[Review] Genesis: A Trick of the Tail (1976)

A little sleight of hand as Collins replaces Gabriel, but there’s still plenty of magic left.

Kronomyth 8.0: Tales of fourtune.

The departure of Peter Gabriel for greener hills left Genesis in disarray for more than a year as they sought a suitable replacement. Turned out the best man for the job was already suited up, and Phil Collins was thrust into the spotlight as the new lead singer for Genesis. (That Collins was still the de facto drummer for Genesis would present some logistical challenges on stage for the rest of their careers.) Collins doesn’t relish the role of lead vocalist as Gabriel did, though he does some appreciable playacting in Tony Banks’ “Robbery, Assault & Battery.”

The real story of course isn’t how much the band had changed, but how much had stayed the same: the towering and sometimes terrifying arrangements (“Dance on a Volcano”), pastoral passages (“Ripples”) and wonderful melodies couched in highly inventive arrangements (“Trick of the Tail”) all point back to Selling England. And yet a Steve Hackett solo album in the interim and the loss of their charismatic linchpin left cracks in the garden wall, making it easier to see Genesis as a collection of individual contributors rather than a cohesive whole. (Tail also took the previously unthinkable turn of attributing songs to individuals rather than the group as a whole.)

“Dance on a Volcano” and “Entangled,” for example, would have felt right at home on Hackett’s Voyage of the Acolyte, while the songs written by the trio of Tony Banks, Collins and Mike Rutherford (e.g., “Mad Man Moon,” “Squonk”) foreshadow the fuzzy and large-sounding creations to come. While neither as inventive or absurd as their last few albums, A Trick of the Tail still stands head and shoulders above most of their progressive rock peers and proved that the exodus of Gabriel wasn’t the end of the Genesis.

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Original elpee version

A1. Dance on a Volcano (Mike Rutherford/Tony Banks/Steve Hackett/Phil Collins) (5:53)
A2. Entangled (Steve Hackett/Tony Banks) (6:28)
A3. Squonk (Mike Rutherford/Tony Banks) (6:27)
A4. Mad Man Moon (Tony Banks) (7:35)
B1. Robbery, Assault and Battery (Tony Banks/Phil Collins) (6:15)
B2. Ripples… (Mike Rutherford/Tony Banks) (8:03)
B3. A Trick of the Tail (Tony Banks) (4:34)
B4. Los Endos (Phil Collins/Steve Hackett/Mike Rutherford/Tony Banks) (5:46)

All material arranged by Genesis.

The Players

Tony Banks (pianos, synthesizers, organs, Mellotron, 12 string guitar, backing vocals), Phil Collins (drums, percussion, lead & backing vocals), Steve Hackett (electric guitar, 12 string guitars), Mike Rutherford (12 string guitar, basses, bass pedals). Produced by David Hentschel and Genesis; engineered by David Hentschel and Nick “Haddock” Bradford.

The Pictures

Sleeve design by Hipgnosis and Colin Elgie.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette on February 2, 1976 in the UK (Charisma, CDS/CDSMC 4001), the US (Atco, SD/CS 36-129), Argentina (Charisma, 27312), Canada (Atco, SD/AC 36-129), France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Uruguay (Charisma, 6369 974), Germany (Charisma, 206 921 610), Israel (Litratone, 13105), Japan (Charisma, RJ-7082) and Mexico (Charisma, LRG-34002) with gatefold cover and picture sleeve; reached #3 on the UK charts and #31 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record).

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1978 in Japan (Charisma, RJ-7305).
  2. Re-released on remastered elpee in 1981 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, MFSL-1-062) with gatefold cover.
  3. Re-issued on elpee and compact disc in the US (Atco, SD38-101) with gatefold cover.
  4. Re-issued on elpee in 1984 in Japan (Charisma, 20PP-70).
  5. Re-issued on elpee in 1986 in Japan (Charisma, 25VB-1101).
  6. Re-issued on elpee in 1988 in Brazil (Virgin, 140.8013) with gatefold cover.
  7. Re-released on remastered compact disc on November 29, 1994 in the UK (Virgin, CDSCDX 4001), the US (Atco, 82688-2) and Germany and the Netherlands (Virgin, 839 885).
  8. Re-issued on compact disc in 1988 in Japan (Virgin, VJCP-68098).
  9. Re-released on super high material, expanded compact disc in 2007 in the UK (EMI, CDSCDR-4001) and Japan (EMI/Toshiba, TOGP-15011) with bonus DVD.
  10. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2008 in the UK (EMI, GENCDY-6).

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