Lee Speaks About Music… #69

A Curious Feeling (CD/DVD Deluxe Edition) – Tony Banks



Having recently pre-ordered a couple of items that are being released by Esoteric Recordings, I decided to have a browse through their catalogue and stumbled upon the first 2 solo albums by Tony Banks. These albums are far from new to me and I brought them on vinyl at the time he released them. But what I did find new about these releases is that they both came with a DVD with the 5.1 mixes of the albums done by the very guy who did the 5.1 mixes for the Genesis albums Nick Davis.

To be honest just like the Genesis pop side of things when they was a 3 piece band, I find  a lot of Tony Banks albums have pretty much outdated themselves, though I always felt that his first solo album A Curious Feeling was personally his best.

I know just recently he has released a new album entitled Five and just like his two previous albums Six & Seven they are very much just piano & orchestra albums and do not interest me at all I am afraid. From what I have heard of them they just bore the life out of me, and they are far from something like what Jon Lord did with Pictures Within’ on that score. Now Lord’s album does speak to me, and that album of his, is one of my personal favourites of his solo career.

There is no doubt that Tony Banks is the most least successful solo artist out of the 5 major members that made up Genesis from 1971 – 1975. He was also known as the person who contributed the most to the writing of Genesis earlier music, though his writing perhaps never really shined through into his solo career, though some of it does on this particular album.

There is no doubt that Banks tried to be more popular and would often bring in other well known singers to sing on some of his solo albums he put out after this album. Though he perhaps never really grabbed the attention or the limelight that his band mates Phil Collins & Peter Gabriel got. Or even Mike Rutherford & Steve Hackett got for that matter.

For my own personal taste my favourite solo artist out of this bunch as always been Steve Hackett. He is the only one of them who stuck by his guns and never tried to change. Personally I do not think Tony Banks was capable of writing albums like Voyage Of The Acolyte and Spectral Mornings and not even this debut album of his will match up to those albums either.

But it’s not that bad album at all and before I go into a more in depth look at the album, let’s first take a look at the packaging.

The Packaging & Artwork…


The both discs come in what Esoteric Recordings call a Hardshell Digipak. Basically it’s a plastic Jewel Case that comes with a cardboard cover to house it in, and is nothing like a Digipak which is made of cardboard and a far more attractive and stylish way of packaging the discs.

Though the Jewel Case does provide good protection and this is one of those that comes with a swinging fold out flap that holds the both discs on both sides of the flap.

It also comes with a very well detailed 16 page booklet that provides information of when the album was made, plus linear notes on the credits and production side of things and the songs lyrics. It also contains some rare photographs of the recording sessions that were never put in any previous releases.

The Artwork.

The artwork is based around a God by the name of Wuluwait from northern Arnhem Land in northern Australia. Besides a rainmaker he was also known as a boatman who ferries the souls of the dead to Purelko, the aboriginal afterlife. The painting of the Wuluwait Boatman of the Dead was done by Ainslie Roberts.


Wuluwait Boatman Of The Dead

Ainslie Roberts was born in London England in 1911 and migrated to Australia in 1922. He spent his life in painting and photography and was a commercial artist best known for his interpretations of Aboriginal legends in his Dreamtime books, written in collaboration with ethnologist/anthropologist Charles Mountford.

The CD/DVD Deluxe Release…

The CD/DVD Deluxe 30th Anniversary Edition of A Curious Feeling was originally reissued, remastered and released on the 19th October 2009 by Esoteric Recordings, not long after the Genesis Box Set’s were released to which Nick Davis done all the 5.1 mixes for them. Unlike those Box Sets though that came with an Hybrid SACD & DVD of the bands albums, this was released as CD/DVD only.

This particular release is out of print and came in Digipak with a fixed booklet inside and looks a lot better than the new reissue I have just purchased.

This release I have purchased was re-released by Esoteric Recordings again in February 2016. Only this time it did not contain a fixed booklet and it comes with new remixes of the albums tracks to accompany the DVD and also was repackaged in an hardback Digipak.

This is the version I got from Amazon for £13.47p, and the price suits my pocket very well indeed I will say, and you would end up paying silly money for a second hand version of the CD/DVD Deluxe 30th Anniversary Edition if you could find one.

The CD.

The CD comes with the new stereo remixes of the albums original 11 tracks done by Nick Davis and does not contain any bonus tracks. As as a rule I never really bother playing the CD’s that come in a release like this, and my only incentive here is the DVD with the 5.1 mix. But I thought I would give it a spin to see how well the new mixes came out. I also took the liberty of playing the CD first as well.

To be honest I am not sure it’s really benefited at all regarding the new mixes, and it sounds the same as I remember it on the vinyl album from years ago. If there is any difference it’s very subtle. But it does sound very good.

The DVD.


The DVD’s main menu features a moving animation of the album cover, and the animation gives the effect of the water moving and adds a rather nice little touch. The menu presents you with 4 simple enough options to choose from. For surround freaks like myself, I always like to check in the “Audio” section first to make sure I have my preferred choice of audio rather than just click on “Play”.


The “Audio” section is set to 96/24 Stereo LPCM by default. My preferred choice is the DTS 96/24 5.1 Surround Mix. Though I will say it was very good of them to have included the Stereo mix with high quality audio as well.

The DVD contains the albums original 11 multichannel tracks mixed into 5.1 audio only by Nick Davis. It also contains the new stereo mixes as well and both are in an high quality audio format of 96/24. Once again it does not contain any bonus tracks and Tony Banks must of used up everything he wrote for this album at the time.

It does however come with 2 promotional videos of the tracks that were made at the time which were “For a While” and “The Waters of Lethe“. Both videos are nothing that special, and can even be seen on Youtube these days.

When they was working on the reissue of the album in 2009. Tony Banks tried to get in touch with the singer Kim Beacon perhaps for the purposes of doing a short documentary to be included on the release. But unfortunately the singer died in 2001.

The 5.1 Mix.

The 5.1 mixes were done by both Nick Davies. In my own experience of Davis’s work on the Genesis 1970 – 1975 Box Set (to which I brought a good while back now) I would say that his work on mixing 5.1 is quite familiar with that of Steve Wilson. They are both engineers who do not believe in going over the top, and pay great care and attention not to take too much from the front stereo field and place it in the rear speakers.

They are also very good with the way they use reflections of the instruments too from the front to the rear speakers. If anything I find Davis perhaps a bit more subtle than Wilson at times, and although both engineers are capable of getting great results in bringing out the dynamics and the clarity.

I personally find that Steve Wilson’s work has improved a lot more over the years in mixing 5.1 and in general he will breathe a fresh new life into a mix. More so than what Nick Davis has done here with this 5.1 mix. So this is not what I would personally call an exciting 5.1 mix, but never the less it’s still quite good.

Musicians & Credits…

Recorded at the Polar Music Studio in Stockholm Sweden between the spring and summer of 1979. Produced by Tony Banks & David Hentschel. Originally recorded and engineered by David Bascombe and David Hentschel. Artwork Ainslie Roberts. Original Cover designed by Hothouse. CD Packaging Design by Phil Smee. New Mix at The Farm in Surrey 2008. Stereo & 5.1 Surround Mixes by Nick Davis. Assisted by Ben Hampson. Technical Assistant Geoff Callingham. DVD Authored by Ray Schulman.

Tony Banks: Keyboards/Guitar/Bass/Percussion.
Chester Thompson: Drums & Percussion.
Kim Beacon: Vocals.

The Album & Tracks In Review…

A Curious Feeling by Tony Banks was originally released on Charisma Records on the 8th October 1979. Most of the material for the album was written in what little time he had off from touring the Genesis 9th studio album And Then There Were Three. Some extracts that was written for that album also ended up on this album.

Banks decided to use Abba’s recording studios in Sweden to record the album, and roped in Chester Thompson who was part of the Genesis live line-up at the time, and Kim Beacon who was in one of the earlier incarnations of the band String Driven Thing who was signed to Tony Stratton Smith’s Charisma label. The album was then finally mixed at Ian Anderson’s Maison Rouge studios in London.

I would of thought it was the Genesis manager Smith who recommended vocalist Beacon to Banks in the first place. Though Banks did state in an interview that he was unaware he was signed to the Charisma label and found him through listening to various tapes he had of different singers.

The album upon its release was one of only two of Bank’s albums to get into the UK album charts and this one fared better than his 2nd album reaching number 21. Bank’s also said that many of the bad reviews it received was unfair, because it was released at the time of the post punk era and was perhaps not album people wanted to hear.

Some of the more respectable reviews from Classic Rock and those sorts were more favourable with their words. Some even went as far as saying that it captures some of those finer elements from the Peter Gabriel era of Genesis. Though I would not go that far myself with my own view of the album, and if anything this album captures the exact time the bands 9th album And Then There Were Three was written and not a lot more.

Bank’s inspiration for this particular album came from the novel “Flowers For Alganon” by Daniel Keyes. Which was originally a short science fiction story he wrote in 1958 and had it published in a magazine in the following year. It even won an award.

Later on between 1962 – 1965 Keyes worked on expanding the story into more of a novel and several publishers refused to publish it, and wanted him to change the ending of the story, to which he refused. Keyes got his own way in the end and it was published by Harcourt in 1966. It won many more awards and has sold more than 5 million copies and still sells today as it’s never been out of print.

So let’s now take a look deeper into the individual tracks on the album…

Track 1. From the Undertow.

The album kicks off with a short instrumental piece that was originality written back in 1978 and intended to be an intro for the 2nd track “Undertow” on the Genesis album And Then There Were Three from the same year. Hence the title we have here.

This particular piece was also used in 1978 for the British horror film Shout to which both Genesis members Mike Rutherford & Tony Banks wrote the soundtrack for. Though the soundtrack to the film was never released.

Musically it fits Ainslie Roberts painting of the Wuluwait Boatman of the Dead like a glove. It’s quite haunting and dramatic. In some ways it could even be seen as depressing with it’s down minor key and tempo. It’s not a bad instrumental piece but it does not exactly ignite the fire either. It’s more of dramatic soundtrack piece if anything.

Track 2. Lucky Me.

Although a single release of “For A While” was released as single release from this album “Lucky Me” would certainly be the track on the album I would of felt of being the strongest contender for one. Personally I think Banks should of released it as a single and the album might have got a bit more attention.

But then again there is no doubt that this particular song does contain some very well written meaningful lyrics, that may have been too much for your average pop listener to take in, and it’s not your average lovey dovey stuff :)))))).

Though it certainly does have more brightness about it, and is perhaps a ray of sunshine in relation to the opening instrumental piece. It does have that pop feel about it, and it’s quite catchy too. It must be, because even I can still wake up in the morning singing this song of his many moons after he wrote it. Any song that can do that to you has to be a great song.

Besides Banks’s keyboards on the track he also makes good use of his 12 string guitar like he did back in the days with early Genesis, though this song is not in the least prog rock. Kim Beacon’s voice is also well suited on this song and his vocals work well for a ballad like this one. It’s my personal favourite track on the album, and wins the top spot award.

Track 3. The Lie.

A song that comes in two parts and it gives one the impression that this particular album as some sort of a concept about it, especially with the lyrical content we have over the two parts here. The way the album flows with its songs and instrumental pieces, may also give that impression, because there is a sense of drama to a lot of the tracks on the album.

This first part of the song (even though it opens up with a subtle intro played on the keys) has perhaps more of an harder edge to it with its up-tempo steady pace.  It even borrows and incorporates the chorus from the Genesis song “Trick Of The Tail” in the middle section of it, and even as myself singing the words to that song rather than this one along with its vamping piano melody :))))))).

Track 4. After The Lie.

The second part of the song starts off where it came down from the first part. It opens up in a more refined ballad style which tends to suit Beacon’s voice more than the hard edge sections.  Though he does cope quite well throughout. It’s also got a lot more of dramatical feel about the 2nd part, and I particularly like the way it builds up to its more powerful ending. Banks plays some great keyboards on this track.

The both parts are very well put together and work very well, and this two part piece I would see of having a bit of contention for the top spot on the album too.

Track 5. A Curious Feeling.

The album’s self titled track is another brighter sprightly up-tempo song. Once again the lyrics are very well written and it’s a stab at politics and religion in the way that it’s telling you not to believe in everything, everybody says. I like how he also uses a reference to the tv series the Man From Uncle in it, as if to say you may as well believe in everything that is shown on the tv, or even fairies for that matter.

No doubt it’s another pop song, but there is nothing wrong with pop songs when they come with lyrics like this that’s for sure. I think it’s another great track and contender for the top spot on the album,

Track 6. Forever Morning.

Forever Morning” is one of the two longer instrumental tracks on the album. In some respects it’s a bit like a cross between the Genesis songs “One For The Vine” and “Undertow” though it’s certainly more like the latter of those two. It’s almost as if it wants to open up into the Undertow’s main theme, but it does not quite get there sort of thing. No doubt Banks is a great keyboard player and he does a fine job of things here.

Track 7. You.

Banks’s once again accompanies his keyboards with some fine 12 string guitar on one of the more longer songs on the album. It’s perhaps a slow starter with Beacon doing another fine job singing along, then it goes into a very nice keyboard solo that picks up some great pace towards the end of it. It’s perhaps more of an instrumental track more than anything else, because once the solo comes in Beacon’s job on the track is done.

Track 8. Somebody Else’s Dream.

The longest track on the album is perhaps the reverse of the previous song in that Beacon gets to play more of a role on the vocal side of things. To be honest I find it quite strange that there is not even a lead break considering its some near enough 8 minutes long.

The song does burst into action nicely though with its intro, and it’s got quite a promising start. It even has a nice little short bridge instrumental section, but it’s basically a verse and chorus song and can get a bit monotonous and it even drags itself out a bit.

Track 9. The Waters of Lethe.

The longest instrumental piece on the album and it’s title is very much what the boat is standing in on the cover of the album. The so called waters of Lethe goes back to Greek and Roman mythology of the underworld where these waters are found. Many see it has the waters of hades though to the Aborigines it would be seen as their boat ride to heaven.

Musically the piece is once again like that of the “Undertow”  though it does have some different melody lines along the way. Just like the opening track on the album that can sound a bit depressing, there are some brighter elements and contrasting themes to “The Waters of Lethe” and it contains a lot more structure about it. It’s quite a fine piece of work by Banks and is another worthy contender for the top spot.

Track 10. For A While.

The albums picks itself up wonderfully with this lovely song even though it’s about a dying man so to speak. Once again the lyrical content tends to pertain and lead more towards Ainslie Roberts’s painting, and the myth of that boat taking one to their promised land so to speak. So I get quite a feeling that Tony Banks’s inspiration from Daniel Keyes novel somehow got lost along the way a bit, and he perhaps fused two stories together here, but it still flows pretty well for it.

For A While” was the only single release from the album. It was released with “After The Undertow” on the B-Side here in the UK, and I do believe in other countries “A Curious Feeling” got put on the B-Side. It’s a great song and is another worthy contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 11. In The Dark.

A 3 minute song that closes up the story and put the album to bed nicely enough. There is no doubt the album does contain a lot of meaningful lyrics that do go to some way of making it a more interesting album. Banks accompanies song on the piano with some subtle touches of ambient nice sounds from his keyboards here too.


To sum up A Curious Feeling by Tony Banks I personally think it’s the best solo album Banks made, though a lot of its material at times can be very low key giving it that bit of a depressing edge to it. In some respects it’s a bit like he’s tried to combine pop material with dramatic soundtrack material with the instrumental and vocal tracks he wrote for the album.I think the lyrical content is very strong and holds up very well, though regarding the concept and the inspiration he had with Daniel Keyes novel of the Flowers For Algernon. Which is a science fictional story about Charlie Gordon who was an handicapped person they used as a guinea pig to experiment on to give a human being more intelligence.

He may very well of also been inspired from Ainslie Roberts artwork and the stories behind the Waters of Lethe as well if anything.Well that is certainly how it appears to me, though to be perfectly honest, having not read Daniel Keyes book myself and merely looked up some information of what it’s all about, my own personal judgement could very well be wrong. But I have always liked the fact that the lyrical content of any song, can have so many different interpretations and meanings to us all on that score.


Overall the album A Curious Feeling by Tony Banks is perhaps not an album I would personally place in a list of top 100 albums. I also do not think it’s a solid album either. But it is a good album. It’s an album if anything, I personally feel flows really well. It’s always been the best of his solo output for me, and it makes a pleasant enough listening experience from the start to the finish, even if some parts of it can be a bit depressing.

My personal highlights from the album are “Lucky Me“. “The Lie“. “After The Lie“. “A Curious Feeling“. “The Waters of Lethe” and “For A While“.

Having this new version of the recordings that now comes with a 5.1 mix was my only incentive for buying this album again. I think the 5.1 mix has been done well enough and was worthy of me buying the album again. Though I do feel that Steve Wilson would of put more life back into it had he have done the mix.

But then again I could be very well contradicting myself because this is very much an album that was made when we were approaching the 80’s, and most records from that decade really outdated themselves including Genesis pop albums. Even promo videos were made at the same time.

So these are technically a lot harder recordings to get to sound any better at all on that score. So it could very well be that Nick Davis done the best he could here, and it would of even been a difficult task for Steve Wilson to do any better with. All I can say is thank god Hugh Pagham never produced this album in the first place, like he did later on with Genesis.

The price point of £13.47 for a package like this, that comes with a CD and a DVD is very good. The fact that you are getting a DVD with a far more high quality audio recording on it, and your getting a 5.1 mix makes this very much a winner.

My Name Is Unimportant And My Job You Could Call Mean

The CD track listing is as follows:

01. From the Undertow. 2:47.
02. Lucky Me. 4:27.
03. The Lie. 4:56.
04. After the Lie. 4:49.
05. A Curious Feeling. 3:59.
06. Forever Morning. 6:03.
07. You. 6:29.
08. Somebody Else’s Dream. 7:51.
09. The Waters of Lethe. 6:33.
10. For a While. 3:38.
11. In the Dark. 2:57.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 8/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10

The Bonus Material Rating Score. 3/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 7/10

The Original Album Rating Score. 7/10.

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