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




Symphonic Prog

4.28 | 2551 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Another case of gilding the lily here - that is, adding my probably irrelevant opinion to a couple of hundred others... Hope you'll bear with me and read this review until the end, and perhaps find something you haven't yet discovered about this album (that's my usual big-headed self showing.).

In spite of having been recorded after the shock that was Peter Gabriel's departure, "A Trick of the Tail" seems to be universally acclaimed as one of the best Genesis albums. I must admit to having always had a soft spot for both this album and its follow-up, the patchier "Wind and Wuthering", though I would never go so far as to call either of them a masterpiece.

Solid is probably the best word to describe AToT. Eight tracks, impeccably performed by a band that, in spite of having just lost their charismatic lead singer, are at the top of their game from a purely musical point of view. A quirky, very English cover in warm shades of brown and gold, and equally quirky, humour-laced lyrics. Though the loss of Gabriel's visionary, quasi-mystical slant can be felt, in a way the transition is not as strongly noticeable as one might think. Phil Collins (who had yet to become the prog musician everybody loves to hate) fulfills his vocal duties admirably: his voice may even be better than Gabriel's in a strictly technical sense, and he delivers the long, often intricate lyrics quite successfully (although I have to admit that I'm not overly keen on his use of a higher pitch, often bordering on falsetto).

AToT's standout tracks bookend the album. "Dance on a Volcano" starts out with a very distinctive, explosive drum and organ riff that paints a sort of sonic picture of the song's lyrical content. If one had any doubts left as to Phil Collins' skills as a drummer (however much one can hate him for his later career), his commanding performance on this song immediately clears the ground - besides, the interplay between the four band members is nothing short of dazzling. Energetic, uplifting "Los Endos", possibly the foremost candidate for Genesis' best instrumental, closes the album by cleverly reprising the themes of all the other songs, with Banks' majestic keyboard washes dominating the proceedings.

The other tracks offer a wide spectrum of moods and musical textures, though they can be neatly divided in two strains: the mellow and melodic (wistful, dreamy "Entangled", with the unexpected sting in the tail of its dryly ironical closing lines; lush, keyboard-laden ballad "Ripples"; the beautiful piano melody of "Mad Man Moon", featuring some excellent, understated singing from Collins) and the more upbeat (tongue-in-cheek "Robbery, Assault and Battery", somewhat reminiscent of "The Battle of Epping Forest"; drum-and keyboard-driven "Squonk", and the quirky, endearingly poppy tune which is the title-track).

Unfortunately, Genesis' golden years were reaching their end, though on this album the future development of the band's sound still seems quite remote. AToT is certainly a more than worthwile offering from one of the seminal, most influential bands of prog, although not as challenging as their Gabriel-era masterpieces. However, you could definitely do worse than add it to your collection and enjoy it for years to come.

Raff | 4/5 |


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