Sunday, 8 December 2013

The Archivist: Genesis - A Trick Of The Tail

Being a Son Of Prog, I have always had a soft spot for Genesis. The early albums featuring Peter Gabriel on vocals are the stuff of legend amongst the Prog Rock fans. The classic Supper's Ready from the Foxtrot album has been voted the best Prog Rock song of all time.
Although I enjoyed these earlier albums with Gabriel's literary flights of fancy, they never really grabbed my attention like YES did from the early 1970s. I was a fan enough to know that back in 1975, Gabriel leaving Genesis was a big deal.
Genesis had to make the decision whether to call it a day as a band or get a new vocalist and carry on. The band allegedly auditioned over 400 vocalists to fill the post left vacant by Gabriel. During this time, the band were recording songs that would eventually be released as A Trick of The Tail.

But as time went on, it became increasingly apparent that Phil Collins should take over from Gabriel as the demos sounded so good. Indeed, Phil Collins had been singing backing (and some lead) vocals ever since he joined the band, so the songs did have a familiarity in sound.
Released from the confines of some of Peter Gabriel's more obtuse lyrical outings, the songs of A Trick Of The Tail sounded more focused and vibrant. How often has a band come through the departure of a major player and come out of the other end sounding more dynamic and invigorated? The nature of the songs was also adapted, with some shorter songs that could even be released as singles.
So on 2nd February 1976, A Trick of The Tail was released to an awaiting public. It was a huge success for the band. 
A sell out tour quickly followed and the band would never look back. Indeed, they went on to huge success on a global scale.
Some of the songs were intricate, delicate and beautiful while others had power and intensity.
In 2007, they rereleased the album on CD with a selection of DVD jewels such as the one below where the band talk about the making of the album.
For me, it wasn't the departure of Peter Gabriel that changed the music of the band but the departure of Steve Hackett following the next album, Wind And Wuthering. With him went the delicacy of the music. Yes, they went on to the huge financial rewards of being the biggest band in the world but they also lost a piece of their soul.
But Steve is also the keeper of the flame and with his Genesis Revisited projects has continued to perform the songs that every Genesis fan wants to hear. His 2013 tour was a sell out and was truly astonishing. And I'm looking forward to seeing it all over again with a new tour in October 2013.
Twitter - @HackettOfficial


  1. I still prefer Genesis with Gabriel but this was a fine album Nick; rendering Peter's departure a mere blip in their upward arc of commercial success.

  2. I thought you'd prefer Gabriel's more literary approach. I prefer Peter solo. His first solo album really set the tone. Everybody expected a fantasy celebration but it was downbeat and introspective. I bet you must have loved it :) but for me Trick & Wind And Wuthering were Genesis at their peak.

  3. I loved that first Gabriel album.
    I used to play squash with a guy, Mike Gibbs, who was a well known trombonist and jazz band leader. We played for a couple of years before he revealed that he arranged the strings for 'Here Comes the Flood'.

  4. 'Ripples' is one of my all-time favourite Genesis tracks. Great article.