I have conflicted views about Genesis. Growing up I knew them as bland MOR Phil Collins-fronted popsters and was baffled when journalists started taking my beloved Marillion to task for sounding like them, after a bit of investigation I found that at one point they had been weird and cool… well not cool exactly, just cooler maybe. From then on I invested in Nursery Cryme in March 1988 and 3 months later I bought Foxtrot, on the grounds that it had a 17 minute track on it called ‘Supper’s Ready’ – who could imagine such a thing?
Foxtrot immediately won kudos for the fact that the cover art linked with Nursery Cryme‘s cover (Derek Riggs and Mark Wilkinson meant that I knew this sort of continuity was a very good thing) and for the fact that the fox on the cover had decent-sized knockers – I was 16!! what can I say?! I have to say though that I never really played this LP very much, partly because hair metal intervened and partly because I was never that fussed on it, so it was interesting to listen to it again now, having cast the hair metal scales from my eyes / ears / other bodily organs.
Side 1 was a bit of an endurance test to be honest. Listening again I found the music to be pretty thin gruel indeed; weedy, English public school, windy and just the worst arty-farty sixth-form poetry, which thinks it is far cleverer than it really is. In fact precisely the sort of lyrics I would have written, if forced to, as an adolescent. The effort to be meaningful in ‘Time Table’ and the ham-fisted social commentary of ‘Get ’em Out by Friday’ were excruciating and the music was just paper-thin too, no depth, no bass, no (excuse me ladies*) bollocks.
Ladies and gentlemen I was even considering violating the sacred 1537 creed, not bothering with the second half and just faking a review. I say that because I feel it is imperative that you know that I too, groovy though I can be on occasion, am only human – no, it’s true, I am! I didn’t fake it though. I gritted my teeth, took a swig of coffee and turned the record over and…
… found myself somewhere else entirely. Beginning with the exquisite, acoustic instrumental ‘Horizons’, Side 2 is a treat from start to finish. ‘Supper’s Ready’ split conveniently into all manner of preposterous movements, called ridiculous things like ‘As Sure as Eggs is Eggs (Aching Men’s Feet)’ just works in a way the rest of the LP does not. I find myself at a complete loss to say why though. The lyrics are as pretentious as before, or as nonsensical at least:
Wearing feelings on our faces while our faces took a rest,
We walked across the fields to see the children of the West,
But we saw a host of dark skinned warriors
standing still below the ground,
Waiting for battle
Dad to dam to dum to mum
Mum diddley washing, Mum diddley washing,
You’re all full of ball.
I mean, I should HATE this, everyone should in fact, but I don’t. I think part of the secret is in the music, the lilting acoustica of the ‘Lover’s Leap’ segment, the outright heaviness of ‘Apocalypse in 9/8’, it all holds together. I played it twice this afternoon and if fence-painting duties had not intervened, it would have got a third airing – fences and prog rock are implacable enemies, it’s a length of time thing. ‘Supper’s Ready’ is, against all the odds for me, just excellent. Makes me want to ride the ebay pony again and get a copy of The Lamb Lies down on Broadway, which I’ve never heard but is supposed to be a real show-stopper? anyone out there got an opinion on it?
There you go, Genesis Foxtrot – half pants / half mum diddley great.
*I’m going metaphorical here, all the ladies I like to listen to have far larger ones than I do.