And then they were four...
On February 2, 1976, "Genesis" released "A Trick of the Tail".
The album's story begins with a tour that accompanied the release of the double album "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway". In the middle of the tour, Peter Gabriel expressed his desire to leave the band. The message was received in complete shock by the other band members. Just as the band is on the rise and receiving appreciation from critics, precisely when it's at an advanced stage of its musical development, right after the double and most ambitious album, Gabriel announces that he is tired. He want's to retire and spend time with his family.
Gabriel was such a theatrical, magnetizing and charismatic character. He was the band's channel of communication with the audience and did this in such a great and unique way, that the other band members were confident that his departure would simply lead to the band to its end.
Immediately after touring and while confident that the band would no longer be playing together again, Steve Hackett began work on his first solo album "Voyage of the Acolyte". Hackett collaborated on this album with his "Genesis" friends, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford. At the same time, keyboardist Tony Banks began working on materials for what he thought was going to be his solo album. And so it seemed, that in the absence of Peter Gabriel, each of the members was going his own way.
But the four remaining members somehow knew that they had much more to give, creatively, as a band. And so, against all odds, in the middle of 1975 they decided to meet and start working on material for a new album. They started with the material Tony Banks wrote for what he thought would become his solo album.
During the work on the new materials, the band tried to find a new singer to replace Peter Gabriel. The four friends realized they needed a dominant and charismatic singer who would be able to get into Peter Gabriel's big shoes.
At that time, no announcement was made about Gabriel's departure and the band published an anonymous ad in the "Melody Maker" newspaper which read: "a singer for a Genesis-type group". In response, the band members received hundreds of requests for auditions and found themselves listening to about 400 recordings of singers who applied for the role.
The band managed to finished writing all the material for the album and began recording in October 1975, when there is still no singer to replace Gabriel. So many singers arrived at the studio to be auditioned, but no one was found suitable. At one point, the band members even considered releasing the album as an instrumental album.
Phil Collins was teaching the young singers the singing parts for the newly written material, and he often found himself demonstrating to them how to sing. At one point the other members realized that Collins was doing it much better than all the other candidates, and begged him to sing the lyrics himself. Eventually, Phil Collins was convinced and sang the song "Squonk". The performance was so good that the band members informed him right away that he is the one to step into Gabriel's shoes.
Collins was very reluctant about being at the forefront of the stage, but luckily following the pressure of his bandmates he was eventually persuaded to take the role. Thus, we won "Genesis" for years to come, with some amazing albums from one of the greatest bands in Progressive Rock. Phil Collins has proven that beyond being a very talented drummer, he also deserves to serve as the frontman of "Genesis".
This "Genesis" album does not fall short of the bands masterpiece from the early 1970s and if you need a stamp of approval for that, then even Peter Gabriel himself, who came to the studio at the time of the recordings said so himself.
The opening song "Dance on a Volcano" is perhaps the best opening song in all "Genesis" albums. What a blast of brakes and rhythm changes. The syncopations here just do not sound like anything else heard at the time. What an amazing and crazy C part. This is simply a school for Progressive Rock.
"Entangled" is one of the band's most beautiful songs ever. Phil Collins' singing is soft and the vocal harmonies are just chilling. Tony Banks' keyboard work here is just remarkable. An abundance of sounds that gradually evolves until they just flood the whole song with sheer bliss. The concluding section of this song is one of the greatest things "Genesis" has ever done. An excellent mix of vocals, harmonies, mellotron, 12-string guitar, frequent rhythm changes, and just one big sensory madness.
"Squonk" is as mentioned the first song that Phil Collins performed in the studio. This is just unbelievable since Collins just nails it and certainly proved that he is a soloist who is able to hold a full song like the best vocalists. This song was meant to sound like a combination of "Kashmir" and "When The Levee Breaks", by "Led Zeppelin". This is one of the favorite songs by Phil Collins, who noted that while the song may not sound quite like "Zeppelin", this was the initial intention to mimic John Bonham's hi-hat and Jimmy Page's heavy chords. Such a cool groove in this song ha. Tony Banks' brilliant work with the keyboard toward the end are just mind-blowing. So much beauty and class are compressed in such a short time.
The song that seals the first side of the vinyl "Mad Man Moon" starts melancholic, magical, and soft and develops into something that sounds more classic. As soon as the drums go in along with the melody in Phil Collins' voice and Steve Hackett's howling guitar in the background, the music just sends chills through our spine...
The second side of the vinyl opens up with "Robbery, Assault and Battery", written by Tony Banks in an attempt to mimic the humor in some of Gabriel's songs. Collins who co-wrote the song also tried to sound like the theatrical Gabriel, who used to come in and out of characters, while performing the band's songs on stage. Phil Collins said he chose to enter the character he played as a child in the musical Oliver!. It's one of the band's most unique songs featuring simple psychic key work, some of Tony Banks' bests, great Phil Collins drumming and vocals, and a brilliant bridge.
"Ripples" was initially written as a song for Collins to sing, just as "More Fool Me" from the album "Selling England By The Pound". The song opens as a folk ballad with 12-string guitar by Mike Rutherford. The drums only come in during the second chorus and then the song becomes more classical, with one of Steve Hackett's beautiful solos on the album, using the mesmerizing and so unique "Backward Guitar" effect.
The theme song "A Trick Of The Tail" was written by Tony Banks years before the record was released, in 1972. It was originally intended for "Foxtrot". The lyrics were inspired by a 1955 book by William Golding called "The Inheritors". It's probably the band's attempt to be more radio-friendly, with a slightly "poppy" and bouncy rhythm. Indeed it was also the band's first song to have a video clip. designed to promote it and the album.
The concluding section "Los Endos" is simply a grandiose and ambitious Prog demonstration and one big musical celebration. The song was written by the entire band as Phil Collins writes the basic rhythmic structure, inspired by his work with the jazz fusion band "Brand X". The track features a number of transitions and rhythm changes, with references to the songs "Dance on a Volcano" and "Squonk. It also includes a beautiful and touching tribute to Peter Gabriel, with Collins singing a few lines from the song "Supper's Ready" during the fade out.
"A" Trick of the Tail" was a great success and received rave reviews. Not only has the band proved that they are capable of surviving after the departure of Peter Gabriel, but they have also shown that they are capable of producing an album that does not fall short of their major albums, with an up-to-date and upgraded sound and with high-level of musicianship and musical material.
Phil Collins also proved to be an amazing talent. By no doubt, he passed the test in the studio. Now all he had to do is pass it in front of an audience as well, and he will do it with great success, but that is already a story for another review.