RETRO-Review!!! Tony Banks: A Curious Feeling - (CD, 54:22) Caroline Records CAROL 1823-2, 1979 Contact Information Unavailable CREDITS Kim Beacon: Vocals Chester Thompson: Drums & Percussion Tony Banks: Keyboards, Guitars, Basses, & Percussion TRACKLIST 1. From the Undertow (2:46) 2. Lucky Me (4:26) 3. The Lie (4:58) 4. After the Lie (4:49) 5. A Curious Feeling (3:58) 6. Forever Morning (6:02) 7. You (6:28) 8. Somebody Else's Dream (7:50) 9. The Waters of Lethe (6:31) 10. For a While (3:38) 11. In the Dark (2:56) Throughout the history of the massively popular and sometime progressive band Genesis fans have forever been arguing which band member has had the most influence regarding the direction of the group. There are some who fall into the Peter Gabriel camp, citing his stage theatrics and masterpiece Lamb Lies Down on Broadway as proof that he was indeed the major artistic force behind early Genesis. Others still state that while Gabriel's early Genesis was all fine and good, it was drummer/singer Phil Collins who pushed the band to recognize its full potential and gave them world-wide superstar status. Both sides of the argument have their good points and their bad points, but the bottom line is this... both sides of the argument are wrong. The true major artistic force behind the entire band's history has been the camera-shy and socially awkward keyboardist, Tony Banks. And it only takes one listen to Banks' solo masterpiece A Curious Feeling to confirm this fact. In brief, A Curious Feeling is a concept album that chronicles the life of a man who tempts fate one too many times, and pays for his audacity by conciously losing his memory and going mad. The album's lyrics are written from this man's point-of-view, and illustrate very disturbingly what it must be like to feel one's mind deteriorating and one's memories slipping away. Everything from the cover art (a painting called "Wuluwait: The Boatman of the Dead"), to the distubring piano chord that opens the album lends itself to the morbid and macabre emotions that this album exudes. The words to the songs are masterfully written and read just as well as a stand-alone story as song lyrics. Where Genesis' concept album Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was overly-enigmatic and often too clever for its own good, Banks' A Curious Feeling takes a simple story and just bathes it in musical and lyrical emotions. Lamb is an album for the head... A Curious Feeling speaks directly to the heart and the soul. Kim Beacon does an servicable job with the vocals, and Chester Thompson (from Weather Report) is noticably under-utilized on the drumkit, but there's simply no doubt who the star of the show is on this album. Tony Banks not only offers his trademarked lush and layered keyboard sound, but also handles all the guitar duties as well. His knack for knowing exactly which chords invoke the proper emotional response from the listener are especially apparent on "After the Lie" and the beautiful instrumentals "Forever Morning" and "The Waters of Lethe". But the true masterpiece of A Curious Feeling lies in the seventh track, "You". The song is the story of the protagonist's suddenly falling in love with a childhood friend, an action that marks the beginning of his descent into dementia. The lyrics of "You" are perhaps the most beautiful profession/explanation of falling in love I've ever read, and the melodies eminating from Tony's 12-string guitars and keyboards are nothing short of radiant. Then half-way through the song, Banks suddenly shifts gears and launches into a series Emerson-esque keyboard runs that will leave no doubt in your mind as to whether Banks can speed his way up and down a keyboard. Simply put, this song embodies and surpasses everything that is good about Genesis. I simply have nothing at all negative to say about A Curious Feeling. Everything about it - the composition, the instrumentation, the concept, the lyrics - is as close to perfection as I've heard on a progressive album. Sure, there's better guitar players out there than Banks, but I dare say that none of them could've captured the type of raw emotion that was needed to bring this effort to its full potnential. A Curious Feeling marks the career pinnacle of the most talent keyboard player and composer to ever grace the progressive scene. Do yourself a favor and do whatever is necessary to track down and purchase a copy of this masterpiece. - Michael Askounes
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