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Bank's is no extrovert in the vein of Wakeman or Emerson, and has no pretensions of being either of them. It is ironic that this album is on the Charisma label, since, certainly as far as his stage presence is concerned, that's something he does not have. His keyboard playing on Genesis albums is generally understated, with a few obvious exceptions such as the magnificent "Cinema show" where allows himself a little slack, and comes up with a virtuoso performance.
Keyboards are always there it is true, but they by no means dominate the album. Banks prefers to offer the layers of sound on which his fellow musicians can place the main performances.
The vocals by Kim Beacon, one time of the highly under-rated String Driven Thing are superb, giving an album which might otherwise have sounded similar to Genesis, a very different although hardly "curious" feeling. A more accurate reference point might be the comparatively recent "Calling all stations" album, where Ray Wilson took on vocal duties.
There are some touches of supreme melody on the album such as "For a While" and "After the lie", the latter seeing Banks letting loose the reins for a magical burst of synthesiser. The pace is generally relaxed, almost ambient at times, but with the occasional release of energy. In all a fine album, well worth seeking out. This work is recommended, without thinking of its artistic value too much For every fiery instrumental section e.
But nothing on here approaches the level of a "Cul-de-Sac" or "Burning Rope", while "Forever Morning" turns out to be an aisle of plenty of nuthin'. Chester Thompson, who had supported GENESIS on their last big tour, could have offset the music's softness with intricate rhythms had he been more engaged in this project; as it is, he's often in the background or out of the picture altogether. This first solo album gave us a glimpse as to who was responsible for the undercurrent behind the music of GENESIS, but the man obviously did not intend to make another G album.
It can nevertheless be very moving if your musical antennaes can pick up the thread. Like the undertow pardon the pun , this music weaves its way deep into your soul and speaks to you in powerful, almost subconscious ways. Had the recording techniques of the 70's been any sharper and the vocalist totally absent, I would gladly have given this album 4 stars I reserve my 5 stars for truly exceptional albums. This being said, I'll drown in this music any day, any time of day.
No doubt the instrumental pieces are the best, but Beacon's voice gives it too much of a pop feel. In fact, a lot of the album, unsurprisingly, reminds me of "Duke", thanks to the presence of the Yamaha CP electric grand piano.
The beginning of the album has the main character introducing himself as a simple, working man, living alone and whiling away his time in a mundane job that he nevertheless enjoys. He explains that he can only remember his life up until 6 or 7 years into the past, and that he has accepted he has forgotten who he might have been; he is actually content with who he is, the fact he isn't troubled by the complexities of life, and pleased that people leave him to his own devices.
Quickly, in the next track the album moves into a flashback of thirty years previous. Our character as a young boy is playing alone, and one of his favourite games is to make mental bets on the outcome of random events - in this case, a rabbit is running by, and he thinks 'if the rabbit darts into the burrow up ahead, then I'll be fine The rabbit does indeed run on by, but of course As time goes on, the child continues his little habitual wagers, until one day 'Fate' finds one of them interesting.
The boy thinks to himself 'if I never fall for a lady, then let me be famous, let me be wise'. And so it was that 'Fate' stepped in and met this challenge, binding the boy to his gamble. Very soon, the boy's life begins to change.
He no longer plays his little games. He feels the world opening up before him Through his new found awareness, he also begins to take notice of a girl he grew up with but had never gotten to know properly. As time goes on, his mental exuberance continues, and he gets closer to the girl The 'curious feeling' is the sense that, slowly, even at the peak of his life, his vision of who he was was starting to grow dim at the edges.
Eventually, in tandem with the declaration of his love for the girl he barely knew in childhood the beautiful track, 'You' his curse kicks in, and the walls come crashing down around him, losing his sense of self 'Somebody Else's Dream'. Soothed by the tide of forgetfulness 'The Waters Of Lethe' , he sadly comes to accept his fate, fondly remembering his former glory one last time, and looking ahead to a future where neither he nor anyone else will know who he was - the future we already know from the opening of the album.
The final track is achingly sad, as the man pleas that those who know his story never tell him Musically, the album benefits from solid sounds throughout - Banks' classic layered pianos and keyboards of the time feature in every track, making this very much an album of one style, fitting the idea that this is a continuing tale spread over each composition.
The subtleties therefore come through in the melody and tempo shifts, an area where Banks reigns supreme, rather than a variety of instrumentation. Kim Beacon's vocals are skilled, efficient, but decidedly 'regular' - personally I think he was perfect for this album, an enchanting tale told by a normal man. Musicly speaking, the album is also good, but with few highlights, except for the usual great keyboards runs, but even they are not very used here. Banks plays all the bass and guitars parts, which he does well, but a little more care for the arrangements would make it better.
Kim Beacon does a good job singing with passion and conviction. Nothing special but he does it well. Conclusion: a very good debut, no doubt. But actually, coming from a musical genius like Tony Banks, very good is way below expectations.
True to where his head was at in '79, Tony starts off with "From the Undertow," an instrumental that's a lot like what his band Genesis was doing on "And Then There Were Three. The song is a bit contemporary in tone and has a flowing melody but it never seems to reach a peak. The bridge belies a definite Elton John influence and the musical build-up toward the end is excellent. His considerable talent could lend some much-needed excitement to the proceedings. Here our hero sings of seeing things "in a different light" but what that means exactly is rather vague.
The musical interlude in the middle is pleasurable but once again Tony makes me wait until the tail end before things get interesting. A boring pop song that says not to listen to anybody who says they know anything, it goes absolutely nowhere.
Another fine instrumental, "Forever Morning" comes along in the nick of time to resuscitate the gasping momentum. It's all Tony on this one and it's a well-thought-out piece tastefully arranged.
Not spectacular, mind you, but imaginative all the same. However, it points out something that is becoming obvious about the album and that's Banks' tunnel vision regarding keyboard sounds. They are redundant. At the end of this tune he ascends to a Gershwin-like crescendo where banging on a big ol' Steinway would have been perfect but he stays with the electric, synthesized piano and it fails to climax.
A missed opportunity if there ever was one. Yet I can't help but think back on Banks' incredible piano playing on Genesis' "The Firth of Fifth" and wonder why he avoids the simple elegance of the acoustic keyboard on this effort. The whole album cries out for some tonal variety but Tony and his producer aren't listening. It's a quaint little tune and one of the highlights of the record. That being said, this is still a better album by far than Patrick Moraz's pitiful "The Story of I" and some of Rick Wakeman's less-than-stellar solo efforts.
Others may find it much more entertaining and fulfilling than I do, but for me it's always felt like a one-night stand that just never went any further. In fact there are many good tracks featured in this album.
The next track "Lucky Me" is mellow and ambient music with Genesis-like rhythm section. The similar music style happens also in the next track "The Lie" in a floating keyboard-drenched music which accompanies Kim Beacon's vocal. The music is again similar to what Genesis has written but the soul is different, it's too ambient - probably.
The title track tries to bring the music happier with its upbeat tempo. I most parts the song share similar style with Genesis "And Then There Were Three" or even "Duke" which was released after this solo album. Overall, it's a good solo album from one of Genesis' composers. The music is relatively easy to digest and for those who love Genesis might enjoy Tony Banks' keyboard style in the same vein with Genesis albums. For those Genesis lovers, I believe the track titled "You" would definitely consider this as a stand-out track.
The keyboard solo is really stunning. Keep on proggin'..! Kim Beacon's voice takes a bit getting used to. Beacon doesn't have a very good range, so his skills seem limited to me. But after repeated listens, his voice grows on me. Musically, this is an excellent work. Banks provides us with many solos and atmospheres of lush synths. The music is most comparable with Genesis' Wind and Wuthering album. However it is important, like other reviewers have mentioned, to not think of this as a Genesis album.
If you do, you might find it disappointing the first few listens because it is a bit of a departure. Highly recommended for Genesis and symphonic prog fans. An excellent addition to a prog rock collection.
Four stars. The music is synth driven, with strong and generally memorable vocal lines. And Then There Were Three. Most songs are with vocals but there are a couple of instrumental tracks here too.
I think A Curious Feeling is a good album and I will rate it 3 stars. If you like I think it is completely wrong to blame Collins for this as all past members of Genesis did something commercial at some point along the line; Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel all had big radio hits and Anthony Phillips, Steve Hackett and Tony Banks tried the Pop formula at some point in their careers.
I think that Rutherford and Banks were as much responsible for the direction of Genesis in the 80's as Collins was. Indeed, I think that Banks was most responsible. This solo Banks album is not exactly commercial, but it is surely far away from what we could expect from the keyboard player in one of the major progressive rock bands of the 70's.
We launch into an instrumental prelude. The remaster makes the intro sound even bigger and more bombastic. Lucky Me sounds familiar in its pop character. Kim Beacon's vocals sound good. The guitar accompaniment and the keys in the background can finally both be heard clearly on the remaster.
The Lie. Onwards to the opus magnum on the album. Here is where you will really notice how much the drum sound has improved. The rhythmic The Lie segues to the highpoint of the album,. After The Lie. Dramatic tension, structure and particularly the keyboard solo are absolutely on a par with some of Genesis' best output. Chester Thompson's drumming is the best during this song, and the new mix finally recognizes that. A Curious Feeling. This light-footed pop song lifts your spirits, as opposed to the other rather melancholy pieces on the CD.
The new mix leaves room for the bass and brings out effects one would hardly notice before. Forever Morning. The new version does not change that. A lovely, balladesque song turns very cleverly into a prog inferno. The keyboard solo may be a bit long and not quite as to the point as in After The Lie , but the song then moves on into The Waters Of Lethe.
For A While. All parts can be heard more clearly in the new version. In The Dark. The album ends with what is probably the most intimate and fragile piece. A thoughtful finale to an exciting work by an artist who would never get the attention he deserved as a solo artist beside his immensely successful main band.
The remastered version of the album is a transparent audio experience that will bring tears to your eyes of the fans and also offers the perfect start into the Tony Banks solo universe.
The remaster is available in a deluxe edition with the 5. Both come with a cardboard sleeve that shows a detail of the cover. Like it or not. So the original version of Tony Banks' debut album is something I am not familiar with. I own the record, but I do not think I have listened to it more than three times in as many decades. There will be few comparisons, but maybe an unbiased view helps with the review.
The First Cut - The Reggaes Featuring Marcia Griffiths - The Reggaes Featuring Marcia Griffiths (Vin, Nerveline - Anesthesia (CD, Album), Forces Of Rage - Iron Savior - Unification (CD, Album), Everything You Do, Poky Beat - Various - FTR Hits Compilation (File, MP3), La Pianola Degli Innamorati, Ive Told Evry Little Star - Cannonball Adderley - Takes Charge (CD, Album), Love & Tears - Maggies Dream - Love & Tears (Vinyl), Good Feelin (Antoine Clamaran Remix) - DJ Flex Featuring Ken Norris - Good Feelin (CD), Letter To My Love - Jeff & Vida - Selma Chalk (CD, Album), Concerto IX In F Major - Corelli*, Marriner*, The Academy Of St. Martin-in-the-Fields - Concerti Gro, Man For Me (Italian Version) - Ennio Morricone - Bruno Nicolai - Ok Connery (Original Soundtrack) - Gente Corriente