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Articles Home » 1976 Articles » Genesis - 1976 A Trick Of The Tail
Genesis - 1976 A Trick Of The Tail

ARTIST: Genesis
ALBUM: A Trick Of The Tail
LABEL: Charisma
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: Click to see reissue list..


LINEUP: Phil Collins - vocals, drums * Steve Hackett - guitar * Mike Rutherford - bass, guitar * Tony Banks - piano, synthesizers

TRACK LISTING: 01 Dance On A Volcano * 02 Entangled * 03 Squonk * 04 Mad Man Moon * 05 Robbery, Assault And Battery * 06 Ripples * 07 A Trick Of The Tail * 08 Los Endos


For a band as beloved as Genesis in the prog rock ranks they're surprisingly underrepresented here at Glory Daze. I'll be honest, the Peter Gabriel era version of the band is one I've never had a fondness for and to this day I've never listened to a whole album of that incarnation's famed repertoire. 'A Trick Of The Tail' is the first Genesis album I was exposed to some two decades back and this may have something to do with my fondness for the Phil Collins lineups. This was Collins' first album as vocalist of course following Gabriel's departure, the band having auditioned other singers but deciding Collins was indeed the best fit. Apparently the critics of the day weren't expecting Genesis to thrive with this change, but the result was their best album to that point and certainly one of their finest of a long career. It was a perfect melding of their traditional prog leanings with a more commercial approach that would end up being a trademark of their later years, dominated by the ubiquitous Collins.

The Songs
There's an airy, dreamlike quality to the album, which sometimes veers towards fusion, no doubt influenced by Collins' stint with Brand X. It's easily heard on 'Dance On A Volcano' which no doubt was a relief to fans worldwide, with a superb sense of melody and the keyboards vying for attention everywhere. It's not overly complex either, an instant upgrade from the albums before it. 'Entangled' concerns the horrors of a mental hospital according to Banks and the music perfectly evokes such a depressing vibe, largely acoustic and very wistful, with images of quaint meadows and rolling hills more the norm. 'Squonk' is a straight ahead rock track, very modern for 1976 by Genesis standards, with Collins a natural at the vocal helm. I can hear shades of the 80's version of the band here, although very much in its infancy. 'Mad Man Moon' is a sweeping seven minute epic, taking in some progressive tangents, mostly on the keyboard side, interspersed with some jazzier sections. Whether the track concerns Keith Moon I cannot disclose.

Collins plays some kind of Cockney rogue on 'Robbery, Assault and Battery' which works under the guise of a novelty track of sorts given Collins' vocal affectations. The keyboard breakdown provides the bulk of the track once again, providing the prog elements the band was renowned for. The promise of this lineup is indicated by the stunning 'Ripples' which remains one of the best ballads the band ever wrote. This could have come from any decade, such is the timeless nature of the chorus. It's the longest track at eight minutes, with varying shades of instrumentation, again mostly on the keyboard side. The title track is almost short at four minutes and there's a Beatles tinge to this one initially, but once the chorus takes hold it could almost be America or Steely Dan, showing the increasing variation to Genesis' overall approach. The all instrumental 'Los Endos' repeats musical themes heard throughout the album, but with the addition of an intense jazz fusion meltdown as the main thrust, especially Collins' thumping of the drum kit.

In Summary
Over time this has emerged as one of the bands most popular albums and with good reason. There isn't a track easily skipped and the new identity of the band was clearly one they were happy with, for a while at least. The enthusiastic response to the album and tour was validation for continuing with Collins on vocals and 1977's 'Wind And Wuthering' was almost as accomplished, if more challenging musically to come to terms with.

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#1 | Explorer on December 01 2015 13:19:11
Better than anyone expected after Gabriel`s departure, this and Wind and Wuthering are wonderful, and also to a slightly lesser extent is the much (unfairly) maligned ...and then there were three....nice review.
#2 | Nick C on December 02 2015 00:21:57
Maybe my fave Genesis album, I didn't really venture beyond Wind and Wuthering studio album wise. It holds a lot of memories for me this album especially Mad Man Moon. I remember pouring over the sleeve many times at my mates parties as he always dragged the album out at some point. So much so that although I have the CD when I chanced on the vinyl about a year or two ago I had to snap it up just to have that vinyl feel.
#3 | gdazegod on December 02 2015 00:36:16
'Then There Were Three' might be on the cards.. hmm..
#4 | Eric on December 02 2015 12:09:00
I went through two vinyl copies of this album before the jump to CD. One of my favorite albums of all time.
#5 | Jez on December 02 2015 15:02:44
Love this album along with 'Wind And Wuthering', but my all time fave Genesis is still '...And Then there Were Three
#6 | Explorer on December 02 2015 17:02:05
It's worth tracking down the CD/SACD/DVD versions of the Genesis albums, 5.1 mixes and also band interviews that knock spots of the recent documentary.
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