Foxtrot

Genesis

Atco Records, 1972

http://www.genesis-music.com

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/09/2005

Foxtrot marks the place where the early Genesis sounds begins to gel, encompassing weighty lyrics and searing guitar playing and one of the finest albums in their output, with nary a hint of the wimpiness that affected parts of their first three outings.

Genesis' strongest early songs center around stories -- "The Fountain of Salmacis," "In the Cage," "The Cinema Show" and "Eleventh Earl of Mar." Two of the best examples are on this album - "Supper's Ready" and "Get 'em Out By Friday," although the other four songs almost reach their level of quality. This is the first Genesis album with no filler.

The solo keyboards of "Watcher Of The Skies" introduce the album. After Banks noodles a bit - as much as one can noodle on a mellotron, anyway -- a staccato drum rhythm takes over and Peter Gabriel begins his tale of an alien race scoping out Earth for takeover. The beginning and end are captivating enough, but the track is a little repetitive in the middle.nbtc__dv_250

"Time Table" and "Can-Utility And The Coastliners" are similar to each other, with gently picked acoustic intros, complex lyrics and a sense of peace before the storm of the next song. "Table" uses the same soft approach as the Trespass album, while "Utility" starts soft, turns into a brief rock song and then turns into a duel between Banks' keyboard and Steve Hackett's guitar. It's the most underrated track here, and the keyboard/guitar break is just as haunting as the one in "Cinema Show" from 1973's Selling England By The Pound.

"Get 'em Out By Friday" features Gabriel in a one-act play doing all five of the characters. The story is both sci-fi and a social commentary, telling how an old English couple gets evicted from their apartment so landlords can fit twice as many people in, after putting a restriction on the height of humans. The music fits the point of the story, switching from plaintive folk to hard rock to atmospherics and back to hard rock. The ending line "So invest in the church for your heaven" is a winner as well.

Finally, Hackett turns in the short, beautiful "Horizons" before the band launches the 23-minute opus "Supper's Ready." While many fans adore this song, it doesn't get interesting until about halfway through (the "Willow Farm" segment, the only funny thing on the album). The track shifts from loud to soft in the blink of an eye, but delivers a walloping climax, with Mike Rutherford's bass and Phil Collins' drums pounding out a rhythm while Banks solos with his keys. Gabriel sings his heart out, pouring passion into the story of Jesus returning to take his flock to Jerusalem (or something like that), and the whole will leave the listener feeling dazed. In a good way.

Foxtrot is at once a marriage of progressive ideals, good storytelling and rock 'n' roll dynamics. It's challenging, engrossing and demands your attention.

Rating: A-

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