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Tony Banks

Crossover Prog

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5 stars I have been so looking forward to the release of this album. I was not put off by the Peter Gabriel similarities: Phil Collins puts his face on his solo lp's or the fact that just like Peter Gabriel's lp's Tony has used numbers to title his Classical releases.

My feelings on my initial playing of this work:

1.Prelude ​ ​To ​ ​A ​ ​Million ​ ​Years (15:34)

Perhaps a little like Delius - sadness, playfulness,slight pomp, wistful, grand,sweeping.

2.Reveille (08:58)

Oh what a marvelous movie soundtrack this piece would make! Is Tony Banks the best movie soundtrack creator never used,utilised and appreciated ever? Epic, positive, life enhancing,powerful,exuberant,passionate.

3.Ebb ​ ​And ​ ​Flow (12:49)

A graceful, thoughtful beginning. Tony's emotions surge from his neural pathways,down into his fingers,onto the keyboard and then it is marvelously arranged for the players here to encapsulate in an aural delight for us to enjoy - marvelous!

4.Autumn ​ ​Sonata (10:16)

The Autumn brings to mind the golden crispy leaves that blow and flutter around the trees. A slight nip in the air as the season starts to tighten it's hold on the ever chilling wispy winds. Time to light the fire in the hearth and enjoy a warming hot drink and reflect on the years events. All these feelings,thoughts and musings are captured and evoked on this piece.

5.Renaissance (10:14)

'Renaissance' : a revival of or renewed interest in something - a re-birth.

Yes,after all these years it is finally Tony's time. His renaissance is now in full affect. These classical works have restored his confidence in his sublime songwriting abilities. No longer is Genesis to be considered Tony's 'solo career'. Through his extreme tenacity and indefatigable spirit of perseverance he has found real success.

Perhaps because he does not enjoy the limelight and want to throw himself into the public spotlight as much as others,his eventual achievements have taken him so much longer, taken much more hard work and have required a greater searching within himself to strive, achieve and attain - but boy has it been worth it.

This is a marvelous album - it will reward you all the more the more you listen and re-listen to it.

I had feared that Anthony Phillips was starting to leave Tony behind a little in my personal comparison of their classically based compositions - but this release puts the two 'Anthony's' - Tony and Ant back on a very equal footing indeed!

Buy 'Five' with confidence - listen to it with pleasure.

Gary Preston - February 2018

Report this review (#1888864)
Posted Sunday, February 25, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Can I just talk to Tony for a second here?

I realize I'm just another adoring fan since the early 1970's; you had me at Watcher of the Skies. And while I've always loved your choice of keyboards and your writing style and your unreal talent on the keys, I was also hoping you would finally hit a home run in the classical music arena. Your stylings and chord progressions in your prog and soundtrack works hinted at classical training, and it just seemed inevitable that you would eventually find your groove there.

Aside from owning thousands of rock and prog rock albums (and jazz and others), I've also amassed a huge classical music library over the past 25 years, so I think I might know what I'm talking about when I say that your latest album "5" is a 5. It is beautiful and emotional and energizing in a way that you composed back in your prog and film music days, but taken to a higher plain with the orchestra and choir here. I do love this album. Thanks for making it.

And please make many more wonderful albums...

Report this review (#1889251)
Posted Monday, February 26, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Born in 1950, Tony Banks was one of the founders of the greatest money-shaking band, Genesis. Since the band was founded in 1965, it has been a silent devotee and powerful force behind the band. His classical tendency to have a serious and strong keyboard style makes the cause unique, but he always keeps a low profile, is not the limelight, is very devoted to music, and never shows off himself by showing off his skills. His solo album is also worth studying, especially the preference for classical symphony has made his own work full of classical tastes, and often plays with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. This year's new album "5" continues this classical symphonic style. There are no guitar bass drums, symphonic and chanting forms are permeated throughout, and the piano and organ ensemble exemplifies beautiful, smooth classical music combined with progressive rock music. The harp added a sense of agitation, and Horn and Sachs added a mellow flavor to the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and Choir. After listening to this work, I can only use the word noble to describe Tony. These classical works prove that he is not only a member of the root ESIS. Through his tenacity and unyielding spirit, he has achieved his own success. Even he is so low-key, may be able to make his success longer. Listening to these five songs is like a great, peaceful baptism, but it is also full of glory and passion. This is undoubtedly Tony's best work, worth listening to every one love music (not just avant-garde rock) listening, a solid four-and-a-half strong push!
Report this review (#1890131)
Posted Thursday, March 1, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars At last Tony Banks has created the album I always felt he was capable of making. No compromises here, this is just stunning, beautiful music all the way through, filled with the exquisite melodies over intriguing chord changes that would happen in sections throughout his career. Finally, we have an entire album of this. Whereas I felt 'Six' was a clear progression from 'Seven', 'Five' equally progresses from 'Six'. The liner notes give reasons for this, where things could be worked out to a fuller degree. On top of this the compositions themselves are stronger, in my opinion. The unique Banks sound, augmented by his subtle piano playing throughout is much more present. 'Wow' moments abound, in every piece, but perhaps never stronger than the glorious final section of 'Renaissance'. There are occasions throughout his career that certain songs or pieces of his would affect me in curious ways, playing on my emotions in a way, and to a level that no other artist seemed to reach. This section, as well as several others, affect me at least to that degree, if not more so. This is his finest hour, the most glorious album of his career, largely due to the fact that he is not sharing the writing with, and please excuse me for this, but, inferior writers. The fact that it is orchestral doesn't bother me a bit. In fact, I find it marvelous. It was always the instrumental sections of his that were the best anyway.

Favorite tracks: Ebb and Flow, Renaissance

Report this review (#1891965)
Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review # 82. Starting this piece I should say that I am a big fan of the first period of Genesis; the one with Peter Gabriel. After his departure, Genesis released two good albums (A Trick of a Tale and Wind and Wuthering), but then everything changed and I stopped following their album releases. I always considered Tony Banks to be a very important "piece" in the Genesis puzzle, and together with Steve Hackett and Peter Gabriel the most valuable members of the band's early years.

From time to time, I listened to a few solo albums by Genesis members, but I didn't like almost any of them, with only a few exceptions. So, when I read about Tony Bank's new release a few weeks ago, I didn't pay too much attention. Then, I begun reading one great review after the other, and I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to add 'Five' in my collection. So I did! And what an album this is!

Before anything else, I should inform you that 'Five' is not a Rock or a Progressive Rock album. It has nothing to do with Rock actually. It is something between Classical music and soundtrack. (I don't know how to describe it exactly).

Five, as the title implies, is a collection of five compositions, recorded with the world-renowned Czech National Symphony Orchestra, lending itself to a stunning presentation. Produced by the famous orchestrator and collaborator Nick Ingman, the album was recorded at Angel Studio in London, but also in Prague as well. Tony Banks performed all the piano parts, giving to himself the complete creative control!

The album's opening track is the almost 15-minute-long Prelude To A Million Years where the listeners can experience the progression of a lifetime; followed by the album's shortest song, Reveille. Reveille is an almost cinematic 9-minute long song, starting with piano and strings. As the song progresses, more and more instruments are added and it's a real treat for the ears and the mind. The 3rd track is Ebb and Flow, a delicate and soft tune, that can be described as 'inner peace through music'. There are 2 more songs in the album, but I will stop here. I think I gave you a first impression about this album.

Personally speaking, I have the album for almost a week now, and I think I have listened to it for at least 15 times so far! With every new listen, I sink more and more into the beauty and the greatness of this amazing piece of art! Because that's exactly what it is: A piece of art!

The album is available as CD and double vinyl, which also includes the music sheets, signed by Tony Banks. The prices are fair enough, so money shouldn't be an issue. I bought the vinyl edition of the album and I love it more and more with each passing day. I have no idea what is going to happen (musically) during 2018, but 'Five' already took its place in my annual Top-5 album list. Thank you Mr. Banks for this amazing album that you offered to us! My Rating: 4.5 (out of 5.0) stars.

Report this review (#1892179)
Posted Friday, March 9, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars Along with Emerson, Fripp and Wakeman, Banks was one of the protagonists of progressive rock since its birth. Moreover, thanks mostly to Banks prog became prog as we know and perceive it. It's a great news that now, after half a century since Genesis was founded, their keyboardist and musical leader is still active, though he's no longer a progster and moved into the area of symphonic/orchestral music (ce qu'on appelle 'neo-classical', right? I often confuse terms, sorry, too much of them to be learnt while too low content in any of them). His new solo album is of no doubt classical enough, symphonic enough, orchestral enough... et cetera. The only reason for regrets is that Five is not Banksian enough. It's something between Sibelius and Charlie Chaplin's movie soundtracks. The first and only business for a musician/composer is to build relationships between musical sounds (if anyone wants to dispute this, I'm all ears). Banks became worldwide known in 1970s due to his capacity to discover and construct brand new relationships between sounds, sometimes so revolutionary and unevident that maybe even Beethoven or Ciurlionis could faintly imagine. Just remember Firth Of Fifth, After The Ordeal, Cinema Show, Can-Utility And The Coastliners, Timetable, Mad Man Moon, Robbery, Assault And Battery (instrumental passage), All In A Mouse's Night, One For The Vine... Perhaps Banks reached his creative peak with And Then There Were Three (Burning Rope), A Curious Feeling (most of the tracks but especially After The Lie and The Waters Of Lethe) and of course Duke (Heathaze and Cul-De-Sac are beyond top I'd say). After that, probably having had enough of prog, Banks switched to more rocky/poppy matters, but returned to so-called serious music in 2000s as an orchestral composer. And what he currently does with orchestra is more than interesting, but surely something important is forever left behind for him. It would be difficult to discuss every track on Five because there's nothing to be said about a given track that couldn't be said about any other one. All are refined, all are flowing, lulling, more or less uniform and quite traditional. For Sibelius or Sviridov, such an album could become a highlight of creative life. For Banks, it's very good, no more than that. An undoubted asset to symphonic music but not to Banks. Yes the music of this album is beautiful. But 1979 will never be back.
Report this review (#1903580)
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars #19 Review

I hinted to this review some times and i waited 21 days for my copy of the disc to arrive, it's the first order i make to a foreign country, and the first time i buy something from an artist when it's been released this year.

I have been in a marathon of Genesis since the first time i listened to them in 2012 and i realized that everyone had something to offer in the band, but also as a solo artist, and i really felt identified with Tony Banks, but more than that, i think that he is the reason on why i got so hooked with Genesis, he has been the secret ingredient of the band, i feel like the success of the band is in big part the success of him, and his solo career, while not getting the atention it deserves, i still feel like he has done a more than impressive job in all of music, this might feel like spoilers of my next reviews, but i had to say it, and i'll say more, after i finish reviewing Tony Banks solo albums, i'll review every other project where members of the band where involved (except for Mike + The Mechanics and Phil Collins solo career, they're not in this site and i really don't care that much about those).

So, without further ado, let's review like i have always been.

1.- Prelude to a Million Years 10/10 This album doesn't shy out and starts strong, with Tony Banks working his chords an arpegios, making powerful and tranquil moments, making you feel what the title says, in full detail. 15 minutes of pure imagination and mastery of what the classic genre has to offer, and i feel right at home here, i started listening to prog because i like soundtracks, and i know that symphonic prog and classical symphonic music goes hand in hand. I have always been more focused in the instrumental and in how it sounds, i can feel every sound no matter the instrument that's being played, being on an 8-bit machine, i still can imagine what they were trying to do, and here this feels like a complete work, but i can still imagine it being aweosome in different, more "affordable" styles (i obviously don't have money to rent an orchestra, not even a band), luckily the Special release of this album comes with all the sheet music, and Tony himself has said that he wants people to play what he has composed.

2.- Reveille 10/10 As some people have already pointed out, this is the return of the cross-hand technique, and it comes in full glory, the sound is hypnotizing and glorious, i'm impressed, this album already holds 2 of the most beautyful pieces of music released on this year, and this music holds how i feel about this album existence, its incredible, like if i "woke" up on a dream.

3.- Ebb and Flow 10/10 This music piece feels like the introduction to a journey, where i as the protagonist i'm really excite to partake in, and to discover a world that's incredible expansive and that it makes one impressed by every place my eyes gaze upon, a world that's in constant movement, where by each passing day everything feels better and newer than the last time.

4.- Autumn Sonata 9/10 This music piece was called "New and Old" in its conceptual stages, because it incorpores parts from a piece that was made some years prior to this album, those parts conform the middle section of this music piece, and all the rest was made entirely new. The new parts are really great, they follow the rest of the excelent previous music pieces(is a suite after all) but the middle section feels a little boring, it's an interesting change of pace but i'm not a big fan of it, interestingly, the middle part is where the Autumn feels the most, maybe i'm not a big fan of autumn itself.

5.- Renaissance 10/10 What a way to end an album, at first it feels like something is forming, in deep space, then that thing is something humble, yet so magnificent, nothing more humble than a new start, where you're learning the wonders of the world, and where there is a whole amount of experience waiting for you. This music doesn't tell me that it is the end, but actually a new beggining, not only for this piece, but for me and maybe for many people more to get inspired by this work.

Albums like this show what an artist can do, and i always knew that Tony Banks was capable of making incredible music, and i was really surprised with this one, this album is a gem that should be appreciated, and i'm pretty glad that it got #1 in the UK Classical Music charts, and i hope that it got it in more countries as well, i feel so happy that i bought it, even though it was the small package, i'll always be happy to support on of my favorite artists and not only that, i feel overwhelmed by this album, it's much and more, i hope to see more works like this in the future, i don't know where we could go from this but i'm prepared to be surprised, thanks Mr. Tony Banks.

98/100, this album is obviously a "5".

Report this review (#1919645)
Posted Friday, May 4, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Of course, "FIVE" of Tony Banks is not a rock record : it's a classical one. And, what's sure : it's completely progressive!

We can speak of a "classical trilogy" for his last three albums : Seven, Six and then this one : Five.

I was really surprised by the high level of quality of the two first records. But what a wonder when I first listened to this album! For me, the level of "Five" is still higher than the first two!

How to describe this classical music composed in 2018? It's completely romantic : you hear Rachmaninov and Tchaikowski here! You also hear Bernstein for a more modern touch. But you also hear John Williams because it could be a very big orchestral film music!

In summary, if you like progressive music, romantic classical music and also orchestral soundtrack, listen to "Five" of Tony Banks, you will not be disappointed.

And after, listen also to "Six" and "Seven"...

Report this review (#2440016)
Posted Friday, August 21, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars In a general sense of the word, and in most cases, I do not go out of my way to listen to classical music as I am particularly never keen or interested in the genre. While being a huge music nerd who loves works that go for more symphonic or orchestral sounds, IE Progressive Rock to name the obvious, I still never took the time to really take a look, listen, and grasp classical music albums. However, today I felt interested. I wanted to listen to a classical piece of music. For some reason something about this album made me feel like I had an itch to scratch. I think it must've been the album cover, or maybe a review I saw that got me interested, or it possibly was due to the fact this was made by a legendary figure in Prog Rock music, Tony Banks.

Tony Banks isn't really one to give out an introduction too. He got his start with Genesis being one of the founding members of the band, and had a small-ish solo career, plus a side project called Strictly Inc. with Jack Hues of Wang Chung. By the early 2000s he had shifted gears from Prog rock and pop music to go into a new direction. He created a 7 piece classical suite, simply titled Seven, or if you wanna call it by its full name, Seven - A Suite For Orchestra. Afterward he would make a follow up in 2012 being Six Pieces for Orchestra, which is a 6 piece suite, much like how Seven was. I have not heard these two yet but I will someday. This change in direction definitely changed the course for Banks' work moving forward, going for a contemporary classical sound this time, making his career pretty heterogeneous. With that out of the way, he would release his next suite, also named after a number. In 2018 he released the album, 5. This was made with The Czech National Symphony Orchestra and Choir, plus a multitude of other artists like Nick Ingman, and Frank Ricotti. This is a collaborative effort on Tony's part, so with all of that out of the way, I think it is time to look at this work thoroughly.

I would rather not base this review on a usual track by track basis since this is basically one big work. It is a suite after all so considering each movement as a seperate song would not make sense in my opinion.

Each movement has a clear thematic approach. Each movement goes through a leitmotif that drives through each of the five pieces. Each time it feels very much the same yet distinct enough in the backing melodies for you to spot it but never fully expect it. Each movement also builds into the next one seamlessly, yet they never go into full big crescendos at the end. I am a tiny bit mixed in this sense when I expect these bigger and longer songs, I sort of want some ending that really drives home the album for me, but then I noticed that this was something a bit more experimental. It wasn't Avant Garde and super weird, but Tony here clearly is composing a work that is a lot more different. Instead of going for big and expanding crescendos, he instead is making the movements feel like the crescendos themselves throughout their run. I like this because it makes you appreciate the little details in the pieces more.

The more I hear this album the more I notice something more. Melodies I haven't paid attention to for my first listen become very familiar yet when they are replayed again it feels like entire thoughts on them switch up in a good way. This album is like a puzzle at first. You do not know where the pieces fit, but then you start to understand the image more and more as you assemble the picture. Little details like what tab goes in what socket or something in the image that fits with another thing. It all builds up into this full picture that when you get done with it, you really appreciate it.

I do however have to give it some criticism as I feel like it is important. While I love longer music, I felt as though these movements meandered a bit. Furthermore, I felt as though some of these pieces never stuck out to me as much as others. I feel like the main motif and a few others stuck better due to their sound, but some sounds almost went through one ear and out the other. Obviously I am not saying that every piece should be instantly stuck in my head, but I felt as though Tony made some ideas stuck more than others in these movements. He is a great composer, but he definitely should reevaluate some sections in the music of this suite so they can be as good as they possibly can be. As I stated before, some of these movements meander a bit throughout their run on the suite for me to never really get a good grasp on them, even after a ton of listening on this album.

All my critiques aside I do feel like there's definitely a good amount to love, especially with the mood of this album. Many classical works feel very bombastic, but this one feels very tranquil. Even when these big strings and horns come up I never felt like it pressured me down. I definitely felt the music, but I never felt like the music was pinning me against the wall. It felt like a light tap on my shoulder, noticeable, but nothing that makes me feel locked down. I love it when music just has an aura of good vibes. The tranquility of this piece really feels good to listen to, even when I had a disinterest in classical and orchestral music. I would not say that this album changed my worldview on classical works entirely, but I would enjoy another round of this kind of experience again.

I would definitely recommend checking this one out as it has this nice and cozy feeling if it. I would not call this a full on masterpiece, but as it stands it has a good deal of love put into it for it to never be bad in my opinion. There is definitely stuff to point out about it, but overall this experience can be very pleasant for anyone, even for people who do not enjoy listening to classical music like myself. Check it out if you have the time.

Report this review (#2783050)
Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2022 | Review Permalink

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