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Banks; Tony: The Fugitive

It's interesting to see in the liner notes to this excellently presented reissue of Tony Banks second solo album, The Fugitive, the man in question has much less to say than he does in the booklet for his solo debut, A Curious Feeling, which has been re-released simultaneously. In many ways it encapsulates the difference between the 1979 maiden outing and 1983's second helping.

The two albums couldn't be much more different, Curious… a conceptual piece where involved instrumentals work alongside gently progressive lyric led songs sung by Kim Beacon. Here however Banks takes the bold move to step up to the mic, while the music heads down a far more blatant pop path. In isolation neither aspect is a real issue, however brought together, songs that need a strong vocal identity to flourish, flounder under Banks' less than distinguished tones. In the notes Banks refers to his voice as 'unexplored territory... somewhere between Neil Tennant and Louis Armstrong'; I'd suggest Nik Kershaw, on an off day, with a cold and something better to do with his time, closer to the mark… Subsequently "Moving Under", which could have almost fitted onto either a Genesis album of the time (Abacab or Invisible Touch, for example), or a Phil Collins solo release, satisfies in terms of some nice melodies, neat keyboards and intricate drumming from Tony Beard, but not much more.

Also unlike the debut, Banks enlisted a 'band' to record the album, drumming duties shared between Beard, Andy Duncan and the inimitable Steve Gadd, while Daryl Stuermer handles guitar and Mo Foster bass. Undoubtedly it's a talented bunch, so how they came up with the lazy, uninspired John Lennon-ish "K2" bonus track, is a mystery. While the other bonus, "Something Never" almost predates a "We Can't Dance" sound through its keyboards, while thoroughly lacking the bite that made that later song so popular. From the main album "This Is Love" is enigmatic 80s pop, while "Man Of Spells" does add a progressive introspection and "And The Wheels Keep Turning" a stand offish air that actually makes the song all the more interesting. Arriving as the album's opening trio, hopes are raised that the music may well erase the vocal issues somewhat. However "Say You'll Never Leave Me" undoubtedly needs a clearer, cleaner vocal to thrive, while "By You" gives little indication of the master composer Banks has proved himself to be over the years, the spartan arrangement exposing little excitement.

As expected, a couple of instrumentals show up, "Charm" ironically containing no guile whatsoever, the 80s computer game blips and bloops simply irritating, while "Thirty Three's" actually proves an unexpected, atmospheric album highlight. Something the pop pulse of "At The Edge Of Night" rivals it for, Banks staccato vocals faring much better under a thick swathe of keyboard melodies. Although "Moving Under" relapses into ho-hum, closing the album out with another Genesis like outing that lacks for a real clear hook.

'Mixed bag' is maybe the best description of The Fugitive, something an excellent stereo remix, or even a sharp 5.1 disc can't quite rectify. The latter also adding the video for "This Is Love", which proves instantly forgettable. When this album is good, it's not much better than OK, when it's bad, it's not much different and in truth, if The Fugitive has a real failing, it's that at the end of it, you're not really that bothered one way or another. It certainly isn't offensive, but then maybe it's the fact that it's more than a touch too inoffensive that really prevents it leaving a proper, lasting mark.


Track Listing
DISC ONE


STEREO MIX BY NICK DAVIS & TONY BANKS
1. THIS IS LOVE
2. MAN OF SPELLS
3. AND THE WHEELS KEEP TURNING
4. SAY YOU'LL NEVER LEAVE ME
5. THIRTY THREE'S
6. BY YOU
7. AT THE EDGE OF NIGHT
8. CHARM
9. MOVING UNDER
10. K2
11. SOMETIME NEVER

DISC TWO


5.1 SURROUND SOUND & 96 KHZ / 24-BIT STEREO MIX BY NICK DAVIS & TONY BANKS
1. THIS IS LOVE
2. MAN OF SPELLS
3. AND THE WHEELS KEEP TURNING
4. SAY YOU'LL NEVER LEAVE ME
5. THIRTY THREE'S
6. BY YOU
7. AT THE EDGE OF NIGHT
8. CHARM
9. MOVING UNDER
10. K2
11. SOMETIME NEVER


PROMOTIONAL VIDEO
THIS IS LOVE

Added: March 6th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: The Fugitive at Cherry red
Hits: 1131
Language: english

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