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Crossover Prog • United Kingdom

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Tony Banks biography
Anthony George Banks - Born March 27, 1950, East Hoathly, Sussex, England

One of the original founding members of GENESIS , Tony BANKS has been the quiet, driving force behind the band ever since their debut back in 1965. His classical leanings, strong compositional skills and distinct (and often emulated) keyboard style have set him apart from his contemporaries from the very start. Always keeping a low profile, he displays a rare compassion for his music and never tries to impress with extravagant shows of technical prowess. His contribution to the GENESIS sound and identity is fundamental. His solo material, however, is very uneven and can honestly not be called 'progressive'. This, coupled with an avowed dislike for the limelight that precludes any inclination for touring, has resulted in his solo albums systematically failing to chart - or even approaching the success of the other band members' solo material.

His first solo effort, "A Curious Feeling" (1979), is by far his best. Bearing his distinctive musical signature, it features interesting conceptual lyrics as well as the familiar crafted compositions and massive wall of keyboards that made the music of GENESIS so compelling. After this release, however, his stripped-down approach to composing brought us "The Fugitive", an early 80's pop-oriented album where he toyed with the new digital/synthetic gadgets of the day. Its catchy hooks and the fact that he handled all the lyrics himself make it interesting, but hard-core progsters find it rather disappointing.

BANKS also composed music for films ("The Wicked Lady" and "Soundtracks") and released three albums of adult-contemporary material ("Bankstatement", "Still" and "Strictly Inc") featuring a rotating cast of assorted vocalists. Finally, "Seven - A Suite for Orchestra", was released in 2004. It is made up of compositions in the pure classical symphonic tradition, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra with BAANKS handling some piano parts himself.

With the exception of one monumental progressive track on the album "Strictly Inc.", his recent material is decidedly MOR, with occasional references to his progressive past. Why this incredibly gifted composer has strayed ever so far from his progressive roots is a mystery - some (including myself) would say a tragedy. Still, Tony BANKS remains one of the influential figures of our times and his legacy among contempora...
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BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd 2018
$11.07 (used)
A Chord Too FarA Chord Too Far
Esoteric Antenna 2015
$38.50 (used)
A Curious Feeling: Two Disc Expanded EditionA Curious Feeling: Two Disc Expanded Edition
Cherry Red 2016
$14.53 (used)
The Fugitive: Two Disc Hardback Deluxe Expanded EditionThe Fugitive: Two Disc Hardback Deluxe Expanded Edition
Cherry Red 2016
$16.61 (used)
Giant Records (Warner) 1992
$3.46 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
TONY BANKS And The Wheels Keep Turning 7" VINYL B/w Man Of Spells (banks2) Pic USD $8.41 Buy It Now 1h 7m
Quicksilver (Soundtrack) (Roger Daltrey, Tony Banks, Fish, Fiona, Peter Frampton USD $19.99 Buy It Now 4h 40m
TONY BANKS - SOUNDTRACKS Film OSTs LP [Quicksilver, Lorca And The Outlaws] Toyah USD $33.44 Buy It Now 4h 54m
Tony Banks ( Genesis) The Wicked Lady - Original Soundtrack Promo N Mint 1983 USD $6.50 Buy It Now 5h 12m
5h 59m
Soundtracks TONY BANKS LP Record SEALED 1986 RARE USD $17.40 Buy It Now 7h 34m
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QUICKSILVER soundtrack lp ATLANTIC roger daltrey peter frampton tony banks USD $10.75 Buy It Now 1 day
Tony Banks - Soundtracks (1986 Atlantic Cassette Album - Promo) USD $4.50 Buy It Now 1 day
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Tony Banks Seven: A Suite For Orchestra UK CD album (CDLP) 8557466 NAXOS 2004 USD $16.70 Buy It Now 1 day
For A While Tony Banks 7" vinyl single record UK CB344 CHARISMA 1979 USD $14.63 Buy It Now 1 day
TONY BANKS The Wicked Lady OST Atlantic Rec 80073-1 US 1983 M SEALED 12F USD $17.98 Buy It Now 1 day
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Tony Banks - Still 1991 CDV 2658 Nimbus USD $11.35 Buy It Now 1 day
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TONY BANKS The Fugitive LP 1983 Atlantic Records VG+/VG+ Genesis Prog Solo Album USD $6.16 Buy It Now 2 days
TONY BANKS A Curious Feeling LP 1979 Jazz Polydor Made in Canada VG/VG+ USD $6.16 Buy It Now 2 days
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TONY BANKS - Still - CD - Import - **BRAND NEW/STILL SEALED** USD $37.95 Buy It Now 2 days
Bankstatement Throwback (PS) 12" Vinyl Single Tony Banks - Genesis 1980's USD $8.01 Buy It Now 2 days
Tony Banks ?- A Curious Feeling CD - Genesis - CASCD1148 - Ex USD $22.40 Buy It Now 2 days
PROG Magazine Issue 57 - Frank Zappa / Tony Banks / Big Big Train / Anglagard USD $3.34 Buy It Now 2 days
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Tony Banks - The Fugitive - Virgin Records - Album Audio Cassette USD $17.37 Buy It Now 3 days
Tony Banks (Genesis) ' For A While ' 7" Single With P/S Charisma Records USD $2.66 [1 bids]
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Tony Banks : Six Pieces for Orchestra - CD (2012) USD $6.67 Buy It Now 3 days
Tony Banks - Curious Feeling (Vinyl Used Like New) USD $19.85 Buy It Now 3 days
Genesis vintage article1980 5 pages Phil Collins Mike Rutherford Tony Banks USD $4.88 Buy It Now 3 days
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TONY BANKS (Genesis) Curious Feeling 1979 Poster size Press ADVERT 12x10 inches USD $15.98 Buy It Now 3 days
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Genesis - Selling England by the Pound 1st UK cd No UPC Peter Gabriel Tony Banks USD $23.26 Buy It Now 4 days
Tony Banks Genesis Atlantic Solo LP 1983 USD $12.00 Buy It Now 4 days
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TONY BANKS Still JAPAN CD VJCP-28041 1991 USD $74.03 Buy It Now 4 days
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Tony Banks A Curious Feeling UK vinyl LP album record CAS1148 CHARISMA 1979 USD $15.98 Buy It Now 4 days
Tony Banks The Wicked Lady 80073-1 Music Vinyl Album 1983 Records LP 1041 USD $12.99 Buy It Now 5 days
Genesis - Seconds Out W German cd no UPC Phil Collins Steve Hackett Tony Banks USD $27.91 Buy It Now 5 days
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TONY BANKS - A Curious Feeling [Vinyl LP,1979] UK CAS 1148 Progressive Rock *EXC USD $12.01 Buy It Now 5 days
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TONY BANKS discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

TONY BANKS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.37 | 190 ratings
A Curious Feeling
2.39 | 104 ratings
The Fugitive
3.41 | 42 ratings
The Wicked Lady (OST)
2.73 | 74 ratings
3.05 | 89 ratings
3.60 | 67 ratings
Strictly Inc.
2.77 | 62 ratings
Seven - A Suite For Orchestra
3.99 | 71 ratings
Six - Pieces For Orchestra
4.18 | 71 ratings

TONY BANKS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

TONY BANKS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

TONY BANKS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.77 | 49 ratings
4.84 | 10 ratings
A Chord Too Far

TONY BANKS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.17 | 5 ratings
For a While / A Curious Feeling
4.50 | 4 ratings
For a While / From the Undertow
3.05 | 3 ratings
And the Wheels Keep Turning
3.13 | 5 ratings
This is Love
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Wicked Lady
4.00 | 1 ratings
Performing Songs from Lorca and the Outlaws
3.00 | 3 ratings
Shortcut to Somewhere
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Gift
3.00 | 2 ratings
I Wanna Change the Score
4.67 | 3 ratings
Still It Takes Me By Surprise


Showing last 10 reviews only
 5 by BANKS, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.18 | 71 ratings

Tony Banks Crossover Prog

Review by FalconBleck

5 stars #19 Review

I hinted to this review some times and i waited 21 days for my copy of the disk to arrive, it's the first order i make to a foreign country, and the first time i buy something from an artist when it's been released this year.

I have been in a marathon of Genesis since the first time i listened to them in 2012 and i realized that everyone had something to offer in the band, but also as a solo artist, and i really felt identified with Tony Banks, but more than that, i think that he is the reason on why i got so hooked with Genesis, he has been the secret ingredient of the band, i feel like the success of the band is in big part the success of him, and his solo career, while not getting the atention it deserves, i still feel like he has done a more than impressive job in all of music, this might feel like spoilers of my next reviews, but i had to say it, and i'll say more, after i finish reviewing Tony Banks solo albums, i'll review every other project where members of the band where involved (except for Mike + The Mechanics and Phil Collins solo career, they're not in this site and i really don't care that much about those).

So, without further ado, let's review like i have always been.

1.- Prelude to a Million Years 10/10 This album doesn't shy out and starts strong, with Tony Banks working his chords an arpegios, making powerful and tranquil moments, making you feel what the title says, in full detail. 15 minutes of pure imagination and mastery of what the classic genre has to offer, and i feel right at home here, i started listening to prog because i like soundtracks, and i know that symphonic prog and classical symphonic music goes hand in hand. I have always been more focused in the instrumental and in how it sounds, i can feel every sound no matter the instrument that's being played, being on an 8-bit machine, i still can imagine what they were trying to do, and here this feels like a complete work, but i can still imagine it being aweosome in different, more "affordable" styles (i obviously don't have money to rent an orchestra, not even a band), luckily the Special release of this album comes with all the sheet music, and Tony himself has said that he wants people to play what he has composed.

2.- Reveille 10/10 As some people have already pointed out, this is the return of the cross-hand technique, and it comes in full glory, the sound is hypnotizing and glorious, i'm impressed, this album already holds 2 of the most beautyful pieces of music released on this year, and this music holds how i feel about this album existence, its incredible, like if i "woke" up on a dream.

3.- Ebb and Flow 10/10 This music piece feels like the introduction to a journey, where i as the protagonist i'm really excite to partake in, and to discover a world that's incredible expansive and that it makes one impressed by every place my eyes gaze upon, a world that's in constant movement, where by each passing day everything feels better and newer than the last time.

4.- Autumn Sonata 9/10 This music piece was called "New and Old" in its conceptual stages, because it incorpores parts from a piece that was made some years prior to this album, those parts conform the middle section of this music piece, and all the rest was made entirely new. The new parts are really great, they follow the rest of the excelent previous music pieces(is a suite after all) but the middle section feels a little boring, it's an interesting change of pace but i'm not a big fan of it, interestingly, the middle part is where the Autumn feels the most, maybe i'm not a big fan of autumn itself.

5.- Renaissance 10/10 What a way to end an album, at first it feels like something is forming, in deep space, then that thing is something humble, yet so magnificent, nothing more humble than a new start, where you're learning the wonders of the world, and where there is a whole amount of experience waiting for you. This music doesn't tell me that it is the end, but actually a new beggining, not only for this piece, but for me and maybe for many people more to get inspired by this work.

Albums like this show what an artist can do, and i always knew that Tony Banks was capable of making incredible music, and i was really surprised with this one, this album is a gem that should be appreciated, and i'm pretty glad that it got #1 in the UK Classical Music charts, and i hope that it got it in more countries as well, i feel so happy that i bought it, even though it was the small package, i'll always be happy to support on of my favorite artists and not only that, i feel overwhelmed by this album, it's much and more, i hope to see more works like this in the future, i don't know where we could go from this but i'm prepared to be surprised, thanks Mr. Tony Banks.

98/100, this album is obviously a "5".

 5 by BANKS, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.18 | 71 ratings

Tony Banks Crossover Prog

Review by proghaven

4 stars Along with Emerson, Fripp and Wakeman, Banks was one of the protagonists of progressive rock since its birth. Moreover, thanks mostly to Banks prog became prog as we know and perceive it. It's a great news that now, after half a century since Genesis was founded, their keyboardist and musical leader is still active, though he's no longer a progster and moved into the area of symphonic/orchestral music (ce qu'on appelle 'neo-classical', right? I often confuse terms, sorry, too much of them to be learnt while too low content in any of them). His new solo album is of no doubt classical enough, symphonic enough, orchestral enough... et cetera. The only reason for regrets is that Five is not Banksian enough. It's something between Sibelius and Charlie Chaplin's movie soundtracks. The first and only business for a musician/composer is to build relationships between musical sounds (if anyone wants to dispute this, I'm all ears). Banks became worldwide known in 1970s due to his capacity to discover and construct brand new relationships between sounds, sometimes so revolutionary and unevident that maybe even Beethoven or Ciurlionis could faintly imagine. Just remember Firth Of Fifth, After The Ordeal, Cinema Show, Can-Utility And The Coastliners, Timetable, Mad Man Moon, Robbery, Assault And Battery (instrumental passage), All In A Mouse's Night, One For The Vine... Perhaps Banks reached his creative peak with And Then There Were Three (Burning Rope), A Curious Feeling (most of the tracks but especially After The Lie and The Waters Of Lethe) and of course Duke (Heathaze and Cul-De-Sac are beyond top I'd say). After that, probably having had enough of prog, Banks switched to more rocky/poppy matters, but returned to so-called serious music in 2000s as an orchestral composer. And what he currently does with orchestra is more than interesting, but surely something important is forever left behind for him. It would be difficult to discuss every track on Five because there's nothing to be said about a given track that couldn't be said about any other one. All are refined, all are flowing, lulling, more or less uniform and quite traditional. For Sibelius or Sviridov, such an album could become a highlight of creative life. For Banks, it's very good, no more than that. An undoubted asset to symphonic music but not to Banks. Yes the music of this album is beautiful. But 1979 will never be back.
 5 by BANKS, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.18 | 71 ratings

Tony Banks Crossover Prog

Review by The Jester

5 stars Starting this piece I should say that I am a big fan of the first period of Genesis; the one with Peter Gabriel. After his departure, Genesis released two good albums (A Trick of a Tale and Wind and Wuthering), but then everything changed and I stopped following their album releases. I always considered Tony Banks to be a very important "piece" in the Genesis puzzle, and together with Steve Hackett and Peter Gabriel the most valuable members of the band's early years.

From time to time, I listened to a few solo albums by Genesis members, but I didn't like almost any of them, with only a few exceptions. So, when I read about Tony Bank's new release a few weeks ago, I didn't pay too much attention to be honest. Then, I begun reading one great review after the other, and I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to add 'Five' in my collection. So I did! And what an album this is!

Before anything else, I should inform you that 'Five' is not a Rock or a Progressive Rock album. It has nothing to do with Rock actually. It is something between Classical music and a soundtrack. (I don't know how to describe it exactly).

Five, as the title implies, is a collection of five compositions, recorded with the world-renowned Czech National Symphony Orchestra, lending itself to a stunning presentation. Produced by the famous orchestrator and collaborator Nick Ingman, the album was recorded at Angel Studio in London, but also in Prague as well. Tony Banks performed all the piano parts, giving to himself the complete creative control!

The albums opens with the almost 15:00 minute long Prelude To A Million Years where the listeners can experience the progression of a lifetime; followed by the album's shortest song, Reveille. Reveille is an almost cinematic 9:00 minute long song, starting with piano and strings. As the song progresses, more and more instruments are added and it's a real treat for the ears and the mind. The 3rd track is Ebb and Flow, a delicate and soft tune, that can be described as 'inner peace through music'. There are 2 more songs in the album, but I will stop here. I think I gave you a first impression about this album.

Personally speaking, I have the album for almost a week now, and I think I have listened to it for at least 15 times so far! With every new listen, I sink more and more into the beauty and the greatness of this amazing piece of art! Because that's exactly what it is: A piece of art!

The album is available as CD and double vinyl, which also includes the music sheets, signed by Tony Banks. The prices are fair enough, so money shouldn't be an issue. I bought the vinyl edition of the album and I love it more and more with each passing day. I have no idea what is going to happen (musically) during 2018, but 'Five' already took its place in my annual Top-5 album list. Thank you Mr. Banks for this amazing album that you offered to us! My Rating: 4.5 (out of 5.0) stars.

 5 by BANKS, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.18 | 71 ratings

Tony Banks Crossover Prog

Review by cirrusbay

5 stars At last Tony Banks has created the album I always felt he was capable of making. No compromises here, this is just stunning, beautiful music all the way through, filled with the exquisite melodies over intriguing chord changes that would happen in sections throughout his career. Finally, we have an entire album of this. Whereas I felt 'Six' was a clear progression from 'Seven', 'Five' equally progresses from 'Six'. The liner notes give reasons for this, where things could be worked out to a fuller degree. On top of this the compositions themselves are stronger, in my opinion. The unique Banks sound, augmented by his subtle piano playing throughout is much more present. 'Wow' moments abound, in every piece, but perhaps never stronger than the glorious final section of 'Renaissance'. There are occasions throughout his career that certain songs or pieces of his would affect me in curious ways, playing on my emotions in a way, and to a level that no other artist seemed to reach. This section, as well as several others, affect me at least to that degree, if not more so. This is his finest hour, the most glorious album of his career, largely due to the fact that he is not sharing the writing with, and please excuse me for this, but, inferior writers. The fact that it is orchestral doesn't bother me a bit. In fact, I find it marvelous. It was always the instrumental sections of his that were the best anyway.

Favorite tracks: Ebb and Flow, Renaissance

 5 by BANKS, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.18 | 71 ratings

Tony Banks Crossover Prog

Review by mitarai_panda

5 stars Born in 1950, Tony Banks was one of the founders of the greatest money-shaking band, Genesis. Since the band was founded in 1965, it has been a silent devotee and powerful force behind the band. His classical tendency to have a serious and strong keyboard style makes the cause unique, but he always keeps a low profile, is not the limelight, is very devoted to music, and never shows off himself by showing off his skills. His solo album is also worth studying, especially the preference for classical symphony has made his own work full of classical tastes, and often plays with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. This year's new album "5" continues this classical symphonic style. There are no guitar bass drums, symphonic and chanting forms are permeated throughout, and the piano and organ ensemble exemplifies beautiful, smooth classical music combined with progressive rock music. The harp added a sense of agitation, and Horn and Sachs added a mellow flavor to the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and Choir. After listening to this work, I can only use the word noble to describe Tony. These classical works prove that he is not only a member of the root ESIS. Through his tenacity and unyielding spirit, he has achieved his own success. Even he is so low-key, may be able to make his success longer. Listening to these five songs is like a great, peaceful baptism, but it is also full of glory and passion. This is undoubtedly Tony's best work, worth listening to every one love music (not just avant-garde rock) listening, a solid four-and-a-half strong push!
 5 by BANKS, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.18 | 71 ratings

Tony Banks Crossover Prog

Review by Squire Jaco

5 stars Can I just talk to Tony for a second here?

I realize I'm just another adoring fan since the early 1970's; you had me at Watcher of the Skies. And while I've always loved your choice of keyboards and your writing style and your unreal talent on the keys, I was also hoping you would finally hit a home run in the classical music arena. Your stylings and chord progressions in your prog and soundtrack works hinted at classical training, and it just seemed inevitable that you would eventually find your groove there.

Aside from owning thousands of rock and prog rock albums (and jazz and others), I've also amassed a huge classical music library over the past 25 years, so I think I might know what I'm talking about when I say that your latest album "5" is a 5. It is beautiful and emotional and energizing in a way that you composed back in your prog and film music days, but taken to a higher plain with the orchestra and choir here. I do love this album. Thanks for making it.

And please make many more wonderful albums...

 5 by BANKS, TONY album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.18 | 71 ratings

Tony Banks Crossover Prog

Review by Gary Preston

5 stars I have been so looking forward to the release of this album. I was not put off by the Peter Gabriel similarities: Phil Collins puts his face on his solo lp's or the fact that just like Peter Gabriel's lp's Tony has used numbers to title his Classical releases.

My feelings on my initial playing of this work:

1.Prelude ​ ​To ​ ​A ​ ​Million ​ ​Years (15:34)

Perhaps a little like Delius - sadness, playfulness,slight pomp, wistful, grand,sweeping.

2.Reveille (08:58)

Oh what a marvelous movie soundtrack this piece would make! Is Tony Banks the best movie soundtrack creator never used,utilised and appreciated ever? Epic, positive, life enhancing,powerful,exuberant,passionate.

3.Ebb ​ ​And ​ ​Flow (12:49)

A graceful, thoughtful beginning. Tony's emotions surge from his neural pathways,down into his fingers,onto the keyboard and then it is marvelously arranged for the players here to encapsulate in an aural delight for us to enjoy - marvelous!

4.Autumn ​ ​Sonata (10:16)

The Autumn brings to mind the golden crispy leaves that blow and flutter around the trees. A slight nip in the air as the season starts to tighten it's hold on the ever chilling wispy winds. Time to light the fire in the hearth and enjoy a warming hot drink and reflect on the years events. All these feelings,thoughts and musings are captured and evoked on this piece.

5.Renaissance (10:14)

'Renaissance' : a revival of or renewed interest in something - a re-birth.

Yes,after all these years it is finally Tony's time. His renaissance is now in full affect. These classical works have restored his confidence in his sublime songwriting abilities. No longer is Genesis to be considered Tony's 'solo career'. Through his extreme tenacity and indefatigable spirit of perseverance he has found real success.

Perhaps because he does not enjoy the limelight and want to throw himself into the public spotlight as much as others,his eventual achievements have taken him so much longer, taken much more hard work and have required a greater searching within himself to strive, achieve and attain - but boy has it been worth it.

This is a marvelous album - it will reward you all the more the more you listen and re-listen to it.

I had feared that Anthony Phillips was starting to leave Tony behind a little in my personal comparison of their classically based compositions - but this release puts the two 'Anthony's' - Tony and Ant back on a very equal footing indeed!

Buy 'Five' with confidence - listen to it with pleasure.

Gary Preston - February 2018

 A Curious Feeling by BANKS, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.37 | 190 ratings

A Curious Feeling
Tony Banks Crossover Prog

Review by Orpheus-keys

4 stars A Curious Feeling is a dazzling collection of experimental songs by Genesis keyboard maestro Tony Banks, - all of which ooze inexorable simplicity and subtlety through the usage of unorthodox chord progressions and key changes. A strange album, in many ways; for it is the debut album of Tony Banks and was released a year after 'And Then There Were Three'; the ninth Genesis studio album which marked the departure of guitarist Steve Hackett. Musically, A Curious Feeling nods heavily towards the 1976-1978 era of Genesis with its cinematic production values and quirky keyboard-driven pieces. Newcomer fans shouldn't expect too much instrumental noodling here, nor should they expect elongated synth solos for they only appear in small doses sporadically throughout the album in a very tasteful manner. It's a very representative album of Banks and very in-keeping with his musical philosophy to take full advantage of strong melodies/harmonies before concentrating too much on technique. Songs like 'Lucky Me' and 'A Curious Feeling' are fairly abstract pop songs with interesting hooks and changes. 'The Lie' and 'After the Lie' is a mini-concept suite which undergoes many musical changes ranging from bouncy-percussive sections to lavish passages of languor. 'You' begins as a fairly uneventful melodic track before bursting into a unique, harmonically inventive keyboard solo accompanied by enthralling fast-paced percussive instrumentation and jangly guitars buried into the mix; making it indubitably one of the most lively moments of the album and quite possibly one of Banks's finest keyboard solos ever. Flashes of eerie ambience appear throughout the album, particularly on the opening track 'From the Undertow' which was a key part of the soundtrack for the horror film 'The Shout' which was released a year before the album. 'Forever Morning' and 'The Waters of Lethe' are the two big pieces of the album; both incidentally are instrumental and fairly complex; - but 'After a While' is the song where intricacy and melody are diligently and supremely entwined, making it the standout song of an incredibly strong and bold album which, although plagued with occasional filler, is definitely a captivating raw insight into the peak era of Banks's creativity.
 The Fugitive by BANKS, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.39 | 104 ratings

The Fugitive
Tony Banks Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars While Tony Banks is with little dissension or doubt, a keyboard stalwart who has been rewarded by universal acclaim as well as a wicked pile of dough, going from prog to pop seamlessly (at least for some), he does seem to be a strange cat, not always very politically correct and in my opinion, he could rub a few people the wrong way (namely Gabriel and Hackett). In a few interviews, he has come across as being judgmental and acerbic but there is no denying his considerable talents. His first solo album, 'Curious Feeling' was a proggy affair but from then on, Banks progressively (oopsy) slanted his craft in more mainstream direction which paralleled his Genesis gig. Hence, albums such as 'Bankstatement' and 'Still' were rather tepid affairs that really had little return adulation (or sales). That all being said, I have deeply enjoyed 'The Fugitive' since day one of its release, a much-maligned masterpiece that has had the misfortune of being perhaps the wrong style at the wrong time, thus ostracizing his fan base. I was therefore delighted to replace my old cassette (remember that thingy?) with a new re-mastered CD version which can only do the material justice as its truly a fine piece of work, if taken for what it was and not what it should have been. Upon closer inspection, the virtuoso keyboard manifestations are replaced with less symphonic stylistics that are closer to Tony Mansfield (New Musik, Aha, etc') or even Thomas Dolby, focusing on synthesizer instead of piano, mellotron or organ. In fact, there is hardly any mellotron at all to be found! Add masterful talents like Mo Foster on bass, Darryl Stuermer on guitar and drummers Steve Gadd, Andy Duncan and Tony Beard, you have some serious possibilities. There has been criticism from many sources of the mechanical drumming, well that may be but there is one of these 3 drummers on all tracks except the short instrumental 'Thirty Threes' where Linn drum machines are used. Of course, it's not prog by any stretch but why crucify him for daring to go into more accessible mode and having the courage to tackle the vocals? These are HIS songs, for God sakes! It's his artistic right and call. But I am the silly guy who loves 'Under Wraps' by Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson's debut solo album 'Walk into Light', mainly because I feel the songs were real good but many other purist fans hated the technology (the synthetic sounding electronics). I had no problems with it, having survived on a diet of Thomas Dolby, Magazine and Ultravox at a time when prog was kind of dead but not yet buried.

The melodic opener 'This Is Love' is a fine song, catchy and certainly within the sign of the times, very 'plastic new wave', a style quite prominent at the time. Nothing wrong with a smart pop song from time to time and this is a real good one. Tony Beard bashes hard, the trembling synths carving a mood , a sensational melody that Tony does well in carrying forward, a cool 'slinky' guitar intervention and a turbo-charged section that has a 'do what you want' sizzle that combines a sweet synthesized flurry. Yes, the lyrics are corny, that very un-prog 'love' stuff, yeah, I know, Yuck! Whatever'

The infuriatingly addictive 'Man of Spells' has been playing in my head for so long, I believe it has its own drawer in my cortex, even though it does sound a lot like Brit synth-pop band Naked Eyes, fueled by screeching and meowing synthesizers, spewing along a drop-dead beautiful melody that is ear-candy. The legendary Steve Gadd handles the slick beat propelling this superb piece ahead, Darryl playing with his (heart) strings and Banks throwing in some delicate ivory tangents.

Maintaining the sweet seduction, 'And the Wheels Keep Turning' is another strong melody with a decent vocal from Tony, though he is not an opera singer by any stretch. But honestly, no worse that Steve Howe, Steve Hackett and many other prog heavies. So he sounds a bit like Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys), so what? A nice slippery synth solo adorns the light flavored tune.

Though the melody on 'Say You Will Never Leave Me' eerily rekindles memories of the Beatles, particularly John Lennon, one must give credit to Tony for attempting a rather effort laden vocal that is both demanding and challenging. The sweeping orchestrations are remarkable with tons of string synths blaring along. 'Thirty Threes' is all instrumental, heavily electronic and totally enjoyable piece of music with cascading sweeps of synthesized orchestrations and clever electronic keyboard textures. With 'Charm', these are the two more proggier pieces, since there is no singing to be found.

The suave and bouncy 'By You' continues the accessible style, Tony singing rather well (he does manage to hit a few high notes which BTW, many in prog would falter at) as cannonading keyboard bubbles float convincingly in a pool of moody sounds. Yes its mechanical yes it sounds more like Thomas Dolby and his science blindness but those were the times, people!

At over 6 minutes, 'At the Edge of The Night' might seem as the epic attempt here but I assure you , this is a hard core stomper, a 'rock n rolla', designed to feature a stonier approach, with Darryl Stuermer's guitar rasps front and center, challenged by that still saccharine Banksian voice ('Gonna be alright'). It even has a synthesized brass section (boo, the plastic technology) that gives it added oomplh, admittedly could have been a Phil Collins song quite easily, though the 'bent' Stuermer axe solo is quite experimental.

My favorite track remains 'Charm', a thoroughly convincing instrumental number that has haunted my memory ever since I heard it for the first time. I do not know why, nor do I feel the need to explain. But I will nevertheless: It just really inspire me, as Banks draws very close to the genius of Tony Mansfield, probably the most underrated British musician arranger ever, whose New Musik project yielded 3 stunning albums that have stood the test of time. The intricate electronics displayed are simply fabulous, trilling synths looping madly in sequence. The disc ends with 'Move Under' which reignites a certain sense of accessibility, both playful and creative. The chorus is undoubtedly attractive and the music is very Brit-pop in its presentation, very akin to what was being played at the time of its original release (1982), smack in the middle of the Simple Minds/Duran Duran/ABC/Toto rage that was popular at the time. There is some tremendous soloing from Stuermer and Banks on the outro finale.

Bonus tracks 'K2' and 'Sometime Never' do not add or distract from the overall impression. Though seen by many hard-core fans as a sell-out, the context of the times will prove them wrong, as the music scene in 1982 was dismally confused, waiting for the band Marillion to finish practicing the imminent release of 'Script of a Jester's Tear' in some dingy basement somewhere in Albion and forever revive the prog movement from its Momentary Lapse of Reason and inspire a renaissance that continues today. Upon reflection and as noted by the artist in the 2016 remastered liner notes, he feels that 'his vocals gave the album a sort of charm' because it was just him singing the vocals and no one else. He remains very fond of the album. As do I.

4 renegades

 A Chord Too Far by BANKS, TONY album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
4.84 | 10 ratings

A Chord Too Far
Tony Banks Crossover Prog

Review by brotherjohn

5 stars This box set I consider to be a classic for several reasons. First of all, the song selection (chosen by Mr. Banks himself) is excellent. Sure I'd change a few things. I'd much rather have "Somebody Else's Dream" or "Forever Morning" than "Back To Back" or "Queen of Darkness". But I wouldn't change much. Virtually all of my very favorites are here. The selection, the song order, the contrasts... all very well done. Secondly, the packaging and notes are wonderful. Esoteric really did a great job, unsurprisingly. Third, the fact that 20 tracks are remastered. 6 of these are from "A Curious Feeling" which was, of course, remastered previously, but of the other 14, some show marked improvement, most notably "Lion of Symmetry", "The Border", and "Moving Under". But probably the most important reason I consider this box a stone cold classic is disc four. This disc, entirely instrumental, focuses on what Tony does best, which is, of course, instrumental music. The strongest tracks on the entire box are the three tracks from "Six", particularly the keyboard version of "City of Gold". The haunting piano sound from "A Curious Feeling" is subtly present, used very effectively. The short section beginning around the 6:00 mark is tear-jerkingly beautiful, and yes, I have jerked a few tears in this section, as well as some special moments in "Blade", "Siren". and the keyboard version of "Spring Tide", which is pure perfection, and to have all four of these on one album ... Just wow, it really is that beautiful! I would also be remiss in not mentioning "Poppet", the piece not heard before in any form, and it is a very nice piece of music as well. Taken from the "Still" sessions, I tend to think that album would have been made better by it's inclusion, as would "Strictly Inc" with the inclusion of "Neap Tide", but I'm glad to have these now. They are worth the wait. And this fourth disc alone makes this set worth the cost.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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