Supper's Ready.

  • WOT NO SUPPER'S READY!!! Was my reaction when looking for the discussion on Genesis's masterpiece. A discussion was developing in the Trivia Quiz thread so looked for the thread on SR direct and there isn't one. We have a thread on SR v Duke suite and one on the first second on Paperlate! but nothing specifically on the 23 minutes of SR.


    So is it their crowning glory.?

    What's the best bit ?

    To me the lyrics have mostly become clear with still obscure bits, but I expect we will have our own interpretations.

    Any interesting bits of trivia about it? ( I only recently found out about Gabble Ratchets through this site)

    On the trivia quiz thread there was talk on how much of as song it is or not and how much of a complete story is it , and is that a strength or weakness.

    Any random thoughts at all.


    I absolutely love it .To me it's the best side of any album, by anyone. No weaknesses.

  • Don't forget there are at least two Foxtrot threads which I think cover the song but no there's not been a dedicated SR thread I can recall.


    I absolutely get its iconic status and I'm glad I saw them do it in its entirety once (1982). As I said in another thread recently, I like that it just evolved and there was no plan to do a long song or attach a beginning-middle-end story, which I think would've put a different slant on it and diverted it from the course it took, which is what we all know and love. Plus I think it would have made it too much of a prog trope.


    It's amazingly skilful in that, as it grew and developed, they managed to bring together separate bits and make them flow together so well in such a good running order.


    I think the best bit is Apocalypse by a long way, it's one of the greatest pieces of rock music ever made. In particular Collins plays a blinder, the way he smoothly goes from following the geometric pattern to loosening up is sheer genius and the mark of a hugely naturally talented musician. Ditto Banks's wonderfully skewed chord sequences. Amazing to think of that trio unit already so tightly co-ordinated within the group, even back then.


    But I also love Sanctuary, the break into "Can't you see..." is one of my favourite bits of theirs along with the lovely upward lift under "Share his peace..." and it was stunning on stage.


    Objectively, I think it's those two strong pieces and the very atmospheric reprise in Eggs that carry it. Lovers is nice, I like the guitar figure but the piece goes on a tad too long with a bit of noodling that could have been cut. Ikhanton is okay, some nice guitar stuff and I love the "Today's the day..." bit. How Dare I is a bit dull but sits well between the bits either side. Willow is OK. So for me it's okay stuff with three really strong bits, all put together brilliantly to create an impressive sum.


    I don't think I have any trivia on it. I suppose we all know Banks wrote the first two bits at university.

    Abandon all reason

  • So is it their crowning glory.?

    For many it probably is. I'm not sure. In a career full of terrific and very different highs I'm not sure I can pick out a single peak moment. Certainly Apocalypse would come close to being that. But on a strict song vs song basis I'd rate Firth, Duchess and Moonlit Knight higher.


    Just remembered an amusing thing. When I saw them perform SR, the crowd were of course ecstatically applauding as it finished. When they then launched into Misunderstanding it was one of the greatest back-down-to-earth setlist contrasts I've seen. I know many here will have groaned if they witnessed it or will be groaning at the thought of it. But I thought even then it was a very smart move and a perfect bit of sequencing. "Don't get too nostalgic. Here's one most of you probably hate!"


    But then on that tour old prog heads also got Volcano, Cage, Cinema, Afterglow, Lamb, Watcher. Oh and of course Who Dunnit.

    Abandon all reason

  • well for most people SR and genesis will be in the same sentence if you asked for highlights. As above I was there in 82 when played it live...in an era of pre internet and setlists being published was a very welcome number and a lasting memory...along with Phil wearing a snorkel and mask!

    Phil's emotion in the closing section had always been one of my all time favourites

    Not many bands that do not play live in whole or part , one of their iconic songs . Have always thought that the old medley could have easily started/ended with the bookends to SR...but clearly the band do not feel the same way

  • I really enjoyed what Phil had to say about SR in his autobiography and how proud he still is of his playing on Apocalypse. And rightly so, as others have said... it's one of the most powerful pieces of music of the second half of the 20th century IMO

  • For me SR is not only the greatest song Genesis ever recorded it’s also the greatest song in rock history. My single favorite moment in attending concerts was to hear SR in 1982 at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. One thing that always strikes me when listening to bootlegs of the 82 tour is how ebullient the reaction was in the US at the end of SR as compared to Europe. One of the LA shows was particularly raucous. The eruption of applause as Phil delivers the word “Jerusalem” builds into a crescendo that drowns out the musical outro. And who can forget the light show during the vocal sections that immediately bracket Apocalypse in 9/8? Phil on the platform with smoke swirling around him, surrounded by brilliant red lights and highlighted by a blinding white light shining straight up on him from below. So shimmering and otherworldly.

  • And who can forget the light show during the vocal sections that immediately bracket Apocalypse in 9/8? Phil on the platform with smoke swirling around him, surrounded by brilliant red lights and highlighted by a blinding white light shining straight up on him from below. So shimmering and otherworldly.

    It bugs me there aren't professional videos of 82 or the 86 US/Aus Apocalypse segment.


    Re crowd reactions, aren't they generally more muted in Europe vs USA (with the possible exception of Scotland - many bands including Genesis have said the Scottish crowds were incredible. I've been in standing crowds at other bands' gigs in Scotland and loved it, while also fearing for my life!)

    Abandon all reason

  • Remember being thrilled at seeing SR in 82 too. My favourite Genesis gig though I wish I could remember the fine details as well as your good selves.t's very difficult to rank favourite Genesis songs but it' is their great masterpiece. Although I'm an atheist I love the story of heaven ,hell, war , the afterlife Armageddon etc . All quite thrilling. I like the line about knowing a farmer the best.

  • I have never been fortunate enough to see them play this song live, so I'm enjoying your reminiscence of the shows here.


    To me Suppers Ready is a song that contains some of their best material ever written along with some other stuff that I could take or leave. Everything through the Eternal Sanctuary Man section is brilliant in my opinion. Then Apocalypse onward is even moreso. Phil's drums against Tony's solo, the build up, down, then back up again is something other bands just don't do the same way. The big finish completes the piece so well, I can't imagine anything working better than that.


    On the other hand I could definitely do without the Willow Farm section. It may be necessary in order to get to what happens after, but it just doesn't do it for me. The other sections I haven't mentioned are fine, but not up to par with the best portions of the song.


    Definitely a unique piece, but given the choice I would probably like to see the end of the song live in exchange for something else for the other 10-15 minutes.

  • Definitely an impressive piece, though there are other Genesis songs I like better.


    I don't have any trivia about the song, but I have a couple of observations:


    (1) It's obviously their longest song, and their 2nd longest isn't much more than half its length (technically, about 51%).


    (2) There doesn't seem to be any consensus about exactly where each section begins and ends, and the instrumental section prior to "Apocalypse" doesn't really seem to belong to any titled section.


    And for the record, I'd say "Apocalypse" is actually in 9/4 rather than 9/8. :)

    "I don't belong here," said old Tessa out loud...

  • I'm guessing it's their most impressive piece, and it certainly packs a punch. I suppose it's hard to argue against the idea that it's their crowning glory.


    But...it's not my favourite by any means. In terms of emotional impact on me, it doesn't get close to WOTS, Cinema Show, FOF, EEOM etc.


    Don't get me wrong, I love it. And Apocalypse is wonderful, but as someone above said, there's some stuff I like better

  • There are a number of long songs by Genesis that feel stitched together from other bits. Sometimes this doesn't work for me - The Battle of Epping Forest comes to mind. It does work for me in the case of Supper's Ready. There are certainly some bits that wouldn't work well on their own - How Dare I Be... would stray into boring if it were standalone, but it works as a link and contrast between the rollicking Ikhnaton... and the subsequent lurchy and silly Willow Farm..


    Apocalypse through to As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs is clearly my favourite part. Apocalypse has obvious appeal from the rhythms, Tony's organ solo, and the great dynamic shifts and drama. ASAEIE is magnificent and majestic. As much as I love the emotional commitment of Peter in the original studio version, I tend to prefer Phil's vocal control in this section in the live versions. I also love the groove - so slow it almost feels like it might stop and yet it keeps on going. Chester does a magnificent job in this section in the live versions.


    There are a few other bits that I really like. The unnamed link between Willow Farm and Apocalypse is particularly lovely, with the high tinkling guitar and flute/keyboard.

  • There is so much about this song. In many ways I prefer the SO version but there is just something about the way that we get a 20 minute build up to Pete belting the word Jerusalem that always brings out the our goosebumps.

  • I can't plaiy a note of any instrument and music particularly Genesis sound quote magical to me. My step son plays the guitar drums. He tells me all the technical stuff about all sorts of things and why this that or the other is good or not. I played him Apocalypse and he was just gobsmacked. Refering to the drumming he said in was insane, and remained mystified as how anyone could that. It's favourite piece of drumming of all time.

  • I also enjoyed reading lucky folks' reminiscence of seeing it live, and lament the lack of recordings of it from 1982 and the bit they did in 1986. As for the song itself, it's clearly their epic, and arguably most majestic song. Is it their best? I don't think so, but how would you even define that. It's not my favorite of their songs (gun to my head as I write I'd go for HBTS), but I will echo what everyone else has highlighted as the strengths: the propulsive rhythm and skill on display in apocalypse, which really does sound apocalyptic, the wide screen glory of the last part, and the beauty just preceding apocalypse.


    One interesting tidbit I remember reading in one of those track-by-track books. The writer noted that the song ends kind of abruptly with the needle up against the edge of the vinyl, as if they were running out of space. Any merit to that? I mean, I think the song was done, but it does kind of cut out maybe a bit suddenly.

  • I also enjoyed reading lucky folks' reminiscence of seeing it live

    You've got me thinking back to it now.


    Not long past 38 years ago... wow. If I remember correctly, Sunday 19 September 1982, Shepton Mallet Showering Pavilion in the English westcountry. My girlfriend, a friend and I had booked for that gig as we got excited when the tour was announced and booked straightaway - we lived in London but no London dates were announced. Subsequently they did 4... We were too young (17) to know about how tour dates were released or about selling on/exchanging tickets.


    This venue turned out to be a concrete shed used for agricultural shows, in a remote field. Getting there and especially getting back was an adventure in itself.


    I recall they came on under dim purple lights and launched into a medley of Volcano, Behind the Lines and Follow You. Then Dodo/Lurker, which gave me my first view of the varilites in action (I hadn't gone on the Abacab tour or seen footage). They'd cleverly not moved the lights yet, just had a few colour changes which was already impressive - it was a different time! But on the "must die-ie-ie" line they lit up, splayed forward - then as one swept inwards and it was absolutely stunning. Of course the effect is now commonplace but at that time seeing an entire bank of rig lights moving in unison was mindblowing. Again, it was smart of them to minimise it - after that they barely moved again (a little in SR) until they all swept in on Collins at centrestage at "Outside the cage..." then went all-over insane during "keep on turning..." (what I gather techs call "panic").


    From Dodo to Abacab, then a pause while PC said "this is one we haven't done in a while" and not just Stuermer and Rutherford, but Banks as well, picked up acoustic 12 strings. Straight away that alerted us to an old 70s number about to be played. I immediately thought Musical Box. This was underlined by Collins's intro, explaining "this one has lots of LOUD BITS" (big cheer) "and... quiet bits" (soft cheer). He did that a few times then shouted "QUIET BITS!" (loud cheer) "aha, caught you out!" Pause, then - "Supper's Ready" - cue wild cheering that went on for what seemed like ages. It was still going on as the song quietly started.


    I've always loved the switch into Sanctuary when it breaks and that was just epic at this gig. In decades of gigs it remains a goosebumps moment. Another strong memory is the stark jagged lighting during Apocalypse, reflecting the rhythm, and at times all the lights briefly being off and how oddly thrilling that was. Then the slow heavy swell of Eggs and at "Jerusalem" the varilites white beams multi-splitting and slowly swirling amid a haze of red and what a beautiful effect it was.


    Then as I said, end, wow, amazing - applause applause - and into Misunderstanding! 😂

    Abandon all reason

  • One interesting tidbit I remember reading in one of those track-by-track books. The writer noted that the song ends kind of abruptly with the needle up against the edge of the vinyl, as if they were running out of space. Any merit to that? I mean, I think the song was done, but it does kind of cut out maybe a bit suddenly.

    Now you mention it the original fade-out did stop rather suddenly, although it had faded quite low by that point so it wasn't too jarring at normal volume. Whereas the 08 remaster has a more gradual extended fade, including a few seconds of run-out that didn't feature before.


    It makes me wonder how they actually ended the track in the studio - did the different instrument tracks each come to a definite end as per live performances or just peter out? I thought the 86 ending without the volume-down was much better than previous live ones with the 'on-stage fadeout' which always sounded a bit lame to my ears.

    Abandon all reason

  • On the other hand I could definitely do without the Willow Farm section. It may be necessary in order to get to what happens after, but it just doesn't do it for me. The other sections I haven't mentioned are fine, but not up to par with the best portions of the song.

    Willow Farm is great. You have the beginning section of the song which takes a downturn in HDIBSB when WF lifts it with a jolly tune to get us ready for the drama to come. SR may have separate sections but it makes a tremendous whole with the sum of the parts being even greater . I read Tony Iommi's autobiography and he deliberately puts in the lighter stuff to make the heavier stuff heavier and WF fits on with this philosophy. All Great stories have light and shade and Willow Farm provides that balance . I've read that Suppers Ready is a hard listen but to me it's an easy listen. Like all their stuff there is nothing that goes on too long , no time to get boring.

    Much of SR lyrics create an imagery , oftem without specifics . This gives the listener room to put their own interpretations on it which is great. I've read that WF is just some silliness. I've read it's about a retreat or fat farm .I've read it has nothing to do with the rest of the song . Maybe it's right . But I see it in this way. There's a battle and people die. WF is the after life. They're dead. Like it or not, like what you got your under the soil, literally buried maybe awaiting rebirth bodies melting, .... all change...Theegg was bird... oh no I'm gonna change into a human being, ..... you name them all we've had them here ... And then life goes on to fit our places... mum washing and dad officing.The fox on the rocks is the devil.( PG said the fox is the devil. Spelt focks?) Everything is there. The sheer surface silliness of WF creates a slightly chilling atmosphere and gets us ready for the final battle between good and evil. Well that's how I see it and I like it that way. It fits perfectly.

    Edited 3 times, last by thefarmer ().

  • I wish could remember it as well as you.

  • Now you mention it the original fade-out did stop rather suddenly, although it had faded quite low by that point so it wasn't too jarring at normal volume. Whereas the 08 remaster has a more gradual extended fade, including a few seconds of run-out that didn't feature before.


    It makes me wonder how they actually ended the track in the studio - did the different instrument tracks each come to a definite end as per live performances or just peter out? I thought the 86 ending without the volume-down was much better than previous live ones with the 'on-stage fadeout' which always sounded a bit lame to my ears.

    23 minutes of SR plus near 2 minutes of Horizons is pushing vinyl to the limit IF you want to keep the bass at proper levels - bass gives wider grooves in the vinyl, and there is only so much room between the records edge and the run out groove, which on many turntables will activate the autostop.


    A cutting engineer will be aware of these various limitations that need balancing, and it's even possible they did 2 or three versions to be presented to the producer and band, to see how they wanted to have it released.


    CD avoids all this problem, they can keep it going as long as they choose, up to 80 minutes total.


    I'm not aware of any Genesis tracks that have been released to include previously unheard starts and ends, but I have a few Moody Blues ones, and it's quite interesting to hear the full track. There are even some with comical bits, The Story in your Eyes starts with a voice (Graeme Edge to my ears) saying "it's a marriage of classical and Rock" for no obvious reason. Question ends with Justin doing a little random acoustic guitar solo, and Gypsy ands with a mayhem of instruments, chimes, and a strange laugh, which all fades out then returns briefly. So, bottom line, there could be all sorts on the master tapes, Steve has alleged that there is a 3 part guitar harmony on SR at the end which was never mixed in. A little odd if so, for that is not something Steve has ever really embraced, though he clearly has the ability to do it. In contrast to Brian May and Justin Hayward who did it a lot, to name but 2.

    Ian


    There is a church bell

    That rings on the hour

    Filling the streets

    Stopping the world awhile