Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited II (2012)

5052205062463_1500x1500_300dpi.600x600-75From amazon.com

I was in line for the pre-order of this superlative CD set. My vinyl copies of most of the originals that were culled for this song roster have suffered a strange fate that I can only account for by vaguely remembering that I had my records stacked on the floor and leaning against a heat-radiator which (while a student in Buffalo NY), was hot for endless winters… Stunned to find them warped beyond playability I have lived without this music for a long time. I find much of digital (CD) music generally sonically disappointing these days and was hesitant to replace my now-useless LP’s with dubious digital versions.

But still I could not resist the compulsion to go after this set and I will testify that I am not disappointed. This is a highly recommended re-creation of much of the classic-period (as I would define it) Genesis repertoire.

These kinds of musical exercises can pretty much go in one of two basic directions, a faithful recreation, maybe with a few of the original cast being one; I was pleased to see that Mr. Hackett and company took the other fork – avoiding the county-fair ‘oldies-show’ pitfall while re-imagining the music from a modern point of view and taking advantage of the bias of your particular instrument/s while opening the process up to folks who are equally enthusiastic about the journey.

I can see that a fair amount of time has gone into the track sequence and the various ways these songs were re-conceived and performed. The engineering of the material (primarily Roger King) is wonderful in it’s innovation, punch and clarity and the reclamation of Steve Hackett’s guitar authority within these songs, for my ears, reinvigorates and expands the originals. That hanging guitar sustain at the commencement of ‘The Chamber of 32 Doors’ will tell you all you need to know about Mr. Hackett’s approach to this music and his role in it’s original conception.

I confess that I went out and bought a sub-woofer, to upgrade the near-antique conglomeration of Hi-Fi (see how old I am?) components I cling to, essentially at the time of committing to this music purchase. I was stunned at the contribution to the output of my almost silly-looking paired Tandberg Fasett speakers those new-found lower bass notes made and this recording has plenty of those, even at the more subtle, low bass setting I prefer to maintain.

There are so many exemplary performances and vocal treatments here that both pay homage to and build upon the originals. I was afraid I would miss Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins’ voices but after a couple of playings and the expected getting-used-to period, I came to realize that it was the music that held steadfast and the new players brought something to the endeavor.

I have read through the various reviews here and agree with many of the comments; I also disagree with a few perspectives. So, I think that Gary O’Toole hit his marks on all his vocalizations; these never sounded better. Contrary to some opinions here, I greatly enjoy Amanda Lehmann’s handling of ‘Ripples’ and found that it opened up a new way of hearing that song, so-far “owned” by Phil Collins. Forget about who she is or is not sounding sort-of like; just listen to the intent of the music. I hit the repeat button a few times here (I had a similar reaction to hearing Shelby Lynne sing ‘Surfer Girl’ on Brian Wilson’s Musicares tribute video; I think some of this may involve getting over the gender bias of an original music and see what new may come of it). Rob Townsend’s wind contributions really do nudge a lot of this music into the improvisational jazz arena that it often tends toward. I have greatly enjoyed Mr. Hackett’s association and projects involving Steven Wilson and have yet to be disappointed with those outcomes; in so doing, I have become a huge fan of Mr. Wilson’s work with Porcupine Tree and on his own – this originating with these more recent collaborations of two creative thinkers. The participation of the Hungarian jazz ensemble Djabe in support of this music (and vice-versa) seems like a natural collaborative extension of their combined musical capabilities and interests.

Without pursuing the ‘favorites’ quagmire (okay, I’ll allow Musical Box…), I highly recommend this music purchase: obviously to Genesis freaks but also to younger listeners possibly new to what we still call ‘progressive rock’ – those who may find something missing or redundant in much of the musical out-pour these days. The long form, epic, ‘tone poem-ish’ nature of Mr. Hackett’s recent original works and now this particular ‘musical rehash’ – which may suffer under the “progressive” moniker – lends itself to introspection, absorption and a degree of musical feeling that remains with you after the demands of the day inevitably take you back over. The original or traditional classical and other musical references (the music-box intro; Greensleeves) which ‘set up’ or embellish certain selections help to redefine, enrich those pieces and bridge the chasm to other music forms and your own music memory.

Get it, queue it up, crank it up (I definitely agree with that fellow!) and sit down and listen. It’s quite excellent.

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January 25, 2014 - Posted by | Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited II | ,

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