Entry for June 07, 2007

Genesis, A Trick of the Tail SACD review.

Any one who knows me, knows that I am a huge Genesis fan. Finally, the SACD versions of all there albums are being released in three different sets. I blogged about this a while ago, check the archives for details. The bad part is that the SACD versions are NOT being released here in the U.S.! I had to import them from Hong Kong to hear these gems in ther highest resolution currently available! All have a 5.1 mix and come with a region free NTSC bonus DVD. I will concentrate my reviews over the next coming days and weeks to the audio of the SACD disc only. So without further ado, here is my review of A Trick of the Tail!

Trick has always been on of my top three list of Genesis albums. It has the beginnings of Phil Collin’s soft, sweet vocals and styling’s, some sweet mystical guitar work by Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett, and of course, Tony Bank’s dizzying keyboard work and song writing shines though as always. This is a FUN album, but also one of those albums that has layers upon layers of deeper meaning and meticulous song writing. Okay, that last sentence describes EVERY Genesis album. I just want to point out I am reviewing this mix and how it sounds on my system, NOT the content of the music. Just this release’s presentation. Here are my thoughts written tracks for track.

1.) Dance on a Volcano – The opening proves that the surrounds will be used on these tracks and not just as ambience. The bass is tight, not boomy or tubby like other mixes I have heard. Phil’s voice has never been clearer, anchored to the center speaker. Cymbals shimmer with all the detail and realism that SACD promised years ago at inception. And the bells toll with a tone and musical clarity I have never noticed prior.

2.) Entangled- Bells are alive again and are inspiring. However the mix seems a bit too loud. Allow me to illustrate, this is a quiet thoughtful track, it has some soft spots and builds to a choric crescendo at the conclusion. This version seem a lot louder. Please don’t confuse that as sounding compressed though. The integrity and clarity of the track is still there. Just the soul of the song is a bit softer and should have been mixed that way. The ending choir and build up has always been fatiguing to me, this time, I was swept into the sound until it’s end swirls you away, the way I think our friends meant for it to end.

3.) Squonk- A fun tubby rocker that shows Phil isn’t all about the sappy love songs he has the (not deserved) reputation for. Bass has a strong tone and power I have never heard before. I had both the original CD release, the remaster, and have heard the album on a decent set up, many years ago. Every other version the bass has been either tubby, chuffy, or non existent. Squonk gets the bass it deserves on this release. Phil’s voice has been front and center on every song until now, and gets a little lost in the mix. It’s always been that way, I believe it is inherent to the song. The mix is also a little busy, not as much separation as the rest, but I think it’s just inherent with the sound of this track, and I certainly can forgive it with this fun rocker.

4.) Mad Man Moon- I hear a hiss in the rear, most likely from the source. I wonder why it could not have been muted. Once again this is a ballad that is soft and it’s mixed a bit loud for my taste. Also once again it doesn’t sound compressed. A slight volume adjustment in future listenings will be done. A minor complaint, for an awesome sonic experience so far. Good use of rear channels that opens up the soundstage and gives Steve a voice, and focus never heard before to me. Hiss returns in the quiet ending.

5.) Robbery, Assault and Battery- Phil comes really forward on this one. Not only is he front and center, but there is a slight forward of the center projection here. It works oddly well, Phil is somewhat of a story teller in this one. While listening to this track I put down my notepad and got lost in the sound. That was a good thing.

6.) Ripples- The start of this song is a sonic treat. Truly what having all this equipment and SACD is all about. Phil’s voice on the chorus is out of phase to great effect.

(The song IS called Ripples.) one word describes the beautiful instrumental ending, ethereal.

7.) Trick of the Tail- Another fun story song that begs for a 5.1 treatment. It does not disappoint. This cut makes me salivate for The Lamb coming later this year or early next. One of the finest things about being an audiophile, is when you hear details in an album you’ve never noticed before. This was one of those rare treats. Phil ends the song with a mmmm MMMMM! That about says it all.

8.) Los Endos- Wow! Powerful, enveloping, bass guitar. Subwoofer is a requirement folks. Surrounds give it a live concert sound and FEEL. Phil’s famous, cryptic, final goodbye to Peter Gabriel is a bit more lost in the mix, but an all around fantastic presentation.

There you have it. I would give this a solid A. An A+ if the ballads had been a tad more softer sounding. This album reminds me of the kid in Gary, Indiana swept to other worlds and places by the magical albums of Genesis back in the day, and why I will always enjoy and cherish every note. If this first re-release is any clue, I am in for some sonic treats in the months ahead.

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