Monday, June 20, 2016

The Genesis Project - "A Trick of the Tail"

Genesis - A Trick of the Tail
1976, Atlantic

1. Dance On a Volcano
2. Entangled
3. Squonk
4. Mad Man Moon
5. Robbery, Assault and Battery
6. Ripples...
7. A Trick of the Tail
9. Los Endos

As everyone knows, A Trick of the Tail is Genesis’ first album after the departure of Peter Gabriel. Drummer Phil Collins steps up to the microphone full time after a few cameos here and there on previous albums. There is a distinct difference in this album as opposed to the previous ones but it’s not the music. No, it’s more the feeling…the vibe. A Trick of the Tail is far more laid back than the band’s Gabriel-era output. It’s still very progressive but it’s not as…demanding. Whereas those Gabriel albums grabbed you by the lapels and screamed at you, “YOU WILL LISTEN TO THESE CONCEPTS. SEE HOW IMPORTANT THEY ARE?! THIS IS ART!! CAN’T YOU SEE MY FACE PAINT?!?!” This album is a bit calmer on how it approaches things. I can see the band quietly setting up their gear and Phil Collins comes over to you, shakes your hand, and says, “Hey, mate. We’re just going to jam a little bit here. Is that alright? You can listen or not, it’s okay. Sorry about all the face paint, yeah?”

As a result this album was a bit of a grower for me. It didn’t demand that I pay attention, so I really didn’t on the first couple of listens. I liked the music, for sure, but it seemed like the album was content to leave me alone until I was ready to invest in it. Finally, after several listens, things started to sink in. They sunk in to the point where I can honestly say A Trick of the Tail is among my favorites of the album’s I’ve listened to so far. You’ll note I said the same about Selling England by the Pound and I stand by that. I still adore that album but I love this one just as much. It’s got all the talent and progressive mastery without the high-minded intellectualism. You can definitely tell that the guys were happy just to sit down and make music.

It’s kind of funny because this album has all of the trappings you’d expect from a prog-era Genesis album. Funky time signatures, story-telling songs, an instrumental finale that reprises the opening track. Heck, Phil Collins even does some character voices for “Robbery, Assault and Battery.” But the spirit of this record is so different. I guess that’s why I keep harping on it so much. It’s such a change, but an enjoyable one to be sure.

I said earlier that this was a grower and some of the tracks that took longer to grow ended up being my favorites. Take “Entangled” and “Ripples…” for example. These are two of the album slower tracks and I kind of checked out a few times when they came on. However, slowly but surely, they imprinted themselves in my brain and now are some of my favorites. Probably the only track that didn’t grow as much was the Banks penned “Mad Man Moon.” I said “didn’t” but I should probably say “hasn’t” because this album has a knack for being kind of a dark horse. It wouldn’t surprise me to find “Mad Man Moon” being my favorite track a year from now. Also, have I mentioned how awesome a drummer Phil Collins is? I was talking with a co-worker about this when he mentioned that Phil Collins is never brought up when people think of legendary drummers. Well…he should be.

At any rate, A Trick of the Tail is an amazing, wonderful album. It’s proof-positive that all the progressive talent and drive didn’t exist solely in Peter Gabriel. It’s another album I’m sort of sad to have to move on from, but it has definitely earned its place in the vault.

Final Score: 5 out of 5

Useless Fact: Despite my remarks about the vibe being relaxed, the band was actually quite nervous about continuing on without Peter Gabriel. They'd also auditioned some other singers (very halfheartedly) until settling on Collins for the role.

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