Top positive review
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Genesis' finest moment
on 3 March 2014
Following the departure of Peter Gabriel in 1975 many thought Genesis would disappear, like The Doors without Jim Morrison. Fortunately Phil Collins (eventually, after auditioning scores of potential Gabriel replacements) stepped up to the mike from behind the drum kit and the resultant 1976 `A Trick of the Tail' is for many fans Genesis' career high-point and best-ever album.
ATotT is richly textured and musically complex in that manner unique to 1970s-Genesis: lovely warm production, great hooks pulling together interesting musical ideas full of key changes and tempo-shifts, with lyrics still quirky enough to be recognisably `Gabriel-esque'. Collins even manages to sound like Gabriel most of the time, perhaps because the music resembles that of the Gabriel-era so strongly, especially the best moments of `Selling England by the Pound'. The album is almost perfect with some catchy sing-along tunes, light and shade, tight arrangements. Quieter reflective numbers like `Entangled', `Mad Man Moon' and `Ripples' alternate with the full-on rhythmic-orchestral Genesis sound best exemplified by `Squonk', my personal all-time favourite Genesis track.
Banks, Rutherford, Collins and Hackett are a formidable quartet, and only with the departure of Hackett after the follow-up collection `Wind and Wuthering' did the pruned-down trio begin to slide into top-20 style music with wider fan-appeal. One might paraphrase Winston Churchill and say that if Genesis music lasts for a thousand years, this was their finest hour.
If you order the album now (either as a download or CD) the default version is the 2008 `remix' which many fans seem to like but which I find, well, just OK. For me the vocals are too far down in the mix and the music lacks the depth of the original 1976 vinyl, especially the bass which sounds flat even though the volume levels of all instruments (excepting the vocals) have been made `louder'. Much better is the 1994 mix (ASIN: B000024EXM) which is rich and satisfying with genuine quiet dynamics in the quieter songs and louder in the loud parts. You can tell you've got the 1994 mix because the track listing on the back of the CD case are printed in a white box, rather than just on the beige-yellow sleeve: this for me is the best-ever release of Genesis' best-ever album.
The follow-up of the short-lived Genesis foursome containing Steve Hackett `Wind and Wuthering' is good, but does not eclipse the perfection of ATotT.