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

A TRICK OF THE TAIL

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.27 | 1788 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

rogerthat
4 stars Genesis had a seriously talented bunch of musicians but what they lost with the exit of Gabriel was a measure of character and personality. Consummate professionals that they were, they could still put together excellent albums. But the most immediately striking aspect of A Trick of A Tail is it does not even attempt to make a statement and is safely along the lines of what Genesis fans would expect from their band. This might please those who disliked the alleged pretentiousness of Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (the charting performance seems to suggest as much) but it is what makes me hesitate using the greatest superlatives to describe the album.

The lack of a statement is also evidenced in the unusual diversity of styles (for a Genesis album) utilized here. It does not, however, seem to be the Lamb-like diversity of brilliance flowing from a band at its very peak and indicates confusion and irresolution to me. Dance on a volcano and Los Endos mildly evoke the fusion scene, Entangled is gentle and pastoral while Mad Mad Moon and Robbery Assault and Battery seem to be rooted in the SEBTP style.

As the above might indicate, Genesis don't really evidence much growth here. Perhaps, the prevailing circumstances forced their hand and they wanted to stabilize the ship at this stage. I don't know if that's all there is to it, though, because Genesis would continue to be somewhat stagnant for the next couple of albums before taking artistic left turns in the pursuit of commercial success. It could be that their ambitions had reached a dead end and there was nowhere left for them to develop their signature further.

Whatever it may be, this somewhat takes the sheen off the musical experience. Ripples is the only track that brings something fresh to the table. Clearly Hackett driven (even though Banks drowns his wailing guitar in a wall of keyboard), it brings forth a soaring, ethereal, and yet emotional, dreaminess and utilizes Collins's ability to stay melodic even as he hits powerful high notes well. One of my all time favourite Genesis tracks.

Right, Collins! This is Collins's first major outing as a singer to the best of my knowledge. Overall, he makes the transition a lot smoother than it should have been because he doesn't, ultimately, sound completely unlike Gabriel. He sings Squonk with the kind of gusto that might have been beyond Gabriel's reach. But his lack of confidence hurts when the music is sentimental or humorous and he is further crippled in his attempts by Banks's unconvincing lyrics.

Banks's lyrics serve to underline the problem that haunts this otherwise excellent release: the lack of a clear vision or the power to articulate it emphatically. The production meantime is topnotch. Like SEBTP, the overall mix of styles and sonic elements puts this album a bit too squarely in the 'happy and clean' basket and there's not much darkness to contend with.

4 stars then for a Genesis release that is hard to go wrong with and yet one that is, at least for me, hard to love to pieces.

rogerthat | 4/5 |

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