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Genesis - Foxtrot CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.60 | 3323 ratings

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5 stars Flawed Diamond

I was a little hesitant about awarding the full "Masterpiece" Rating to this album, because it has flaws. It remains, however, an essential part of any collection of prog - I'd go as far as to say a cornerstone - one of the first to buy if you are new to prog, and one to get if you have been into it for a while.

So where are the flaws?

Well, most lie with Gabriel's vocals: "Watcher Of The Skies" squeezes in far too many syllables per note in what we might take to be the chorus sections, and ends up feeling slightly lumpy and uncomfortable. This is counterpointed with beautiful bridge sections and wonderful instrumental sections - including that fabulous introduction, which produces a starry, timeless feeling followed by a glorious build up. The music to the "chorus" passages tends to follow the lumpiness of the voice, and is littered with further build ups. It makes me think of "Battle of Epping Forest", which is one of Gabriel era Genesis weaker numbers, IMO. Fortunately there is more of that wonderful keyboard to counterpoint the lumpy sections, and this song is almost redeemed.

So there must be something way beyond "Watcher" to push the album up to masterpiece status, right? You bet! It starts with "Time Table", which is just sublime, in that both music and words conjure up days of chivalry long gone. It's almost worth buying Foxtrot just for this song.

But you get more - much more! "Get 'Em Out By Friday" is a wonderful little melodrama, lovingly characterised vocally and musically, using a kind of Leitmotif technique. Utterly masterful!

"Can-Utility and the Coastliners" is a masterpiece of song-writing, but I find the way Gabriel's voice strains on the high notes irritating. The quality of the music is the redeeming factor - and the instrumental middle section is this side's high point. Superb percussion from Collins drives a solid rhythm section below dreamy keyboards towards muscial nirvana!

"Horizons" should, in my opinion, be considered the introduction to "Supper's Ready". A haunting piece of guitar playing utilising harmonics. "Supper's Ready" is not really a single piece, but 5 pieces and 2 variations, with the main theme from the 1st piece re- utilised occasionally to give a feeling of continuity, and the music from "The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man" re-used for "As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs". Again, the problem lies with Gabriel, but it's the lyrics of "Lover's Leap" which are wrong and have been oft-discussed ;0)

These holes in the lyrical continuity may have irked me for 31 years, but they do not spoil the overall wonderfulness that is "Supper's Ready", one of the 7 Wonders of the prog world. The "All Change" section of "Willow Farm" makes up for everything.

I have concentrated on the flaws so that it becomes obvious that they are minor, and the album deserves its masterpiece status. It is like a rough diamond - still highly valuable, and a thing of beauty that you will treasure forever, but imperfect. Like any other true masterpiece, the more you listen to it, the more you get out of it.

Also recommended, if you like this album: "Selling England By The Pound" and "A Trick Of The Tail". If you find the sound slightly old-fashioned (and it does sound a little dated, but only in the "they don't write them like that anymore" sense), I would recommend "Script for a Jester's Tear" by Marillion (24-Bit Remastered version).

Certif1ed | 5/5 |


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