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Genesis - Foxtrot CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.61 | 3815 ratings

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3 stars Over-enthusiastic mellotron, one-dimensional song-writing, thick production without breathing space, and the whining of a yet-to-mature Peter Gabriel is what characterises Foxtrot as a Genesis album that has less to offer than many people would make out. Although 'Supper's Ready' is a special song and an achievement for the band, little else on this album jumps out as being very progressive; most of it is listenable, some of it is enjoyable, but nearly all of it is forgettable.

Side one relies heavily on the thick chords from Banks' organ or mellotron, accompanying Peter Gabriel's strained vocal delivery of his [mostly] crude lyrics. This combination is nice during 'Watcher of the Skies' but becomes dull soon after (and although the mellotron sound is supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread... I find it to be rather muddy and un-dynamic). The songs on this first side all sound rather similar apart from the wonderous 'Can-Utility and the Coastliners', which has a good structure and some varied instrumentation. Hackett only seems to be audible during his soaring guitar solos, which are the best moments on Foxtrot. His absence the rest of the time is unfortunate for him, and me, as I feel like smashing that Hammond over Banks' head by the end of the album (although he is good at writing epic chord sequences, I wish he would ease off the "fullness" once in a while. His apparently-Emerson-influenced solo in 'Supper's Ready' is the only moment where he actually plays melodies, and this is an uninspiring, rather clunky solo).

Even after a pleasant but pointless minute-and-a- half of acoustic serenading, I am left feeling flat and unimpressed by the first half of this much-loved album. I rely therefore on the multi-part epic to deliver. And it does! 'Supper's Ready' starts off with a simple verse-chorus love song, seguing into some 12-string beauty with electric piano noodling, some more rocking moments a la Queen (but of course, before Queen were around), and a quiet moment of reflection where Gabriel's lyrics start to sound serious for once. As soon as he says "A flower?" the lyrics go right downhill again.

However, musically, Willow Farm is my favourite part of the song. It has vaudeville sections and crazy effects, with some actually interesting developments and a nice swing feel to it. Shame it's over so quickly. What follows is a much-built-up, incredibly anti- climactic solo where Banks' merely seems to play some staccato arpeggios over a time signature he either can't understand or is too bored to follow. But we end on a high note as the band close the suite with what is possibly the most epic way to end a song ever. The last 3 minutes of 'Supper's Ready' are in fact the one place on Foxtrot when the mega- chords, the bass pedals and the Christian wailing actually sound good!

Hence, Foxtrot is an album that is over-loved in my eyes, though it picks itself up in the end. Like most of Genesis' output before Selling England by the Pound, the compositions lack maturity and depth, but occasionally hit the spot. If the band had varied their instrumentation a bit, and their playing techniques, Foxtrot would be less one-dimensional and would have a bit more character; proper character, not the "I like to imitate a cockney accent" kind of character.....

thehallway | 3/5 |


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