A Trick of the Outtakes [PRRP001 1CD]
Sessions at Trident Studios, Oct 1975. No Peter Gabriel. Ex SBD stereo.

In June 2000, at the Euro 2000 soccer championships in Holland/Belgium, the Czech Republic took on the World Champions, France. The game ended 2-1 to France but, for any watching supporters with an eye for irony (and who aren’t too fussed about the spelling), one of the biggest headlines of the day came after the half-time break, as the Czech coach rearranged his team for the next 45 minutes. The highly rated defender Petr Gabriel was replaced by Fukal. And more than one old Genesis fan telephoned another to say, "well, it’s not the first time that’s happened."

The soap operatic saga that was Genesis’ attempts to replace the recently departed Gabriel, before they drew the short straw and promoted Phil Collins, has been largely forgotten today, as hindsight weighs in to wipe away all trace of what really was traumatic period. This collection, however, goes some way towards reviving the memories, as a clearly uncertain Collins wobbles to the mike for a collection of demos that capture the band as it hung on the very precipice of either a major step forward, or total collapse.

In fact, only two songs have vocals - "Beloved Summer" (an early version of the b-side "It’s Yourself") and "A Trick Of The Tail." The remainder are instrumentals, and that includes "Ripples," the one song that was scheduled for a Collins vocal, no matter who came in as the new lead singer. And it’s an illuminating experience, hearing the likes of "Dance On A Volcano," "Entangled" and "Squonk" in the same state that the audition room’s queue of young hopefuls would have been introduced to them… more than that, you also discover just what a total waste of a good tune "Robbery Assault & Battery" became, once those absurd lyrics were appended to it.

Of course, an instrumental demos-only version of A Trick Of A Tail probably isn’t to everybody’s taste, and it does get a little tiresome after a few listens. But, in the history of Genesis, it stands among the most crucial albums in their catalog, and you also gain a new appreciation of the sheer courage it took for them to carry on after the departure of Gabriel. After all, even the hapless Fukal had a track record behind him. Collins, on the other hand, had "More Fool Me." - Dave Thompson

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October 5, 2007