Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories

1976 – Part 4.8: Genesis – A Trick Of The Tail

It’s their seventh studio album, released in February 1976 on Charisma Records. But Genesis didn’t exist for me until the 80s version of the band had mainstream success at the same time that Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel had super successful solo careers.

Who hasn’t played air drums to “In The Air Tonight”?

This album was the first to feature then drummer Phil Collins as the lead vocalist following Peter Gabriel’s departure in late 1974, midway through the tour for the album “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”. Management and Gabriel’s bandmates wanted him to stay. It was more of a business decision as they were in debt to their label and his departure could jeopardise their chances at getting funding for future recordings.

Following the end of the tour, guitarist Steve Hackett recorded a solo album, “Voyage of the Acolyte”. And the other members weren’t sure if the band would continue. But they reconvened in July 1975.

While some members contemplated calling it quits, keyboardist Tony Banks had other ideas. He took the songs he had written for a possible solo project and decided they should be used on the new Genesis album. They started writing for a new album, however without a lead singer. An anonymous ad in the music paper Melody Maker for a “Genesis type singer” received 400 plus replies. But nothing came of it and they entered the studio without any idea as to who would sing the songs on the album.

Eventually, Collins was persuaded to sing “Squonk”. The performance was so strong, that the lead singer position in the band was put to bed, with Collins singing lead on the rest of the of the album.

Phil Collins is on drums, percussion, lead and backing vocals. Steve Hackett is on all things guitar related. Mike Rutherford is on bass guitar and Tony Banks is on all things keys related.

Dance On A Volcano

Written by the band.

I like the intro, a fusion of rock and blues and it’s a touch progressive as it moves between the verse and chorus. It was also the first song written for the album.

Entangled

Written by Hackett and Banks.

It’s got this chord in the song, in which they play the G# as the root note on the low E string, and an then an F# and A# on the 4th and 3rd strings with the open B and open E strings ringing out.

The first time I heard a chord like that was in the song “Another Day” from Dream Theater on their 1992 “Images and Words” album, but then when I started to go back and listen to the influences of Dream Theater, I started to hear that chord in the music of Rush and then Genesis, to name a few.

Squonk

Written by Rutherford and Banks.

I like the music feel on this. It was pretty obvious the band was trying hard to write their own “Kashmir”.

Lyrically it is based on the North American tale of the Squonk which, when captured, dissolves in a pool of tears.

Mad Man Moon

Written by Banks, it sounds like it could be interchanged with an ELP album. Its indulgent with the piano and if that is your thing, then this song is perfect for you.

Robbery, Assault and Battery

It’s like a theatre song, mostly written by Banks, while Collins, who also contributed to the writing, sang the song in character, inspired by his earlier role as the “Artful Dodger” in “Oliver!” before he became a professional musician.

If you like theatre music, then you will like this song.

Ripples…

It’s a combination of a 12-string guitar piece composed by Rutherford and a piano-led middle section written by Banks. “Tears” from Rush comes to mind, which is more superior.

A Trick of the Tail

Written by Banks it’s the best song on the record. It took form as a song many years before the band recorded it.

He was inspired from reading the novel “The Inheritors” by William Golding and “Getting Better” by the Beatles, and wrote about an alien visiting Earth. The pop rock of what Genesis would become in the 80’s is all here, albeit a bit more quirky than the 80’s polish.

Los Endos

The closer written by the band. It pays homage to the progressive past of Genesis while bringing in enough influences of where the band would go in the later years.

Collins came up with the basic rhythmic structure, inspired by his work in the side project Brand X and the song “Promise of a Fisherman” by Santana.

Banks and Hackett wrote the main themes, including reprises of “Dance on a Volcano” and “Squonk”, and Collins sang a few lines from “Supper’s Ready” (from the 1972 album “Foxtrot”) on the fade-out, as a tribute to Gabriel. The opening piece was actually recorded for a completely different song called “It’s Yourself”, which was later released as a B-side.

The track became a live favourite, and it continued to be played throughout.

Post album release, the group went out on tour with Collins as the front man and Bill Bruford as the additional drummer, and the resulting performances in the US raised Genesis’ profile there.

Chart wise, it charted high in both the U.S and U.K markets.

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8 thoughts on “1976 – Part 4.8: Genesis – A Trick Of The Tail

  1. I need to go through and give their 70s output a spin. I didn’t have the patience for it when I was younger but I could probably hack it now. I’m only familiar with the obvious stuff everyone else knows.

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