Selling Alabama By The Dollar, anybody? While Genesis were undergoing their transition from the elaborate prog chintz of the 70s to the stadium synth pop of the 80s, keyboardist and ‘prog Mozart’ Tony Banks took the opportunity of Phil Collins’s divorce leave to record his first solo album, 1979’s A Curious Feeling (6⁄10), which answered the question no one was asking: what would an American Genesis sound like?
Banks’s trademark meandering synth-phonics, caught at their tipping point into the pop firmament between …And Then There Were Three… and Duke, were topped with the jarring US soul man warble of vocalist Kim Beacon. While it suited the straightforward melodies of For A While and In The Dark, Beacon’s jazz bar delivery clashed with Banks’ sci-fi emperor fanfares on Somebody Else’s Dream, and tasking him with carrying the album’s concept of mental disintegration was like getting Michael Bolton to sing One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Banks fared better unaccompanied on Genesis offcut From The Undertow and the languid Forever Morning and The Waters Of Lethe, which reflected the crafted elegance of 1976’s Wind And Wuthering.
By 1983’s second solo album The Fugitive (7⁄10), Banks tackled the vocals himself, and made a far better fist of it than he’d imagined. Keeping the tunes Abacab-direct on This Is Love, And The Wheels Keep Turning and the krautrock By You, and injecting regular doses of Genesis fantasy lyrics – ghosts (Man Of Spells), jesters (Moving Under) and apocalyptic sea storms (Say You’ll Never Leave Me) - the album ironically worked in spite of aimless instrumental Thirty Three’s and Charm, basically a Super Mario pop opera. Decent bonus tracks too; an escaped semi-classic.