Genesis - Foxtrot

Year of Release: 1994
Label: Atlantic
Catalog Number: 82674-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:53:00

Released in the winter of 1972, Foxtrot (Charisma, 1058) was the logical follow up to the previous year's Nursery Cryme. It built upon the strengths of its predecessor, concentrating on song development and strong, yet often subtle ensemble performance. As a result of this, Foxtrot can be considered a stronger overall release than the previous year's Nursery Cryme, even though some individual songs from Nursery Cryme outshine, in my opinion, even the best material from Foxtrot. With this release, Genesis was beginning to achieve the success that bands like Yes, ELP and Jethro Tull had already tasted in the USA and continental Europe. The previous year's personnel shake-up had immediately borne fruit, and the passage of time had shown only greater skill and confidence within the band. The conflicts that would chip away at the bands cohesiveness were still far in the future and this was the time of Genesis' greatest accomplishments, even if not their greatest popularity.

Lyrically, this release provided yet another platform for Gabriel and his skillful storybook style of vocal delivery. Tales of otherworldly visitations, corporate manipulation of the downtrodden, a retelling of the classic fable of King Canute and finally, an epic interpretation of Gabriel and his wife Jill's own metaphysical experiences would provide ample material for the Genesis fan to contend with

The musicianship examined, Foxtrot would reveal ever greater technical expertise to even the most casual listener. Tony Banks' performance on his Hammond B-3 and Mellotron had become even more fluid and dazzling, while Hackett's acoustic guitar style continued to mature, equalling Banks' keyboards in their importance to the sound of Genesis. Collins' drumming and Rutherford's bass work had fused now, and the band could boast of a tighter, more precise attack than ever before. This enhanced precision would show itself in the material from Foxtrot, which required more from the players than anything the band had attempted on their previous releases. With the exception of "Time Table," all the songs on this album called for the highest levels of virtuosity, with frequent changes of meter and tempo, difficult time signatures and counterpoint melody and many challenging instrumental interludes.

Beginning with "Watcher Of The Skies," inspired by the bleak view from the window of an Italian hotel, Foxtrot starts out on an eerie tone, with Banks' gothic chord progressions giving way to Mike Rutherford's pulsing bass line that merges with Collins' furious drumming. Gabriel's vocals plead for understanding from the astral visitor who looks with disdain on the skeletal remains of human civilization. With layer upon layer of lush Mellotron and organ, Tony Banks' melody soars over the potent rhythm section section as Hackett stabs out razor sharp guitar lines. Always a fan favourite, I believe that the definitive version of this song is heard on 1973's Genesis: Live, which presents an even tighter and more lively version of this classic. The album's second track, "Time Table" may be interpreted as a lyrical flashback to the heyday of the barren world being judged by the "Watcher Of The Skies". Reminding those who listen that we are not as unique as we may believe, Gabriel's vocals are the high point of this ballad, which is also blessed with beautiful piano and Hackett's lovely guitar lines.

"Get "Em Out By Friday" is a musically and lyrically powerful piece with impressive interplay between the guitar and keyboards and heavily theatrical vocals from Gabriel. The lyrics narrative tells the tale of a greedy developer bent on displacing an elderly couple from their home, and Gabriel sings the roles of several characters in the tale. The song benefits from a bevy of tempo changes and shows off the chops of all the members quite well. The music and lyrics work very well together as the passages that represent the developer and his cronies absolutely rock with bubbling Hammond organ and distorted guitar, while the voices of the elderly couple are backed with more sensitive and subdued arrangements accented with Gabriel's flute. There is a huge amount of energy displayed in this song, and the piece works very well on any level that one may wish to examine it from.

An under-appreciated gem follows, "Can-Utility And The Coastliners." This track is one of the finest moments on this release, beginning as a sensitive acoustic number, and ending with heavy B-3 organ and Rutherford's dense bass pedal accompaniment. Gabriel's lyrics tell the story of the Danish King Canute who, angry at the North Sea, commands the tide not to rise. The song itself is much more successful than the Danish King's quest. Unfortunately, placed between "Get "Em Out By Friday" and "Supper's Ready," this tune is often overlooked in favor of its better known companions.

Next is Steve Hackett's exquisite solo guitar showcase "Horizons." Hackett's classical technique is put to good use and he manages to coax lovely harmonics from every nook and cranny of his acoustic guitar. At little more than a minute and a half, this song is just too short to adequately display Hackett's talents, but it is a welcome addition to this release nevertheless.

The album concludes with a Genesis classic, "Supper's Ready," an epic effort from the band at nearly twenty three minutes, which took up all of side two on the original vinyl LP release. Clearly a collection of shorter songs joined together with a common lyrical thread, Gabriel's lyrics are the unifying force here, recounting the tale of near supernatural encounter he and his spouse experienced in the attic of a (perhaps haunted?) old house owned by his wife's family. The seven songs that make up this epic are drawn from all over the board, with touches of the trademark chiming 12 string acoustic guitar appearing in "Lovers Leap" and "The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man," their Beatles influences displayed once more in "Willow Farm," which is in large part a knockoff of "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite" from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, and finally, Tony Banks' keyboards and Collins' drumming dominating "Apocalypse In 9/8" and Hackett's guitar shining through in "As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs", the last two being the highlights and the ultimate climax to the piece, and to the album as a whole. The component parts of this epic do hang together rather well, but the lack of anything remotely new or different in the sound of "Supper's Ready" is somewhat of a disappointment. The first and last two movements are really the best, even though the piece as a whole is mostly a rehashing of previous themes and old ideas. Despite all this, the band displays some serious musical expertise throughout the course of this work, with Banks' Mellotron and B-3 organ skills used to stunning effect during "Apocalyse In 9/8," and Gabriel's storytelling skills shining through quite well throughout this piece. His onstage banter, and especially his charming little dance whenever he sang the "Hey baby, with your guardian eyes so blue" line in live performance of the "Supper's Ready" suite helped in no small part to make this an audience favourite, and one of Genesis' most beloved songs.

This release went a long way to solidify both the new sound of Genesis and their reputation as a live act. It was undoubtedly a smart move for the group to build mainly on the type of work first unveiled on Nursery Cryme and to eschew any sort of change in the bands overall sound. That change would come later, but in 1972, the focus was on building their international fan base and forging an identifiable sound. Even though there were no songs on Foxtrot to rival the best works of Nursery Cryme, the album could boast of more consistency than the previous years release, and most of the material here has proved to be more popular with the hard core Genesis fan than their earlier works. "Supper's Ready," "Watcher Of The Skies," and "Get 'Em Out By Friday" all became part of the Genesis stage show, while only "The Musical Box" from Nursery Cryme made the jump to long term popularity.

Watcher Of The Skies (7:19) / Time Table (4:40) / Get 'Em Out By Friday (8:35) / Can Utility And The Coastliners (5:43) / Horizon's (1:38) / Supper's Ready (22:58)

Tony Banks - organ, mellotron, piano, electric piano, 12 and 6 strings guitars, voices
Steve Hackett - electric guitar, 6 and 12 string solos
Phil Collins - drums, voices, assorted percussion
Peter Gabriel - lead voice, flute, bass drums, tambourine, oboe
Michael Rutherford - bass, bass pedals, 12 string guitar, voices, cello

From Genesis To Revelation (1969)+
Trespass (1970)
Nursery Crime (1971)
Foxtrot (1972)
Live (1973)
Selling England By The Pound (1973)
Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974)
Wind And Wuthering (1976)
Trick Of The Tail (1976)
Seconds Out (1977)
And Then There Were Three (1978)
Duke (1980)
Abacab (1981)
Three Sides Live (1982)
Genesis (1983)
Invisible Touch (1986)
We Can''t Dance (1991)
The Way We Walk: The Shorts (1992)
The Way We Walk: The Longs (1993)
Calling All Stations (1997)
Turn It On Again - The Hits (1999)
Archive #1 (1999)
Archive #2 (2000)

The Genesis Songbook (2001) (DVD/VID)
Live At Wembley Stadium (2003) (DVD)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: July 6th 2004
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 1827
Language: english


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