Featuring their side-long epic, 'Supper's Ready'. Apocalyptic prog!
Chris Jones 2007
Following the identity-sealing statement that was Nursery Cryme, Genesis were now intent on capitalising on their momentum. They continued to play every college gig going while writing song suites about godlike entities overseeing our destiny and dressing like a fox on stage. An average life for a mid-level band in the UK in 1972, then.
They’d fully incorporated the blast of a Mellotron into their sound and Phil Collins jazz leanings were pushing them in a slightly more interesting direction, away from the ponderous prog nonentity that awaited contemporaries like Gentle Giant. What’s more their live sound had become bolstered by the addition of Mike Rutherford’s bass pedals, allowing him to add yet more ringing twelve string into the mix while blasting the front three rows with his feet. Opener “Watcher Of the Skies”, with its tricky time signatures, displays this power to the max.
What follows is a consolidation of the promise shown on Nursery Cryme. The first big difference is the production, which suddenly brings all that chiming acoustic filigree up close and personal. The songs flow easily and the cod-historical tendency is toned down in favour of science fiction (“Watcher…”), an ill-judged ‘contemporary issues’ song (“Get ‘Em Out By Friday”) and biblical allegory (“Supper’s Ready”). You do still get the history-as-moral song with “Timetable” and one more which, for no good reason at all apart from the awful pun contained in the title, is about King Canute: “Can-Utility And The Coastliners”.
But the really big stuff on Foxtrot resides in their first bona fide masterpiece: The side-long epic, “Supper’s Ready”. These days Peter Gabriel himself probably couldn’t tell you exactly what the whole thing’s about, but it involves more puns, the Book of Revelations, atomic war and flowers. Someone probably has a webpage explaining it all…But never mind, for it’s an exhilarating, if slightly lumpy ride through some of the band’s best writing and playing. The best sections include the multi-voiced romp through insanity of “Willow Farm” and the clever-cloggery of “Apocalypse in 9/8 (co-starring the delicious talents of Gabble Ratchet)”. Guess which time signature that was in…
It allowed Gabriel to do even more dressing up, making their shows the hottest tickets in town. Unfortunately the album still stalled on the brink of the big league which contained proggers like Yes and Crimson. Genesis just needed one little extra push. And their next album would supply that. But with Foxtrot everyone had begun to take notice.