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Tony Banks - Seven - A Suite For Orchestra CD (album) cover


Tony Banks

Crossover Prog

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5 stars This is what Tony is best at. Instrumental music. His melodies here are highly emotive, and continually morphing. His trademark chord and key changes are here, but of course performed by orhestra rather than his signature keyboards. Still, the music is very beautiful and 'Spring Tide' is one of the finest compositions I have heard from Tony. And with the special Naxos price, how can you go wrong?
Report this review (#29895)
Posted Monday, April 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Blazing saddles

Let's be clear from the start here, this is Tony Banks in the role of composer. Apart from the odd appearance on the piano, he leaves the entire performance to the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The album is on the budget classical label "Naxos", and consists of (unsurprisingly) seven orchestral pieces. In this form, it's certainly not prog by any stretch of the imagination, although had he chosen to perform it using a modern day rock combo, it would of course have sounded very different, and probably quite progressive. The opening track "Spring tide" does at times have more than a passing resemblance to some of the music on "A curious feeling".

The pieces are generally what might be considered to be at the lighter end of the classical music spectrum, the type which feature on "best of the classics" collections. I'm not an expert by any means on that sort of music, but I suspect a "serious" classical music buff would find the compositions to be "pop" orientated. At times "Seven" sounds a bit too much like a film score, once or twice I had visions of John Wayne leading the cavalry riding over the hill to save the day at the last minute.

In all, an enjoyable and interesting diversion for both Banks and his audience. I have to say though, had this album not borne his name, I would have left it on the shelf along with the many other classical albums which sound oh so similar to this one.

Report this review (#29896)
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Disaspointment. Because I was expecting more the kind of masterpiece like Steve Hackett's Midsummer night dream '' or Anthony Phillips majestuous Tarka. My expectations in '' Seven '' were so great that I've finally been disapointed and never listened the record to the end. The global enveloppe remind me more of a '' night at the movies'' till most of that new record sounds exaclty like movie music.
Report this review (#29897)
Posted Monday, June 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Being a professional of classical music, and an old-date Genesis fan at the same time, puts me in a difficult position in judging this work. Modern so-called "classical music" is in no way associated with what you can listen to in this issue. If I did not know it was by Mr. Banks I'd say it was by Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, Glinka, Waugham Williams, Michael Tippet or John Williams, from time to time. In a few words, it seems to have been written some one and a half century ago. No "classical" (if this term still means something) living musician would write music like that for an orchestra, except soundtrack authors. This does not mean it is worthless, it is just completely anachronistic. It would be embarrassing for any symphony orchestra to include this piece in a concert programme keeping Mr. Banks' true birth date. The only way would be to write in the concert sheet: Seven. Suite for Orchestra by Anthony Banks (1823 - 1911) hoping that no one in the audience would know his real career (and the things he did in the past, which I love so much). This piece is quite well written, even if somehow bombastic, and often very well orchestrated, following the principles explained in Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestration manual. And if the orchestration has been realized by Tony Banks and not from another musician, than I have to say that it shows a good craft I did not suspected. Furthermore Mr. Banks is (as we all know) a very talented melody thinker and gifted harmonist, but it takes much more than this to write something that can really say something new in the perspective of 500 years of "classical" music, or at least outstand a bit from the ocean of music composed until now. But maybe this was not his goal, however. In fact I cant get rid of the suspicion that Banks just wanted to play with a new toy, being now 50 and, I imagine, somewhat bored by the last 15 years of Genesis music, which, we have to admit it, is much less demanding (and less satisfactory to the ears) than the former one. It would have been much more interesting if he had turned his efforts to writing something real new, including electronics AND classical instrument, voices, lyrics, noises, even remaining in the field of iper-tonal music, like he did: that is something that nobody has made yet and it needs a sensibility for pop and rock culture that often academic composers simply do not have. Only Zappa made something similar, as far as I know, and his works have been perfomed by Boulez and his Ensemble Intercontemporain during the most academic occasions. All in all I'll wait for Bank's next work, hoping it will not be another historical novel.
Report this review (#29898)
Posted Monday, June 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars OK this is classical music but then again Genesis wrote classic music. In any event Genesis will be deemed classical in about 100 years from now! How many artist nowadays have the guts to go totally classical after so many years of rock music? Not many....' Seven' is a wonderful work of music. Bearing in mind Bank's now in his early 50's felt the timing was right to face this challenge. He did it in style and the album gets better and better with repeated listening. And also you can unmistakenly hear the Genesis sound there too. Spring Tide and Earthlight recommended.
Report this review (#29899)
Posted Friday, July 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars This album is essentially disappointing. It's obvious that Banks is not an orchestrator and his ideas are maybe better implemented that on The Wicked Lady, but it is still definitely not a Masterwork.

If only Bank would make a classical keyboard/piano album. Just listen to some of the instrumental tracks on A Curious Feeling and you get the idea.

Sorry Tony, forget about the Orchestra. You're a master of the keyboard.

Report this review (#29901)
Posted Wednesday, March 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars As much as I love Banks' contributions to Genesis, this one simply does not work. Add his name to the growing list of pop/rock stars who want to make a step-out into the "classical" music field (Paul McCartney, Joe Jackson, Billy Joel) and end up sounding like fourth rate nineteenth century composers. There is no prog feeling to it whatsoever (replcae Banks on the cover by Smith and no-one would dream of including the album on this site) and as a collection of orchestral classical compositions it has little value as well.
Report this review (#29902)
Posted Monday, May 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I read a lot of negative critic here about this album. People say that this not progressive music, that Banks is not a good orchestrator and he should stick to piano, that if there not were Banks name on this record it would never end up here, that this sounds like fourth rate nineteenth century classical music and on and on...

Let's first figure out what is progressive music? When simple three chord rock and roll landed Europe and in particular England the more sophisticated and educated young musicians turned it into a continuity of the thousand years long Western European music tradition. They were not satisfied in the simple rock but wanted to create symphonic music combining classical, folk, jazz and rock. The progressive element to this music came from classical music. It's all progressive! And so is this Tony's orchestral work. It's not rock but it is progressive.

About Tony's skills as an orchestrator I have no idea. This music was orchestrated by Simon Hale! Tony Banks is a composer here. And I think a great composer.

In terms of musical language this music is not nineteenth century music. This is more like eighteenth century music. This is romantic music. That is not modern! Listen to say Kaija Saariaho, she is modern. This is not classical music that tries to open new horizons or brake some boundaries. This is progressive rock melodies played by an classical orchestra. You can here that this composer has used a mellotron.

All in all this is a fine piece of music in it's own right. Not a new Beethoven but much better than say sir Paul's efforts.

Report this review (#74849)
Posted Thursday, April 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well this time Mr Banks - former soul of "early Genesis" with Peter Gabriel, is involved with an ambitious project, concerning a symphonic album in a "classical music" format, but which is closer to a certain type of New Age (I think of Vangelis) than any true album of classical music. The songs are quite evocative and performed with an emotional feeling, but his typical chords and music patterns are often replaced by a simple structure.some harmonic passages, a little bit more difficult, are performed by the London Symphonic Orchestra; instead the melodic piano by Banks is not equal to his best piano pieces (I think of "Firth of Fifth" within "Selling England by the Pound" - or also the music intro of "The Lamb Lies down on Broadway").Otherwise He has been in the habit to play simple parts - often using a simple sequencer - in the recent disappointing albums by late Genesis, so I'm not surprised about that!!

A good album, not bad at all, but perhaps a little bit anachronistic.make your own choice as usual!!

Report this review (#82176)
Posted Wednesday, June 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Hmmm.....maybe I'm just an uncultured listener who can't appreciate music without a beat, but this album disappointed me. I was actually quite excited when I first heard about it, because Tony has always so obviously been influenced by classical music, and I thought maybe now we'll all get to finally hear what he has always been striving for. It was very brave of Tony to step so far out of his element on this recording, and it's certainly not a total disaster. But it just doesn't sound like Tony Banks music. I don't fault any artist for trying something new, but I guess the fact that he outsourced the orchestration duties to someone else is what really takes all the Tony out of it for me. There are only a few moments (parts of Black Down, The Spirit of Gravity and Earthlight) where I can hear recognizably Banksian melodies and harmonies. Most of it comes across like generic soundtrack music with few memorable themes. Perhaps if he continues in this direction, Tony's future orchestral efforts may grow more refined. I'm sure Mr. Banks can ultimately accomplish whatever he sets his mind to.
Report this review (#158301)
Posted Thursday, January 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars I really wanted to like this album. I was actually very pleased to hear Tony had done an orchestral album, as I imagined he would probably be really good at this. And I gave it quite a few good listens until I finally, sadly, decided this album just doesn't do it for me.

There's very little here, to my ears at least, that says ''Tony Banks''. It might just as well be film music by just about anyone, or something a second-tier composer wrote a hundred years ago (quite literally; that's about the time frame I'd put this in stylistically.) It doesn't particularly help that all the pieces are slow, with one exception which is mid-paced. Going into individual tracks doesn't even seem to make much sense to me as they're all equally unmemorable.

I've found it interesting to compare this album with Mike Oldfield's orchestral effort, ''Music of the Spheres''. Tony's album sounds more dexterous, more like orchestral music is ''supposed'' to sound. However, that is also its problem, as it ends up sounding just like other people's orchestral music. Mike's album, by contrast, sounds more wayward, not as skilful, but more interesting and individual. It's certainly not Mike's finest hour either, but I'll take it over ''Seven'' any day.

''Collectors / fans only'' seems a completely appropriate rating to me.

Report this review (#184105)
Posted Monday, September 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
1 stars Give us back Pop-Tony any day!

This is Classical music, pure and simple. There is not a hint of Prog here, or any type of Rock for that matter (nor Pop). Needless to say, this has nothing to do with Genesis or the rest of Tony Banks' solo discography. Tony performs here only on Classical piano, but the major musical space is given to the symphonic orchestra.

Tony Banks solo output is overall rather weak, but even his worst Pop albums are preferable over this, in my opinion. I promise that I will give this album another chance someday, but for now I just find it dull and I find myself unable to give it the appropriate attention needed to write a good or even fair review. I don't have enough knowledge and experience with this type of music in order to judge the relative quality of the present work. But I certainly cannot recommend it unless you want absolutely everything connected to Genesis and Tony Banks. This is rather one of those releases were you wonder if it really is the same Tony Banks?

No doubt about the rating here.

Report this review (#288514)
Posted Monday, June 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars #28 Review

This is my last Tony Banks review and i'll move into something more, i had hard times while aproaching this album, i tried like 3 times to do a review of it but i just wasn't in the mood of doing so.

I don't promise on getting back on reviewing more Tony Banks or Genesis, but i can say that if i ever do, it'll be the released Genesis B-Sides and the exclusive pieces and package of the compilation "A Chord Too Far", i'll obviously be back as soon as Tony releases a new album tho.

1.- Spring Tide 7/10 Well, it really feels like the title says, its magical. Starts with typical Tony Banks motion and then goes into his style chords, and that's why i may have felt a little bored with this record, the orchestra gives more protagonism to the chords than the melody that was created alongside that. As for this theme, at some parts it reminds me of "An Island in the Darkness" from "Strictly Inc." but with an orchestra that overtakes the melody as i said earlier. This theme has a prominent Piano from time to time, but i'd have liked it more if the piano took more over the orchestra.

2.- Black Down 6/10 This music was created after "Calling All Stations", wich is really interesting, i feel like that album needed more Tony Banks in it, but it also shows how that album was less "solos", less melodies and more chords than anything, and this theme is exactly that, it shows that shift in Tony of doing amazing thing like "Fading Lights" and "An Island in the Darkness" in the early 90s, to doing more atmospheric chords in the late 90s, something that i think started pretty strong in songs like "Holding on my Heart". I just don't feel this theme that much, i think that it is more designed to represent an actual place than an actual idea, if i think about it a little more, i'd say like it is a forest with an entrance to Dracula's Castle or something, but its actually just a pretty scenery of a dense forest, i mean, i could hear it in Black Down and be amazed but at the same time, it goes a little too dark and it has a small flow to it. A reference to the cover art also.

3.- The Gateway 7/10 Created for a possible future movie project and it feels like it, just as with the previous theme, this one also concentrates on chords and its pretty atmopheric. This theme reminds me of some old music works, but i don't know with who to compare, i just listened something like this at the radio the other day. At half the music it gets pretty exciting, like the gateway opened and the other side can be seen. Its a really beautyful piece that takes time to peak up.

4.- The Ram 8/10 Clearly a way to wake up the audience after all the other calm stuff, it goes without saying that this is the kind of stuff that Tony does best, i like the calm stuff that he does, but when you give him that someone is being chased, or something is about to happen that requires lots of actions, this is when Tony mostly shines. Reminds me a little of Slippermen with a little of "in that quiet earth", the only problem with this piece is that it gets tranquil for a little too long, but anyways, the best theme in the album so far.

5.- Earthlight 8/10 It feels like we went back to the previous 3 themes, but i think that this time is a little more dinamic, like it could be the second theme but sped up, if that's what i'd call dinamic, it just changes chords faster, and i really like that, reminds me of some Zelda and Star Wars soundtracks. It gets the job done in a shorter time, it could be more interesting though.

6.- Neap Tide 5/10 Done in the Strictly Inc. period, this theme doesn't feel meant for an orchestra, it repeats too much certain parts and i can hear how the theme would've sounded on Strictly Inc., this theme would've been better if added to another piece in the album, or shortened, or by removing the repeating part in the background. This theme could've survived the 5 because of the pretty ending, that part moved me but by an after thought i realized that it wasn't enough.

7.- The Spirit of Gravity 7/10 It starts pretty average when at the 2 minute mark it changes to a different thing, gets more adventurous, the problem so far is that would've been better if the piano was there instead of the orchestra, then 1 minute after it goes back, another minute after and the theme goes back at the start, now its reminding me of older happy classical compotitions again, so yes, this theme changes quite a lot, but i feel like the orchestra is not doing justice for more of the parts, this theme sounds more like an experimentation on doing an orchestra with a grain of classic Tony Banks on it. Again, i don't get the name or the complete intentions of this theme, but by the scope of it, it could be showing the planets and the life occuring on it. He is clearly stepping on new territory here.

In the end, this album gets a 69/100 and that means 3 stars, really close to 4, but i ultimately decided against it because as a whole package it can't be placed as better than Six or 5.

Thanks Tony for all the music, i really enjoyed reviewing all of this and Genesis, i still listen to some songs of A Curious Feeling, The Fugitive, Bankstatement and specially the entire album 5, wich i'm happy that i gave it 5 stars, now i think that i could review it again, still give the same score and talk even better than what i did, it is really a masterpiece and the culmination of his orchestral career, but as always keep surprising us, i'm looking forward for your next work.

And later i'll review someone that has really little presence here but its a close friend of Tony that has been sharing Genesis from all of Genesis life.

Report this review (#2080762)
Posted Monday, December 3, 2018 | Review Permalink
2 stars The first real forray into classical music, Tony Banks leaves a mixed but even more bored feeling after listing to the album. There are little traces of anything from rock or jazz music. The proper classification would be modern classical music with some hints of movie soundtrack as heard by brass instruments. Compositions miss keyboard instruments; you wouldn't guess that it is Tony's album by any means.

The classical music listener will be likely put down by not a sufficient complexity; and the progressive rock listener will find this album boring.

If I should pick one track to recommend, then it would be tha last long one.

Report this review (#2271491)
Posted Sunday, October 20, 2019 | Review Permalink

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