MCA, 1970

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Progressive rock usually comes in two flavors: overblown or sublime. If you're lucky, the album turns out to be the latter. However Trespass is in a whole different situation: completely indispensable.

Genesis has always crafted albums that sound good. Their musicianship has never been in question; from what I've heard from the band that much can be said. Trespass is their second album, following the learning experience that was From Genesis To Revelation. While this work is an improvement to be sure, it lacks the cohesiveness and genius of later albums such as Selling England By The Pound.

Too often, and this goes for bands from Floyd to Yes, the concept of prog rock goes as follows: noodle aimlessly for a few minutes without really going anywhere. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Trespass unfortunately decides to go down that road, and that's what really hurts the music. For example, did the band really think that having the music in "White Mountain" at one point fade out between speakers was really that earth-shattering? What that is, is merely Genesis trying to sound "artistic" because they could.

Minor gems can be found amongst the "jam sessions" that are Trespass. For starters, this particular unit of the band, which included founders Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, and Michael Rutherford, along with Anthony Phillips and John Mayhew, showcase some very good harmonies on tracks like "Visions Of Angels." The harmonies make up for Gabriel's mostly average performance; it leads one to ponder whether he was still experimenting with his own particular vocal sound. While I trashed some of "White Mountain" earlier, the opening and closing bits set a wonderfully dark mood, reminding me of music from a Rankin-Bass movie (there's your obscure movie reference for the day).

To hear a song that's roughly four minutes from a band such as Genesis (at least in the early years) is a surprise, but here they pull it off wonderfully. "Dusk" is a concise, acoustic- and vocal-driven experience, with a little bit of Jethro Tull thrown in. The result: the second best song on the album. The top honor falls to "The Knife." Now this is a tremendous showing of prog rock. A sense of urgency pervades the opening minutes, after which they pull a Yes-like trick, and slow things down with a few ambient noises and flute exclamations. From that point on it's a slow and progressively more intense build up back to a furious reprise of the opening refrain. Damn it, I wish the whole album had been like this.

It all comes down to trimming the fat when you talk about an album like Trespass. Now, you may say, "Jeff, this is progressive rock, the whole point is not to trim songs down." That is patently absurd. There are plenty of examples of prog albums and songs that are say 20 minutes, but just as tight as "The Knife" or "Dusk" is here. On the other hand, yes there are also countless examples of over blown monstrosities littering the progressive landscape. My point is, Trespass needs a sense of direction and purpose, something the band's future albums would have. It just had not happened for Genesis at this point.

Rating: C+

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© 2005 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of MCA, and is used for informational purposes only.