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Genesis - A Trick of the Tail CD (album) cover

A TRICK OF THE TAIL

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.27 | 1803 ratings

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russellk
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Hah! Take that, you doubters!

PETER GABRIEL leaves, and the four remaining members have room to breathe. Rather than the muddy mix of previous GENESIS albums, 'A Trick of the Tail' allows BANKS, RUTHERFORD, HACKETT and COLLINS to shine. Suddenly it's about the music, and nothing Genesis ever did approaches the sheer musical excellence of this record. No, it's not really a concept album in the lyrical sense, but it is bound together by shared musical themes, brought home by the stunning closer, 'Los Endos'.

'Dance on a Volcano' is no simple opener. A powerful opening theme is counterpointed by a sophisticated verse rhythm, and PHIL COLLINS powers into the vocals. Of course we're going to compare him to PETER GABRIEL. And you know what? There's no comparison. Forget 'Sissudio' or 'You Can't Hurry Love', I dare you. Come on, hear what he's doing here. A unique voice, so confident already, beautifully phrased, only to get better in the years that followed. 'On your left, and on your right ...' COLLINS doesn't have the sheer presence of GABRIEL, but that's all to the good - now we can hear GABRIEL'S former backing band, and they're not bad! 'Better start doing it right!' Oh, they are. GABRIEL has the voice of a solo artist; COLLINS that of a band singer, with a tremendous range. Now that GABRIEL has left, to go on to his own stellar solo career, they're all finally doing it right. Win-win.

On to 'Entangled'. No drums, just beauty. A peasant conceit lifted into the stratosphere by TONY BANKS' last two minutes. Listen to that lead break on the keys. Imagine Gilmour playing it on guitar - it'd be ahead of 'Comfortably Numb' on all the 'greatest guitar solos' lists. With the mellotronic voices and the ethereal atmosphere, the climax of this song is as good as music gets.

Then in roars 'Squonk'. Just the right gap between songs for the thundering start to work. Not their very best song, but it still beats GENESIS' earlier 'weird animal' stuff such as 'Hogweed'. 'Mad man Moon' is just beautiful: we now begin to realise that TONY BANKS is and always was at the heart of what GENESIS managed to accomplish. Plaintive, precise piano, just gorgeous singing from COLLINS, this song goes unnoticed in the GENESIS canon but would be a career highlight for almost any other band. The rising transitional note between 'sun and sand' and 'Within the valley' is another classic BANKS moment, of which there are dozens on this record. And has there been a line so fraught as 'Forever caught in desert lands/ One has to learn to disbelieve the sea'?

'Robbery, Assault and Battery' does what the awful 'Epping Forest' couldn't; freed from GABRIEL'S overindulgence, prog's playfulness is masterfully summarised. 'Ripples' is extraordinarily powerful, marred slightly by an overlong central transition section. Again, GABRIEL could do many things, but singing 'Sail away, away' wouldn't be one of them. Lovely big drum sound, and splendid effort from Mr RUTHERFORD. A faint echo of this song, 'Fading Lights', can be heard on 'We can Dance', but it's only an echo; this is the business. The title track is a fun piece, lovely clean pop allowing the humour of this band to rise to the surface again.

Finally 'Los Endos.' An instrumental coda wich brings the musical themes of the album together, this really is redolent of the best of this album. Disparate themes welded together into five minutes of music which soars from peak to peak, a summary of a career together. Somewhere near the best five minutes of music on the planet.

So come on, all you doubters. Cast aside your anti-COLLINS hatred. Give this a listen.

And to think it so nearly didn't happen.

russellk | 5/5 |

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