Thursday, 31 May 2018

"A Trick Of The Tail" by GENESIS (April 2008 Virgin/Charisma 'Standard Version' CD Reissue - 2007 Tony Cousins Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Madrigal Music Is Playing..."

After the high of 1974's concept double-album "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" and the subsequent departure of Peter Gabriel (such an integral part of a unique band and their charismatic frontman for five years) – common consensus held was that Genesis would implode or worse – carry on with a heart-hearted crew pumping out half-assed material.

The first album post PG-apocalypse featuring Phil Collins as the band's Lead Vocalist was February 1976's "A Trick Of The Tail" and it proved the naysayers wrong. In fact many would say that the following year's "Wind And Wuthering" in January 1977 followed in October of that year by the triumphant live double "Seconds Out" hammered shut the cakehole of that gobby and argumentative git. Genesis had never been so popular or so commercially successful and did so in the two years where Punk and New Wave Music seemed to be wiping away all that was perceived as old fart.

So when it comes to CD reissues of "A Trick Of The Tail" the only real argument here is about the AUDIO. Is it any good? Or to be exact (after the crap we’ve had for years) - is it any better? Hell YES is the answer here...

Having been inflicted with what was called a 'Definitive Edition Remaster' in 1994 (themselves replacements for earlier shambolic issues in the Eighties) – fans held their collective hairpieces when the April 2007 Remasters were released in SACD form – Remastered by Tape Engineer Supremo TONY COUSINS. But one listen to this amazing-sounding standard single CD edition (reissued April 2008) and all those reports and raves about revelatory sound were true. Just taking in "Entangled" or "Ripples" on this CD is enough to elicit a little proggy tear from my ageing and weary googly-ganglers.

This is a gorgeous and amazingly well handled transfer of dense and rich music. And as the SACD 2-Disc variant from April 2007 (Barcode 094638596424) is now garnishing extortionate sums since deletion (forty quid and more) – at least this April 2008 single-disc stripped-down standard-variant reissue with just the album on it - is available for less than the price of a kebab whilst still retaining that great TC Remaster. Let’s get to the Squonk and dreams of Mad Man Moon (that's Genesis-speak for details)...

UK released April 2008 – "A Trick Of The Tail" by GENESIS on Virgin/Charisma GENYCD 6 (Barcode 0094639164226) is a straightforward CD 'Standard Edition' transfer of their 1976 album (SACD and Stereo Mixes used here first issued April 2007) and plays out as follows (51:15 minutes):

1. Dance On A Volcano [Side 1]
2. Entangled
3. Squonk
4. Mad Man Moon
5. Robbery, Assault And Battery [Side 2]
6. Ripples
7. A Trick Of The Tail
8. Los Endos
Tracks 1 to 8 are their seventh studio album (eighth overall) "A Trick Of The Tail" – released February 1976 in the UK on Charisma CDS 4001 and in the USA on Atco SD 36-129. Produced by DAVID HENTSCHEL and GENESIS – it peaked at No. 3 and No. 31 in the UK and USA LP charts.

PHIL COLLINS – Lead and Backing Vocals, Drums and Percussion
STEVE HACKETT – Electric and Acoustic Guitars
TONY BANKS – Piano, Synths, Organ, Mellotron, 12-String Acoustic Guitar and Backing Vocals
MIKE RUTHERFORD – Bass and 12-String Guitar

The booklet reproduces the lyrics first aired on the inner gatefold of the 1976 vinyl LP along with Colin Elgie's design and those cartoons that followed each song. But the big news is the TONY COUSINS Remaster.

When those beep-beep notes and drums open the band-written "Dance On A Volcano" and it finally gets into its Prog swing - the power is huge. But it's not until you get to the gorgeous six and half-minutes of Hackett and Banks' "Entangled" that you 'feel' the audio change - those acoustic guitars so clear - Collins and the others singing Lead and Backing Vocals - children dreaming - the rush and swirl as the melody swoops and soars. Rutherford and Banks provided "Squonk" - probably the nearest the album gets to Rock - a swaggering Prog tune with Drums and Cymbals crashing around your room as the Remaster brings the rhythm section to the fore.  Side 1 ends with seven and half minutes of "Mad Man Moon" - a piano based ballad provided by Tony Banks. Collins sings about pain with conviction 'oh how I loved you...quite some time ago...I was the one who decided to go...' and then about a thousand mirages later Banks brings the Mellotron up with those wall of voices - very Lamb Lies Down On Broadway meets Selling England By The Pound. The later piano passages and fast lyric rolls to the end make for a sophisticated but moving listen.

Side 2 opens with "Robbery, Assault and Battery" - a 1975 Collins and Banks song that lyrically seemed to point the way to his 'Buster' film role more than a decade later during the height of Collins' solo career. But for me the album's masterpiece is the beautiful "Ripples" - eight-minutes of sail-away Genesis gorgeousness. Hell PC even sounds like PG in some verses while Steve Hackett's delicate twelve-string guitar picking harks back to the glory of "Horizons" and "Supper’s Ready" on "Foxtrot". It's a gorgeous melody and the slow to fast Rutherford/Banks song construction gives it an epic feel - 0whilst still feeling like an intimate ballad (memories of 'The Grove' in Clontarf when this song was played during a 'slow set').  The jaunt of the title track (a Tony Banks song) offers a clever change of pace and mood - magical creatures in the city of gold somewhere up there in the distance. The album comes to a close with the manic dash of "Los Endos" - a motorcar-fast Proggy instrumental that always seems to represent the album on those endless 'Best Of' and 'Anthology' CD sets.

Personally I think this rather plain looking CD reissue in its dull jewel case loses some of the original LPs visual impact (time to get one of those Japanese SHM-CD Mini LP Repros) - but the Audio more than makes up for that. Sail away indeed, but even after 40+ years those Ripples keep carrying me back...

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