Genesis and Foxtrot. The beginnings of my love affair with Prog Rock

The first Prog Rock band that I fell in love with was Genesis. My taste was widening, moving away from chart-based music and into the LP. My introduction to Genesis was listening to Nursery Cryme, at my friend Robert Halls house. His older brother Kevin ( RIP fella) had loads of cool LPS and we started to explore. That’s how we came across Nursery Cryme. I started to fall in love with Genesis and my feelings were cemented when Kevin took us to our first outdoor concert Reading 1972. We had gone to see the Faces but Genesis who headlined Friday were brilliant. Peter Gabriel was an amazing frontman using various stage props to get into character bringing the songs to life. I was hooked, head over heels and began a love affair with Genesis that lasted until Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.
If I am honest I thought that the band and Gabriel, in particular, disappeared up their own backsides with that LP.

Foxtrot, Was this Genesis Masterpiece?                   

Foxtrot is the fourth album by Genesis. It was released in 1972 through Charisma Records. This album would be their last to feature guitarist Anthony Phillips who left the band after completing his parts for it. The next time he would play with them would be for a one-off performance of “The Knife”.

The Album

Foxtrot is a concept album that is split into two parts. The first (side One) is the more traditional progressive rock sound that is heard on their previous albums and in some of their later work with its complex and lengthy songs.

Side One

For me, the stand out track on side one is “Watcher of the Skies” The use of the Mellotron creates an atmosphere of menace, a feeling that builds as the track professes. The use of a staccato riff adds to the power of the track doing justice to the title. Another standout track is “Get them out by Friday” where the band demonstrate a social conscience as Peter Gabriel tackles the topic of eviction and relocation something that many had to endure as they were forced to move out of London to new towns that had found favour with the government of the time. I was fortunate to see the Band four times and I always enjoyed Gabriel’s performance of this track, how he used his voice to switch characters. The song also mentions Harlow New Town, just down the road from my home town of Hoddesdon.
My favourite band of the time were referencing my backyard 😉

Side Two

Side two begins with “Horizons”, a short guitar instrumental written and performed by Steve Hackett before ending with the 21-minute progressive rock suite “Supper’s Ready”. which runs for 21 minutes and is divided into 7 parts. The song and its theme of good versus evil were inspired by an experience Gabriel had with his then-wife Jill, they were at Kensington Palace in London. She reportedly entered into a trance as all windows blew open there; he compared it to a Hammer Horror film.
It’s a remarkable work that I fell head over heels in love with. Each part moves blends into the whole effortlessly building to a climax with “Apocalypse in 9/8” a track that showcases the musical brilliance of Tony Banks Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins. Yep, Phil isn’t just a singer of nice pop songs. Back in the day before he dominated the airwaves in the 80s, he was a hell of a drummer and the engine room in one of the greatest ever Prog Bands.
But my favourite track from “Supper’s Ready” is “Willow Farm” It’s nuts and Gabriel’s lyrics are genius.

So was Foxtrot Genesis Masterpiece? I believed so at the time. For me, it was stronger than any of its predecessors even though I do not feel that it had a track that could rival “The Musical Box from Nursery Cryme. The follow-up, “Selling England by the Pound” although good did not take me on a journey in which the way that Foxtrot did.
I hated “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” and when Gabriel left Genesis I left them as well disinterested as in my eyes they became a pop act. This means that I cannot comment on any post-Gabriel output. I’ve never listened to it apart from radio and I do not intend to. Far more interesting music to explore out there.

And yet these days the Genesis Lp that I listen to the most of “Selling England by the Pound” and I now consider this to be the finest Lp that this amazing band produced.

Foxtrot reached number 4 in the UK charts and number 70 on US Billboard 200.
And I loved it