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Banks; Tony: A Chord Too Far (4 CD Box Set)

One of only two Genesis members to run the full course of that band, Tony Banks is already prog rock royalty and yet as his band mates, Anthony Phillips, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford, have all gone on to achieve critical, or popular (or for some, both) solo acclaim, the Banks output outside of the big G has gone largely ignored. With talk of a full reissue campaign, Cherry Red Records look set to try and put that straight, this four CD collection a welcome gathering together of some of the highlights as chosen by Banks himself. All nine of his solo, project, or soundtrack albums are represented and while the choice to place the songs out of chronological order does involve flitting from singer to singer, it does add an interesting new flow and balance that might otherwise have been compromised. Obviously for such a high profile member of the musical society, attracting big names to contribute has never been an issue for Banks, hence across these discs the likes of Fish, Toyah and Nik Kershaw stand behind the mic, Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta and Chester Thompson sit on the drum stool, Pino Palladino handles bass, as Daryl Stuermer provides guitar. Interestingly Banks also offers up vocals on the tracks from The Fugitive album and it has to be said with reasonable success, "At The Edge Of Night" a prime example. A personal favourite comes round in the shape of "Shortcut To Somewhere" where Banks and Fish (then still of Marillion as the single cover where Fish wore a Genesis shirt and Banks a Marillion one, attests); not because it is a hugely memorable piece, but because of the furore that Banks working with a member of a band long derided for being Genesis clones caused. Oddly the results sounds more like a cheesy piece of 80s pop fluff rather some prog epic! Although the two Fish tracks from Still, "Angel Face" and "Another Murder Of A Day" fare much better. One of the highlights across this collection is the confident vocal performance Toyah provides on "Lion Of Symmetry", which initially appeared on Soundtracks, while "Charity Balls", featuring Jack Hues of Wang Chung on vocals, from Strictly Inc., highlights one of the main issues often found with Banks' solo output. Namely that too much of it simply sounds like budget Genesis. Much though casual followers often confused Genesis and Phil Collins solo work in the 80s and 90s, fans could easily tell them apart, whereas the other members genuinely offered something more than a little different outside their main (or departed) band. As shown here, too often Banks utilised similar sounds, themes and arrangements to his main band and as Genesis found to their cost on the much underrated Calling All Stations album where Ray Wilson took vocal duties, without Collins or Gabriel, the effect for many of Banks' ideas was diminished. Or in the case of the interesting Bankstatement band, simply a little too mainstream and indistinct to make a lasting mark. Although it was maybe a project worth persevering with, "I'll Be Waiting" and "The Border" showing up well here.

Disc four takes things in a different direction, the Six Pieces For Orchestra, Seven and The Wicked Lady albums plundered. These orchestral/soundtracks pieces offer a genuinely different and underrated aspect of the Banks canon and personally I find this the most interesting and memorable side of this talented songwriter's solo output. Four unreleased tracks also show up here, three being keyboard demos from the orchestral suites and "Poppet", a piece originally written for Still, with all four adding interest and value to this pack.

Unfortunately, as is often the way these days, the promo pack of this collection comes without any of the artwork or the lengthy liner notes especially written for this release. However the opportunity to gain a little more insight and context into this vast and eclectic selection would be a welcome one. With many of the tracks included here also being "exclusively remixed" there's new life brought to the earlier selections, while across the four discs the sound quality remains universally high. Many of us may approach the Tony Banks solo canon with preconceived prejudice and while I'd happily argue that the output from all the other ex-Genesis members has more to say and a longer lasting impact, A Chord Too Far goes some way to redressing the balance.

Track Listing
CD 1
1. Rebirth (Soundtracks)
2. At the Edge of Night (The Fugitive)
3. Walls of Sound (Strictly Inc)
4. Lion of Symmetry (from Soundtracks)
5. The More I Hide It (Bankstatement)
6. Shortcut to Somewhere (Soundtracks)
7. The Waters of Lethe (A Curious Feeling)
8. I Wanna Change the Score (Still)
9. Water Out of Wine (Still)
10. Something to Live For (Strictly Inc)
11. By You (The Fugitive)
12. Never Let Me Know (Strictly Inc)
13. Thirty Three's (The Fugitive)

CD 2
1. Charity Balls (Strictly Inc)
2. An Island in the Darkness (Strictly Inc)
3. The Border (Bankstatement)
4. Lucky Me (A Curious Feeling)
5. Another Murder of a Day (Still)
6. Moving Under (The Fugitive)
7. Still It Takes Me by Surprise (Still)
8. Red Day on Blue Street (Still)
9. After the Lie (A Curious Feeling)
10. Redwing (Soundtracks)

CD 3
1. Queen of Darkness (Bankstatement)
2. A Piece of You (Strictly Inc)
3. Big Man (Bankstatement)
4. Angel Face (Still)
5. This Is Love (The Fugitive)
6. I'll Be Waiting (Bankstatement)
7. Back to Back (Still)
8. For a While (A Curious Feeling)
9. Throwback (Bankstatement)
10. You Call This Victory (Soundtracks)
11. And the Wheels Keep Turning (The Fugitive)
12. You (A Curious Feeling)
13. The Final Curtain (Still)

CD 4
1. Blade (Six Pieces for Orchestra)
2. Black Down (Seven: A Suite for Orchestra)
3. Siren (Six Pieces for Orchestra)
4. Earthlight (Seven: A Suite for Orchestra)
5. From the Undertow (A Curious Feeling)
6. Spring Tide (Demo version; originally from Seven: A Suite for Orchestra)
7. Neap Tide (Demo version; originally from Seven: A Suite for Orchestra)
8. City of Gold (Demo version; originally from Six Pieces for Orchestra)
9. The Chase (The Wicked Lady soundtrack)
10. Kit (The Wicked Lady soundtrack)
11. Poppet (Previously unreleased; oriiginally written for Still)
12. The Wicked Lady (The Wicked Lady soundtrack)

Added: March 22nd 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: A Chord Too Far at Cherry red
Hits: 2113
Language: english

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Banks; Tony: A Chord Too Far (4 CD Box Set)
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-03-22 23:05:01
My Score:

Tony Banks has been synonymous with progressive rock since the birth of the genre decades ago. His work with Genesis needs no introduction and speaks volumes. Of course there is life outside Genesis and that's what this set is all about. It is really refreshing when an artist takes such great care in a production such as this. It just shows the commitment Banks has to his music and for that he should be very proud. His attention to detail is outstanding. A Chord Too Far is a 4 CD box set containing much of the artist's solo material with tunes from Soundtracks, The Fugitive, Strictly Inc., Bankstatement, A Curious Feeling, Still, The Wicked Lady, Six Pieces For Orchestra and Seven: A Suite For Orchestra.

This is such a massive set of music it is hard knowing quite where to begin. Disc one begins with "Rebirth", taken from the Soundtrack album. It's a very dramatic orchestral piece with amazing clarity and crystal clear production. "At The Edge Of The Night" features killer hooks and Bank's endearing lead vocals. Daryl Stuermer lays down some great riffs on this one. On "Walls Of Sound" Jack Hues (Wang Chung) turns in an excellent vocal performance, a perfect complement to Bank's lovely keyboard melody. One of the more intense tracks is "Lion Of Symmetry" having a sort of proggy new wave feel where Toyah Wilcox turns in a dramatic vocal performance. The softer middle section is very moody and helps to keep things fresh and exciting.

A couple of highlights from disc two are taken from the Strictly Inc. album. The ultra-catchy "Charity Balls" with its glistening keyboard pop sheen and the seventeen minute epic "An Island In The Darkness", a slow building balladic tune featuring lush keyboard soundscapes, great lead vocals from Hues and a grandiose middle section that isn't repeated again, are both highlights. This is such a majestic and enchanting piece. The sophisticated pop of "The Border" is another highlight.

Disc three highlights include the intensely orchestrated "Queen Of Darkness", the lovely ballad "A Piece Of You" featuring excellent acoustic and electric guitar from Hues, the synth pop of the Bank's sung "Big Man" and the lush keyboard melody in the heartfelt pop ballad "For A While" taken from A Curious Feeling. Really some delicious pop music on this one.

The last disc features Bank's orchestral side including his work with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra from his Six Pieces for Orchestra album and some stunning classical pieces with the London Philharmonic taken from Seven: A Suite for Orchestra. Also included are three previously unreleased demos and the song "Poppet", a sweeping slice of upbeat orchestral music written during the Still sessions but never developed further until now.

The entire package exudes quality, a real gem of a production if there ever was one. Banks is to congratulated with this effort. Other musicians should sit up and take notice. If you are a fan of Genesis but have yet to hear Bank's solo works this will be a real treat. For those of you who have the original discs in which these songs were culled, it will be up to you whether this will be worth your money. Quite a few of these tracks have been remixed so that might be a plus for those of you sitting on the fence. It really is a beautiful set and I can imagine many fans of Banks/Genesis will want this in their hands. It is a fabulous collection of music and an important document for fans of Banks demonstrating an incredibly diverse and creative musician.

An Esoteric Recordings release.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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