[Review] Tony Banks: The Fugitive (1983)

This is the best of the Tony Banks solo efforts, featuring synthesizer pop songs with a progressive edge and plenty of pleasant melodies.

Kronomyth 2.0: A prisoner to its charms.

Not the runaway success it might have been, The Fugitive is still the best of the Tony Banks solo efforts, featuring melodic and magical pop songs that work their way under the skin despite his somewhat limited voice. Although the music isn’t far removed from Genesis’ loopier synthetic confections (“Mama,” “Dodo”), The Fugitive escapes band comparisons better than A Curious Feeling, more Pete Shelley than Peter Gabriel, more Steve Hillage than Steve Hackett.

Handling the vocals himself, Banks follows a long line of tradition that says Genesis members must warble at least once. Despite being the last member to take the plunge, Banks acquits himself better than Hackett, Anthony Phillips or Mike Rutherford. He’s no singer, but he doesn’t hurt himself either, similar to Shelley and Hillage in that their voice takes a backseat to the music without distracting the driver. And the real story here is the songwriting, where cool effects and occasionally exotic sounds swirl around melodies that draw the listener in like a magnet.

Over the course of a year, during which I played this poor tape so often it nearly melted, each song took a turn as my favorite, from the mystic “Man of Spells” and the romantic “Say You’ll Never Leave Me” to more invigorating pop songs like “This Is Love” and “And The Wheels Keep Turning,” all the way to the instrumentals “Charm” and “Thirty-Threes.” Granted, albums grow on us the more we listen to them (especially when we’re captive in a car, as was the case here), but even without the fond memories, I’d like this album.

Since this is progressive pop rather than prog rock, The Fugitive works on two levels: (1) as a superficial album of pop music and (2) as a series of vignettes suitable for contemplation. There might even be a concept involved here (“Moving Under” seems to wrap things up neatly). Deeper meaning or not, The Fugitive is worth hunting down as a supplement to your Genesis collection, an innocent and charming sidenote to a storied career.

Original LP Version

A1. This Is Love (5:06)
A2. Man of Spells (3:43)
A3. And The Wheels Keep Turning (4:45)
A4. Say You’ll Never Leave Me (4:31)
A5. Thirty-Threes (4:39)
B1. By You (4:27)
B2. At The Edge of Night (6:01)
B3. Charm (5:26)
B4. Moving Under (6:03)
*10. K.2.
*11. Sometime Never

All tracks written by Tony Banks.
* CD bonus tracks.

The Players

Tony Banks (vocals, keyboards, synth bass & Linn drum), Mo Foster (bass guitar), Daryl Stuermer (guitars) with Tony Beard (drums on A1/A4/B4), Andy Duncan (drums on B2/B3), Steve Gadd (drums and percussion on A2/A3/B1). Produced by Tony Banks, assisted by Stephen Short; engineered by Stephen Short.

The Pictures

Cover artwork by Bill Smith.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and expanded compact disc in June 1983 in the UK (Charisma, TBLP/TBCD1), the US and Canada (Atlantic, 80071) and France, the Netherlands and Spain (Charisma, 812 383); reached #50 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc on July 7, 1998 in Europe (EMI, 87095).
  2. Re-released on remastered compact disc + dvd in 2016 in the UK (Esoteric, ECLEC 22534) with 5.1 surround sound mix on dvd.

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