Favourite Tony Banks keyboard moments in Genesis

  • Following the interesting discussion in this thread about Banks's keyboard sounds on WCD, I started thinking more broadly of his moments I particularly like in the work of Genesis and would like to hear members' own thoughts.


    Chords are of course a major element of the Banks/Genesis sound, and this applies to a part that was key in making me a fan, namely the huge Hammond chords under the "now, now, now" at the end of Musical Box. That, and the way the Hammond builds from just after "...your flesh", sounding almost church-like then swelling to the big ringing chords during and after the vocal part. I remember being very struck by that whole end section when I first heard the song around the mid 1970s (along with Apocalypse I think it's one of the best segments they did), but those chords especially really stood out. I was saddened that the 08 remaster seemed to diminish them somewhat.


    Speaking of Apocalypse, the chord sequence during that is absolutely immense. I also love the quiet entry of the choir after "...don't give a damn" in Moonlit Knight and how it then gloriously swells. The choir in the latter part of Entangled is lovely, like being in a warm bath of sound. It's an effect he wisely used quite sparingly and always made it count. He could have drowned Silent Sorrow with it, but kept it to a minimum, leaving the majority of the track as the bare-bones six-note motif with some overlays but still somehow ringing after the gorgeous wash of choir. Newer prog bands often overuse it to a ludicrous extent and sap its power. The Watcher opening is another obvious mellotron high point.


    Focusing more on solos and lead lines, the Raven solo will always be a favourite of mine, specifically the original. But while he's an accomplished and usually interesting soloist I'm often drawn more to the little touches and fills he's so adept at, eg that tiny little bridge in NYC after the "off we go" section before it returns to the main verses. The bright 6-note theme in the chorus of Silver Rainbow, in BTL the 4-note piano fill after "I will help you" (under the ooh-ooh-ooh-oooooh), the lead line in the chorus of No Son, all bits I love.

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  • So many! But, off the top of my head:


    • Firth of Fifth intro
    • Riding the Scree
    • All in a Mouse's night outro (heavenly match-up with Steve's guitar)
    • In the Cage mid-section
    • Supper's Ready (Apocalypse in 9/8)
    • Middle section of Follow You Follow Me

    The final two in particular demonstrate how he good adeptly 'prog' and 'pop'

  • What a great thread Backdrifter and maybe we need one for each band member.

    As for Tony you put it extremely well and I like all the bits you’ve mentioned as well as those mentioned by TrickoftheWuthering. I’ll probably be remembering dozens more as the night goes on but I’ve always loved the second half of Cinema Show, especially the mellotron choirs and I also like the plinky plonk riff he plays in Mama, by way of contrast. He’s so good, from the piano on the Revelation album to the solos on Fading Lights (I know not everyone agrees and I don’t like much of the keyboards on CAS although the bassy bits in Congo are good.) He could be simple at times, which worked on Timetable but less so on Your Own Special Way and we all know how fast he could play (e.g Robbery). But I agree it’s those chords that elevate Genesis to another level and they would have never scaled the heights without them.

  • This is my kind of topic... Thanks Backdrifter !

    - The little organ solo in Stagnation, just after the dueling guitar arpeggios, before the instrumental climax in D major with the drums ;

    - The quiet part of the organ and flute solo in The Knife ;

    - The intro of Salmacis

    - The mellotron solo of Can Utility :

    - Cinema Show solo ;

    - Fly on a windshield ;

    - The synth melody of Hairless Heart ;

    - The piano/synth melodic blend with Hackett and Rutherford acoustics in the Lamia (between the verses, you know) ;

    - The ending of Entangled ;

    - Earl of Mar Intro ;

    - Wot Gorilla ? ;

    - The instrumental ending of All in a Mouse's Night (after the "It only took one blow !" line) ;

    - the piano/mellotron blend of Blood on the Rooftops ;

    - Same for Many Too Many ;

    - the naive quality of Ballad of Big organ part ;

    - Duchess intro ;

    - Cul De Sac intro ;

    - Duke's Travels climax.

    - Me And Sarah Jane ("First I'm flying going round and round...")

    - It's Gonna Get Better ending ;

    - Tonight instrumental bridge ;

    - The Brazilian ;

    - Hold On My Heart chords ;

    - Fading Lights verses ;

    - Alien Afternoon ending.


    That's a lot I know...

  • Great thread. Can't argue with any of these but I'd add the opening notes of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. There's an incredible amount of tension in that intro that gets released throughout the song and really the rest of the album.

  • I love the positivity of the thread. And I agree with the highlights listed above.


    I'd add the ambience he created with his sound in Heathaze. And the middle section of One for the Vine.


    Q: was the flute in The Knife from Tony's keyboard or was it Peter?

  • I love the positivity of the thread. And I agree with the highlights listed above.


    I'd add the ambience he created with his sound in Heathaze. And the middle section of One for the Vine.


    Q: was the flute in The Knife from Tony's keyboard or was it Peter?

    It’s from Peter. No synthesizer keyboard on Trespass album (just acoustic sound).

  • One thing about Tony, as opposed to keyboard players in other bands that I listen to -- and it's not a criticism, just an observation: His major solos, such as in "Cinema Show," are predetermined rather than improvised. I can't think of any other keyboard player represented in my music collection who works that way.

    “When the waitress asked if I wanted my pizza cut into four or eight slices, I said, ‘Four. I don’t think I can eat eight.’” -- Yogi Berra


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  • Great thread. I think people have already hit on just about all of my favorite Tony moments. I'd like to add the mellotron choir in Afterglow.


    Even on FGTR, there are some incredibly catchy piano phrases.


    Like everybody has mentioned, no improvisation. That's why I've always thought of Tony as a composer, rather than a songwriter.

  • Great thread. I think people have already hit on just about all of my favorite Tony moments. I'd like to add the mellotron choir in Afterglow.


    Even on FGTR, there are some incredibly catchy piano phrases.


    Like everybody has mentioned, no improvisation. That's why I've always thought of Tony as a composer, rather than a songwriter.

    Is there Mellotron choir on Afterglow? The main vocal effects at the end are Phil, assembled in the same way as the Voice of Necam by Steve Hackett, Steve's idea to use the computerised faders on the Neve of Croydon Computer Assisted Mixdown (NECAM!) as an instrument.

    Ian


    Putting the old-fashioned Staffordshire plate in the dishwasher!

  • Is there Mellotron choir on Afterglow? The main vocal effects at the end are Phil, assembled in the same way as the Voice of Necam by Steve Hackett, Steve's idea to use the computerised faders on the Neve of Croydon Computer Assisted Mixdown (NECAM!) as an instrument.

    I guess I was thinking specifically of the Seconds Out version. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure it’s mellotron.

  • I guess I was thinking specifically of the Seconds Out version. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure it’s mellotron.

    Seconds out version will be, hard to carry a 48 track mixer around for one song. And they're big, like 20 feet across, I've seen the one they have (had?) at BBC Llandaff back in the 1980's. The Mellotron was problem enough!

    Ian


    Putting the old-fashioned Staffordshire plate in the dishwasher!

  • Extremely difficult to choose when there have been so many great moments but Tony parts I enjoy:


    The Musical Box (chord changes at the end really build the atmosphere).

    Watcher of the Skies (beginning and end, obviously. If only that track didn't have the vocal part in the middle...)

    Can Utility and the Coastliners (another that would have been better without the vocal, or less vocal)

    Supper's Ready - Apocalypse in 9/8 (probably his greatest moment)

    Supper's Ready - Sure as Eggs (those chords are so uplifting)

    Firth of Fifth

    Cinema Show

    Fly on a Windshield (great chord choices again)

    Silent Sorrow (I love the atmosphere)

    Entangled ( I really love the atmosphere, really dreamy)

    Undertow

    Many too Many

    Duchess (intro is great, the chords in the song itself are perfect - and more obvious on the last tour)

    Me and Sarah Jane

    Second Home

    The Brazilian

  • Earlier I mentioned

    Quote

    that tiny little bridge in NYC after the "off we go" section before it returns to the main verses

    - I particularly like when he played it an octave up on the Archive 1 Lamb live version.


    There's been mention of his early piano work on FGTR, which reminded me how much I like his riff on The Conqueror.


    I'm trying to think of more of those fleeting smaller parts. BOTR was mentioned, in it I love the brief, slightly skewed ascending part bridging the two parts of the verse, eg just before "Though your eyes..." helped by the 'distance' it has in the mix. The way the mellotron comes in at the end of that bit then continues into that next verse section is a great illustration of how well he painted in colours and created textures, the detail of it like small touches in a painting that add to the overall picture.

    was the flute in The Knife from Tony's keyboard or was it Peter?

    This was answered earlier, but made me wonder if he ever used the mellotron on flute setting. I can't think of any instances, I could be missing them but I'm assuming that with a flautist in the band there wasn't any need. But I also can't think of any post-PG either.

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