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GENESIS Foxtrot reviews and MP3

December 16, 2013
GENESIS Foxtrot reviews and MP3
5 starsHearing is believing... "Foxtrot" is an immortal treasure to unearth in the goldmine ofprogressive rock
Lightning in a Bottle or just a Light Bottle? 'Foxtrot' is a much hyped up Gabriel-era Genesisalbum unlike any other you will hear, as Gabriel sings, "taking risks oh so bold". Ithas been revered here in the PA receiving rave reviews with collaborator reviewers gushingover it stating: "one of the cornerstones of progressive rock music"; "obligated for everymusic lover"; "one of the most consistent albums the band ever produced, and will alwayshave a special place in my heart"; "arguably the best album of all time in my mind"; "THEexample of classic prog rock"; "pure genius"; "prog at its best"; "a must have"; a perfectlycrafted album, with no fillers"; "without a doubt a masterpiece of symphonicprog"; "essential"; "of incontrovertible importance"; "one seriously mandatory album"; "oneof the great musical works of the 20th century"; "it sits on the very top of ProgMountain"; "one of the greatest albums I have ever heard"; "exciting, daring and bold and adeserved PA top 10 album". Whew, where do you go from there?

What is "Foxtrot"? A Genesis album that exploded on impact and all other prog bands werehit by the shrapnel. It features the essential classics of the Gabriel era'Supper'sReady', 'Watcher of the Skies', 'Can-Utility and the Coastliners' and 'Get 'Em Out ByFriday'. I heard these live on "Genesis Live" and "Seconds Out" before the studioversions and was pleasantly surprised at how they sounded on "Foxtrot", that I only got holdof in 2010. I feel like a gatecrasher to the party, but better late than never. I had heard theepic song 'Supper's Ready' from "The Platinum Collection", so I wasn't in a hurry toget "Foxtrot", but there is more to this than one mammoth epic. Much more.

The front cover is one of the definitive icons of prog; a fox in a red dress balancing on thewater as a troop of foxhunters gallop onto the beach. The plaintive fox is safe in isolation onher floating iceberg and the dolphins celebrate as they skim the waves in joyful, triumphantsagacity. The beach is peaceful masking the terror of impending capture as the icebergmelts, it is inevitable, the fox will have to swim to shore and the snarling dogs prepare todevour their prey. The mood is set, on goes the music and it is headphone bliss from pointA to B. It is simply galvanised to submerge yourself in.

OK, let's get it out of the way; this IS a masterpiece. Any way you slice it, there is no denyingthe incredible influence of this album and its musicianship and structure is as good asGenesis gets. The quintessential treasure of 'Supper's Ready', all 23 minutes of it,are here in all its prog glory and definitely the ultimate Genesis song, capturing the Gabrielera beautifully. It is worth getting hold of for this track alone; an astonishing epicshowcasing the early brilliant, influential prog era. But the other songs are incredible too.What can I add to the hundreds of reviews here that will enhance the album's reputation?Well, no one has gone into painful details on the lyrics so perhaps it is time to do that. Allowme to elucidate and perhaps expose the greatness of this album by lyrical dissection. Let's look at these tracks in detail. 'Watcher of the Skies' has a languid, lengthymellotron intro by Banks. Then there is an intricate time sig dominated by a driving divinebassline from Rutherford. The sharp sporadic drum beat is a portent of the chaos to come.

The lyrics are typical of Gabriel, snappy and clich? driven nonsense that fits perfectly theestranged rhythms of Hackett and Collins. The absurdist lyrics are alienating but sincerelydark and foreboding:"Creatures shaped this planet's soil, Now their reign has come toan end, has life again destroyed life, Do they play elsewhere, or do they know more thantheir childhood games? Maybe the lizard's shed its tail, This is the end of man's union withEarth."Questions, questions, questions... no answers but a myriad of unbridledpurpose driven ruminations about life and death. The melody juxtaposes a bright tune tothis darkness, and it works exceptionally well. The tale of alien invasion is perfect for thesatirical nature of the music.

You can really feel the tension in the way Gabriel delivers; he must be one of the legends ofprog for his contribution. Banks flies off the deep end with the keyboards and the rhythm isdriving in 6/4 rhythm, and bombastic sounds dominate. Listen to it on "Genesis Live" for areal experience in instrumental genius. The mellotron is wonderfully played and adds to thesurreal fantasy soundscape. The dynamics are a collision of guitar and drums with a multilayered keyboard wave of sound.

'Timetable' features Banks on nursery rhyme (or is that Cryme?) piano melodiesand then Gabriel sings paradoxical sweet, nasty lyrics told from the point of view of a carvedoak table the tale of ancient kings and queens:"Why, why can we never be sure till wedie, Or have killed for an answer, Why, why, do we suffer each race to believe, That no racehas been grander, It seems because through time and space, Though names may changeeach face retains the mark it wore."More unanswerable questions about time andspace, or is it just an anti-war theme? It is thematic certainly and has a medieval feel tomatch the opening lyrics. It is not the best song on the album and a bit forgettable, but thereis enough here to treat this as a spirited transition point to the masterpieces to follow.

'Get 'em out by Friday' is a masterful song that is hailed as one of the best fromthis lineup. The intro is infectious with guitar and keys competing to take control. There areorgan staccato chords banging along with polyrhythmic metronome swinging bass andguitar shapes. Peter Gabriel's vocal performance is strained and a bit weak on this but heis a theatrical performer and this was the early period, and he would develop his actingvoice to perfection by the time "Selling England By The Pound" or "The Lamb Lies Down OnBroadway" reared its head. There are moments of untainted beauty including floating flutesolos and Hackett's soaring guitar. Gabriel has multiple progressive disorder in his multipersonality performance; Mr. Pebble (the self important owner of Styx Enterprises), Mr. Hall,the entrepreneur, and Mrs. Barrow (the lady who desires to pay double the rent in order toremain in her abode). He takes on each persona with admirable aplomb: there is thesection"18/9/2012 TV FLASH ON ALL DIAL-A-PROGRAM SERVICES: This is anannouncement from Genetic Control: "It is my sad duty to inform you of a 4ft. restriction onhumanoid height." and this is promptly followed by the extract from a conversation ofJOE ORDINARY IN LOCAL PUBORAMA: "I hear the directors of Genetic Control havebeen buying all the properties that have recently been sold, taking risks oh so bold. It's saidnow that people will be shorter in height, they can fit twice as many in the same buildingsite... in the interest of humanity they've been told they must go-go-go-go." After this theflute chimes in beautifully before another chaotic passage of music breaks it apart infractured rhythms. The voice of SIR JOHN DE PEBBLE OF UNITED BLACKSPRINGSINTERNATIONAL is heard "I think I've fixed a new deal, A dozen properties - we'll buy atfive and sell at thirty four, Some are still inhabited...." Following this, a memo fromSATIN PETER OF ROCK DEVELOPMENTS LTD. Is recitated: "With land in your handyou'll be happy on earth, Then invest in the Church for your heaven.. The religious lacedtheme is one of the aristocratic rich fat suits having control over the little people, who areliterally the short people unfairly evicted due to their size; a biting satire on the upperclassversus the working class injustice; a stab at the idealism of working class socialpressures. Or is it just a vivacious lark?

'Can-Utility and the Coastliners' continues the trend with Hackett's tremendousguitar and a rhythmic drum metrical pattern from Collins. The lyrics are rather harsh andremarkably ominous:"For from the north overcast ranks advance, fear of the stormaccusing with rage and scorn."The mellotron rises to a crescendo with fortissimobasslines. The time sig changes are massive, completely driving the track headlong intodifferent directions, in almost unrecognisable passages, like a different song. A veryimposing sound powers the song along and it is a bonafide Genesis classic. The timeshifts are so varied and complex it is as good as those 23 minute epics you hear that takeup an entire side of vinyl in the glorious 70s. Genesis prove they can do as well in 6minutes. It is vibrant and innovative; quintessential prog. Of course side two will prove theirepics are awesome too.

'Horizons' is a quaint short little guitar instrumental from the incomparableHackett, that is dreamlike and easy on the ears, and really prepares us for the onslaught of'Supper's Ready'. He loves to play this in concert as you will see if you YouTubethis, it is a nice guitar oriented piece that any guitarist would love to play.

'Supper's Ready': THE best Genesis song ever? Why not when you have a twentythree minute epic from Genesis with the legendary effervescent Peter Gabriel at his sinisterbest. It is quintessential to the band and indeed is a prime example of what prog is.

I would say from my prog experience that there are 7 wonders of the prog world in the wayof songs: VDGG's 'Plague of Lighthouse Keepers', Yes' 'Close To The Edge',ELP's 'Karn Evil 9', King Crimson's '2ist Century Schizoid Man', Pink Floyd's 'Shine On',Rush's '2112', and Genesis' 'Supper's Ready'.

The seven wonders of the prog world in the way of albums are similar as far as I amconcerned: VDGG's "Pawn Hearts", Yes' "Close To The Edge", ELP's "Brain SaladSurgery", King Crimson's "In The Court of The Crimson King", Pink Floyd's "Dark Side ofThe Moon", Jethro Tull's "This As A Brick", and Genesis' "Foxtrot".

What makes'Supper's Ready' such a masterpiece juggernaut? There are anumber of factors to take into consideration. First and foremost is the music. A tapestry ofinterludes, signifiers, climaxes, crescendos and majestic outros. It moves in so manydirections and shifts time signatures that it is hard to keep up. There are many styles ofmusic integrated within the structure. It is not easy to integrate songs together into onehuge epic but this is a perfect example of when it works as a multi movement suite; amagnum opus of music. Other perfect examples are Caravan's'Nine FeetUnderground' and as mentioned Van der Graaf Generator's'Plague OfLighthouse Keepers' and of course Yes''Close To The Edge'. These epicsare also seamless multi-movement suites where a number of songs at different temposand styles are integrated into one huge epic, and if you know anything about prog youshould know that these are the best examples of the genre. It allows the band to utilise alltheir talents into one package and they do this in spades in an impulsive feat of dextrousimpetuosity. It is a blitzkrieg of virtuoso instrumental intensity.

Secondly, the performance of Peter Gabriel as the actor/ storyteller is incredible. His vocalsare extraordinary and hammered the nail in the coffin as the master frontman of prog rock. Isaw Genesis do this live in an ancient 70s filmclip kicking around YouTube in three partsand Gabriel metamorphoses into various costumes and masks, a fox, a flower?, an impishchild clown, a magician, an alien Pied Piper, a Pythagoras pyramid, to tell this epic tale ofthe apocalypse, or whatever it is. Which brings us to the third reason why this is amasterpiece.

The lyrics. They are strange, dark, mystifying and downright intelligently written. Once heard,the lyrics have an uncanny ability to hide in the dark shadowy corners of the subconsciouswhere your mind makes irrational connections to the real. The song begins with theimpetuous weird lyrics of'i. Lover's Leap'. Is it about suicide? Or is it about lostlove? Or something more sinster? Or merely portentous twaddle?"Walking across thesitting-room, I turn the television off. Sitting beside you, I look into your eyes. As the sound ofmotor cars fades in the night time, I swear I saw your face change, it didn't seem quiteright."It is definitely a love song, albeit a jaded romance, something is wrong and wesense it in the almost cynical, farcical manner Gabriel spits out the words. The songactually puts the reader off the scent of what is about to unfold. The Red Herring of romanticinterludes"Hey my baby, don't you know our love is true"is unsettling because thesong will soon detonate into some unnerving passages of music. The lyrics signify thedarkness coming over the mocking sunshine music, listen to the alliteration on"Sixsaintly shrouded men move across the lawn slowly. The seventh walks in front with a crossheld high in hand... And it's hey babe your supper's waiting for you..."hence the nameof the song is mentioned, which is still a mystery to me. What is the supper, who preparedit, and who is waiting for it? We may never know, I don't think Gabriel even knew. And I don'tthink he cared as long as he had a chance to stalk an unprepared audience. The enigmaticlyrics are part of the progressive off kilter essence of the song. It segues seamlessly intothe very bizarre'ii. The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man'.

Here the harvest is about to begin, a biblical term for revival but what is its meaning herewith contemptuous lyrics such as,"He's a supersonic scientist, He's the guaranteedeternal sanctuary man. Look, look into my mouth he cries, And all the children lost downmany paths, I bet my life, you'll walk inside, Hand in hand, Gland in gland, With a spoonfulof miracle, He's the guaranteed sanctuary man."

The sexualised mockery continues and transfixes, and it is daunting to hear the lyrics thatwill years later become the quintessence of a Queen classic,"We will rock you, rockyou little snake."'iii. Ikhnaton and Itsacon and Their Band of Merry Men' is a build up of scornful ideasthat make less sense than the previous material. We hear the fabricated sound ofchildren's voices that are chanting something rather bizarre but the music really goes pitchdark as a staccato chord clangs loud. A soft flute and guitar trade off each other as akeyboard is stroked delicately. The derisive lyrics become alienating and menacingly cold,"Killing foe for peace...bang, bang, bang. Bang, bang bang... And they're giving me awonderful potion, 'Cos I cannot contain my emotion. And even though, I'm feeling good,Something tells me, I'd better activate my prayer capsule."So the religious overtonesfrom the debut album, "From Genesis to Revelation", are being revisited, in fact the themeis becoming blatant at this point;"Today's a day to celebrate, the foe have met theirfate. The order for rejoicing and dancing has come from warlord."It is apparent that anapocalyptic battle is about to ensue and this may be the end times as in the apocalypse inthe Bible's book of Revelation, though it is unclear with the lyrics masked behind poeticmetaphors, pseudonyms and psychedelic symbolism.

'iv. How Dare I Be So Beautiful?'is interesting lyrically speaking, about"Wandering in the chaos the battle has left, We climb up the mountain of human flesh,To a plateau of green grass, and green trees full of life."Do we really understand themeaning here and to be honest can we ever comprehend where this song is going? Theanswer is a resounding 'no', though many have attempted to interpret this and it perhapsrests on personal explanation rather than straightforward meaning explained."Wewatch in reverence, as Narcissus is turned to a flower. A flower?"questions Gabriel.Perhaps we are seeing here a transformation or metamorphosis of an evil being,Narcissus the Greek mythological creature, changed into a pure being and Gabriel gets achance to don his flower head gear and, with barefaced arrogance, prance around thestage.

During the concert performance of'v. Willow Farm' Gabriel is a figure in black withflower head stalking the stage as sinister as he can get, leering and sneering with disdain.He marches in time to the stabs of music; 1, 2, 3, 4... The menacing figure of Gabriel isconfronting and the lyrics are absolutely chilling,"If you go down to Willow Farm, to lookfor butterflies, flutterbies, gutterflies, Open your eyes, it's full of surprise, everyone lies, likethe fox on the rocks, and the musical box."It's interesting that he mentions songs ofthe band to come such as'Musical Box' and a close reference to "Foxtrot". WinstonChurchill gets a mention and a frog that was a prince, that became a brick, then the brickbecame an egg, and the egg was a bird. It is like the world of Dr Seuss; perhaps the writersread "Fox In Socks" prior it penning this. Gabriel adopts a supercilious attitude as hemuses that we are all as"happy as fish, and gorgeous as geese".It's fiendishlychildish and pretentious and even precocious but undeniably ferocious in its originalapproach. Gabriel sounds pompously English as he babbles gobbledygook about thefather in the office and the mother in her domestic role,"Dad diddley office, Dad diddleyoffice.... Dad to dam to to dum to mum, Mum diddley washing, Mum diddley washing...Ooee-ooee-ooee-oowaa" , you get the point. The song itself is one of the mostmemorable pieces of the epic. But nothing comes close to the wonderful next section.

'vi. Apocalypse in 9/8 (featuring the delicious talents of Gabble Ratchet)'is nothingshort of brilliant. The amazing time signature in 9/8 is superb with mind bending guitar andkeyboards, the rhythmic bass and drums are outstanding. The audacious lyrics are as darkas Genesis gets,"With the guards of Magog, swarming around, The Pied Piper takeshis children underground. The Dragon's coming out of the sea, with the shimmering silverhead of wisdom looking at me. He brings down the fire from the skies, You can tell he'sdoing well, by the look in human eyes."There are definite references to Revelationhere, shrouded in typical symbolism but nevertheless undisputable, especially thereference to"666 is no longer alone..." and "the seven trumpets blowing sweet rockand roll".A parody of Revelation in a sense, something that many heavy metal bandsadopted during the great late 80s revival of metal. So as Gabriel bellows and croons withsledgehammer delivery lyrics such as"Pythagoras with the looking-glass, reflectingthe full moon, In blood" , the music begins to settle down into another section and infact bookends the opening"Hello baby"lyrics and melody, and another familiarmelody is heard, and we may suspect that the song is going to end, but it is a false ending;there is one part left of this colossal beast.

'vii. As Sure as Eggs is Eggs (Aching Men's Feet)'is the disorientating finale andwhat a finale! The amazing ending is replenished with huge fortissimo orchestral sections,mellotron style, and Gabriel's ruthless voice soars into the stratosphere."There's anangel standing in the sun, and he's crying with a loud voice, "This is the supper of themighty one", Lord Of Lords, King of Kings, Has returned to lead his children home, To takethem to the new Jerusalem."It sounds like a Neal Morse song here. So we end with areference to the New Heaven and New Earth in the book of Revelation. The supper is notthe last supper of Jesus, it is not an ordinary supper, it is the feast of triumph when the Lordreturns to take his children home in the rapture an then as the earth burns to a cinder, Godwill create his New Jerusalem. Well, that's my interpretation; you will have your own that willbe equally as valid. ELP returns to this theme of Jerusalem, it seems the Biblical themewas one of prog bands favourites. It is the unmitigated majesty of the music and thetriumphant and glorious crescendos that lift the spirit on this; it ends on a high note and itends on a memorable lyric, this is why it is a gargantuan masterpiece. Stop reading nowand put this tour de force on.

And so at the end of this 3,611 word review, I can only conclude with 9 bold words that canbe quoted; "Foxtrot" is the must have album of the century.

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