engineered, especially in comparison with the way this one sounds. Rarely have I been so surprised.

Starting with Peter's raspy yet sublimely emotional voice towering over Tony's subdued Hammond organ for the intro to "Looking for Someone" doesn't hurt. The music never overwhelms the vocal (something that cruelly plagued "Cryme" mercilessly) and the adroit attention they paid to dynamics on this cut (and all of them, for that matter) makes it stand out noticeably. I'll admit that John's drumming is loose and slightly distracting but that's only until they get to a more energetic passage halfway through the song. I love how they avoid the pitfall of getting carried away with their enthusiasm and allow the tune to breathe and grow on its own. They never lose sight of the big picture. Lyrically they tend to be a little too sweetly poetic for their own good but that's just a reflection of their youthful idealism more than a lack of ability. Still, lines like "Nobody needs to discover me, I'm back again/you see the sunlight through the trees to keep you warm/in peaceful shades of green/yet in the darkness of my mind Damascus wasn't far behind" aren't patronizing at all and they definitely fit the aural mood they fashioned so well.

"White Mountain" has a cool, mysterious fade-in and Anthony's acoustic 12-string work is delicate and masterful in its execution. As before, they employ tactful ups and downs in volume to hold the listener's interest and the number's haunting finale is inspired. "Visions of Angels" begins with Banks showcasing his impressive skill on the grand piano and the way the different instruments intertwine without becoming tangled up in each other is indicative of the time and effort they undoubtedly put into arranging the piece. Gabriel's delivery of the overly-perfumed words ("As the leaves will crumble so will fall my love/for the fragile beauty of our lives must fade") is a great example of his controlled passion and Mike's bass performance in particular is excellently understated at the end.

"Stagnation" is the apex of the album. I'm particularly wowed at this juncture by their being able to maintain a consistent atmosphere without allowing all the songs to start sounding the same. (Not an easy achievement for any group at any stage of their career.) Phillips' gorgeous, ringing 12-string guitar chords invigorate the tune's momentum and Tony's offbeat approach to playing the Mellotron adds a pleasant dimension to the track. His signature organ technique makes it difficult to mistake him for any other keyboard man, as well. The 2nd part of the composition encompasses what progressive rock was all about in those exploratory days (don't get me wrong, it still holds up brilliantly today) as they build steadily to a stately, gallant climax. Peter manages to make obtuse lines as in "And I will wait forever, beside the silent mirror/and fish for bitter minnows amongst the weeds and slimy water" work in spite of themselves.

"Dusk" is a quiet gem. Its peaceful beginning with Gabriel crooning atop layered acoustic guitars is lovely. "A pawn on the chessboard/a false move by God will now destroy me/but wait, on the horizon/a new dawn seems to be rising/never to recall this passerby, born to die," he sings with his heart on his sleeve. Mayhew's drums are kept relatively low in the mix throughout the album and here they wisely leave him out completely. "The Knife" served notice that they weren't a bunch of cream puffs playing pretty melodies to fair maidens. Its loping rock beat on the verses was unorthodox for its time but it succeeded in separating them from the hard rock herd that surrounded them in the crowded marketplace. The alternating section of the verses is punchy and engaging. Still, they have the presence of mind to drop suddenly into an ethereal instrumental movement that slowly evolves into a Pink Floyd-ish collage of spoken snippets before entering into an edgier and somewhat brittle guitar solo from Anthony (this is where his successor, Steve Hackett, would really outdo him). The epic's antiwar sentiment is timeless and Peter delivers it with suitable angst. "Stand up and fight, for you know we are right/we must strike at the lies that have spread like disease through our minds/soon we'll have power, every soldier will rest/and we'll spread our kindness to all who our love now deserve/some of you are going to die/martyrs of course to the freedom that I shall provide," he snarls. The noisy ending is a bit frantic for my taste but I'm positive it made for a spectacular concert finale.

This is a fine, entertaining record, all things considered (especially when acknowledging their level of experience). Now I understand why "Trespass" is so highly regarded by so many. It has an undeniable charm that's hard to come by and that rare characteristic should be treasured by all proggers. I'm truly embarrassed to have neglected it for so long but I'm glad I finally discovered it even if it's four decades down the line. Better late than never. 4.2 stars.

Chicapah | 4/5 |

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