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A Trick of the Tail

Review by Josh Turner

There are substantial differences between the old and new Genesis. Some prefer one style to the other. A progressive fan will most likely prefer the works combining the talents featured here along with Peter Gabriel. In other words, the early works. Each style has its advantages. This album seems to be the best marriage between all their styles. While Peter departed before the creation of this album, Phil fills in vocally and does an incredibly nice job. To my ears, there is not a dramatic change in this diminished line-up, but it is obvious they've begun to turn towards a new direction. This is an excellent album and quite possibly the pinnacle of their career. The remastered version sounds really great. It is hard to imagine this was recorded in the seventies considering the production quality. The album contains Dance on the Volcano, Squonk, and the title track. These are some of the most daring Genesis songs and it is remarkable how they all reside on the same album. The remainder of songs provides a nice complexion to these highlights. If you haven't gotten the hint, this is my all-time favorite Genesis album.

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Track by Track Review
Dance On the Volcano
This piece has a lot of dark energy. You can feel the molten lava trickling its way down the mountain while the peasants pack hurriedly to get out of its path. There is time, but none is wasted. The mood swaps between the ominous and the optimistic. With the impending doom approaching, the caravan of uprooted settlers moves on. There is hope for the new day.
This is a lullaby calming a baby back to its nap. It is very relaxed. An acoustic guitar sits at the core. The vocals are mostly harmonies.
I first heard this song covered by Spock's Beard. While Spock's is great at covering songs, Genesis is the master of this song. It has a catchy beat. This is a real great example of multi-era Genesis influences. A taste of what was to come commercially, but in a progressive package. The melody is one that will keep your head nodding or your fingers tapping. The bridges are insightful.
Mad Mad Moon
A sad song, looking for answers, and just trying to understand. The words are delivered in a forgiving and accepting manner. On a few occasions, you can hear the guitar wailing in the background. The piano acknowledges every word of the story as it is told. The story gets gradually more cheery towards the end. While sonically different, the outline is similar to the sandwich technique used in Peter Gabriel's, "I Grieve." In the end it returns to bittersweet sadness.
Robbery, Assault and Battery
This would not be completely out of place in a Broadway show. I picture Michael Jackson and Diana Ross holding hands and dancing to the tune. At other times, the instrumentals feel like something that would accompany trapeze artists performing their daring stunts. This song is a good demonstration of the band trying to find their way mixing old styles with new ideas.
This track starts in the earliest form of early Genesis. After we are a ways into the piece, a chorus chimes in that is much like the ballads performed by Phil Collins in his solo work years later. It becomes obvious here what elements are provided by Phil and what the band as a whole influences.
A Trick of the Tail
While meshing nicely with the other pieces, it also displays the whimsical nature found on, "Selling England by the Pound." The players march together in rhythm. There are some interesting whistle-like sounds, which are elegantly placed.
Los Endos
It first starts with chimes, followed by tom toms. Then, the rest of the band backs the drums, which come center stage, before going full throttle into instrumental ecstasy. Phil is in top form here. This caps off the album with a stellar finish. Themes from the album reprise themselves. Even at the end, there are some nice chops portrayed in this exclusively instrumental closing. The credits to the movie are scrolling while you realize you have just listened to a wonderful masterpiece.
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