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




Symphonic Prog

4.28 | 2557 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Inspired by William Golding's "The Inheritors", the album looks at mankind from an outsider's viewpoint- specifically, that of a race of critters who preceded man and are now dying out. "To summarize the legend of the squonk: It is a very ugly creature, and it knows this. Its skin is ill-fitting, and covered with warts and other blemishes, therefore the squonk hides from being seen, and spends much of its time weeping sorrowfully over its own ugliness. Hunters who have attemped to catch squonks have found that the creature is capable of evading capture by dissolving completely into a pool of tears and bubbles when cornered." -

"Dance On a Volcano" is a great opener, with a slightly frantic and rhythmically interesting verse that resolves into an anthemic chorus- a structure more commonly found in classic YES than GENESIS. "Entangled" is mysteriously beautiful, pastoral and slightly creepy with the billowing Mellotron choir signalling the climax of the piece. "Squonk" is an essential single- probably the first thing I ever heard from the band, although my memory is untrustworthy. The drums are just a little plodding, but the melodic elements are very memorable. "Mad Man Moon" is one of my favorites, a poetic narrative painted in tender and sad colors, with a surging chorus; wonderful keyboard work marks the bridge section- a shortened progressive journey with classic playful GENESIS character. "Robbery, Assault and Battery" is less appealing to me ( listen to that disco beat in the chorus, yuck!) but is still a well-crafted song, very much in line with Phil's "artful dodger" persona, and the instrumental performances in the middle are quite impressive. "Ripples" is more to my taste, a perfect compromise between the "Lamb" sonic textures and the flowing acoustic mystery that the band often sampled from but rarely developed for a full song. The title track is very accessible without sounding too 'poppy', and manages to craft a very interesting narrative without ever letting the words interfere with the music (an area in which "The Lamb" often faltered). Finally, the magnificent "Los Endos" is an instrumental tour de force which reprises "Squonk" as well as quoting "Supper's Ready" in the brief vocal section, as a sort of tribute and response to Gabriel's departure.

My decade-older siblings had a huge record collection, and much of my initial prog experiences came from what was on hand in my formative years. GENESIS was represented solely by this disc (actually, there were two copies of the sleeve, one of which contained a JACKSON BROWNE album!). That may indeed color my opinions; while I agree that Gabriel's departure was a bad sign, I also regard "Trick of the Tail" as one of their best albums (I prefer it to some of the more often cited band classics). The sound on this album is organic and very un-forced, stylistically flowing from one section to the next. Collins adopts a bit of Gabriel style in his vocal delivery, but to Phil's credit the emotional factor is a little closer to the surface here. Next to "Lamb", this is my favorite GENESIS album- very highly recommended.

James Lee | 4/5 |


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