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Tony Banks - A Curious Feeling CD (album) cover

A CURIOUS FEELING

Tony Banks

 

Crossover Prog

3.42 | 216 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 309

"A Curious Feeling" is the debut solo studio album of Tony Banks and was released in 1979. It was released after the departure of Steve Hackett from Genesis, between "Wind And Wuthering" and "...And Then There were Three...". Tony Banks was the first of the three remaining members of Genesis to release a solo work. However, "A Curious Feeling" never reached the success that Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins reached with "Smallcreep's Day" and "Face Value".

The album's cover design was made by Hothouse and the cover painting is named "Wuluwait - Boatman Of The Dead" and was painted by Ainslie Roberts who was an Australian painter, photographer, writer and a commercial artist too.

Tony Banks wrote all the tracks and he also played almost all the music instruments on it, such as, the keyboards, the guitars, the basses and the percussion. However, he selects to collaborate with him two other musicians. For the drums and percussion he chooses Chester Thompson, an American drummer and session musician who played before with Weather Report and Frank Zappa. On vocals, he chooses Kim Beacon who was a member of "String Driven Thing".

The story of "A Curious Feeling" is a science fiction novel based on the book "Flowers For Algernon" by Daniel Keyes, who was an American writer of science fiction and fantasy novels. It was written in 1958. Algernon is a laboratory mouse which was subject to a surgical intervention to increase his intelligence by artificial means. The story touches many different ethical and moral themes such as the treatment of the mentally disabled, the conflict between intellect and emotion or happiness and hoe events in the past that can influence the personality of a person later in his later life.

"A Curious Feeling" has eleven tracks. Most of the time, the music all over the album is dominated by Banks' fantastic playing, especially the Yamaha electric Grand piano, which was at the time a very popular instrument, can be heard on many of the tracks. Also the layers of string synthesizers, which were made to create an orchestral feeling on the instrumental pieces, sound very impressive. Tony's efforts on the electric and acoustic guitar are worth listening too.

The first track "From The Undertow" opens the album as an instrumental prelude. This is a nice and dramatic piano and keyboard piece. It's in the same vein of what Genesis made on "...And Then There Were Three...". "Lucky Me" is a nice track with great vocal work by Beacon. The guitar and the keyboards that work in the back are very nice too. The song is a bit contemporary in tone and has a great melody. "The Lie" is also an excellent track that could easily have fit into Genesis' portfolio of that era. It precedes the high point of the album, their magnum opus. "After The Lie" is another track that could have fit into Genesis' portfolio of that era. The dramatic tension, structure and particularly the keyboard solo are on par with some Genesis' best output. Thompson's drumming is another highlight on the track. The title track is a light footed pop rock song that lifts your spirit, as opposed to the other rather melancholic pieces of the album. It has a catchy instrumental hook and a rousing spoken introduction from Beacon. This is probably one of the strongest tracks on the album. "Forever Morning" epitomizes everything you would hope for in a real Banks' track. The music builds layer by layer reaching moments of intense grandeur with a very delicate theme at the mid point and a dramatic closing section. "You" is a romantic ballad dominated by sensitive vocals and some Genesis' inflected guitar before a fiery synthesizer solo opens up into a bombastic instrumental sequence. "Somebody Else's Dream" is the lengthiest track on the album. Thompson has been unchained to add some welcome a very dynamic drumming work and Beacon gives probably his best vocal performance on the album. "The Waters Of Lethe" remains the album's most successful offering built around a simple but lyrical piano theme before breaking out into a grandiose guitar and keyboard fanfare. It sounds amazingly beautiful like "Wind And Wuthering". "For A While" is one of the most straight forward songs. This is a melancholic short pop rock song with an engaging melody and an optimistic tone. It features a rare electric guitar break from Banks. "In The Dark" is a beautiful understated piece to conclude the album in a true Banks' style. This short track is nice and includes one final and majestic orchestral flourish. This is a very nice way to close the album.

Conclusion: "A Curious Feeling" has elements of Genesis' early progressive sound. So, it makes of this Banks' debut release the strongest and the really only album from him entirely progressive. After all I wrote about the tracks, I can say that it's for very little that I don't consider this album a true masterpiece. I think to be a masterpiece, only lacks to it a small flame of emotion. So, my rating is 4 stars because I think that it's closer to 4 stars than 5 stars. So, for what all I said before, I sincerely think that "A Curious Feeling" is really a must for all fans of Genesis and for all progressive fans. I know the album since it was released, and fortunately, despite my CD copy, I have also my old vinyl copy. I also know that this album always had also a very special place in Tony's heart, even now, after all these years have passed.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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