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Tony Banks

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Definitely not his best... FISH of MARILLION is on the first track! There are some not catchy songs with guest lead vocals. Awful!

Soundtrack music? Well, a bit (like on "You Call This Victory" and "Lion of Symmetry", "Lorca"), but rest is keyboards-like "Abacad"-GENESIS period, although less catchy.

Report this review (#27178)
Posted Thursday, April 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I avoided "Quicksilver" (subtext: bikin' Bacon bites big time); Lorca And The Outlaws avoided me, or at least any of the theaters near me. Both films did share what would appear to be a bit of good fortune: acquiring the services of Tony BANKS to score the music. Following the success of 1983's GENESIS, one can picture the movie moguls approaching BANKS with a desire to write film music like "that Mama song" or "the one where Phil sings 'all I needed is radio'" (yes, sic). At least I hope that's what they asked for, since that's what they got. BANKS and a trio of vocal collaborators teamed up for actual songs (the inevitable "single" actually fell to Roger Daltrey on "Quicksilver"), which is "Soundtracks" ' real attraction.

A project with FISH (hooray!) falls short of expectations on "Short Cut To Somewhere," largely because of dated synthesizers and artificially contrived drama that stink of the '80s. (Pockets of the same stale parfum waft throughout the "Quicksilver Suite", with a minor variation of "Mama" in the middle.) "You Call This Victory" features Jim Diamond, who plays Tim Finn to BANKS' Jeff Lynne, eliciting all manner of hand-wringing heartache on the line "You call this justice when without here there's no sun", confirming for many the inextricable link between sunlight and justice. "Lion of Symmetry" is the best of the batch, as if Siouxsie Sioux rewrote the lyrics to "Turn It On Again" with passion. The closing "Redwing Suite" is pretty much a series of musical placeholders, no better or more memorable than the instrumental snippets from "A Curious Feeling". So, is "Soundtracks" the bastard child in the BANKS discography? To quote the immortal Fred Flinstone (or, more precisely, Fred's alien clone): "Yes yes yes."

Report this review (#27180)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is a very uneven album. It starts off with an up-tempo, catchy tune with FISH on vocals but soon switches to some obscure, dark instrumentals or vocal tunes that don't mean much to the listener if he/she hasn't seen the movies they were written for (I admit going out to see "Quicksilver" just to hear TONY's music in quadrophonia - I must have been the only one in the theatre paying attention to the soundtrack for the same reason). The most memorable part of the album for me remains the beginning of the "Redwing Suite", a 5 1/2 minute instrumental that begins with a delicate flute and progressively builds up to a full orchestral piece. This may not be BANKS' best but at least, no one will try and compare it to "his contribution to GENESIS". He tried his hand at solo ("A Curious Feeling"), he tried pop ("The Fugitive"), he tried "Soundtracks" and he is now the proud composer of a symphony ("Seven"). You've got to admit the man has some guts.
Report this review (#27179)
Posted Sunday, April 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars A friend once told me that Tony's expression on the front cover seems to say, 'this is what I really like doing!' The contribution of Fish isn't as good as 'Another Murder Of A Day' from 'Still', but you can find the video for 'Shortcut To Somewhere' on his 'Kettle Of Fish' DVD. 'Smilin' Jack Casey' is reasonably catchy, with a chuffing train/rhythm box ending reminescent of Anthony Phillips' 'Prelude '84'. The sound that resembles a tiny little helicopter taking off elsewhere on the 'Quicksilver' music would also be used on 'Diamonds Aren't So Hard' from 'Still' - possibly showing that Tony assumed people couldn't be arsed to buy the original.

I don't like the Jim Diamond track, but Toyah's is excellent and she'd be so much better singing with Tony than doing bread and butter jobs like going on 'I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!' and 'The Wright Stuff' (UK current affairs phone-in show). Maybe he should have considered her for Genesis after Phil went. As for the 'Lorca & The Outlaws' music, nitpickers will also spot a bit recycled for 'Queen Of Darkness' on 'Still'!

Okay, but Tony can do so much better.

Report this review (#27181)
Posted Sunday, July 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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.

Report this review (#96400)
Posted Wednesday, November 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Okay, admittedly this album constitutes some of the most obscure work of Tony Banks's obscure solo catalog, but if you dig Tony Banks, then this album is definitely worthwhile. I must confess that I was initially disappointed by Soundtracks, and I almost traded it in at the used CD store after the first listen. But then I remembered that I have never fully appreciated any Tony Banks work until really listening to it several times through. His best music, both with Genesis and as a solo artist, is cerebral and musically dense, and you have to give it a chance to grow on you. This one has certainly grown on me tremendously, and now I wouldn't part with it at gunpoint!

Soundtracks is filled mostly with instrumental pieces, including lots of quiet bits and transitional background numbers, as one would expect in soundtrack music. Thus, if you prefer vocal tunes or more agressive, driving rock rhythms, you may be disappointed. I happen to love Tony's subtler, classical side, so for me, most of the vocal tunes are lowlights of this recording (except for the terrific Lion of Symmetry).

Report this review (#158271)
Posted Thursday, January 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars As a fan of Genesis and Tony Banks, I'm glad this album exists. It collects the man's scant soundtrack work (except for Wicked Lady, how cruel) and puts most of the highlights onto one accesible disc. This is great, because who the hell wants to watch the movies this music came from? Because of that, I'm glad this album exists. However, I have to say, this is Tony's least succesful album artistically. As much as I hate to use the word, the sounds on this album are dated. I hate to use the word because any music is instantly dated to it's period because of it's style and tones. Early Genesis is instantly dated to the 70's because of the mellotron and progressive rock stylings. However, this album is dated to the 80's. And while there is much good work in the 80's, both mainstream and underground, none of it is on this album.

The singles here are essentially a joke. I'm not a Marillion fan, so the addition of Fish does little to please me. But I've read a lot of fans of Fish complaining that he offers little here. So it's not just me. The singles are some of Tony's least interesting work in the pop songwriting realm and only reinforce the idea that he was best working longer and more complex.

It's just a shame he didn't take that lesson to his soundtracks. Okay, here's an easy test: play any of this music back to back with music composed for any other 80's movie. Notice the difference? No? Of course not. Tony is operating strictly to the conventions of 80's soundtracking. His work is not distinctive, nor is it melodic or interesting. It's a shame because I thought the man would actually excell in soundtrack work. I give the album two stars because it is listenable, and even enjoyable if you relax and let your mind focus on other things. However, because of my disappointment it will never rise above that. The best part of the album is the picture of Tony. He seems so happy and we rarely see the boy smiling. It also shows his excellent fashion sense: like in the 70's, Tony avoided stupid fashion excess, and stuck to comfortable and homey clothes. This makes him one of the least ridiculous looking rock stars of the 70's and 80's. In fact, you could say he looks more like an accountant than a keyboardist and songwriter for one of the most succesful bands of all time.

Report this review (#238656)
Posted Friday, September 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Moogtron III
3 stars What do you do when you earn your living with music, and you have, to a certain extent, progressive tastes, but the winds of time make it happen that making more or less progressive albums is like blowing against the wind? Some musicians have found some satisfaction in writing soundtracks. There they have more musical freedom than on a 'normal' album, and they can reap some financial rewards at the same time.

This album shows that Banks is good in writing soundtracks. The albums contains music for two movies: Quicksilver (the most recent) and Lorca And The Outlaws (the oldest of the two). If you think that soundtracks are boring: not so with Banks' soundtracks. Consider them as songs without words, though with a progressive twist. Sure enough, there are some songs with vocals on the album as well, but the biggest part of the album is instrumental.

Banks has interesting themes, interesting chords, and his synths and the production are state of the art. The sound of the album is very good. Maybe still a bit mechanical sounding for some, but definitely warmer than on "The Fugitive". Actually, I think that quite some prog / Genesis fans, who are being put off by most other albums Banks made after A Curious Feeling, might find some of their liking on this album. The reason is simple: the album is much more free form, and leaves more room for creativity beyond the three minutes pop song.

The music of Quicksilver is the most daring of the two, but the music of the oldest soundtrack, Lorca And The Outlaws, is probably the most in line with the tastes of the average Genesis fan. It's very melodious, the sounds of the synths are very open, spacey and sometimes a bit enigmatic (though never too much with Banks, who is still a traditional composer in many ways).

There are three vocal songs on the album, one with Fish, one with (in those days) new wave / pop singer Toyah Willcox and one with Jim Diamond, who was lead singer of PhD in those days, a band which was well known for their smash hit I Won't Let You Down. Maybe it's a matter of taste, but I think the song with Jim Diamond ("You Call This Victory") is the best of the three, and it shows Banks' considerable song writing talents. The three vocal songs are also a pointer for the future: from that point on Banks would make solo albums with different singers, and songs with different atmospheres (as opposed to the homogeny in sound and vocals of Banks' first two solo albums).

Soundtracks is a decent album and shows that Banks still had some progressive aspirations, and that he was versatile enough to reinvent himself as a composer and performer. It's not a spectacular album, but is has some real nice moments for prog / Genesis fans.

Report this review (#245155)
Posted Sunday, October 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Released just as Genesis finished recording Invisible Touch, most of the material on Soundtracks has the same keyboard approach: starry, fast moving high range parts, Fairlights, and low, bending, deadly octave interjections, with a good amount of layering. As a disclaimer to this review, I haven't yet seen either of the two films that the music was composed for, so I can't comment on how well any of it fits the movies, but as a standalone album, there isn't as much substance as I was expecting from Banks. The songs with vocals aren't the worst I've heard from the 80's, but they don't rise above the standard like his songwriting nearly always does. The vocal contirbutions don't help the songs much either, sounding very much like the least appealing qualities of that time in music (to me, anyway.) The instumentals have the same problem, sounding very much like what you can find in all too many dramas and action movies from the 80's. Only in the final parts of the "Redwing Suite" do they start to explore more of the creative chord and melody moods that Banks is known for. None of the music is horrible, and it is interesting to hear at least once or twice, but it's not unique or enthralling in the way his other albums have been, although it can be said that all of the sounds to be found here are very much his own. If you want to hear more of the synth sounds that Banks was working with around this time that weren't on Genesis' 1983 album and Invisible Touch, then check it out.
Report this review (#569466)
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars #24 Review

I like soundtracks, for videogames, movies, whatever, they give more focus into what's happening on screen, but at the sametime, is a place where musicians can experiment with whatever genre they like without feeling guilty or overwhelmed by what's done outside, while also maintining the context that's needed for the music. So, while the producers put the idea, you are mostly free to make whatever music you want and they'll pay you, but there's another catch, you still need to not go that much overboard or you'll work overtime, maintain the music pieces to be no much more longer that the scene that its going to be for.

I'm really no expert in the process for soundtracks, but i can see the limitations and liberties that i pointed out, i don't see many movies only using pop songs as soundtracks, they need music for every moment and some of those very creative musicians add a little of their spice, such as making pieces based on classical music while also inking it with a little 70s rock, techniques and odd-times.

This review its a little special, as it is a box-set, we have music from 2 movies, i won't go too much on details, but for example "Quicksilver" got its soundtrack released and has almost every song that where on the movie, here it is obviously only what Tony did, and the details are that those releases have little differences, i won't point out that. At the same time, it seems obvious that we need the context of the scenes, the problem is that i heard this music before watching the films and already had an idea for what they where, i still haven't watched the movies but got a glimpse of them and i thought "well, this soundtracks are better suited for what i imagined than for what they are", so i'll be concentrating on the music itself, that's not a surprise really.

A.- Quicksilver I only saw the trailer and the Final Chase scene, i honestly thought that it was a cool space movie by the name and the soundtrack, i'm a little dissapointed but not quite, the movie looks ok and reminds of some other recent movie that's not bad either.

A.1.- Shortcut to Somewhere 5/10 Really 80s, standard and a little boring, with the voice of Phil Fish (Marillion), not a really good start, repetitive. Curiously enough, this is the only song from Tony that has been played by Genesis (40th Atlantic Record Anniversary).

A.2.- Smilin' Jack Casey 8/10 A song from the Commodore 64 game called "The Big Deal"... no, that's not it, Tony probably doesn't know that one of his soundtracks was featured in a videogame, it has the typical Tony Banks flavor, yet it gets a little boring near the end, mainly because the synth-drum pattern takes too much space on this song. Solid work overall.

A.3.- Rebirth 6/10 Starting as something glorious that is emerging and then going to the upbeat principal track, played differently, i like the principal track, not so sure about this variation, it is slower and adds some unnecesary stuff.

A.4.- Gipsy 8/10 Misterious. I like what it does, i can see me in an alley filled with smoke walking to a misteriour person who's going to tell my future, the setting is like the one on Bladerunner or the video of Tonight, tonight, tonight... wait, is the same thing! The song morfs and goes upbeat, i can hear some synth dogs, is this a fight of some sorts? From what i watched from the movie, i feel like this track wasted potential here.

A.5.- Final Chase 9/10 This final score mixes everything that was played earlier into a grand final that i feel it should've been used in a more cience fiction film, it also reminds me a little of Lorca in terms of structure.

B.- Redwing Bad movie according to many people on the internet, i watched the start of the movie and i got horribly bored, i can't bother into watching it in its entirety, either way. It has a good soundtrack that was cut out from the US release because of copyright.

B.1.- You Call This Victory 7/10 The starting is absolutely pretty, then it goes into a repetitive pop song, although not a bad one. The instrumental is ok and could've been improved into another instrumental song.

B.2.- Lion of Symmetry 9/10 Toyah, what a great name and singer, this song is a test of that, it is a complex pop song with a more serious idea behind it, this is the real deal, the best pop song made by Tony. It gets a little bit repetitive but its really catchy.

B.3.- Redwing 10/10 Going all out on that science fiction, reminded me a little of the X-Files theme for a bit, this could well be the introduction to a SNES JRPG, its aweosome.

B.4.- Lorca 10/10 This is it, a music so good that had to be used on another song called "Queen of Darkness". This could perfectly work on a videogame as well, maybe in a racing or shoot em' up scene.

B.5.- Kid and Detective Droid 8/10 This could also be used on a JRPG, like on a cutscene where someone is telling the story of the continent at the chimney. It is also a reworked version of the principal track, not the best version.

B.6.- Lift Off 6/10 There's something that i haven't pointed out from this album, and is that the mixing and the synth sounds selected make the album sound really outdated, there are albums that sound like that but still pass the test of time, while albums like this one suffer from sounding less good than it should. In the case of this music, the vocal synth sound gets a little annoying, it is a beautyful track but it could've benefited from a better sound bank. It sounds like church instead of something space related.

B.7.- Death of Abby 7/10 Don't listen to this at midnight with the window open, it might scare you at the start, then it goes to another version of the principal track, worse than kid and detective droid.

At the end of the day, the entire box-set gets a 78/100, wich is 4-start, i liked it, specially Lorca, Final Chase, Lion of Symmetry and Redwing, nice job on those, Tony should make a soundtrack for an space shoot-em-up.

A little update here, i fixed my "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" review, mainly the wording. I'll continue to review Tony Banks albums and after that i'll probably get back to Genesis and then something else that's Genesis related

Report this review (#1952720)
Posted Saturday, July 28, 2018 | Review Permalink

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