Tony Banks: Banks Vaults – The Complete Albums 1979-1995

Ryan Reed on November 5, 2019
Tony Banks: Banks Vaults – The Complete  Albums 1979-1995

To borrow a lyric from his most famous endeavor, Genesis, Tony Banks seems to have an invisible touch: He was the band’s most prolific songwriter, responsible for sculpting many of their majestic peaks in both lavish prog-rock and radio-pleasing pop. But his steady hand, which guided their stylistic evolution, was largely overshadowed by two of rock’s most charismatic frontmen: Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins. Unlike his hit-making former bandmates (including guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford, who struck soft-rock gold in the Eighties with Mike + the Mechanics), Banks remained a cult act as a solo artist, selling marginal amounts to only the most feverish Genesis diehards. On one level, that fate is easy to understand: As illustrated by Banks Vaults , a retrospective of his rock era, Banks’ richly melodic music required a compelling singer—and he clearly had trouble finding the right fit. But these seven records—which span soundtracks (the highly orchestrated The Wicked Lady ), traditional albums (the breezy, accessible The Fugitive) and short-lived collaborations (Strictly Inc. , featuring Wang Chung vocalist Jack Hues)— tantalize with a greatness that could have been. The savvy Banks began his solo career with 1979’s A Curious Feeling , during a Genesis hiatus—and, riding the wave of the band’s’ recent hit single, “Follow You Follow Me,” he earned a modest showing on the U.K. charts, even if much of the album favors dreamy, keyboard-heavy textures (“From the Undertow”) and lightly proggy instrumental sections, aided by the chesty belting of singer Kim Beacon. That LP was Banks’ last flirtation with vintage prog—but even when his production brightened during the New Wave era, he sounded most natural wading in harmonically complex waters, from the arty synth excursions of soundtrack cut “Lion of Symmetry” to 17-minute Strictly Inc. epic “An Island in the Darkness.”