After vocalist and co-founder Peter Gabriel departed for a solo career, Genesis embarked on a long journey to find a replacement, only to wind back around to their drummer, Phil Collins, as a replacement. With Collins as their new frontman, the band decided not to pursue the stylish, jagged postmodernism of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway -- a move ...
After vocalist and co-founder Peter Gabriel departed for a solo career, Genesis embarked on a long journey to find a replacement, only to wind back around to their drummer, Phil Collins, as a replacement. With Collins as their new frontman, the band decided not to pursue the stylish, jagged postmodernism of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway -- a move that Gabriel would do in his solo career -- and instead returned to the English eccentricity of Selling England by the Pound for its next effort, A Trick of the Tail. In almost every respect, this feels like a truer sequel to Selling England by the Pound than Lamb; after all, that double album was obsessed with modernity and nightmare, whereas this album returns the group to the fanciful fairy tale nature of its earlier records. Also, Genesis were moving away from the barbed pop of the first LP and returning to elastic numbers that showcased their instrumental prowess, and they sounded more forceful and unified as a band than they had since Foxtrot. Not that this album is quite as memorable as Foxtrot or Selling England, largely because its songs aren't as immediate or memorable: apart from "Dance on a Volcano" this is about the sound of the band playing, not individual songs, and it succeeds on that level quite wildly -- to the extent that it proved to longtime fans that Genesis could possibly thrive without its former leader in tow. In 2007, timed to overlap the group's international reunion tour, Atlantic Records released a two-disc expanded version of A Trick of the Tail. The first platter is a CD containing a remix of the original album that sounds significantly cleaner and sharper than the original release (or any prior CD edition), but is also different in its balances and some of the instrumental content -- the new master of the album has far more directional and vivid sonic textures all the way through, but also some slight alterations in the sound and details of the music; most fans appreciate the new edition, although some find the remastering different enough to be distressing. The singing and all of the playing is presented in vastly sharper relief, but all of the material is better realized in this version. The second platter is a DVD, containing the new remastering in 24-bit playback, with a choice of either DTS Surround or Dolby Digital Stereo sound, which is even brighter and crisper than the CD; additionally, the disc comes with some significant bonus features -- interviews (from 2007) with Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, Phil Collins, and Steve Hackett about the creation and evolution of the album; a set of three promotional videos of songs from the album; and the Tony Maylam-directed performance film Genesis: A Band in Concert (1977). The latter film, made during the group's 1976 tour, shot in Panavision, and presented letterboxed (2.35-to-1) in crisp and bright sound, is worth the price of admission by itself; Genesis (augmented by Bill Bruford sharing the drum duties with Collins) go through a brace of numbers from A Trick of the Tail plus abridged but bracing concert renditions of "Supper's Ready" and "The Cinema Show" from their earlier history. They're in absolutely top form all the way through, most especially Phil Collins, who -- even at this early date -- slips into the lead singer role like it was a glove made for him. The 5.1 Surround audio version of the album will also prove a delight for those listeners able to access it, but even the stereo mix has a rich dimensionality -- the only question is whether the individual will appreciate the reshaping of the album's sound inherent in the remixing. The DVD also contains a video reproduction of a 1977-vintage program book by the band. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Bruce Eder, Rovi