Banks for the memories
We recently caught up with Tony Banks to discuss his latest release, A Chord Too Far - a retrospective of his solo work - and his favourite gear.
While we were there, we just had to ask him about the 10 records that shaped his early musical leanings and influenced him as he became a founding member, songwriter and keyboard player in Genesis.
Click through the gallery to discover Bank's selections and to find out why he chose them...
A Chord Too Far is available to buy now from Cherry Red Records.
1. Dion - The Wanderer
“This was the first single I ever bought and it introduced me to one of the most basic chord sequences in the game. But it just sounded great, with a great lyric and great sax solo. I couldn’t fault it, really.
“I think it was the first song I ever got that really intense feeling about and it really struck me and got me interested in pop music. I think that period from about age 11 to age 16 is very formative.”
2. The Beatles - Twist and Shout
“I’ve put this but I could really have put anything by The Beatles. Again, this was the first single of theirs I bought and curiously enough there were two other versions of the song in the charts at the same time: Brian Poole and the Tremeloes and an Isley Brothers version.
“The Beatles version was just so much better in so many ways. George Martin was obviously a part of that, but the whole performance was great, and that vocal from John Lennon is so brilliantly over the top.
“The Beatles are the reason I’m in this business, I think. I bought all the albums from With The Beatles onwards. Rubber Soul and Revolver are just wonderful all the way through.
“We were playing music at school - Peter [Gabriel] and I used to play a lot together. He would sing if I got to the piano first and I would sing if he got to the piano first. We used to do lots of American Soul music, stuff like Otis Redding, which we loved.”
3. The Kinks - You Really Got Me
“I still remember when I first heard this and how fantastic it sounded. I loved The Kinks - all their singles were wonderful.
“They maybe didn’t have quite the strength and depth on their albums that The Beatles had, but so many brilliant singles. I recently went to see Sunny Afternoon, The Kinks musical, and it was just great song after great song. Wonderful.
“The Beatles, The Kinks, The Animals and The Zombies were my favourite bands from the ‘60s.”
4. James Brown - It's A Man's Man's Man's World
“It’s really an example of the American soul music that was very influential on Peter and I when we first started to play together.
“James Brown, Otis Redding and Ben E King were all really influential on us. I put this particular track in as I almost, kind of but not quite, used the chord sequence when I wrote what became the guitar solo for Firth of Fifth.
“I slightly inverted it as I loved the way it went to the major chord when you were expecting it to go to the minor; it just gives it such an incredible lift that it sends shivers down your spine every time you hear it! I’m not a huge James Brown fan apart from that track, but it’s just such a wonderful song.”
5. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
“Such a stunning album when it came out. I’ve always loved the Beach Boys through all their different incarnations.
“Pet Sounds was a masterpiece and it came out of nowhere, really. Extraordinary composition, extraordinary harmonies and extraordinary instrumentation.
“Brian Wilson said he was influenced by Revolver, but I think of the effect that Pet Sounds ended up having on Sgt Peppers then the whole of what you might call ‘progressive’ music, which was about seeing what you could get out of music if you didn’t stick to the rules. It wasn’t all wonderful but it kick-started a very interesting period.”
6. Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends
“Again, I like Simon & Garfunkel (and Paul Simon on his own) most of the time.
“Some of the tracks on Bookends like America or Save the Life of My Child are just wonderful compositions, musically and lyrically. Amazing harmonies and, of course, Garfunkel’s voice is beautiful on its own.
“At this point in the ‘60s I was liking a lot of music but some, like this album, much more than others.”
7. Stevie Wonder - Talking Book/Music of My Mind
“It could be either of these albums, as things like Superstition and Blame it On the Sun are stunning.
“For a brief period of three or four years he could simply do no wrong. The riffs he was coming up with were just fantastic - good keyboard player songs, really.”
8. Procol Harum - A Salty Dog
“This was the first time I heard stereo - this album and the previous one, Shine on Brightly. Both albums really did blow me away.
“I heard them on headphones and suddenly [I was] hearing things coming from all over the place and just the width of the sound! This was quite influential on us as a group, along with people like Family and Fairport Convention.
“Getting introduced to stereo was the thing for us and the song A Salty Dog itself is just a wonderful piece of music.”
9. David Bowie - Hunky Dory
“Coming a little forward in time with this one. I’ve been a Bowie fan since I bought a single of his, Can’t Help Thinking About Me, in the ‘60s, which I really liked as it used really unusual chords, which I was always on the search for in those days.
“I thought it was a great song although it never appears on any of his compilations or anything. From then on I kept my eye out for him and followed him through his various phases until he suddenly re-emerged with Space Oddity.
“Hunky Dory, for me, was the best of his albums. I’ve liked a lot of his stuff since too, but there’s not a weak track on Hunky Dory - everything works and it’s obviously got Life on Mars on it, which is a classic.
“Quicksand was a favourite of mine, too. He’s one of the best out there.”
10. Led Zeppelin - Kashmir
“It was quite a big influence on Genesis. Mike [Rutherford] and I heard it when we were travelling on tour in Germany and we didn’t actually know who it was!
“We thought it was fantastic and managed to gather from the German commentary that it was Led Zeppelin. It had that drum sound on it that we’d always been searching for; that very slow, heavy, very ambient sound.
“Phil, at the time, was very much into his jazz thing and trying to get as many beats in as he could, which worked really well for us too. Mike and I played Kashmir to Phil and said we wanted to do a song like that. So, we wrote the song, Squonk, with the idea of having drums like that on it, which didn’t quite work as we had the wrong engineer at the time, but we got the slower tempo and, after that, Phil got more and more into the heavy drums.
“John Bonham’s drums on Kashmir are amazing - a lot of the playing is out of time but it’s just got such a feel to it. The basic guitar riff is fantastic and all the Mellotron stuff on it gives it a great atmosphere, too. One of the best rock songs ever.”