As the season of the box sets approaches, here's one to be going on with. A 4 CD compilation taken from the solo work of Tony Banks. Out of all the Genesis members who embarked on solo careers, Banks had the least commercial and critical success. On the face of it that is very surprising considering his huge contribution within Genesis as composer and keyboardist. Banks has been quite vocal in his dissapointment in his lack of solo success. I would even go as far as to state that he appears quite bitter about this state of affairs. That was quite evident in the recent BBC documentary about Genesis where he seemed quite aloof, especially to Steve Hackett who has enjoyed a solid solo career with his own material as well as his Genesis Revisited projects.
Personally, I am not familiar with any of Banks's solo albums and so decided to take the plunge with this set. Surprisingly I have enjoyed most of what is on offer. You can hear the Genesis DNA throughout which is no surprise but for me there is nothing overly poppy or twee, which did permeate a lot of latter day Genesis. There is even a 17 minute epic here in "An Island in Darkness", which would have made a superb Genesis track. But Genesis weren't really doing epic by then. Mixing songs, instrumentals and orchestral pieces gives a balanced, but broad introduction of the Tony Banks oeuvre. I love Banks' electric piano playing on the Genesis albums and there's plenty here which does anchor some of the songs in familiar territory. But overall this box set is a great showcase for what he has been up to outwith the confines of the band and I think many will be surprised at how good a lot of the material is. Excellent package as well, thanks to Phil Smee for that.