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Genesis - Trespass CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.14 | 2500 ratings

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3 stars The Big Top was funded by Pre-Tent IOU's

You know those folks in modest suburban homes who have plastic gargoyles on their mail boxes and call their property Dungrinnin (Robert Smith) or in our case Dunpoppy? (Genesis) Well this record brings such a phenomenon to mind but we really should be eternally grateful to Charterhouse's finest for suffering the inevitable barbs that ambition thwarted by ability is bound to attract. i.e. the caveman who invented the humble club was a figure of fun until baseball and the Cosa Nostra's credit control policy finally afforded him the status of cultural visionary. These are decent pop songs but simply inflated to prog dimensions. Large swathes of pretty but inconsequential and anodyne noodling blot this otherwise quaint pastoral landscape. It's certainly a commendable leap from the début re sophistication and daring but unrelated segments of music glued haphazardly between verse and chorus formats does not a labyrinthine structure make.

Looking for Someone - one of the least memorable Genesis songs I've heard which rather messily and at inordinate length sums up many of the shortcomings of this album. The melodic compass is decent enough and Gabriel exploits that eerie 'other worldly' quality his voice possesses on the a cappella intro (see Dancing With the Moonlit Knight for a better example of this) The glacial shimmering calm of the chorale section is brilliantly done but there are acres of unkempt vegetation strangling this delicate climbing flower. The mock Conservatoire finale was I suspect not even intended to be unwittingly comedic.

White Mountain - a very sturdy and agreeable melody but the instrumental departures are contrived tangential detours that only serve to stretch the elasticity of the storm and flood tested pop song format to breaking point. Based on celebrated plagiarist Jack London's novel White Fang, it lends the album it's name:

Thin hung the web like a trap in a cage, the fox lay asleep in his lair Fang's frantic paws told the tale of his sin, far off the chase shrieked revenge Outcast he trespassed where no wolf may tread

I've often ridiculed Gabriel's lyrics as precocious sixth former's 'interior view' graffiti but kudos to Pete here, these are very good indeed.

Stagnation - This does have credible claims to pure-bred prog pedigree as it features some sci-fi pitch bend shenanigans from Banks on what sounds like a post performance edited Hammond solo. (Well there ain't no synth critters listed on the sleeve are there?) The building of excitement throughout the arrangement is economically rationed and Tony B rewards this fledgling command of form with a well paced solo incorporating melodic fragments that appeared earlier and pointing the way towards the track's conclusion. Why then do the lads lose their nerve and embark on yet more leafy torpor at Stagnation's centre? It does evoke an atmosphere of sorts but strays perilously close to medieval slapstick as if Ian Anderson landed the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham in 'Robin Hood On Ice'. I can also detect echoes of what became Twilight Alehouse in places here? In mitigation there is a beautiful harmonic charge towards the fade that serves as a fitting platform for Gabriel's most mature performance on the album, but his lyrics really are just schoolboy poetry:

Here today the red sky tells his tale, but the only listening eyes are mine There is peace amongst the hills and the night will cover my pride.

This is 'deep' for those unable to negotiate turning a page without water wings. The entire album is littered with Judeo-Christian imagery but whether this is merely scenic mood setting or pivotal to Gabriel's agenda, is ambiguous at best. What is clear however is that he is unashamedly a moral being articulating his thoughts from within an entertainment industry cesspool that makes such sentiments worthy of some of your time(see Suppers Ready)

Visions of Angels - strong melodic song seeded by a lovely piano motif but we are forced to share the author's imagery 'through a milk bottle darkly' due to the blurry, boggy and murky production. This facet of earlier Genesis has always besmirched their output and it's frustrating that much of the finely wrought detail of the music suffers as a result. There's a spiffy hook to the chorus here that will make all your pan-handling for the gold worthwhile. Rather bizarrely, the lyrics steal an uncanny march on those of A Forest by the Cure:

I see her face and run to take her hand, why she's never there I don't understand The trumpet sounds my whole world crumbles down, visions of angels all around dance in the sky leaving me here forever goodbye

Dusk - meekly shuffles into view like the contrite schoolboy summoned to appear in front of a mild mannered 'beak' who punishes the offender with stern kisses. Somewhere deep within the impenetrable bowels of the mix you can catch a whiff of something mildly attractive stirring but these crepuscular whispers are always just out of earshot alas.

The Knife - By jingo ! I almost fell asleepppppppppppp. This alarmist alarm call to misguided action under the flag of 'Insert Your Favourite Brand of Morality Here', represents a band kicking effortlessly into their stride where the composition, while seamless, is ever changing and Genesis finally spit out the pacifier afforded by conventional pop song formats.

I'll give you the names of those you must kill, all must die with their children Carry their heads to the palace of old, have them on stakes let the blood flow Now in this hate-filled world we must break all the chains that have bound us Now the crusade has begun we shall make this a land fit for heroes

One of the groups very finest songs that simply dwarfs the modest but limited company it keeps on Trespass

Thank god for pretension and failed ambition I say, as how else can artists further their craft and surmount the artificial boundaries erected by the forces of reaction and marketing? I have a huge advantage over Peter Gabriel because no-one is ever gonna see my wretched essay at 24 outlining the parallels between the symbolist poets and the silent movie industry: Patti Smith... Buster Keaton with Tits? (A Thesis)

Growing up in public affords you no such privacy in your formative years to erase your mistakes and juvenilia from further scrutiny. Given the magnificent music that Genesis went on to produce on albums like Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Selling England By the Pound, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and A Trick of the Tail, we can safely concur that those aforementioned IOU's have been paid in full.

The Greatest Show On Earth can now begin....Roll Up, Roll Up

ExittheLemming | 3/5 |


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