Virgin 1983 / Esoteric 2016
And then there was one: ivories wizard from GENESIS goes for a pop revelation.
By 1983, with the land of confusion on the horizon, the band Tony Banks was manning from the shadows for a decade and a half seemed far removed from their prog day, and the keyboardist whose touch could be invisible but vital decided to get away from concepts, too. Shifting in an opposite direction from the collective effort of “Genesis” which would hit the shelves a few months later, Tony’s second solo album found him focusing on one’s inner space rather than fashioning a philosophical suite like he did on “A Curious Feeling” and that dictated an insular approach to style. No Mellotron, no Hammond, no grandeur this time when synthesizers and drum machines ruled the day, although “Charm” is a tellingly titled microcosm of any epic the artist had created for others to sing.
There’s a new, spatial scope to this majestic, if playful, instrumental on a 2016 remix of the record (available also on vinyl), its deluxe edition adding a surround version to it, yet on a simpler pieces Tony’s voice takes – for the first time ever – a central place for a stronger emotional impact. That’s why the reggae groove of “This Is Love” is cracking the sincerest of smiles, up to Banks accidentally almost pushing the keyboard to the floor in the companion video on the DVD part of the package, and the song revealing heavier riffs in its middle section’s dance. Riveting rhythms reign here, what with a snippet of boogie woven into “Thirty Three’s” alongside new-age dewdrops, but when the solemn piano and Mo Foster‘s elastic bass pull the listener into “Say You’ll Never Leave Me,” a previously unheard spirituality opens up.
While “And The Wheels Keep Turning” has ’80s written all over it, as Steve Gadd’s drums nail the pace and filigree swirl of the track’s infectious interludes and Gallic mood, the brisk “At The Edge Of Night” channels Beatlesque jollity and the cut’s vocal harmonies, topped with Daryl Stuermer’s guitars, wouldn’t sound out of place on a Britpop single. Still, “Moving Under” is pure pop at its timeless best: memorable, throbbing with life and expansive, and two bonus tracks – the scintillating “K2” and vaudevillian “Sometime Never” – make this musical keenness complete. It was worth running away, though briefly, from the fold to deliver such a shiny delight.