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Genesis - A Trick Of The Tail CD (album) cover




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4.28 | 2552 ratings

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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review 14, A Trick Of The Tail, Genesis, 1976 StarStarStarStar Star

After the departure of Peter Gabriel, Genesis' sound really does take a drastic change. For some people this is a welcome development, but not so much for me.

Firstly, Collins takes over lead vocals. I think the issue here is not his voice, which I, personally, enjoy on all the previous albums, and on the following Wind & Wuthering, but that he's not that confident with it, and doesn't really make the songs his own on this album. Occasionally he adopts weird accents on Dance On A Volcano, Mad Man Moon and Robbery..., but it just doesn't pay off for him as much as it did for Gabriel. The lyrics are still very good, but the relatively non-distinctive nature of Collins' vocals here do obscure that a little, so they originally felt like repeated pop choruses, even when they aren't.

Secondly, the music is somewhat less explosive. There are far fewer great rock moments, and nothing like Fly On A Windshield or Firth Of Fifth. For me, at least, this meant it's taken a lot longer to acquire and get used to, and puts it somewhat behind the Gabriel era albums for me.

Anyway, they say she comes on a pale horse, onto the music:

Dance On A Volcano was a little difficult for me to get into, but I now do enjoy it. Great opening, mainly guitar-based, good drumming, a great quirky bass part from Rutherford, and overall a very enjoyable track.

Entangled is an odd creature. On the verses and the instrumental second half, good, enjoyable acoustic guitars from Hackett and Rutherford, here, and banks provides excellent synth and mellotron (I think) parts. Collins provides a nice vocal, and the song suits him. However, the choruses really don't work for me. I've never been a great fan of playing acoustics with too many chords, and this isn't an exception. The vocal harmonies aren't very distinctive, either. A very good song, I admit, but not one that grips me.

'Like father, like son' A good, but simple drum-and-bass rhythm, with matching guitar, opens Squonk. Great vocals for decent lyrics, here, somewhat more assertive than on the rest of the album, I feel, though I wish they were a little more prominent in the mix. I love the drums on this one. One of my favourites from the album.

Mad Man Moon is one of the most beautifully opened songs I've heard so far, with stunning piano and keys, emotive vocals, perfect background electrics from Hackett, and an uncharacteristically quiet performance on the percussion from Collins. Oddly enough, it merges into something with a more Latin feel, with strange percussion that sounds like castanets, cheerful and classical-styled piano juxtaposed. This is followed by the strange Sandman section, with odd, but intelligent lyrics, accented vocals. After that brief interlude, it returns to an even finer rendition of the opening, 'Within the valley of shadowless death', with a superb return to the piano theme, even better guitar minimalism and percussion, and a great ending from banks. Lyrically, this is certainly my favourite song from the album, and probably for Genesis as a whole. Essential listening for Genesis fans.

Robbery Assault And Battery is yet another weird case, where nothing manages to offend, and I love the electric guitar and bass, and the drumming's quite catchy. The cockney vocals are amusing enough, and there are two great short instrumental sections near the end and at the end, respectively. I think it's the silly keyboards here that put me off the song as a whole. A good song, and I think I should like it more than I do.

Throughout Ripples, much like Entangled, I love the piano-and-guitar verses, with superb vocals, but I don't enjoy the chorus and its harmonies much. Good lyrics, great piano, and a decent instrumental section towards the end. I prefer my soft songs staying relatively soft throughout, rather than doing what these two do, which is start with a beautiful melody and then go to a generic chorus at a slightly louder volume.

Oddly, I really enjoy the pop-ish ATOTT. A thoroughly enjoyable short song, with great guitar from Hackett, and acceptable vocals and lyrics, with some great harmonies, plenty of bombastic silliness. I don't know what so many people dislike about it, but unlike the rest of the album, I liked this one on the first listen.

Los Endos is essentially a medley of tunes from the rest of the album, together with the legendary 'There's an angel standing in the sun!' of Supper's Ready, and a couple of weird shimmerings and strange percussion things indicative of what the band would do with the instrumentals on the next album. This, however, is much more catchy and enjoyable than them, with the rhythm section standing out a little more than Banks and Hackett.

In the end, not my favourite, but a solid four star effort. Perhaps not recommended to those who prefer the harder rock aspects of Gabriel-era Genesis, or those who healthily dislike acoustics. If, like me, you fall partly into the first of those two categories, it may need a fair few spins to grow on you.

Rating: Four Stars, though personally a borderline three Favourite Track: Mad Man Moon

Edit: just saying that I am getting fonder and fonder of this. Hackett's subtleties are becoming thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable, and the album as a whole has grown on me massively since I wrote the review. Not love at first listen, but nonetheless, love.

TGM: Orb | 3/5 |


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