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Genesis - Foxtrot CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.60 | 3457 ratings

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5 stars Genesis could be well be called the masters of time signatures. Not because they accommodate the oddest of odd time signatures and 'show' that they can 'play' it. But because they have unusual control over time signature changes. You can see this is a point that other reviews have noted too. I cannot think of very many other bands who could slip in time signature changes so effectively and so intuitively, that you sometimes do not even notice the change! Genesis dextrously switch time signature without upsetting carefully built up momentum and this is no doubt noticeable on this symphonic prog masterpiece too.

Another noticeable aspect of the album is a sprinkling of the Gustav Holst composition, The Planets. You have heard references to the famous suite in so many science fiction. monster and action films by now that it is as ubiquitous as the works of older and more revered classical composers like Mozart or Beethoven.

Genesis, by contrast, apply a more original twist to the matter. Or maybe, they are also drawing on the work of other classical composers, in which case I couldn't spot and I don't know quite know my classical anyway. At any rate, a distinct Genesis flavour is very much intact on Watcher of the Skies. I hear shades of the composition being evoked again in Can Utility and the Coastliners and parts of Supper's Ready. I cannot say The Planets feels especially British to me but it blends easily in the soundscape of an album that certainly sounds very British to me.

The Planets flavour may also be part of why this is considered one of the more rocking Gabriel-era albums. The mysterious, tense flavour of said composition does seem to have got embedded deeply in the fabric of this album. In saying this, I have perhaps paid a tribute to Genesis's own compositional skill. I can't make up my mind over which of this and the next one, Selling England By the Pound, is the better Genesis album. But I do consider this the more cohesive album. The compositions seem to flow out of a homogeneous and holistic musical concept, the mark of which is recognizable somewhere deep in the musical elements but is not obvious or apparent.

But a little bit on the rocking flavour again. This is also because of the terrific rhythm section of Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins. Much is said about the more illustrious Bruford-Squire pair of Yes. But the Genesis pair enjoyed terrific chemistry too and bring forth an irreverent contrast to Banks's stately, ponderous flavours. This is particularly noticeable on Can Utility and the Coastliners. As Banks plays some stately mellotron, Collins and Rutherford are absolutely rocking and the overall flavour of the passage is thus inimitably Genesis. Collins also plays a very important role in ensuring Genesis's deft time signature changes are indeed effected seamlessly.

In the midst of all, Steve Hackett sneaks in whenever he can in a Banks dominated album. He contributes some shrieking electric guitar when the band are searching for some meat in their sound and is ever the master of lovely acoustic. Speaking of which, the way he doubles with Rutherford's 12 string also adds to the warm, pastoral flavour of the music.

Imposing theatrical eccentricity over it all is singer Peter Gabriel. I confess Gabriel makes me regret listening to music on speakers rather than earphones. Because much as I am fond of his vocal contributions to Genesis, listening to them and other bands on speakers does not put his voice in the most flattering light. But he tries very hard and manages to please. Not only that, with all these wonderful musicians around, he manages to steal the show. And whatever you can say about the limitations of his voice, the very British flavour of these tracks wouldn't be there but for the way he sings them.

Even the relatively short Timetable is very good. This is for once a tight Genesis affair with no throwaways, no inconsequential moments. The only unflattering aspect is the production. Then again, in comparison to the music I grew up, this would actually be considered a good recording, so no complaints for me. Besides, I wouldn't want to stop myself from totally enjoying such a delightful album for reason only that the production isn't that great. Five stars without hesitation.

rogerthat | 5/5 |


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