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Tony Banks - Soundtracks CD (album) cover

SOUNDTRACKS

Tony Banks

 

Crossover Prog

2.71 | 38 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The other guy from Genesis.

You have to have a certain amount of sympathy for Tony Banks. He was not only a member of one of the most successful bands the world has even seen, he was arguably the main driving force behind it. Much of the success of Genesis can be directly attributed to both his compositions, and the layers of keyboards he created which gave the band their sound.

When it comes to his solo albums though, he has been spectacularly unsuccessful. This lack of success must be all the more frustrating for him when he has had to watch his peers (Gabriel, Collins, Rutherford, and even Hackett), enjoying so much adulation and appreciation. If I was being harsh, I could suggest that this lack of solo success is attributable to some extent to his lack of charisma. Banks is very much a musician, not a performer. When I saw Genesis final tour (the one with Ray Wilson), Banks barely acknowledge that the audience were even present, let alone making any effort to communicate with them. Such detachment from his "audience" does not serve to endear him to them.

The other obvious reason for Banks' relative failure as a solo artist is the lack of a hit single. He has tried on several occasions to strike the rich seam which his band mates have exploited, but such efforts have been consistently unsuccessful, resulting only in disappointing material which clearly did nothing to represent his talents.

In a further effort to find that elusive success, Banks has collaborated with a number of well known artists, but even they have been unable to light the fuse. "Soundtracks" is a perfect example of all that is good and bad about Banks as a solo artist. The album consists of music written by Banks for two films ("Quicksilver" starring Kevin Bacon and "Lorca and the outlaws" AKA "Starship"), neither of which can be termed blockbusters.

Since the music was written to accompany these films, the album is more instrumental that other Banks solo works (apart from the recent classical project). Three of the six tracks have no vocals at all, while the other three feature different guest singers.

The first three tracks, which occupy most of side one of the LP, are from "Quicksilver". "Short cut to somewhere" features the vocals of Fish, but the song is straight from Genesis 80's pop era and as such was a potential, but ultimately failed, hit single. The two other tracks from the film are little more than incidental music of the type which I'm sure Tony can churn out in his sleep.

The remaining track on side one, and the whole of side two are dedicated to "Lorca and the outlaws". Banks' compositions for this film were originally intended for the film "2010", but everything he wrote was rejected when it was submitted, and he ended up allowing it to be used without charge on "Lorca..".

The distinctively voiced Jim Diamond sings (and co-writes) "You call this victory?", a rather mediocre drudge of a song. Mrs Robert Fripp, sometimes known as Toyah, provides the final vocals on the album on "Lion of symmetry". Her instantly recognisable lispy tones sit well with Banks' plodding, slightly offbeat synthesiser rhythm. Apart from the rather clumsy pun of the title, this is the most appealing part of the album, the infectious beat reflecting Banks' "This is love" from "The fugitive".

The remainder of the album is occupied by "The redwing suite", which is in reality another batch of incidental music in five parts. The atmospheric introduction is unceremoniously pushed aside by the ubiquitous pounding beat of drum machine and synthesiser as Banks bashes out more of the same.

It is often unfair to judge an artist by their soundtrack work. The music is often written to complement the intended film, and as such is out of context when heard in audio only format (A fish out of water if you will). Disregarding the fact that in this case part of the album was actually written for a completely different film to the one it was used for, the music does actually stand up fairly well in its own right. This is by no means an essential album, and those seeking more of the significant contribution Banks made to Genesis finest works will find little here of that nature. Nevertheless, should the album land upon your lap, it is worthy of a spin.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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