More Prog Rock
- An outstanding copy of this early Peter-Gabriel-led Genesis album from 1972 with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
- One of the tougher Genesis albums to find with good sound – this British Charisma LP is much more impressive than most of what we’ve played over the years, and is guaranteed to trounce any domestic or Heavy Vinyl pressing you may have heard
- 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 can barely 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 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 the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We’re Listening For on Foxtrot
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Watcher of the Skies
Get ’em Out by Friday
Can-Utility and the Coastliners
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.