Music Monday – Foxtrot

This isn’t a Music Monday post about a certain ballroom dance. No, it’s a post about Genesis’ fourth studio album, ‘Foxtrot’.

Foxtrot

I’ve been a huge fan of their music since, well, since I can remember. The influence one of my friends had on me obviously stuck. I used to go round his house when I was eight or nine and Genesis would always be playing in the background – I can only assume it was his dad’s collection.

Now, I have twenty albums and many singles and still have the love for their music as I did way back when.

No matter what era, what line up, Genesis have always been a band of talented musicians and song writers. Whether you care for them or not, you can’t deny their musicality, the complex nature of their compositions and willingness to experiment, which pushes the boundaries – this is ‘Prog Rock!’

Released in 1972, Foxtrot, an album that regularly crops up on my painting play list, was a progression of their third album, Nursery Crime. It features a measly 6-songs, but one of them, which I shall come to shortly, went on to be a massive fan favourite, especially when performed live.

The line-up for the album was what many would call, ‘Classic Genesis’ – Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett, and Phil Collins – It’s a pity it wasn’t to last longer than a few more studio albums.

The songs are all story driven, with the exception of Horizons, which is an instrumental by Steve Hackett, and are lengthy by today’s standards.

The opener, ‘Watcher of the Skies’ features an opening solo by Tony Banks, played on a Mellotron that they bought from King Crimson. It’s a very atmospheric opening, one that wouldn’t be out of place in a Sci-fi film. The lyrics themselves tell the story of an Alien viewing our world for the first time.

Has life again destroyed life,

Do they play elsewhere, or do they know

more than their childhood games?

Peter delivers the vocals with a punch in time to the beat, almost staccato, and Phil starts to make an impact on the drums as they break into musical sections, something that will develop as time goes on. overall, it’s a good track but lacks a little in ‘polish’ which many of their early albums did, but again, this develops over time and the song become an exciting and atmospheric opener to their live shows.

‘Time Table’ is a romantic look back at traditional times of Kings and Queens. It features some meaningful lyrics, especially the chorus…

Why, why can we never be sure till we die

Or have killed for an answer,

Why, why, do we suffer each race to believe

That no race has been grander…

Insightful lyrics indeed when you consider this was 1972!

Next up, the group show of their sense of humour, as they often have on their albums. ‘Get ’em out by Friday’ is a bit of a social commentary regarding housing policy. Gabriel plays the part of several characters, putting on a different voice for each, and the song progresses through slow, character driven commentary and then lifts the pace momentarily before dropping back to continue the story. It’s a song I often find myself singing along to whilst painting and yet I can’t put my finger on exactly what the appeal of it is. It’s almost the star of the album, in its quirky way, but the final track steals that credit, as we shall see.

Before then, though, there are two more songs to listen to. ‘Can-Utility and the Coastliners’, an unusual title I know, is all about King Canute and his inability to halt the tide. It’s the weakest song on the album and in some ways reminds me more of what they were putting out on Trespass, their second studio album. On the vinyl rendition it finishes side one, and is quite forgettable, but that doesn’t make it a bad song, it just isn’t up to the rest of the offerings.

Side two opens with a short – under 2-minutes – instrumental by Steve Hackett. It’s a lovely little guitar piece, one in which they’ve produced quite raw, so you can hear his slides, up and down the fretboard, and it gives it that ‘live’ feeling. It’s just long enough, any longer and it would grate, but as is, it’s a nice filler.

That leaves one more song, and, if Horizons, the opener to the side is under 2-minutes, it must be a bit of an epic.

And what an epic it is. ‘Supper’s Ready’, a suite of seven parts, spans 23 minutes of Genesis at their creative best. Opening with the ballad entitled ‘Lover’s Leap’, the song bobs and weaves through changes in pace, style, and lyrical tone. At times whimsical, at others aggressive, but all the time experimental, cramming innovative ideas in at every turn – Odd chord arrangements, children singing a ‘lullaby’ – and adding lots of change of pace.

Other than the opening, my favourite parts are ‘Willow Farm’ and ‘Apocalypse in 9/8’ but honestly, the whole thing is a tour de force and possibly one of my favourite tracks of all time, probably because it offers so much variation within its 23-minute running time. Gabriel’s vocality and timing throughout are impeccable, with such a variation in delivery that one can never get bored. This is matched by the rest of the gang, with each becoming the star and shining at some point.

Supper’s Ready with a comic strip representation.

The song became a massive live show hit, with Peter donning several costumes throughout the performance and acting out the characters. It was something the band was mindful of when he left and Phil took over the lead role – would he be able to carry the older, Gabriel era numbers at all, let alone Supper’s Ready. Carry them he did, but that’s for another day, later down the road.

One last thing about Foxtrot and the reason you have to have this album on vinyl – the sleeve art.

Designed by Paul Whitehouse, who had done the previous two albums, it features the four horsemen of the apocalypse but as you’ve never seen them before. There’s so much going on. Little nods to earlier albums, comical representations, and generally strange goings on. I, personally, love it, it’s one of my favourite album sleeves. The band, though, weren’t overly enamoured, which probably led to this being the last cover Whitehouse designed for them. Anyway, here it is in all its glory, you be the judge…

Foxtrot

Released 1972

Track Listing

  1. Watcher of the Skies
  2. Time Table
  3. Get ’em out by Friday
  4. Can-Utility and the Coastliners
  5. Horizons
  6. Supper’s Ready

My Version: Charisma label – CHC 38 – Reissue released 1984. On Discogs it has a low of £5.00, a median of £10.71, and a high of £16.96. It is a 12inch gatefold album. I also have it on CD!

21 thoughts on “Music Monday – Foxtrot

  1. Now I do like a bit of Genesis, my favourite would have to be “Land of Confusion” which is surprising as I was into heavier rock and metal at the time ! LOL

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Invisible Touch album is a world away from Foxtrot… and yet it still contains the essence that form the backbone of Genesis, the musicality and story telling. The prime examples being Domino and The Brazilian, though my favourite from the album is Anything She Does.
      I always think of the video, though, when I think of Land of Confusion, with the Spitting Image puppets – excellent!
      I like a bit of heavier rock too, so some might appear here at some point – Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, GNR, that kind of thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Uh oh, I’m not doing well here, Justin! 🙂 Bad enough that I’m not a Kate Bush fan, but I’m not a Genesis fan either! I did, however, enjoy reading your views and why you like this album so much! 🙂 Statistically speaking, sooner or later you’ll feature something I like, and I’m looking forward to that! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Lol! Never mind John, it will be fun trying to find something you already like, and you never know, I might even find something that catches your interest 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You probably will, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t anyway! I quite like reading your thoughts on your music, since it’s something I rarely think about. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. For a minute there, I thought it was Dance Moves Wednesday and you were going to teach us something new for any social soirees we find ourselves attending ;D

    You’re not going to like this either, me ol’ mucker, but I’m pretty sure my Dad likes Genesis! I know their music but I can’t say they have had as much influence on me as Led Zeppelin or The Doors did (other bands my Dad likes). Its a shame that Phil Collins doesn’t seem to be doing well. A lot of musicians from this era and a little before are passing away which is crazy and sad to see.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Damn, that was next weeks post! 😅🤣

      Genesis didn’t get any notice in the States until they released The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album, in 1974, after which they grew a cult following over there, especially known for their live performances.
      I think it’s a type of music you either love or loath, especially the earlier, Gabriel at the helm, stuff. Much of the later, Phil Collins era, that you hear on the radio or that got into the charts, tends to be their ‘poppier’ stuff. You need to listen to their albums to get a real feel for what they’re about.

      Yep, shame for old Phil. A bit of an idol of mine when I was growing up, as a drummer that is, one of the best around IMHO. At one point he was having the drum sticks taped to his hands because he couldn’t hold them properly – that’s dedication to his profession!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, at least I will know the bands and maybe even the album you’re referring to 😀

        That is dedication! One thing people don’t understand is how hard these musicians work to get as good as they are. I played bass for years and never got that great at it because I couldn’t dedicate myself to hours of practice. Painting is probably the one exception for me and is something I have done that with. One day I will be known as the Phil Collins of painting!!! 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I think like most things, with musicians, there are those that have a natural talent and become very good very quickly, and those that have to really work at it and dedicate the time to get where they want to be.
        I’m in category ‘C’ – no talent and get bored after 5-minutes practice!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. When it comes to playing music, I’m probably somewhere between C and B myself so I can relate! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m just gonna leave you my last.fm here, if you have that good of a taste and you might compare it to your favorites. 😉 https://www.last.fm/user/Imberance/library/artists

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing mate, that’s am interesting library!
      I have to admit, I haven’t heard of half the artists on there, but there’s a lot on there that I have myself.
      At some point I’ll start posting about some stuff that isn’t so mainstream in the hope of introducing people to new music ideas.
      All this about scrobbles, I don’t stream any music so I’d have to enter everything manually and I really haven’t got the time for that, but it’s a great idea though!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I also don’t stream. 😉
        I have a small program from last.fm, called scrobbler, that takes the id3-tags from what you are listening on your music-player on the pc and records that to the database.
        I have something like 500gb of music (including a few hundred CDs). 😀
        Been doing this since 2008, what is interesting is, that it suggests similar artists if you look into on the artists page.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I like the idea and would love to keep a record of what I listen to the most, unfortunately for me, I only use my iPod when I’m painting, otherwise I listen to CDs or records in the ‘raw!’
        Obviously, I can guess at what gets the most plays but sometimes things can surprise you!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. ipod can be scrobbled with the software. Did this back in the day, when I still used mp3-players. Good times, shame smartphones came. Still dislike this technology and only use mine for calls and as a mp3-player lol. And for the camera of course!
        Cds would also work, but you’d have to have them played via your pc, via some some player that can read id3-tags.

        It’s been a while since I used something other than my pc for music-playing. Though I still remember the appeal from simply putting in a cd or mc in a stereo-player.
        Didn’t ever get into vynil though.
        Funny thing with my hardware is, that I don’t own any sort of cd-player anymore – my new pc-case doesn’t support an optical hard drive unfortunately, so that I have to get myself an external.
        Now for the funny part, I have an amp, that can be used for small concert-halls and an external sound-card though. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah, my pc has no disc drive either. We have an external for the Mac, though, and I rip my cds to that and then put them on my iPod.
        Lol, that must be some amp for the home!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I was a bit shocked, when I bought the new case for my tower, that they don’t account for optical drives anymore, to say the least.
        + spearkers of course haha 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      6. By the way, speaking of Genesis and Foxtrott, try listening to Steve Hacketts Genesis tribute stuff. You know, the guitarist that wrote Blood on the Rooftops.

        It isn’t as good as the original ofc, but he’s got some decent musicians, like this guy with a similar voice to Peter.

        Or some of his original stuff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZPleiedgvo

        And if you enjoy Hackett, might listen to “Squacket” – a crossover-album from Steve Hackett and Chris Squire (Yes-Baseplayer who die in 2016).

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Already got a few of Stevie Hackett’ albums, both Genesis related and his own stuff, which I really like.
        I also have albums by the rest of the band – Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, and of course, Phil, as well as some Gabriel stuff too.
        Tony Banks is interesting, very musical in a synth kind of way.
        I’ll check out ‘Squacket’ for sure, thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Those Hackett-pieces are great, the Genesis-cover-albums were up to par. And in the end I enjoyed it even more than Marillion (the best Genesis since Genesins ;P)
        Mike and the Mechanics is also quite famous, I have very little of Banks, a lot of Peter and Phil and a bit of Anthony Philips (the guitarist until Tresspass)
        Squackett is really good, it is a shame, there won’t be more from them.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I really like Marillion too. I have, I think, four of their albums, though I stopped following them once Fish left.

        Like

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