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Music Review: Genesis — A Trick Of The Tail

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If Abacab completed the transition of Genesis from progressive rock band to pop band, A Trick Of The Tail marked the beginning. It was this album that saw the departure of Peter Gabriel because he felt too cooped up by the band and wanted to go solo. This was after The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and the subsequent tour in 1975.

Genesis began to audition singers to replace Gabriel and drummer Phil Collins was given the job of coaching them. At the time, the rumor was that Collins did not want the job, but he later admitted that he really did want it but wanted someone to ask him. Eventually they did and Collins became the lead vocalist.

A Trick Of The Tail, the first post-Gabriel album and produced by a new producer, David Hentschel, featured a cleaner production than previous releases. It was well received by the critics and was the best selling Genesis album to date. Some say that it was because Collins sounded more like Gabriel than Gabriel did!

The quality of this CD is superb. They kept the CD in its original format and supplied a DVD with 5.1 sound quality as well as extra videos. The videos contain interviews and footage of the band

Here you have songs that are very dynamic such as “Dance on a Volcano,” ones that are whimsical such as “A Trick of the Tail” and Squonk,” and you have the clever songs such as “Robbery, Assault, and Battery.” Many of these songs trace their history back to the Gabriel days. There is not one bad song on the album.

There are a few highlights. Someone listening to “Dance on a Volcano” for the first time might think that the CD is skipping. It has a polyrhythm that becomes very catchy after listing to it a few times. You have Hackett strumming a tenuous, chromatic pattern until Collins checks in with his thunderous drumming, which really comes through in this re-mastering.

“Robbery, Assault, and Battery” contains a sprightly rhythm that captivates you and takes into a Gabrielesque attempt that is very innovative. The instrumental solos are very good — pay attention to Banks on the keyboards. Here he really shines.

“Ripples” has Hackett providing some absolutely great acoustic guitar work. This has a very Collins flavor and a very dark tone surrounding it. What it says is that with age, we will only be left with ourselves. Again listen to Banks on the keyboard.

“A Trick of the Tail,” while perhaps not the most profound song here, is certainly a lot fun. Its tune is similar to “Robbery, Assault, and Battery” in its sense of humor and it is certainly one of the shorter songs on the CD.

What makes this an “attic album” is that it shows what Genesis could have become had the right conditions stayed favorable. Had Hackett stayed on, had the band gelled a little more, they could have retained their progressive rock roots and still gained popularity as did some other progressive rock groups of the time, such as Yes.

Is it the best Genesis album ever? Most die hard fans would say that Lamb is the best. On the other hand there are a lot of people thought that Lamb was a little too artistic, poetic, and esoteric for their tastes. If you like the Gabriel Genesis, then A Trick Of The Tail is just a real good CD. If you prefer the Collins Genesis, then A Trick Of The Tail may be their best album ever.

A Trick Of The Tail track listing
CD:
Dance on a Volcano
Entangled

Squonk
Mad Man Moon
Robbery, Assault, and Battery
Ripples…
Trick of the Tail
Endos

DVD:
Dance on a Volcano
Entangled
Squonk
Mad Man Moon
Robbery, Assault, and Battery
Ripples…
Trick of the Tail
Endos
Robbery, Assault, and Battery [*] Ripples… [*] Trick of the Tail [*] Reissue Interviews 2007 [*] I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) [Live][*] Fly on a Windshield [Live][*] Carpet Crawlers [Live][*] Cinema Show [Live][*] Entangled [Live][*] Supper’s Ready [Live][*] Endos [Live][*] “White Rocks” Premiere Programme 1977

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • JANK

    I always felt “Entangled” was the best song here. It matches well with Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.”

  • http://www.PhotoshopTodaynet.blogspot.com/ T. Michael Testi

    Jank,
    Thanks for the comment. I think that “Entangled” is a great song also, but there are always two or three that just stick in my head after listening to this CD. To me that is the sign of a good album.

    T.

  • duane

    Years later, some time in the 90s, Peter Gabriel said that he was disappointed in how good Trick of the Tail came out. He was worried that people would realize that he alone was not Genesis.

  • http://www.PhotoshopTodaynet.blogspot.com/ T. Michael Testi

    Duane,
    I did not know that although it does not surprise me in the least.

    Thanks T.

  • http://www.bestradioyouhaveneverheard.com/podcasts Perry/Chicago

    Also included on the DVD (video) is the re-released 1976 concert film from Glasgow featuring Bill Bruford on drums. One could have hoped that they would have taken out the fantasy sequences (which we actually projected during the show) and shown the band during “Entangled, “Cinema Show” and the finale of “Supper’s Ready,” but word has it the original film maker keeps the master close to the vest.

    And as a show opener “Squonk” is one of the best.

    Perry/Chicago
    The Best Radio You Have Never Heard Podcast

  • http://www.bestradioyouhaveneverheard.com/podcasts Perry/Chicago

    Duane,
    Your comment about PG couldn’t be more off base.
    PG was ecstatic for his bandmates and even attended a show.
    He had his say in his first solo record, which couldn’t have been a bigger 180º than his time with Genesis.
    Best read up on your Genesis historical facts. PG left Genesis for (but not limited to) the exact reason you stated.
    He didn’t like the idea that he was all the public could relate to as Genesis.

    Perry/Chicago
    The Best Radio You Have Never Heard Podcast

  • duane

    Well, Perry, I heard it come out of his own mouth. So, make of it what you will. Maybe it was just a display of a little self-deprecating humor (or, in his case, humour).

  • JB

    This album produced one of their best concert numbers…ever. Dance On a Volcano/Los Endos (sometimes with a drum duet in the middle) is simply a spine tingling combo. To this day, I’ll pull out Seconds Out and just listen to the end of that CD. I was pleasantly surprised when they performed Los Endos at the VH1 Rock Honors show.

  • http://www.bestradioyouhaveneverheard.com/podcasts Perry/Chicago

    Yes, Duane,
    I believe there was a serious dose of sarcasm at work there as well as self-deprecating humor. And considering the broad audience he must have been speaking to with that much water under the bridge, a little too “inside” for most to catch. Riding the scree a little too rapidly.

    Perry/Chicago
    The Best Radio You Have Never Heard

  • Kyle

    Mad Man Moon is literally perfection