Foxtrot (album)

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"Time Table" redirects here. For other uses, see Timetable.
Foxtrot
Studio album by Genesis
Released 6 October 1972
Recorded August 1972 at Island Studios in London, England
Genre Progressive rock
Length 51:08
Label Charisma
Producer Dave Hitchcock and Genesis
Genesis chronology
Nursery Cryme
(1971)
Foxtrot
(1972)
Genesis Live
(1973)
Singles from Foxtrot
  1. "Watcher of the Skies"
    Released: 6 October 1972

Foxtrot is the fourth studio album from the English progressive rock band Genesis, released in October 1972 on Charisma Records. The album was recorded after touring in support of Nursery Cryme (1971) ended in August 1972. Side two features "Supper's Ready", a 23-minute track split into seven sections that remains the longest song recorded by the band.

Foxtrot was the band's greatest commercial and critical success at the time of its release. The album received largely positive reviews from critics and it peaked at number 12 in the UK chart. Like their previous two albums, the album failed to chart in the US.

Recording[edit]

In August 1972, Genesis wrapped up their 1971–72 tour supporting their Nursery Cryme. That month they reconvened at Island Studios in London to record their next album, Foxtrot. It is the second album recorded with singer Peter Gabriel, keyboardist Tony Banks, guitarist and bassist Mike Rutherford, drummer Phil Collins, and guitarist Steve Hackett in the band's line-up. Hackett considered to leave after recording Nursery Cryme after feeling "fairly shattered" from touring, but the rest of the band persuaded him to stay.[1] Some of the material pitched by Hackett during the rehearsals were used for his first solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte.[2] Recording sessions began with Bob Potter as engineer who had worked with Lindisfarne, but Potter took a dislike to the band's music. Working with a second engineer was unsuccessful before the band settled on John Burns,[3] who recorded the next three Genesis albums: Genesis Live, Selling England by the Pound, and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

The album opens with "Watcher of the Skies", a track written by Banks and Rutherford. It was the only song written before recording began.[4] It begins with Banks playing a Mellotron which the band bought from King Crimson.[4] Banks was "searching for chords that actually sounded good ... because of its tuning problems" and settled on the opening two chords "that sounded great ... There was an atmosphere about them".[4] Banks and Rutherford wrote the lyrics during band rehearsals at an airfield in Italy during the Nursery Cryme tour. They wondered what an empty Earth would look like if surveyed by an alien visitor. Banks described them as "a sort of sci-fi fantasy" loosely based on the novel Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke.[4] Rutherford thought they were "interesting words but they didn't sing very well".[5] Collins felt the need to bring in "some tricky arrangements" into the song's rhythm from seeing Yes perform live.[6]

"Get 'Em Out by Friday" is a song Gabriel summarised as "part social comment part prophetic".[7] Similar to "Harold the Barrel" and "The Fountain of Salmacis" from Nursery Cryme, the song's lyrics are split into different characters with Gabriel adopting a different vocal style for each. The track features John Pebble, a business man of Styx Enterprises; Mark Hall, known as "The Winkler", an employee of Styx Enterprises who evicts tenants; and Mrs. Barrow, a tenant of a house owned by Pebble in Harlow, Essex. In the song, Hall informs Mrs. Barrow that her property has been purchased and must be evicted, but she refuses to leave so Pebble raises the rent. Hall then offers Mrs. Pebble £400 to move, which she does before Pebble raises the rent again. After an instrumental section, it is the year 2012 and Genetic Control announce they are restricting the height of all humans to four feet. An individual named "Joe Everybody" reasons this so housing blocks will be able to accommodate twice as many people. Pebble is then knighted.

"Can-Utility and the Coastliners", written mostly by Hackett,[8] is based on the legend of King Canute, who supposedly ordered the seas to retreat to mock the sycophancy of his followers.

Side two begins with "Horizons", a short guitar instrumental performed by Hackett. The track took inspiration from the Prelude of Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007 for cello by Bach. He recalled that Collins said, "'It sounds like there ought to be applause at the end of it'." Hackett wrote the piece with composers of the Tudor period in mind, including William Byrd.[9]

"Supper's Ready" is a 23-minute track divided into seven parts and is the longest track recorded by the band. Gabriel believed the band's growing support and confidence as a live act gave it the "mental platform" to write "Supper's Ready".[10] In its early form, the song was a long acoustic track similar to "Stagnation" from Trespass or "The Musical Box" from Nursery Cryme, something the band wished to avoid. It was then when Gabriel pitched his idea for what became the song's fifth section, "Willow Farm",[11] on the piano.[12] Banked noted the change from the romantic acoustic introduction into "Willow Farm" with its "ugly chord sequence ... took the song into another dimension" with electric instruments.[13] The sixth section, "Apocalypse in 9/8", features an instrumental section with a time signature of 9/8 that was developed at the Una Billings dance school by Rutherford, Collins, and Banks.[12] Banks assumed the section would have no vocals, but Gabriel took the piece and began writing lyrics for it,[12] something that Banks disagreed with before he realised, "it only took about ten seconds to think 'This sounds fantastic, it's so strong'".[14] He went on to say "Supper's Ready" from "Apocalypse in 9/8" onwards was "the best piece of composition" recorded with Gabriel in the band.[13]

Sleeve design[edit]

So, I'd hear the lyrics and over breakfast or dinner we would throw ideas around. It was a collaboration ... It was a great collaboration!

Paul Whitehead[15]

The cover artwork for Foxtrot was created by Paul Whitehead, a former art director for the London-based magazine Time Out who also created artwork for the albums Trespass (1970) and Nursery Cryme (1971). All three original paintings were later stolen from Charisma Records when it was sold to Virgin Records in 1983. Whitehead has hypothesized that the staff of Charisma got wind of the imminent sale and responded by looting the building.[16] The cover artwork for Nursery Cryme appears in miniature on the back cover of Foxtrot.

The "fox on the rocks" (spelled "focks" on the rocks in the original LP printed lyrics) is mentioned in the lyrics of the "Willow Farm" section of "Supper's Ready", and is featured in the album artwork. This figure in a red dress with a fox's head became one of Gabriel's earliest stage costumes.

Release[edit]

Foxtrot was released in the UK in October 1972. It is the first Genesis album to enter the top 20 in the UK album chart with a peak of number 12 during its seven-week residency on the chart. Like their previous three albums, it failed to enter the US chart.[17] In Italy, the album reached number one.[17] When Tony Stratton-Smith of Charisma Records heard the album for the first time, he said to Richard MacPhail: "This is the one that makes their career".[18]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[19]
BBC Music (favourable)[20]
Robert Christgau C[21]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[22]

In his review for Sounds magazine, Jerry Gilbert thought Genesis "almost achieved the perfect album". At times he noticed "the overall sound does lack the required vitality" and moments where the band "are trying just that little bit too hard", but such moments "are sporadic".[23] Chris Welch of Melody Maker thought Foxtrot was "a milestone in the groups career", "an important point of development in British group music", and that the band had reached "a creative peak".[24]

Retrospective reviews of the album have been largely positive. AllMusic wrote that Foxtrot was "the first time that Genesis attacked like a rock band, playing with a visceral power." They considered this a positive change, commenting that "Genesis has grown muscle without abandoning the whimsy" and concluding "This is the rare art-rock album that excels at both the art and the rock, and it's a pinnacle of the genre (and decade) because of it."[19] BBC Music, in contrast, described the album as largely a by-the-numbers follow-up to Nursery Cryme, with the only major difference from its predecessor being "the production, which suddenly brings all that chiming acoustic filigree up close and personal." They also ridiculed the lyrics of all the songs, especially "Supper's Ready." They considered the album an overall good work due to the musical compositions and performances.[20]

In the Q & Mojo Classic Special Edition Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, the album came No. 2 in its list of "40 Cosmic Rock Albums".[25]

Reissues[edit]

A digitally remastered version was released on CD in 1994 on Virgin Records in Europe and on Atlantic Records in the US and Canada. The remastered CD restores the original printed lyrics to all of the songs for the first time since the vinyl LP was released. The inner gatefold artwork and the band photos were not included, however, except on the Japanese mini-LP edition. The original CD release omitted the lyrics and parts of the artwork.

A SACD/DVD double disc set (including new 5.1 and Stereo mixes) was released in November 2008.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, and Mike Rutherford.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Watcher of the Skies"   7:21
2. "Time Table"   4:47
3. "Get 'Em Out by Friday"   8:35
4. "Can-Utility and the Coastliners"   5:45
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Horizons"   1:39
2. "Supper's Ready"
  • a. "Lover's Leap"
  • b. "The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man"
  • c. "Ikhnaton and Itsacon and Their Band of Merry Men"
  • d. "How Dare I Be So Beautiful?"
  • e. "Willow Farm"
  • f. "Apocalypse in 9/8 (Co-Starring the Delicious Talents of Gabble Ratchet)"
  • g. "As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs (Aching Men's Feet)"  
22:57

Personnel[edit]

Genesis
Production
  • David Hitchcock – production
  • John Burns – engineer
  • Richard Macphail – technician, stage sound
  • Paul Whitehead – sleeve design
  • Amando Gallo – photography
  • Barry Wentzell – photography
  • Geoff Terrill – photography
  • Martin Nunn – photography

References[edit]

References
  1. ^ Tony, Banks (2007). "Reissues Interview 2007" bonus feature from Genesis 1970–1975 box set for the album Foxtrot. 2:10–:3:01. (DVD). Virgin. 
  2. ^ Golder, Paul (2014). "Steve Hackett talks about Genesis, touring and his new album". phoenixfm.com. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Tony, Banks (2007). "Reissues Interview 2007" bonus feature from Genesis 1970–1975 box set for the album Foxtrot. 0:57–:2:09. (DVD). Virgin. 
  4. ^ a b c d Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett, and Rutherford, p. 120.
  5. ^ Rutherford, Mike (2007). "Reissues Interview 2007" bonus feature from Genesis 1970–1975 box set for the album Foxtrot. 6:48–6:56. (DVD). Virgin. 
  6. ^ Collins, Phil (2007). "Reissues Interview 2007" bonus feature from Genesis 1970–1975 box set for the album Foxtrot. 5:53–6:21. (DVD). Virgin. 
  7. ^ Gabriel, Peter (2007). "Reissues Interview 2007" bonus feature from Genesis 1970–1975 box set for the album Foxtrot. 20:28–20:30. (DVD). Virgin. 
  8. ^ Hackettsongs – Genesis Revisited II
  9. ^ Hackett, Steve (2007). "Reissues Interview 2007" bonus feature from Genesis 1970–1975 box set for the album Foxtrot. 17:51–18:51. (DVD). Virgin. 
  10. ^ Gabriel, Peter (2007). "Reissues Interview 2007" bonus feature from Genesis 1970–1975 box set for the album Foxtrot. 0:13–0:47. (DVD). Virgin. 
  11. ^ Bowler and Dray, p. 66.
  12. ^ a b c Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett, and Rutherford, p. 121.
  13. ^ a b Banks, Tony (2007). "Reissues Interview 2007" bonus feature from Genesis 1970–1975 box set for the album Foxtrot. 11:09–11:32. (DVD). Virgin. 
  14. ^ Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett, and Rutherford, p. 122.
  15. ^ Paul Whitehead interview for The World of Genesis website
  16. ^ The World of Genesis Paul Whitehead interview
  17. ^ a b Bowler and Dray, p. 69.
  18. ^ Bowler and Dray, p. 63.
  19. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2011 [last update]). "Foxtrot – Genesis | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 25 July 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  20. ^ a b Jones, Chris (18 April 2007). "BBC – Music – Review of Genesis – Foxtrot". BBC. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  21. ^ Christgau, Robert (2011). "Robert Christgau: CG: Genesis". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  22. ^ Nathan Brackett; Christian David Hoard (2004). The new Rolling Stone album guide. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 327. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8. 
  23. ^ Gilbert, Jerry (30 September 1972). "Special review of the new Genesis album by Jerry Gilbert". Sounds. 
  24. ^ "Genesis". Melody Maker: 23. 14 October 1972. 
  25. ^ Q Classic: Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, 2005.
Bibliography
  • Bowler, Dave; Dray, Bryan (1992). Genesis: A Biography. Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd. ISBN 978-0-283-06132-5. 
  • Banks, Tony; Collins, Phil; Gabriel, Peter; Hackett, Steve; Rutherford, Mike (2007). Genesis: Chapter and Verse (1st ed.). St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0-312-37956-8.