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

A TRICK OF THE TAIL

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.27 | 1669 ratings

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4 stars Not as bad as the diehards would have you think!!!

Genesis lost great lyrics and an enigmatic frontman when Peter Gabriel left, but he left behind the same group of musicians responsible for "Nursery Cryme", "Foxtrot", "Selling England..." and "The Lamb", and nowhere is this more evident than on "A Trick of the Tail".

"Dance on a Volcano" is a simply wonderful piece of the prog that Genesis were rightly renowned for - Banks, Rutherford, Hackett and Collins fusing together to provide tight rhythms, beautiful melodies and complex changes to satisfy any prog fan except maybe the more demanding. Phil wasn't too bad in the vocal melody section either, but it's just as well that most of the words are almost unintelligible due to sensible mixing. One or two lines are quite funny, however, such as "The lava's the lover that licks your boots away". The ending line "Let the dance begin ~" is prophetic given Genesis' direction after this album.

"Entangled" features some superb acoustic guitar work, and the lyrics are fairly amusing if slightly hackneyed. This song verges on the folk-like, and has some exquisite passages with sublime textures, although the refrain is a bit annoying.

"Squonk" is more of the quality of "Dance on a Volcano" - Phil's drums sound especially resonant, and the fills are all the more satisfying for the generally minimalistic approch. This is quite a head-banger compared to much of Genesis' earlier material, as there is not much complexity in construction or form, rather complexity has been saved for small details in the layering. It does get a little more interesting around 5:30, where a short coda brings relief from the headbanging. The lyrics are an interesting little tale about the furry squonk - but ultimately silly!

"Mad Man Moon" is quite beautiful, although the lyrics do seem to get weird for the sake of being weird and doing something a bit different. This track bears some really nice Genesis hallmarks; notably Banks' keyboard layers and Rutherford's solid bass pedals. At 2:40, there's a superb piano-led section from Banks, as if trying to recapture a little of "Firth of Fifth". Personally I would have bought an entire album of material like this - "Mad Man Moon" must surely be one of the most overlooked Gems in Genesis back catalogue. Collins gives a fine vocal delivery on this track in his own style - which is much better than his attempts to imitate Gabriel!

"Robbery, Assault and Battery" is one of my favourite of all Genesis' songs, despite the dodgy lyrics and dreadful characterisations (dreadful as in cheesey rather than actually bad!). The rhythms and time changes for the verse sections are almost sensual, with Collins producing some particularly imaginative rhythms. The chorus sections are thankfully short, but the wonderful mid section around 2:35 featuring keyboard leads from Banks and a range of gorgeous textures from the keyboard sounds, Collins' percussion and Rutherford's striding bass lines is very satisfying. However, there's another nice keyboard lead around 4:20 that gives me goose bumps in the symphonic splendour and surprising entry. It's a pity that another verse has to follow it - this construction reminds me a little of "The Battle of Epping Forest", a song I'm particularly not keen on. However, all in all, a superb example of pure Genesis prog.

"Ripples" is a nice enough ballad with nice guitar and keyboard textures, but I find it a little dull after several hearings, and not very progressive.

It's fortunate that the title track is not the final song, as we have another piece in song format - even if the verses are extended. The chorus lyrics are irritating, although the story is quite entertaining, and the "Doo-wop" section is highly unwelcome.

"Los Endos" is much more like it - a very energetic finish to the album which leaves a sense of overall satisfaction, Banks dominating again with gorgeous keyboard melodies and Hackett continuing to maintain a low-key presence.

Conclusion - although there does appear to be some "dumbing down" in places, still a worthwhile prog album in any collection - with good examples to any aspiring keyboard player, bassist, drummer or vocalist (purely in terms of melody, of course!) of how simple ideas can be used to form complex arrangements; Yes, there are a few complex ideas in there as well, but this is proof that attention to detail in form can triumph over pure virtuosity when creating progressive music. It's also a warning against sticking to tried and tested song structures, and considering lyrics very carefully!

This album belongs in any collection of prog, no matter where your tastes take you generally; this is an album to return to like a comfortable sweater. It's not going to blow anyone away, but it's a very satisfying listen nontheless.

Certif1ed | 4/5 |

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