Genesis – Foxtrot

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  • This early Peter-Gabriel-led Genesis album from 1972 boasts killer Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • One of the toughest in the catalog to find with good sound and quiet surfaces – you need the right UK pressing to even be in the ballpark – but this copy delivers the proggy goods like gangbusters
  • 5 stars: “Foxtrot is where Genesis began to pull all of its varied inspirations into a cohesive sound – which doesn’t necessarily mean that the album is streamlined, for this is a group that always was grandiose even when they were cohesive, or even when they rocked, which they truly do for the first time here. This is the rare art-rock album that excels at both the art and the rock, and it’s a pinnacle of the genre because of it.”

This vintage British pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of this Shootout Winning copy of Foxtrot have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1972
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is, of course, the only way to hear all of the above.

Best Practices

If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.

The process is simple enough. First you go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can’t find on most copies. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Watcher of the Skies
Time Table 
Get ’em Out by Friday
Can-Utility and the Coastliners

Side Two

Horizons 
Supper’s Ready 
i. Lover’s Leap 
ii. The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man 
iii. Ikhnaton and Itsacon and Their Band of Merry Men 
iv. How Dare I Be So Beautiful 
v. Willow Farm 
vi. Apocalypse in 9/8 (Co-Starring the Delicious Talents of Gabble Ratchet) 
vii. As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs (Aching Men’s Feet)

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

Foxtrot is where Genesis began to pull all of its varied inspirations into a cohesive sound — which doesn’t necessarily mean that the album is streamlined, for this is a group that always was grandiose even when they were cohesive, or even when they rocked, which they truly do for the first time here.

Indeed, the startling thing about the opening “Watcher of the Skies” is that it’s the first time that Genesis attacked like a rock band, playing with a visceral power. There’s might and majesty here, and it, along with “Get ‘Em Out by Friday,” is the truest sign that Genesis has grown muscle without abandoning the whimsy.

Certainly, they’ve rarely sounded as fantastical or odd as they do on the epic 22-minute closer “Supper’s Ready,” a nearly side-long suite that remains one of the group’s signature moments. It ebbs, flows, teases, and taunts, see-sawing between coiled instrumental attacks and delicate pastoral fairy tales. If Peter Gabriel remained a rather inscrutable lyricist, his gift for imagery is abundant, as there are passages throughout the album that are hauntingly evocative in their precious prose.

But what impresses most about Foxtrot is how that precociousness is delivered with pure musical force. 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.

Words & Music

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.”

All this presented unceremoniously, unpretensiously and with the utmost professionalism. Throughout, there are acres of marvelous solos. But Genesis really transcends such banal and pedestrian inventions as categories.

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.

Learning the Record

For our recent shootout we had at our disposal a variety of pressings we thought would have the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them carefully, then unplugged everything in the house we could, warmed up the system, Talisman’d it, found the right VTA for our Triplanar arm (by ear of course) and proceeded to spend the next hour or so playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for side two.

If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that other pressings do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given copy reproduces those passages.

The process is simple enough. First you go deep into the sound. There you find a critically important passage in the music, one which most copies struggle — or fail — to reproduce as well as the best. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.

It may be a lot of work but it sure ain’t rocket science, and we never pretended it was. Just the opposite: from day one we’ve explained how to go about finding the Hot Stampers in your own collection. (The problem is that unless your a crazy person who bought multiple copies of the same album there is no way to know if any given copy is truly Hot Stamper. Hot Stampers are not merely good sounding records. They are copies that win shootouts. This is a fact that cannot be emphasized too strongly.

As your stereo and room improve, as you take advantage of new cleaning technologies, as you find new and interesting pressings to evaluate, you may even be inclined to start the shootout process all over again, to find the hidden gem, the killer copy that blows away what you thought was the best.

You can’t find it by looking at it. You have to clean it and play it, and always against other pressings of the same album. There is no other way.

For the more popular records on the site such as the Beatles titles we have easily done more than twenty, maybe even as many as thirty to forty shootouts.

And very likely learned something new from every one.