Euchre Show (Highland HL498)
Town Hall, Watford, England – June 28th, 1972
(77:02): introduction, Watcher Of The Skies, Stagnation, One-handed drum solo, The Fountain Of Salmacis, Happy The Man, Twilight Alehouse, The Musical Box, The Return Of The Giant Hogweed, instrumental jam, The Knife
Many make the argument that progressive rock hit its artistic and creative peak in 1972. Yes released Close To The Edge, Jethro Tull issued Thick As A Brick and King Crimson reformed with began recording Larks’ Tongues In Aspic. Genesis released Nursery Cryme in late 1972 and would issue their best work yet Foxtrot that autumn. The June 28th 1972 Watford tape shows the band in transition playing their Nursery Cryme set but with addition of the newly written “Watcher Of The Skies” to be recorded in August at Island Studio. This is a very clear and enjoyable recording of a fascinating show. There is a non-destructive cut after “Twilight Alehouse” but otherwise this contains the complete show. It was pressed on vinyl on Living In A Twilight Alehouse (Amazing Kornyfone TAKRL 933) that ironically omits “Watcher Of The Skies.” Highland included the one-handed drum solo on Outside And In (HL334) misidentified as March 4th and running too slow. Euchre Show has been speed corrected.
The tape begins with the mc introducing the band and Peter Gabriel introduces the first song, saying, “This one will probably be on the next album and it’s called ‘Watcher Of The Skies.'” The mellotron beginning and instrumentation are the same as will be recorded for Foxtrot but played at a quicker tempo and Gabriel and Collins sing in union during some of the parts and Peter sings the first two lines of each verse in a different melody. The song seems to fly by and has a different aura than the slower, more stately versions played later. Afterwards Gabriel tells the “Thomas S. Eisselberg” story, who fires at the clouds for his lunch, and when he doesn’t hit one he looks at his onions and becomes excited by his reflection in the pond for the brilliant “Stagnation.”
Gabriel tells the complete “Salmacis” story but the band can’t play because of some problems with the equipment so to fill in the time Gabriel introduces the “one-handed drum solo.” “Some of you may have even heard this before. Seven years Phillip Collins left to go to Russia to study for tonight’s performance of the one-handed drum solo.” “Liar!” someone shouts. “He studied under a famous Russian spastic. It’s very exciting. You fluffed that one, Phil. And then he grew a leg. Than add a hand. Two hands. Blow it, man.” They then proceed to play an eight minute version of the early epic.
After Gabriel introduces “Happy The Man” there is scattered applause. “You must be the one who bought it” Collins quips to laughter. There is a false start. “Start it again” Peter says to Phil. They play a very lose and funny version of the song with emphasis upon the “a nun with a gun” lyric but then get lost by the end. The melody is catchy with sing-a-long choruses but is repetitive and ultimately goes nowhere and its status as an outtake reserved for a single release in well deserved. Collins apologizes afterward, saying “I’ll learn the words one day.” By contrast “Twilight Alehouse,” another song released only as a single, is one of their more dramatic and effective tracks. It is introduced as featuring the “sensitive and most difficult instrument in Genesis: the triangle, the triangle. Yes, a round of applause.”
The two best songs from Nursery Cryme, “The Musical Box” and “Return Of The Giant Hogweed,” officially close the show. There is a two minute instrumental jam featuring Collins playing military marching beats and Hackett playing a country and western strum before Banks bangs out the opening Hammond organ melody of the encore “The Knife.” The chugging rhythm, violent melody and hostile vocals of Gabriel set the small crowd on edge as he slashes the air with the microphone stand while yelling “some of you are going to DIE!” Highland released Euchre Show in a standard single jewel case with good artwork with period photos. It is thus far the only silver pressed release of this essential show and with the very good sound quality is one of their better titles.