[Review] Tony Banks: A Curious Feeling (1979)

Banks’ first solo work, built around the story of a man who loses his memory, is itself surprisingly forgettable.

Kronomyth 1.0: A curiously unsatisfying concept album.

And then there was… A Curious Feeling, released under the Tarot Moon, a watery work unclear in vision. Tony Banks had earlier proven himself to be a complete songwriter (“Burning Rope,” “One for the Vine”), which makes this lackluster concept album a disappointment.

The story centers on a young boy who makes an unwitting pact with a dark spirit (presumably) to lose his memory should he ever fall in love. Perhaps taking its cue from And Then There Were Three’s “Undertow,” the album begins with the instrumental “From the Undertow,” in which our strange hero supposedly washes up onshore with no memory of his past. Seven years later, he’s made a decent life for himself, put his forgotten past behind him and, by “A Curious Feeling,” returned to a state of lost innocence. When a new love catches his eye (“You”), the forgetting begins afresh.

It’s not a bad concept, but was never fully stitched together. Vocalist Kim Beacon has an unremarkable voice, like Noel McCalla or Pete Hicks, and the arrangements lack the dynamic tension of an “Undertow,” instead sounding like endless variations on “Please Don’t Ask” from Duke. The intricate piano passages, symphonic synthesizers and guitars are partly in line with expectations, yet Banks’ own songs with Genesis were never this prolix and prone to meander.

As with Michael Rutherford, Banks arrived a few years late to the prog party with this one, when slow-moving concept albums were long out of fashion. A few tracks (“Lucky Me,” “For A While,” “You”) could work as standalone songs, but the instrumental sections are awfully dry (“The Waters of Lethe” notwithstanding). Smallcreep’s Day wasn’t a great album either, suggesting that both musicians were better served in Genesis, a point the noble Duke confirmed.

Original LP Version

A1. From The Undertow (2:45)
A2. Lucky Me (4:23)
A3. The Lie (4:58)
A4. After The Lie (4:47)
A5. A Curious Feeling (3:58)
A6. Forever Morning (5:59)
B1. You (6:28)
B2. Somebody Else’s Dream (7:45)
B3. The Waters of Lethe (6:27)
B4. For A While (3:32)
B5. In The Dark (2:52)

All songs written by Tony Banks.

The Players

Tony Banks (keyboards, guitars, basses & percussion), Kim Beacon (vocals), Chester Thompson (drums & percussion). Produced by David Hentschel and Tony Banks; engineered by David Hentschel.

The Pictures

Cover painting by Ainslie Roberts. Design by Hothouse.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette in October 1979 in the UK (Charisma, CAS 1148), the US  (Charisma, CA-1-2207), Canada (Polydor, CA-1-2207), France (Charisma, 9103 130), Germany, Greece and the Netherlands (Charisma, 9124 048), Italy (Charisma, 7164 094), Japan (Charisma, RJ-7621) and Spain (Charisma, 71 64 094) with lyric innersleeve; reached #21 on the UK charts and #171 on the US charts.

  1. Released on compact disc in 1987 in Germany (Charisma, 787092) and in 1988 in the UK  (Charisma, CASCD 1148)
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in Japan (Charisma, VJD-28211).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc on March 13, 1992 in the US (Caroline, CAROL-1823)
  4. Re-released on CD+DVD in 2009 in the UK (Esoteric, ECLEC 22532) with a bonus disc including the surround sound mix and two promotional films.

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