|Studio album by Genesis|
|Released||6 October 1972|
|Studio||Island Studios, London, England|
|Singles from Foxtrot|
Foxtrot is the fourth studio album from the English rock band Genesis, released in October 1972 on Charisma Records. The album was recorded following the tour in support of their previous album, Nursery Cryme. Side two features "Supper's Ready", a 22-minute track that is considered one of the band's greatest compositions.
Foxtrot was the band's greatest commercial and critical success at the time of its release, reaching number 12 in the UK and receiving largely positive reviews. As with their previous two albums, Foxtrot failed to chart in the United States. A single from the album, "Watcher of the Skies", was released as a single in October 1972. Foxtrot was reissued with a new stereo and 5.1 surround sound mix as part of their 2008 Genesis 1970–1975 box set.
By 1972, the seventh Genesis line-up of Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett and Phil Collins were touring in support their previous album, Nursery Cryme. They started to tour Belgium and Italy after having chart success there and played to new, enthusiastic crowds. Following the tour's conclusion in August 1972, the five proceeded to work on their next studio album. Hackett had considered leaving the band after feeling "fairly shattered" from touring, but the rest of the band persuaded him to stay.
The band wrote and rehearsed enough material for the album in a space underneath the Una Billings School of Dance in Shepherd's Bush, London. Some of Hackett's material that was used for his first solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte, was in fact rehearsed by the band during the Foxtrot sessions but was not developed further. Material that became "Watcher of the Skies" and "Can-Utility and the Coastliners" were performed live in the time running up to the recording of Foxtrot, which took place from August to September 1972 at Island Studios. They had recorded a new song, "Happy The Man", with producer John Anthony around the same time, but escalating recording costs due to slow progress caused disagreements among Anthony and Charisma Records, the group's label, caused an end to their association with Anthony. Recording began with Bob Potter as engineer, who had worked with fellow Charisma group Lindisfarne, but Potter took a dislike to the band's music. Working with Tony Platt was unsuccessful after personality clashes before the band settled with Dave Hitchcock as co-producer with John Burns as engineer, who went on to produce the following three Genesis albums.
"Watcher of the Skies" takes its title from a line of the 1817 sonnet On First Looking into Chapman's Homer by John Keats. The song begins with a solo played on a Mellotron Mk II that the band had bought from King Crimson. 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". Banks and Rutherford wrote the lyrics during band rehearsals at an airfield in April 1972 during their first Italian tour while supporting Nursery Cryme. 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. Rutherford thought they were "interesting words but they didn't sing very well". Collins felt the need to bring in "some tricky arrangements" into the song's rhythm from seeing Yes perform live.
"Time Table" features a romantic theme that yearns for tradition and decency.
"Get 'Em Out by Friday" is a song described as a "comic opera" that Gabriel described as "part social comment, part prophetic". Similar to "Harold the Barrel" and "The Fountain of Salmacis" from Nursery Cryme, the song features characters with Gabriel adopting a different vocal style for each one. The track features four characters: John Pebble, a business man of Styx Enterprises; Mark Hall (aka The Winkler) an employee of Styx who evicts tenants; Mrs. Barrow, a tenant of a house owned by Pebble; and Joe Everybody, a customer in a pub. The song starts with Hall informing Mrs. Barrow that her property has been purchased and must be evicted, but she refuses to leave, leaving Pebble to raise her rent. Hall then offers Mrs. Barrow £400 to move to a new property in Harlow New Town, which she does, before Pebble raises her rent again. After an instrumental section, the date is 18 September 2012 and Genetic Control announce on a Dial-A-Program television service its decision to shorten the height of all humans to 4ft. Joe reasons this so housing blocks will be able to accommodate twice as many people. Rutherford and Collins singled out "Get 'Em Out by Friday" as one of the early Genesis songs that suffered from Gabriel writing too many vocals, making the track busy and crowded. Collins reasoned this as a downfall to the band's typical method of song writing whereby a track recorded instrumentally with the vocals written and recorded afterwards.
Side two begins with "Horizons", a short guitar instrumental performed by Hackett that was recorded while Potter was the album's producer. The track took inspiration from the Prelude of Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007 for cello by Bach. After playing the track to the band in a rehearsal, Hackett remembered Collins saying, "'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.
"Supper's Ready", a 22-minute track formed of seven parts, occupies most of the album's second side and remains the band's longest recorded track. Gabriel believed the band's growing support as a live act gave them the confidence to start writing extended pieces. The song and its theme of good versus evil was inspired by an experience Gabriel and his then-wife Jill had with Anthony at Kensington Palace, where Anthony, interested in spiritualism, was telling Jill about the subject when Jill reportedly entered a trance state as the room's windows suddenly blew open. Gabriel compared the ordeal to a scene from "a Hammer Horror film". Initially, the song took form as an acoustic track similar to "Stagnation" from Trespass or "The Musical Box" from Nursery Cryme, something the band wished to avoid repeating. To develop the piece further, Gabriel pitched his idea for what became the song's fifth section, titled "Willow Farm", on the piano. Banks noted the change from the song's more romantic introduction into "Willow Farm", with its "ugly chord sequence", worked as it took the song "into another dimension". The following section, "Apocalypse in 9/8", features an instrumental section performed in a 9/8 time signature. Banks assumed his organ solo would have no vocals, but until Gabriel proceeded to record lyrics over it, something that he disagreed with initially but as he said, "it only took about ten seconds to think 'This sounds fantastic, it's so strong'". Banks picked "Apocalypse in 9/8" and "As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs" as "the best piece of composition" Genesis recorded during Gabriel's tenure as lead singer.
The album's cover was completed by Paul Whitehead, a former art director for the London-based magazine Time Out who also designed the covers of Trespass and Nursery Cryme. The original illustrations for the three albums were stolen from Charisma Records when the label was sold to Virgin Records in 1983. Whitehead claimed that the staff at Charisma got wind of the imminent sale and proceeded to loot its office. On the back, the front cover of Nursery Cryme can be seen depicted in the background.
The cover was not positively received by the band at the time. Gabriel felt less pleased with the design than Whitehead's previous works. Hackett felt "usure" about the cover when he saw it for the first time, calling it a "strange" design that has made more sense to him over time. Banks thought it was the weakest cover Whitehead designed for Genesis. Rutherford felt the design was a decline in quality following the "lovely atmosphere" of the Trespass and Nursery Cryme covers, to Foxtrot which was "a little bit weak". Collins thought it was not "particularly special" and lacked a professional look.
Foxtrot was released in October 1972, peaking at number 12 in the UK Albums Chart during a seven-week residency. Like their previous three albums, Foxtrot failed to enter the US chart in the United States. In Italy, the album reached number one. 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". He remembered, "I had to wipe a tear from my eye. Everything that one had believed about the band had come through".
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
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". 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".
Retrospective reviews of the album have been largely positive. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, in his review for AllMusic, rates the album five stars out of five. He considers Foxtrot being "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." 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.
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". It ranked #14 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time.
Foxtrot was re-released in 1994 as a digitally remastered CD issued by Virgin Records. As part of the band's box set Genesis 1970–1975 released in 2008, Foxtrot was reissued as a hybrid CD/Super Audio CD with a new stereo and 5.1 surround sound mix with a DVD of previously unreleased bonus material. The reissue includes sleeve notes written by Queen drummer Roger Taylor.
From September 1972 to August 1973, Genesis toured Europe and North America in support of Foxtrot. The band played their first shows in North America in December 1972 which included a warm up show at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts followed by a gig at Philharmonic Hall in New York City.
|1.||"Watcher of the Skies"||7:21|
|3.||"Get 'Em Out by Friday"||8:35|
|4.||"Can-Utility and the Coastliners"||5:45|
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- The World of Genesis Paul Whitehead interview
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