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Tony Banks - Strictly Inc. CD (album) cover


Tony Banks


Crossover Prog

3.58 | 93 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars #21 Review

NEW REVIEW 2 Years and 7 months later i decided to revisit this album here, i've been enjoying it quite a bit lately and i will explain why.

1.- Don't Turn Your Back on Me 3/10 This one is the weakest track on the album and a bad why to start, but its still weird, there are small changes that don't make much sense, but repetition makes it be a not so enjoyable track.

2.- Walls of Sound 6/10 Very beautyful notes, with very classy changes, yet of all tracks, this one has the more hit potential than the others, but it still has a lot of room for improvement, i miss a more extreme change, or a solo, something to make the repetition less boring, but the chords are on point as usual. This track also has a new version that i still think its inferior because the keyboard feels less prominent.

3.- Only Seventeen 9/10 Sounds very different, has like a danceable rythm going on but its actually a really cool and complex piece, my favorite voice delivery on this album, as well as having some really great dark chords and a bunch of changes. There is a section in wich the song repeats to continue the story on the lyrics, but the repetition is fully welcomed because the track has already done so much, and its like a breather before the small climax solo that hits really hard, is stuff like this that make me think that a fully produced live rendition of this track, on the level of a Genesis concert, would be excellent and very powerful. Only one downside, the ending "ooh" and "aah", i don't enjoy that, but other than that, this track is more than worth your listen. This track has more versions also, the instrumental one is pretty cool, and other mixes that really aren't good but also made by different people so i don't count them, still, there is a claim that these versions were played at dance clubs, wich is pretty interesting, although the track is pretty unrecognizable on those mixes, it would be pretty weird to find a Tony Banks song at a dance club, but at the same time, no one who listents to Tony knows how to dance, maybe that lady over there. Well, it seems to me that this song was very liked to the point that new mixes were done by other people.

4.- The Serpent Said 8/10 This track has a very cool introduction, repeats too much but it hints to a very cool change, then repeats and does a solo that does some very cool and weird changes, the track is going very high and somehow goes back into the beginning that starts very low. The lyrics are my favorites on the album, and even though it has some of the coolest changes, i think that it tests the patience a bit too much and the drums don't do much.

5.- Never Let Me Know 7/10 This is another very repeating track that i really disliked at first and 150 listen, but again, this track has another very impressive change that only Tony could, somehow better and worse than the previous track, because this one doesn't have an introduction as good as the previous one, but the change on the solo is definitely better as it changes almost everything on the song for a few seconds, and then somehow goes back into being dull, so overall, is mostly boring, even when its building towards that insane change. The lyrics are ok, it makes me really sad but these lyrics also take a while to build up, except that they don't resolve very well.

6.- Charity Balls 6/10 People have told me that this is a very Genesis track and i don't see the appeal, it has a good rythm going on, its very moving but its too repetitive for me, yet i can still enjoy it a lot. I find the song to be positive and funny, my humor is as dumb as that, i hear a Tony Banks song about balls, i'll laugh. Well, you will know if you enjoy this one, there's a lot and not much to it at the same time, i bet that this one is pretty fun to play.

7.- Something To Live For 6/10 Some people know me as the weird accent dude that talks with this song playing on the background, and from day one of listening i really enjoyed this one. That very weird drum pattern in the background, could be my favorite from Tony's solo career. But the lyrics and song estructure are very satisfying, i agree with all the decisions made on this track although again, i feel like its too repetitive and takes a while to peak up, much like many Genesis songs, but its still satisfying, i just wish there was more going on on every instrument besides the keyboard, even an small change on the cool drum pattern would've made this track better.

8.- A Piece of You 7/10 Another one that i really disliked at first, it has this adult movie sound to it at first, the lyrics don't make much sense (although i don't care much for that), the track again tests your patience a bit but not much, it makes small changes that are very welcomed until at half the piece, the song changes quite a lot, reminds me of the Still track "The Final Curtain" in that sense, but somehow this is more extreme, because the song kind of goes back to the original but higher and keeps going higher, then goes down and down again instantly, this track wasn't my favorite but then i couldn't stop thinking about it, this is the signature all rights reserved "Tony's insane chord changes tm", and then goes back into the slow kind of normal song it was. Now do your prog-homework, listen to this track once, then analyze the second half.

9.- Strictly Incognito 9/10 A classic journey song, a nice small introduction setting the scene and then again with repeating sections, but each change is a new section on the story, apparent (protagonist point of view), hidden reality (from the protegonist) and something that connects both. When it repeats its different too, the portion that was longer before, now its shorter, and ther shorter now its longer, and then the whole song changes into the protagonist realizing the truth of the whole ordeal, it continues into an small guitar solo and then onto a repeat of how the song goes, but instead of being apparent and reality, now its reality and consequences/ending lesson for the protagonist. This track really toys with the music and lyrics and creates a very cool track. The weakness on this track is the singers delivery, but there's not much to do here, the song doesn't leave much lenience towards this, the other problem is the sound, but if you can get over these things that are small for me, then yes, this track is more than excellent.

10.- An Island in the Darkness 10/10 The reason to why this album has almost 4 stars on this site, almost every other reviews points out this track, as it is a 17 minute long progrock epic, Tony Banks had nothing to lose with this album even though they still promoted it like "Its pop but its not", there was still an idea to sell an idea, and this track certainly is the kind of track that wasn´t marketable at the time, long tracks existed, they won huge cult followings, but they were inside other genres like metal, and this one wasn't there. This is the kind of track you wish Calling All Stations had, pure Tony Banks and pure Genesis here, this track is the complete thing, many moods, many tracks in one, lots of chords and changes, one of the best long epics inside Tony's solo career and one that fits well within Genesis as well. I'm clearly not alone on this thought, there's barely any weaknesses to this track, and the weak parts are more than made up with the good ones. This whole piece moves your imagination from beginning to end, and while many Tony tracks do it, this one does it for 17 minutes. I feel like most of this track's problems can be fixed by making it a bit shorter, specially on the solo, maybe add another curve ball there, but overall, i can listen to this in its entirety every day no problems. What a great way to say goodbye to a rock solo career, and also a great transition from rock to classical music.

11.- Back to You 7/10 An extra track, new credits to Nik Kershaw for helping on the composition of this track during the Still days, it sounds different but it definitely has more in common with Still. This is the latest new solo rock track released by Tony Banks, in 1996, and its a pretty weird and interesting one, mainly because of how it sounds and the sleazy chords. Its a short piece with nice lyrics and changes, some chords remind me of The Gift and the changes in narration/music remind me of I Wanna Change the Score, this track feels lesser than those in the sense that this could've been a piece that inspired both, much like "It's Yourself" ended up on "Los Endos" or something like that, well, not that obvious and simple, i shouldn't say more or Tony could order an arrest on me for thinking too much on his music idk. This track both feels like a complete deal and under-cooked, its weird.

Final score 71/100, barely just barely becoming a 4 star album, now i agree with the score of my peer-users here, except that i did it differently.

------------------------------------- OLD REVIEW First up, this is a revised version (2-17-2020) of my original review (7-6-2018), with the 2 extra songs added.

What's up with that cover artwork? I like the ridiculous and over exagerated animations from the 90s, but i don't like what i see here, its one of those albums that just don't enter through the eyes.

1.- Don't Turn Your Back on Me 3/10 Starts with an incredible catchy rythm, and continues being a typical uninspired pop-song, very repetitive with no purpose and boring lyrics. It sets an interesting mood as expected, because Tony knows how to use his chords, yet this song feels like it could've been more.

2.- Walls of Sound 5/10 Another catchy rythm that repeats even more, but this song its kind of special, the key here are the chords, wich are very pretty and give some kind of a nostalgic feeling, a little wintery i could say, if the rythm in the background changed a little (like in the remix) maybe this song wouldn't be that repetitive and boring after the 2 minute mark.

3.- Only Seventeen 7/10 That techno house rythm that only Tony can do? What is this, kind of different but i dig it, specially because of the chords. This song's video along with Tony's commentary about why he made it are the reason why i revisited this album again, i kind of understand the objective of what he is doing and i think that its fascinating, not only that but i'm not the only one that thought that, this song was modified and used for parties as well. I appreciate the story and the soundtrack qualities that this song has.

4.- The Serpent Said 7/10 The soundtrack introduction and the chord progressions used here are really interesting, after the intro the first movement is a little bit boring because of those repeating chords in the background, not the scales, then the second movement becomes much more interesting, almost glorious compared to the first movement, the next segment is too simple and i'm not that big of a fan, the small solo that comes after the repeating of the first and second movement its really pretty, i believe that with a different mind set, this song could've been something really special for a progressive song, but as it is, is ok anyways.

5.- Never Let Me Know 5/10 Since most of the rythm is done with synths, the voice is really unnecesary in this song for the most part, yet it doesn't matter as this song is boring because of some uninspired drumming, the part near the end is the best though, gets into a completely new territory that could've been a better song if separated from the starting piece and if it had better drumming.

6.- Charity Balls 3/10 Another song heavily done with chord progressions, some of this songs feel like taken out from little pieces of the last song in this album. This song is boring, it has nothing more going on than those chords. The little guitar solo at the end saves it a little. I want to add that i have read some reviews and i can't understand how this song is related to Genesis, what Genesis song sounds like this??

7.- Something To Live For 5/10 That central drum rythm really gets stuck in your head along with the chords, the song is in 7/8 and has a nice little solo but it gets repetitive quick, the music here is as average as Man on the Corner.

8.- A Piece of You 3/10 Reminds me of charity balls on how it takes a little piece from the last song on the album, notably the notes used for the lyrics, i would've prefered if this song was out of the album, the last one does it much better and another ballad is just filler at this point.

9.- Strictly Incognito 8/10 Reminds me of the song Throwback from Bankstatement, this is a really fine pop song with very well laid chords, as Tony normally does. I really like the story that the song tells and how it progresses along with the music, yet the rythm gets repetitive quickly, atleast i can hear more effort put by the session musicians than in previous songs.

10.- An Island in the Darkness 10/10 In one of the weirdest pop albums ever made, Tony decided to end with what could be described as Firth of Fifth 2. It is a serious undertaking to make a song that could potentially hold up to that name, and this song is no small feat with a lenght of 17 minutes of pure brilliance.

The introduction is already something to behold, Tony has nothing to envy on classical artists, the main ideas for the rest of the song are stablished here.

Once the drum synths kick in, the song changes and gives a warm welcome to a cold new atmosphere, lyrics on this song are good, yet with another voice, this song could've been a little better, the same goes for the mixing, too clean and too loud, a problem that surrounds album since the early 90s, yet one thing that the 90s didn't ruin in this song are the drums, wich contrary to the previous songs in this album, they do much more work than before, everyone gave their best on this song more than in the rest of the album.

Near the middle part of the song, there's a solo that some people call "The Firth of Fifth part" because it shares some similar musical play and structure to that song. Right in the middle of this solo there's another classical piano solo piece, and some more vocals that do well to change the structure and maintain a good pace. After a glorious sounding synth climax, comes the guitar solo, but instead of Steve Hackett, its Daryl Stuermer, and i think that could be his best Firth of Fifth, while many say that Firth of Fifth is better done by Hackett (including me), i think that this is the solo that could make more people like Daryl since his playing here isn't so much filled with meaningless notes, but done with thoughtful pauses.

The ending part is probably one of the most beautyful things, it sounds perfect for an orchestral score and i just love it, what a great end for a great tune and an ok album, but that's not all...

11.- Wall of Sounds (Remix) 5/10 I have read that some people think that this version is better, but i feel the loss of chords in many parts, yet i like how the instruments sound here, they have like that old videogame arcade quality and i really apreciate the weirdness overall, yet i like the other version better, the begining in the original is so much better and i don't like how the voice gets hold as a synth in a certain part. This version though, represents much better the name of "Walls of Sounds", many more sounds displayed here.

12.- Back to You 7/10 This song was left out of this album's original release, but not only that, its a leftover from Still, a song that was conceptualized by Tony with Nik Kershaw, and it feels like that, i really like Nik's input on Still and i have learned a little more about his music and realized that he can do very repetitive but catchy choruses, Tony probably made a music piece and Nik said "That's the one", for some reason it was not featured in Still and the same here, i think that its pretty catchy and better than most of the repetitive pieces here.

This album overal gets a 57/100 wich is a pitty since it has some good songs in here, i really expected the score to increase more but it didn't, those songs that got a 3 are songs that i fail to appreciate or recommend, i have an explanation for the songs that i like here and Tony also helped with some of his interviews, yet i think this review is it for the moment. I think that this album could've been something else with less filler and more help by the session musicians, Tony did the better work here and i hope to some day do some covers of some of these songs so people can hear (musically) what i'm trying to say about this album.

FalconBleck | 4/5 |


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