Released: October 1972
This is Genesis' fourth album, their second for Charisma, and the second as a mature band. The tracks (I omit the word "songs" purposely) on Foxtrot seem more accessible, more defined, than on their last album, Nursery Cryme.
The opener, "Watcher In The Skies," is a beautifully constructed sci-fi tale presented against glittering sheets of cascading sound, running in torrents like a burst dam, across the aural spectrum; it rolls and boils and flows like thick velvet of varying colors.
By contrast, "Time Table," is simplicity itself -- Tony Banks' medieval piano behind Peter Gabriel's voice spinning its web of wonder.
But it's "Get 'Em Out By Friday" that is the real gem of the album (even though Side Two holds a marvelous seven part suite). It is, in fact, an execution, a mini-opera with six characters represented. On the surface, the struggle concerns Styx Enterprises (represented by Mr. John Pebble and Mr. Mark Hall) who have just bought an apartment building, and Mrs. Barrow (a tenant) who's threatened with eviction. But this is the year 2012, and Genetic Control has put a "four foot restriction on humanoid height." And why, pray tell? Becuase G.C. had the foresight to buy up housing property and now can get double the number of tenants in each building. The track ends with the reading of a memo from Satin Peter of Rock Developments Ltd.: "With land in your hand you'll be happy on earth/Then invest in the Church for your heaven."
This is, needless to say, an important album to listen to. Maybe you'll dig it, maybe you won't, but this is the kind of band (especially now) that we need to support. And the word is that they're even better live. I've gotta see. And I will.
- Eric Van Lustbader, Words & Music, 1/73.
Some British rock critics -- they definitely aren't as nasty as American rock critics, and maybe they aren't as demanding either -- are agog about this album, but I can't see it. To me, it represents a step backward from Genesis' previous effort, Nursery Cryme. The music here, a series of rather involved, interrelated compositions -- but the work of Yes is general and Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick in particular beat Foxtrot to an awful lot of punches. Lead singer Peter Gabriel does sing better than on past recordings, and Phil Collins' excellence as a drummer comes through (although it still is by no means spotlighted), but the originality Genesis seemed to be grasping for is not yet in hand. The band doesn't take enough risks here; it isn't as cocky and reckless as it was before. The melodies, occasionally deft, are de-emphasized in favor of textural complexities. And the lyrics are erratic. The one assigned to "Get 'em Out by Friday," an eight-minute, multi-tuned summary of what the Haves do to the Have Nots, is an embarrassing piece of heavy-handed hack work. Some of the shorter songs and segments of the twenty-two "Supper's Ready," however, do have lyrics with some taste and intelligence. This seems to me a sort of time-marking album for Genesis, who will surely do better. They are gifted, but they still haven't worked it all out yet.
- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 6/73.
For some time a top name in England, Genesis should begin to make U.S. headway with this interesting set. Tony Banks stands out on organ, piano and mellotron, and Peter Gabriel is a fine vocalist. Highlights on side one include "Get 'em Out by Friday" and "Watcher of the Skies," while side two is given the overall title of "Supper's Ready" and follows a basic story line.
- Billboard, 1972.
This band's defenders -- fans of manual dexterity, aggregate IQ, "stagecraft," etc. -- claim this is an improvement. And indeed, Tony Banks's organ crescendos are less totalistic, Steve Hackett's guitar is audible, and Peter Gabriel's lyrics take on medievalism, real-estate speculators, and the history of the world. This latter is the apparent subject of the 22:57-minute "Supper's Ready," which also suggests that Gabriel has a sense of humor and knows something about rock and roll. Don't expect me to get more specific, though -- I never even cared what "Gates of Eden" "really meant." [Later as a two-LP set with Nursery Cryme.] C
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
The earlier Trespass and Nursery Cryme yield no sonic revelations on Compact Disc but Foxtrot has fair sound quality to recommend it. This album marked the band's move from cult status to a much wider appreciation though surprisingly the lyrics are even more tangential, the imagery more oblique. This album still gets more airplay on FM request shows than any later recordings with the exception of Selling England By The Pound.
The major benefit of Foxtrot on CD is in the improved dynamics -- "Time Table" seemed cut on LP at a constant level but here it can be heard to build and subside. The vocal multi-track processing and cymbals no longer obscure the mix in a flurry of uncontrolled treble. Nor is hiss a problem while bass has a new-found power though little control. Syncopated stick work on hi-hat by drummer Phil Collins is clearly audible.
Foxtrot is one of those rare discs where CD Index sub-divisions have been used to give selective access, in this case to the seven "movements" of the 20-plus minute "suite" "Supper's Ready." The full lyrics are provided but the booklet gets the track order wrong -- the "outer" lists the tracks in correct playing order.
- David Prakel, Rock 'n' Roll on Compact Disc, 1987.
On its fourth album, Genesis's ambitious music finally starts to show individual identity and accomplishment, mixing elaborate arrangements with stirring rhythms and highly poetic lyrics. Contains "Watcher of the Skies" and the 22-minute "Supper's Ready." * * *
- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Genesis' sound truly gels on Foxtrot. Peter Gabriel's array of voicings give depth to the characters in "Get 'em Out by Friday" and the massive "Supper's Ready" while "Watcher of the Skies" is one of the majestic classics of art rock. * * * *
- Gary Graff, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
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