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 arent 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, its not the first time thats 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 "Its 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 its an illuminating experience, hearing the likes of "Dance On A Volcano," "Entangled" and "Squonk" in the same state that the audition rooms 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 isnt to
everybodys 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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