Tonight (February 2nd) on the world famous Classic Album at Midnight on Radio Nova we’re playing Genesis’s A Trick of the Tail.
The album is presented in full with no commercials or interruptions.
While touring to promote Genesis’s sixth album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, in late 1974, frontman Peter Gabriel decided it was time to quit the group. This left the band as a quartet consisting of guitarist Steve Hackett, bassist Mike Rutherford, keyboardist Tony Banks and drummer Phil Collins, all of whom were determined to carry on in Gabriel’s absence.
In 1975 Hackett recorded a solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte, featuring Rutherford and Collins. Banks had written a number of songs for a proposed solo album of his own but ultimately decided they should be used for Genesis’s first post-Gabriel album.
In summer of 1975 the group gathered for rehearsals and began writing new material. Gabriel’s departure had been kept secret from the media, but when they advertised in Melody Maker for a singer for “a Genesis type of band,” the publication quickly put two and two together and broke the news, declaring Genesis dead. The band reassured fans they would be continuing on when a replacement vocalist was signed.
With no singer in place, the band contemplated recording an instrumental album, but continued auditions while recording the backing tracks. Struggling to find a suitable singer, Collins reluctantly agreed to record vocals for one of the album’s tracks, Squonk. The band were so impressed that they then decided to make Collins their new lead singer.
All four members contributed to writing the album, with Banks the only one who had a role in composing each of its songs. The lyrics were particularly quirky, with the band members drawing inspiration from Mary Poppins, mythical creatures and writer William Golding.
A Trick of the Tail features eight tracks. On Side A are Dance on a Volcano; Entangled; Squonk; and Mad Man Moon. On Side B are Robbery, Assault and Battery; Ripples…; A Trick of the Tail; and Los Endos.
Released in February 1976, A Trick of the Tail reached number three in the UK and 31 in the US. It would spend 39 weeks in the UK chart, earning gold certification by June 1976.
A Trick of the Tail saw Genesis take their first steps in to the world of the music video, filming promos for the title track, Ripples… and Robbery, Assault and Battery. The band would later become known for their award-winning videos, but Collins described the promo for A Trick of the Tail, which featured a miniature version of himself dancing inside a piano, as “the most embarrassing” of his career.
Critics were impressed with A Trick of the Tail, having initially been cynical about the band’s ability to carry on without Gabriel. The improved sound quality, courtesy of producer David Hentschel, was particularly noted by reviewers.
A Trick of the Tail is a significant piece of rock history, marking the beginning of Phil Collins’ ascent from drummer to global superstar. You can hear it in full at midnight tonight on Radio Nova.