Is it just me? Does anyone else feel that Genesis found a new power and aggressive direction with this album? Don’t get me wrong. I love the Gabriel years. Foxtrot and Selling England By the Pound are two of my favorite albums of all time. Trick of the Tail features much more of the powerful drumming and driving aspect of the band that perhaps was not featured as often on earlier records, not even the experimental and groundbreaking Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, although it kind of had its “genesis” there (ouch). I would even go as far as to say that this might be the album that gave Neo-Prog its roots.
It is clearly evident from the start with “Dance On A Volcano” that this is a new Genesis. It is powerful and lively in a way that we had not heard the band before. Much has been said about the way drummer Phil Collins had to take the reins of the vocal mike from former singer Peter Gabriel, but not enough has been said about how Collins took this opportunity to move his drumming in a direction heretofore unheard before this recording.
And then, as if to ease those who remember the acoustically driven sounds of the early years, they bring us “Entangled.” A lovely song written by guitarist Steve Hackett and keyboardist Tony Banks. “Squonk” another powerful cut, is driven by the forceful bass of Michael Rutherford and once again shows the newfound muscle of the band. It tells the story of the mythical creature that dissolves into tears when it is captured. “Mad Man Moon” is a tour de force for the talents of Banks, and is a lovely song with a piano interlude that is quite moving.
“Robbery, Assault and Battery” is Collins’ attempt to do one of Gabriel’s “character” style songs. It is maybe not quite as successful as Gabriel’s attempts, who had a massive flair for the dramatic, but it works well for the quartet that is now Genesis. The lamentful “Ripples” is quite beautiful, very romantic, and once again enters the English pastoral side that the band built its career on in its earlier albums.
A personal favorite of mine is the title track “Trick of the Tail.” I love the way it recalls other earlier humorous songs like “Harold the Barrel” and “Counting Out Time” with a cute story of a creature that leaves his comfortable otherworld and is astounded by what he finds in ours. It reveals something perhaps about our world and our reaction to something that’s different. They then pull it altogether with the oft-played instrumental closer “Los Endos” that musically runs through most of what has happened before on the disc and then some.
This is a step forward for Genesis, where they found a way to marry the experimental and powerful Lamb with the earlier sound in a new and forceful way. A mix of power and pastoral. To me there was no loss of momentum after the loss of what many felt was the leading force of the band. Although personal favorites still include Foxtrot and Selling England, this is the best example of the classic Genesis sound and would be the record I would play for someone who wanted to know what their pre-80s period sounded like.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on April 7th, 2011