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Genesis - Foxtrot CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.60 | 3331 ratings

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5 stars FOXTROT is nothing short of a masterpiece, and easily earns its place as one of my ten all-time favourite progressive rock albums. In fact, this is the disc that led me into the genre in the first place, gloriously expanding my musical tastes beyond the confines of "hard" rock. What was it about this magical recording that lured me, at the tender age of thirteen, away from Alice Cooper, and that still moves me so today? Beyond the obvious answer of "the great music," I think that it is the sheer sweeping grandeur of scope, imagination and execution that FOXTROT embodies that enthralled me then, and still appeals to me so strongly now.

The album starts with the powerful "Watcher of the Skies," and there is a sense of power and majesty in Tony Banks' opening mellotron and "church" organ lines that sets the tone for the superb material that lies ahead. Collins' drums and Rutherford's bass then insistently rise up through the mix, the song really begins to move, the inimitable early Hackett electric guitar adds what is perhaps the most essential element, and the often imitated, but seldom-equaled Peter Gabriel passionately addresses an obsolete God whose human creation has outpaced him, and no longer needs or acknowledges him as it extends its dominion to the stars.

The following, graceful "Time Table" offers a balancing respite from "Watcher"'s intensity, as Banks' lovely piano and some truly poetic lyrics that ponder the seeming impermanence of honour and beauty form an interlude that sets the stage for the masterful "mini epic" that is "Get 'Em Out by Friday." This eight and a half-minute "prog opera" proffers a delightful example of why Genesis were arguably first among a select company of early progressive rock acts who were demonstrating just how far this new music could go, as Gabriel changed roles to tell a tale of a bleak Orwellian future where an all-powerful government controls every aspect of its subject-citizens lives -- even down to their very size. A wonderful song, and as good as any in Genesis' superlative early catalogue!

I won't say much about the often overlooked jewel that is the strangely-titled "Can-Utility and the Coastliners," beyond the fact that I listed it as my "favourite song" in my high school yearbook, and it still has the power to make my jaded old eyes misty today. (The lyrics tell the story of the medieval English king Canute, who, legend says, tried to command the tides, only to learn the limits of his earthly power, and the folly of his pride.)

Next, the listener's ears are soothed by a short but beautiful example of Hackett's mastery of the classical guitar on "Horizons," before the album's (and quite possibly, the band's) magnum-opus, the magnificent, mind-blowing twenty-three minute suite "Supper's Ready" gets off to a dignified start. This is the song that many Genesis fans cite as their all-time favourite, and deservedly so! Here Gabriel and company, in as fantastic a piece of prog as was ever laid down, tackle no less a "work" than the final, obtuse and apocalyptic chapter of the Bible, the Book of Revelations. Gabriel and his band mates, like electric "angels" (Revelations says that the "archangel Gabriel" will herald the end of this world, and the battle for the next! Hmmm....) lead us through the "Christian Ragnarok." With "the guards of Magog swarming around," 666 (the Beast, or antichrist) joins the fray, until Christ, "Lord of Lords, King of Kings" returns "to lead his children home, to take them to the new Jerusalem." As the song comes to its emotional close and Hackett's haunting guitar echoes on the fade-out, you might be forgiven for thinking "If that's the apocalypse, bring it on!" The end of the word never sounded so good!

If you own a copy of FOXTROT, I urge you to re-experience its overwhelming artistry soon! If you've never heard this terrific disc, but have a taste for classic progressive rock, you can't do much better than buying a copy. This is an album to take into the bomb shelter; a fitting soundtrack for the end of the world. FOXTROT is a luminous exemplar of the lofty heights of its genre's greatest works. Not to be missed!

Peter | 5/5 |


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