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Eclectic Earwig Reviews


Tony Banks: A Curious Feeling - (CD, 54:22)
Caroline Records CAROL 1823-2, 1979
Contact Information Unavailable

Kim Beacon: Vocals
Chester Thompson: Drums & Percussion
Tony Banks: Keyboards, Guitars, Basses, & Percussion


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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