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Tony Banks - Strictly Inc. CD (album) cover


Tony Banks


Crossover Prog

3.52 | 73 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

2 stars #21 Review

Before i start with this, i want to point out that in the previous review i mentioned "Still", i don't know when i'll review it, but i'll continue with Tony Banks until i finish the discography, as well, i was updating older Genesis reviews with B-Sides, but that might change, i'm not sure what to do with that as of now, but some albums are already done (as mentioned at the end of my previous review). Before choosing Strictly Inc. i was almost ready to review The Fugitive, that could be the next review, but i don't promise anything.

First up, 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 don't enter in the eyes and it looks really lazy as well.

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, so it sets a good mood at the start but then i feel like skipping the song.

2.- Walls of Sound 4/10 Now another catchy rythm that repeats even more, but the song is more than ok, it changes enough on the other instruments to make the song somewhat enjoyable.

3.- Only Seventeen 6/10 Tony knows how to do catchy starts to songs, its the same case as the previous song but it is really different and feels more "action-packed" than the previous one, the last part of the song becomes more like a soundtrack, but that still doesn't save it from being really average.

4.- The Serpent Said 7/10 Going more into soundtrack territory, is still pop but more serious and with more chord progressions, yet it still falls short.

5.- Never Let Me Know 5/10 This should as well be a song without voice, only the keyboards. It sounds good, its extremely average but the nice little solo near the end saves it a little.

6.- Charity Balls 3/10 Another song heavily done with chord progressions, some of this songs feel like taking out from little pieces of the last song in this album, this song is boring, it has nothing more going than those chords. The little guitar solo at the end saves it a little.

7.- Something To Live For 6/10 A little boring with a nice guitar solo at the end and for some reason it is in 7/8, only that saves it, because overall is extremely average.

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. The little solo halfway is also a modified piece from the last one.

9.- Strictly Incognito 8/10 The title track, reminds me of Throwback, and its a nice throwback to what Tony Banks does, mixing sundtrack sounds with that strong good pop that he can do, just one problem, repetitive.

10.- An Island in the Darkness 10/10 If he says that he got inspired by Firth of Fifth, then this song might be something, right? The introduction is already something incredibly beautyful that could very well be from a classic era pianist, when the drum synths kick in you can already feel how the atmosphere changes to something more obscure, and then the lyrics appear and are on top, so the mood is already set, misterous, melancholic, cloud but with bits of light delicately expressed by Tony Banks synths. A little solo appears that makes you feel lonely in wichever kind of terrain you're standing, while seeing the sea and feeling the breeze that those drum synths bring every so often. Then everything comes to a halt and the music starts progressing, this is your time to shine and do everything, the fog clears and everything seems to work again, but as time passes you realize and think of everything you have accomplished so far and on the next steps that you have to follow, hours and days keep passing and you get closer and closer to success but then... you hit the top, you know that there's more out there but for some reason you can't reach more at the moment, you look back and feel proud at how everything turned out, while you still want more, maybe it is time to rest and think about everyone and every good moment... and now its time to hit it back again, but the fog surrounds you, see the ghosts of your past and want to change the score, but its too late, you miss everyone and all your frights become a reality, just when you're about to hit it big time, do you have the will to carry on? Don't leave time to do your job and start, that's what you do, and that's how you succeed, yet its so difficult but you keep doing it because the reward is even better that way, while everything pushes you down, you remember all the people that have helped you out, all those moments in the past and realize that you can do it again, and if you don't, you still have your dearest people close and the memories with you, so on a last effort you manage to get into a place where you can finally rest again and in expectansy of your next challenge, but now with relief.

Sadly, this album is a 55/100 for me, wich is 2 stars, i didn't want to put 2 stars because An Island in the Darkness is one of the best works that Tony has ever done, but the rest of the album has unnecesary songs, this album never needed to be that long, maybe it was to accomodate the new longer format (like Genesis did with We Can't Dance), in the end i don't recommend this album as a whole, but i do recommend tracks 9 and 10, specially 10.

Update 31/8: My opinions remain the same for the most part, the enjoyment of the songs have shifted a little and i reflected that in the scores, so the scores shifted but the total remains the same. I must say that my perspective on this album has changed a little thanks to Tony Banks explanations, and i understand what he was accomplishing but its clearly just not meant for me, it is not epic in any way, there is so much dull in many parts that could be improved, yet the biggest quality in this album are Tony Banks chords and sounds, its the rest that don't much to make this album really something more, i don't hear much improvisation over Tony's idea and the only times where this album feels with life is only when Tony only does, the drums in this record suffer from the classic 90s flatness, the voice mostly copies what Tony is playing and the guitar almost does the same in every song, the contrast between all the songs and the last one is just insane in that regard.

FalconBleck | 2/5 |


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