Friday, February 26, 2016

Review: "A Curious Feeling" & "The Fugitive" Expanded Editions - Tony Banks

by David Spencer,

In the recent Genesis documentary Together and Apart, Tony Banks was perhaps the one that sounded the most bitter about the external activities of those current and former members. Asked about Phil Collins' career he told the film that “We wanted him to do well. But you didn’t want him to do that well! Not initially......he was ubiquitous for about 15 years. You couldn’t get away from him. Nightmare.” While many people may agree about the inescapable success of Collins in the mid-eighties to mid-nineties, Banks' quote comes across as envious at best and spiteful at worse.

The reason for his, only half-joking, bitterness may come from the fact that out of all the members of Genesis over the years he has the most meagre returns from solo outings. Here then is a chance to revisit his first two albums away from the band, the first of which was released in 1979. To underline the prog-rock background, A Curious Feeling was inspired by the novel Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. At the time it was not received well, coming at a time when punk had its boot firmly in the groin of progressive rock. But time has been kind to A Curious Feeling, with its keyboard washes carrying the aroma of 1979 but in a good way. The vocals from Kim Beacon on the likes of Somebody Else's Dream also sound strong and the more indulgent tracks avoid becoming over bloated. Still delightful is the instrumental The Waters Of Lethe.

Four years later Banks released The Fugitive and decided to take on the lead vocals himself, which gives the album a more intriguing feel. For perhaps the quietest member of Genesis, this was a bid to get some solo identity and The Fugitive is loaded with shorter and more commercial material than its predecessor but, unlike the twee and experimental feel of A Curious Feeling, most of the tracks here sound far too much of their time. And The Wheels Keep Turning, a minor hit single, stands up OK but the likes of At The Edge Of Night and the China Crisis-like Moving Under try far too hard.

Both albums have been remastered by Banks himself and Nick Davis and both also include extra material and videos. If listening to singles released from 1979 and 1983 doesn't transport you back to a very different age, then watching the videos for the likes of For A While and This Is Love certainly will!