Foxtrot by Genesis

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Foxtrot by Genesis
Foxtrot by Genesis

Album Released: 1972

Foxtrot ::: Artwork

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1.Watcher Of The Skies7:19
2.Time Table4:40
3.Get 'Em Out By Friday8:35
4.Can-Utility And The Coastliners5:43
6.Supper's Ready22:58


A precursor to Goth, this album sits at the 'Art Rock' end of the prog-rock spectrum. The Gothic feel is manifested in Tony Banks' churchy organ-playing, and Peter Gabriel's quasi-religious lyrical imagery, with themes ranging from dull grey Orwellian oppression, to strangled narratives of apocalyptic doom and gloom.

Whilst the musical ideas are varied and interesting, the production tends to let things down - the material is presented in a rather lifeless mix, making the whole affair sound flat, like a grey film over what might otherwise be a colourful painting.

The entire album trudges wearily along under its own weight, consisting of a series of rather cheerless grim dirges, all sounding somewhat constipated. All in all, it's as though the grand symphonic vision latent in the music has of necessity been constricted and scaled-down to accomodate the modest status of the band at this point in their career, and the need to fit the requirements of recording in a small studio on a tight budget.

Such factors are also reflected in the amateurish sleeve-art too. But Foxtrot is nevertheless an innovative album - quite probably the more expansive potential of a carefully-produced live recording would've served the band better.

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by Reviewer: bluemoon

I really have tried with this Genesis album, honestly, but - unlike many other listeners - I just can't get enthused about it.

Foxtrot is a perfect example of a record that indulges in 'rambling', a word I use often when it comes to progressive rock.

Certainly, there are good and fun moments. The opening "Watcher of the Skies" is the best track overall, with its catchy refrain and Tony Banks' warm keyboards. But it's all kind of hit-or-miss to me beyond that. "Get 'Em Out By Friday", despite a bit of a boring passage in the second half, is pretty entertaining, and probably the next best song, helped by the interesting lyrics focusing on home evictions.

Then there's "Supper's Ready", the granddaddy of progressive rock. Another reviewer referred to it as the Citizen Kane of the genre. It's 23 minutes; it has seven parts; it does all sorts of things - some work, some don't. The best part is the opening hello babe at the beginning, and its repeat near the end. Actually, to be fair, the ending is really grand.

It sounds like I can't make up my mind about this album, and that's true. I want to like it more. I want to like it as much as I do most of Genesis' other work. But I just can't. Maybe it sounds too much like a Peter Gabriel show to me, his voice certainly dominates above all else. Or maybe it's that it sometimes just sounds like the band are making half of it it up as they go along.

Perhaps it will all click for me one day. But for now, I can't say that Foxtrot is anything more than a sporadically entertaining yet also very frustrating musical experience, from a band which - at their best - give me a lot of pleasure.

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by Reviewer: The Doctor

Foxtrot is not my most favourite Genesis album - I give that award to this release's successor, Selling England by the Pound - but it is one that has slowly grown on me with every next listen, and I like it a bit more every time.

This is a very interesting art/prog rock release which explores a number of innovative musical ideas, and Tony Banks' organ and Mellotron playing style help to create an almost Gothic soundscape. The stand-out cuts of the four presented on side one are easily the first two: the instantly recognizable "Watcher of the Skies" (whose slow sci-fi-ish Mellotron intro instantly sets the tone for the rest of the album), and the brilliant, underrated Medieval-themed "Time Table" - a true 'lost classic' in Genesis' repertoire, for its terrific, intricate melodic qualities.

The other two songs on the first side have their moments, but their arrangements seem a bit more made up on-the-fly compared to the songs preceding them, and the somewhat murky nature of the engineering/mixing doesn't help. "Get 'em Out by Friday", if anything, is an intriguing exercise of Peter Gabriel's vocal abilities, in that it displays him enhancing the 'storytelling' element by singing in different vocal styles suited to the respective characters in the song's storyline; a technique re-used on "The Battle of Epping Forest" from Selling England by the Pound to even greater effect.

Flip the record over, however, and you'll find where all the real gold and diamonds of Foxtrot are tucked away. The brief guitar instrumental "Horizons" acts as the perfect introduction to the magnificent, ginormous, seven-parted 23-minute centrepiece "Supper's Ready", perhaps the most triumphant achievement on this album. It's the track that feels the most unified, the one where all the individual parts fit together harmoniously ... even with the jarring transition to the "Willow Farm" movement, which was originally written separately as a standalone song, but it's very good that the band saw the need to fit it into "Supper's Ready", as it is quite simply my most favourite segment of the suite (the self-explanatory "Apocalypse in 9/8" being my second favourite).

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by Reviewer: Ryan Alexander

Perhaps indisputable proof that I am indeed a geek is that I listen to Foxtrot all the time (I like Selling England by the Pound slightly more, but somehow Foxtrot seems geekier).

Genesis had dramatically improved their act since Nursery Cryme, that much is evident from listening to the first song. For whereas their musicianship on earlier albums had seemed somewhat amateurish and rough around the edges, they'd blossomed so much by Foxtrot that they'd surely become among the best instrumentalists in the business.

So OK, maybe they weren't as technically proficient as Yes, King Crimson, or Jethro Tull, but give me Genesis' arrangement sensibilities over those bands any time. Listening to the pastoral sounds of my favorite Foxtrot song “Time Table” for instance, is exactly what it's like to spend a happy day outdoors in the summer sun. There aren't a lot of songs that give me that impression so distinctly. The vocal melody is just as warm and beautiful as the instrumentation.

Peter Gabriel's singing has also greatly improved since the last album. He's more or less play-acting through most of Foxtrot, and I buy into 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, his work on “Watcher of the Skies” especially 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.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)

Something's happened - the number of songs went down to six, yet the running time of the album went up to 50 minutes. Yeah, Genesis is becoming ambitious - here, they stop 'trying' to make prog/rock and present an actual full-fledged Progressive Rock album.

The result rules. It seems Genesis realised that their real power lay in complex songs, not with stuff like "Seven Stones". They start taking advantage of their strengths here - the melody writing, Gabriel's voice, the instrumental themes, that kind of stuff. And Genesis don't achieve success with just the power of their performances, like King Crimson or Yes, much less with a unique sound, like Pink Floyd. No, their power is in writing songs, and that's exactly what they do here.

The only complaint I have is a lack of Steve Hackett and an over-abundance of Tony Banks. There's no denying Hackett is a great guitarist, yet I hardly can hear his playing here. He's there, but not allowed to make full use of his technique. On the other hand, Banks stuffs the album with his organ. I have nothing against organ, but Banks uses a very annoying organ sound - thick, monotonous and tremolo-less. That was not a clever tactic.

On the other hand, there's more flute here. Not the Ian Anderson kind of flute mind, Gabriel adds some sweet notes in the right spots for some um, variety I guess. Also, Banks presents some enjoyable piano playing, as on the absolutely beautiful ballad "Time Table". The solemn sound, the grandiose vocal melodies, and the simple yet striking piano theme completely make the song.

That's probably the least complex composition on the album, aside from Hackett's Classical guitar spot "Horizons". And as far as acoustic guitar compositions go, it's an absolute winner. Lots of harmonics too!

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by Reviewer: Fernando Canto (blogging at Sir Mustapha's Album Reviews [Defunct])

"Watcher of the Skies" is quite an interesting bass-driven tune, despite Tony Banks's wimpy-sounding Mellotron intro (only he could make a Mellotron sound like crap).

"Time Table" has a gorgeous chorus; I always think I don't like "Get 'Em Out By Friday", but I never skip it when I'm listening to the album, as it's one of Gabriel's best rock operettas, possibly better even than "Harold the Barrel".

"Can-Utility and the Coastliners" is probably the least-liked tune from this album, though I like it quite a bit, but I'm usually too anxious to hear "Supper's Ready" to pay it much attention.

"Horizons" - whoa, they had a guitarist? "Supper's Ready" is one of the few side-long suites to warrant every minute of its running time. Some people think it doesn't even pick up till halfway through - they're nuts, the opening part is great!

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by Reviewer: Cole Reviews