‘Much better than I ever thought it was’: Genesis’ Tony Banks reissues long out-of-print The Wicked Lady

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Tony Banks reissues his rare soundtrack for the 1983 Faye Dunaway vehicle The Wicked Lady today, the first of a series of solo albums the Genesis keyboardist will revisit — including Bankstatement and Strictly Inc.

Wicked Lady, released in 1983 just before Genesis’ self-titled album, provides an early glimpse into the classical forays that would become Banks’ focus once the band eventually went on hiatus. Before The Wicked Lady, Banks’ only film work had been some incidental music, done with Genesis bandmate Mike Rutherford, for 1978’s The Shout. He’d never written music specifically for narrative cues before.

“I really got into it at the end,” Banks says, in the attached video. “Initially, I was a bit frightened. But then you start doing it, and ideas come. It was a bit like being a pianist in the old-fashioned films in the theater, and you just play along. Then some things came that I quite liked.”

One side of the long-out-of-print original album featured the movie themes recorded by Banks at home on an eight-track, while the other included pieces that were arranged and orchestrated with Christopher Palmer for the film. The National Philharmonic Orchestra of London was featured.

“Because I was a first timer, he wanted to make sure he had someone who was very solid — and Christopher had a good reputation,” Banks says. “I could rely on him a lot. Really, most of the cues I just did playing on the piano, and then I sent him a demo of the piano stuff. He made the main theme sound fantastic, much better than I ever thought it was — and I wrote the thing. That’s the strongest piece on it, for me. The rest of it is incidental music.”

The Wicked Lady came out of a fertile period in 1983 that also saw Banks release the solo effort The Fugitive, which arrived the very next month. In fact, the film’s main theme had at one point originally been considered as an instrumental for The Fugitive.

Over the years, The Wicked Lady has developed into something of a legend among Genesis fans as the only solo album to have gone unreleased on compact disc.

“It’s just one of those things that people have asked me to make available again,” Banks says. “Obviously, the film wasn’t very successful so the album didn’t do very much. There aren’t many copies about. In fact, I think have most of them here somewhere.”

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