TotW 11/27/2023 - 12/03/2023: GENESIS - The Battle Of Epping Forest

    • Official Post

    Your rating for "The Battle Of Epping Forest" by GENESIS 32

    1. 15 points - outstanding (4) 13%
    2. 14 points - very good (1) 3%
    3. 13 points - very good - (2) 6%
    4. 12 points - good + (1) 3%
    5. 11 points - good (8) 25%
    6. 10 points - good - (2) 6%
    7. 09 points - satisfactory + (2) 6%
    8. 08 points - satisfactory (7) 22%
    9. 07 points - satisfactory - (2) 6%
    10. 06 points - sufficient + (1) 3%
    11. 05 points - sufficient (0) 0%
    12. 04 points - sufficient - (0) 0%
    13. 03 points - poor + (0) 0%
    14. 02 points - poor (2) 6%
    15. 01 points - poor - (0) 0%
    16. 00 points - abysmal (0) 0%

    We invite you to share interesting facts and tidbits about this track. Let's look at the track in the context of the band's / the artist's history, at the music, the songwriting and all other aspects that are relevant for this track. Please do stick to the discussion of the track above. Comparisons to other tracks are okay, but remember that the other track you may be keen to talk about has or will have its own Track Of The Week thread. If you spot a mistake or if you can close a gap in the fact sheet above please feel free to contact martinus or Christian about it; we will gladly add and improve!


    GENESIS - The Battle Of Epping Forest
    Year: 1973
    Album: Selling England By The Pound
    Working title: ?
    Credits: Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett, Rutherford
    Lyrics: Yes
    Length: 11:49
    Musicians: Phil Collins, Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford
    Played Live: 1973, 1974
    Cover versions:

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    Notes: On the rather homogeneous album Selling England By The Pound, The Battle Of Epping Forest sometimes comes across as a disturbing factor. This is due to the much more "twitchy" production compared to the other long songs, especially Firth Of Fifth and Cinema Show. The Battle is more of an instrumental playground with random lyrics. The song was only played live during the Selling England tour..

    cheers

    Christian


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  • This is about the only Genesis track I actively dislike. There are a couple of others I'm lukewarm on, but not many and I still prefer those to most songs ever. Not this. To me, it's like a satire of the worst, most over bloated bits of what people think of when they think of "prog". I can't abide it. I'll revisit it again no doubt and rediscover some tiny bit that's not bad (the music in the lines before he starts snarling "picnic" in that weird affected way, maybe?), but that'll be completely swamped by the morass of clunky words and even clunkier music that can't get out of its own way. I think my opinion of it is out of step with most others and the album is universally acclaimed as one of their best but BoEF torpedoes it for me. 2, for now.

  • I've never got on with it. Agree with what has been previously said that the lyrics don't fit with the music. I much prefer Get em' out by Friday as one of Gabriel's story songs.


    Not bad per se but one of their poorest epics and the weakest song on Selling for sure.


    8 points.

  • I like this track, certainly more than some other people seem to. I especially the the ending section, with Tony and Steve's interplay. Love Steve's guitar work here.


    I don't mind the lyrics at all, but I can certainly understand why they are somewhat impenetrable for some people.


    Is it a bit long? Probably.


    I think one of its major issues is that it's on an album with FOF, CS, DWTMK and IKWIL. Most tracks are going struggle in that context.

  • Not terrible, and a fairly impressive attempt at pulling off a very long and complex piece of music. But it's my least favorite piece on a generally great album.


    As I think I mentioned before, my first copy of the album (LP) didn't have printed lyrics included, and I found several lines of "Epping" to be impossible to understand as a result.

    “When the waitress asked if I wanted my pizza cut into four or eight slices, I said, ‘Four. I don’t think I can eat eight.’” -- Yogi Berra

  • That particular song has always been a favourite of mine. I first heard that song in 1973, when it was released. I was 8 years old and the images of a battle in an English forest have always impressed me. I also loved the different characters, especially the reverend and the different voices used by Peter Gabriel. And I liked the sound of the synthesizer used by Tony Banks (the cavalry part). I was always surprised to hear all the criticisms about that song.

  • I always loved this song. Along with Moonlit Knight, Firth of Fifth and Cinema Show these are the four epics that make the substance on this album while the other tracks are the lighter stuff. When I was a kid I was singing aloud to Battle of Epping Forest, I could not understand any English yet so I had no clue what Peter sings but it sounded like a lot of fun. All the instrumental work is outstanding with Steve's final solo being the crown upon everything. What an awesome band Genesis were in these days.


    I will never ever in my whole life understand the hate on this song. Your loss if you don't get this music.

  • FAR too busy. There is already a lot going on musically, so the lyrics piled on top make it an uncomfortable listen. There are few songs by Genesis that I actively avoid, nearly all of them are on the last two studio albums, and then there's this one. It would have been better if Peter had tried not to out do the musicians, or it would have given the illusion of being better if it wasn't on an album full of Genesis masterpieces. A generous 8 for clever musicianship but the song leaves me cold and wishing for it to end. I agree with the earlier comment that Get 'em Out by Friday worked better by miles as one of Gabriel's story songs.

  • Just 8/15

    Like many others, I never really could dig into this one. Too hectic, no real melody hookline etc. When Hackett played this it was a good chance to get something to drink ....

  • Well, it's not my favourite song from one of my favourite albums, as it's probably the weakest track, but I don't dislike it either. It may be too busy (I think Tony Banks recognised himself that they went too far with it), but it also has its moments (the beginning of the second verse at 4:03, the "Reverend" bit, and the ending).

    Lots of impressive playing : Steve (lots of sounds), Phil (what a drumming part overall !) and Mike (that bass that goes on and off-beat at the end !) really shine here.

    10 points.

  • Blimey it's coming to something when people say Friday is a better 'story song' than this.


    I'm with what feels like the majority here in not liking it much. I think I do get why those who like it like it but it does next to nothing for me. As mentioned above everyone's playing is excellent, they were really on top of their game by this point but in this track their skill isn't serving a good purpose. If the individual bits of this track were broken up and used as the basis for shorter, better songs it would have been great - the lower-tempo closing section in particular would have made a really nice standalone song. This is a band I love and Battle obviously wasn't the first time they did a multi-sectioned song but for some reason the parts don't sit together well on this, they sound awkwardly bolted together.


    There's also an element of Maxwell's Silver Hammer, a song which makes the story of a skull-cracking murderer into a jolly jaunty singalong ditty. Battle, we understand, is based on a gang territory war PG read about. I believe that anything can be music subject matter, why not? It's an issue of how well you write about it. He didn't do a very good job with it, turning it into a rather twee tale with comedy characters and silly voices in a fumbled attempt to be 'fun'.

    the "Reverend" bit

    'The Reverend' is a lovely segment musically and lyrically, sounding very like a possibly pre-existing bit someone had and which got stitched into Battle. I like that it bears no resemblance to the rest of the track. I'm thinking of cropping it to add into my Genesis compilation.

    Abandon all reason

  • I can't get behind this song at all. While it is obvious that it was constructed by talented musicians, it has no musical cohesion to me. It just feels like a bunch of bits stuffed too tightly into a sausage casing. I gave up on this song long ago and haven't returned to it in years.

  • Not the best and one of the weaker songs on my favourite album but I like it. It’s a bit long and it’s a bit cluttered, as others have said, and the silly voices have dated, but it contains a lot of great ideas and fantastic backing track. The Reverend is one of my favourite bits of Genesis music. I like the idea that Gabriel played it live with a stocking mask on and I like that he did a fair bit of research into the story that inspired it - before turning it all into Gabrielese. It’s a bit of fun and they’ve thrown the kitchen sink at it but so what? It’s still good to listen to.

  • That is an amazing spread of votes so far. Have there been any other songs as divisive as this? I feel like there's usually broad consensus with one or two voting a little above or below the average. This has 3 votes for 15 and 2 votes for 2!

  • . I like the idea that Gabriel played it live with a stocking mask on and I like that he did a fair bit of research into the story that inspired it -

    Did he really do a lot or research? I thought I remembered Gabriel saying it was based on a newspaper article that he had read, but then was unable to find the article when writing the song.


    Anyway, I gave the song an 8. Some good playing and an interesting story, but there's just way too much going on.

  • Did he really do a lot or research? I thought I remembered Gabriel saying it was based on a newspaper article that he had read, but then was unable to find the article when writing the song.


    Anyway, I gave the song an 8. Some good playing and an interesting story, but there's just way too much going on.

    I think he tried hard and took out adverts in newspapers to get more information. How far he got I don’t know but at least he tried.

  • That is an amazing spread of votes so far. Have there been any other songs as divisive as this? I feel like there's usually broad consensus with one or two voting a little above or below the average. This has 3 votes for 15 and 2 votes for 2!

    It's not the most popular prog piece, isn't it? No wonder we see this spread of votes. It's also on an album where you find tracks like Firth Of Fifth and Cinema Show, which are simply out of this world. Maybe another reason why The Battle is less popular?

    ... any moment that we bring to life - ridiculous sublime

  • It's not the most popular prog piece, isn't it? No wonder we see this spread of votes. It's also on an album where you find tracks like Firth Of Fifth and Cinema Show, which are simply out of this world. Maybe another reason why The Battle is less popular?

    agreed.

    For me, it was only worth 8 points. Compared to the other tracks on the album, it probably is the weak spot.

  • I have read all the criticism. Of course, everybody is entitled to his/her own opinion. But something occurred to me. Maybe, just maybe those who criticize that song forget or overlook the fact that the song is about a battle. It only makes sense that it's too busy. A gang fight is supposed to be busy. And the words and the music do express perfectly how chaotic a battle actually is.


    I don't know, maybe I am wrong...

  • Maybe, just maybe those who criticize that song forget or overlook the fact that the song is about a battle. It only makes sense that it's too busy. A gang fight is supposed to be busy. And the words and the music do express perfectly how chaotic a battle actually is.

    For me, no it's definitely not that and the suggestion doesn't really make any sense to me at all.

    Abandon all reason