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Music / A Trick of the Tail

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"Let the dance begin!"

"'They got no horns and they got no tail.
They don't even know of our existence.
Am I wrong to believe in the City of Gold
That lies in the deep distance?' he cried and wept."

A Trick of the Tail is the seventh studio album by Genesis, released on January 1976 by Charisma Records in the United Kingdom and Atco Records in the United States. It was their first album released after the departure of frontman Peter Gabriel, and the remaining members were faced with the daunting task of replacing a strong vocalist and moving on as a band. After initially unsuccessfully auditioning for a replacement lead vocalist, they were so impressed with drummer Phil Collins' performance that they gave him the role. The album was released to strong critical acclaim and sales in both the United Kingdom and United States. The band's profile in the latter was further boosted through subsequent concert tours with fellow progressive rock drummer Bill Bruford filling the percussion role for Collins.



Side One
  1. "Dance on a Volcano" (5:55)
  2. "Entangled" (6:27)
  3. "Squonk" (6:29)
  4. "Mad Man Moon" (7:36)

Side Two

  1. "Robbery, Assault and Battery" (6:16)
  2. "Ripples" (8:06)
  3. "A Trick of the Tail" (4:35)
  4. "Los Endos" (5:46)

Principal Members:

You better start troping it riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight:

  • Age-Progression Song: "Ripples" is a variation; it's about the narrator pondering a woman's aging process and the fleeting nature of beauty.
    The face that launched a thousand ships
    Is sinking fast, that happens you know
    The water gets below
    Seems not very long ago
    Lovelier she was than any that I know
  • The Band Minus the Face: With Peter Gabriel gone, this album had to prove that Genesis could continue without him. Unlike other groups that have run afoul of this trope, they succeeded, with Phil Collins establishing himself as the new invokedFace of the Band.
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  • Book-Ends: The album starts and ends with similar riffs, though "Los Endos" also incorporates chords from "Squonk" and "Supper's Ready".
  • City of Gold: Where the Beast in "A Trick of the Tail" comes from. He was initially bored of it, so he ventures out into the human world, where he is captured and paraded around as a freak. The Beast then vanishes back there, tricking the humans into thinking he'll take them there.
    Bored of the life in the city of gold,
    He left and let nobody know.
    Gone were the spires he had known from a child,
    Along with the dream of a life.
  • Defector from Paradise: In the Title Track, the Beast decides the utopian city of gold is boring and leaves to explore the human world. His subsequent capture and imprisonment help him appreciate his home a little more.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In "A Trick of the Tail", the Beast escapes from his cage, but still offers to lead a group of people to his city of gold, despite his mistreatment at The Freakshow (although it's probably just a trick). When the group reaches their destination, the humans catch only a glimpse of the city, but they hear the Beast (who has suddenly vanished) being welcomed home.
  • Epic Rocking: As usual with Genesis. Almost every song breaks the six-minute mark or comes close, with the Title Track the only exception.
  • Fauns and Satyrs: The Beast in "A Trick of the Tail" is portrayed in this manner on the album cover, which was designed by Hipgnosis and drawn by illustrator Colin Elgie. Said beasts bemoans that the humans he meets don't have horns or a tail, or even acknowledge his kind exists.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: In the Title Track, the humans instinctively capture the Beast and place him in a freak show exhibit.
    But soon they grew bored of their prey.
    "'The beast that can talk'?
    More like a freak or publicity stunt!"
  • Karma Houdini: Played With in "Robbery, Assault and Battery", where the robber evades capture and kills a policeman in both crimes he commits in the song. He then states that he'll be back someday, but there's always the possibility he'll be arrested and put on trial.
    "He's leaving via roof, the bastard's got away!
    God always fights on the side of the bad man!"
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Squonk" and "A Trick of the Tail".
  • One-Word Title: "Entangled", "Squonk" and "Ripples".
  • Our Monsters Are Different: The Beast considers the humans to be strange and cruel — and considering how he's treated, who can blame him?
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: To the titular creature in the final verse of "Squonk":
    All in all you are a very dying race
    Placing trust upon a cruel world.
    You never had the things you thought you should have had
    And you'll not get them now,
    And all the while in perfect time
    Your tears are falling on the ground.


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