Classic Rock Review

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Genesis Foxtrot (1972)


This album makes me feel good. I listen to it all the time and perhaps it’s *the* indisputable proof that I am a geek. (I like Selling England By the Pound slightly more than this, but somehow Foxtrot seems geekier.) Genesis dramatically improved their act since Nursery Cryme too; that much you’ll get after listening to the first song. Whereas their instrumentation standards on earlier albums have seemed somewhat amateurish and rough around the edges, they have blossomed so much on Foxtrot that they had surely become among the best instrumentalists in the business.

Maybe they weren’t as technically proficient as Yes, King Crimson or Jethro Tull, but give me their arrangement sensibilities over those bands any time. Listening to the pastoral sounds of “Time Table” for instance is exactly what it’s like to spend a happy day outdoors in the summer sun. There aren’t a whole hell of a lot of songs that give me that impression so distinctly. That’s my favorite song in Foxtrot, by the way, which the vast majority of this album’s fans probably wouldn’t share. But I don’t care! I love it! The vocal melody is just as warm and beautiful as the instrumentation!

Peter Gabriel’s singing has also improved greatly since the last album. He’s more or less play acting through most of this, and I buy everything he does. He sounds so compelling with his dramatic turns throughout “Get ‘Em Out By Friday,” for instance, that I hang onto his every word and never for a moment think he’s being corny or pretentious. I also have to continue my endless appraisal of Phil Collins’ masterful abilities as a prog drummer. Especially his work in “Watcher of the Skies” has me in total awe. I’m not even sure how those incessantly fast and complicated rolls and fills are even physically possible. He must have ingested a magic bean.

I only have one complaint about Foxtrot, and it’s so minor that it’s pretty much not a complaint at all. While “Can-Utility and the Coastliner” is lovely, everything I said about Genesis improving their sound doesn’t apply so much to that song. It’s rather loose around the edges, and the journey it takes us on through different textures and crescendos doesn’t compel me nearly as much as the other songs. I still like listening to it quite a lot, mostly because the vocal melody is sweet, but it seems like they easily could have done more with it. It’s just a minor lost opportunity.

The closing track, “Supper’s Ready” is a 23-minute suite and a pure treat from beginning to end. I suppose the normal people will listen to it and think it’s mostly dull, particularly those slow and quiet spots, but I cannot express enough to you that I am not a normal person. That’s one song that I listen to with my eyes closed, and I let it transport me to a different land! (I try not to do that when I’m listening to it in the car, though.) There is such a wide variety of different textures, moods and melodies in there that I always have a blast with it. It’s even terribly silly in the middle with those Hobbit singers! (Yes, I think those are Hobbits. …I already told you that I am a geek! Get over it!!)

The more I listen to Foxtrot, the more I seem to like it. It is an amazing album, and surely one of the greatest prog works ever made. Not only does it have an amazing array of textures, moods and melodies, but it’s consistently entertaining and beautiful. I have spent many happy years listening to, dissecting, and loving this album, and I plan to spend many more years continuing that. Many, many, many years. (Somebody please play “Time Table” at my funeral… It’ll cheer everyone up, and I think my corpse would like it, too.)


April 4, 2013 - Posted by | Genesis Foxtrot |

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