GENESIS – A Trick of the Tail (1976)

Review by: Eric Pember
Album assigned by: Ifran Hidayatullah

People tend to assume that Genesis went straight into pop after Peter Gabriel left. That assertion is quite incorrect. In fact, for this album and the next few, most of the songwriting credits still went to Banks and Rutherford.

That would lead to bad results on the next few albums, but worked out well on this one. In fact, one could easily argue that this, not Lamb, was the culmination of Genesis’s steady improvement in quality.

From Genesis To Revelation was pretty great, but they had a pretty tricky time becoming an actual prog band. It could be argued that they only fully managed it on Selling England By The Pound, in fact.

On this album, they do a good job of keeping even the story-based songs like “Squonk” musically interesting in a way that Gabriel-era Genesis often struggled with. The album overall is more low-key than Gabriel-era Genesis, but to its benefit, because it allows them to tighten the songwriting. They were already working on this on Selling England and Lamb Lies, but both of them still suffer from their second halves being fairly aimless. 

“Mad Man Moon” and “Robbery, Assault And Battery” still kinda suffer from the aimlessness, but the rest of the tracks are perfectly composed. In fact, “Los Endos” does what was previously unthinkable for the band and makes a complete instrumental sound sonically interesting.

The only real flaws on the album are the slight aimlessness of those two aforementioned tracks, and the near-complete lack of Steve Hackett on the album (save for some soloing on “Ripples”). However, even Gabriel-era Genesis dramatically underused him, so it’s of no surprise that continues here.

My favourite track on this album is “A Trick of the Tail”, which positioned on the album like it was, almost comes off as a farewell to “Classic Genesis”. By the time they were able to write good songs again, they would already be well within their pop phase. The pop phase, of course, has its own charms, but this is not the place for me to talk about them. 

Author: tomymostalas


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