Classic Rock Review

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Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited (2005)


Wow! Quite the feat! Obviously, a great deal of work, and love, were put into this album, not to mention production!

Having heard Genesis mostly from “Selling England by The Pound”, onward (except for “Watcher of the Skies”) there are some songs I’d never heard before. The third, for example, is a killer instrumental with Steve playing an insane, frantic Jeff Beck-like, seething solo. In fact, Jeff was one of Steve’s influences, and he quotes Jeff (from the Yardbird’s: “I Can’t Make Your Way”) fom 6:05 to 6:11 minutes into the track, “Fountain of Salmacis”, one of the great pieces I’d never heard before.

Prior to that, (though I haven’t really read the notes), I’m guessing that’s probably Steve singing through some device on “Dance on a Volcano”, which I’m sure most people would agree would have been much better suited to Paul Carrack, (who sings on a couple of other pieces), in the upper registers. However, in a couple of sections (when the vocal “octavider”, or whatever it is, goes ominously low) it couldn’t sound cooler! Perhaps if he’d sung the “whole” song like that, it might have worked better.

But there’s plenty of amazing things happening throughout this album. Like “Watcher of the Skies”,(imagine Steve playing this with King Crimson, since three key members of that band are playing it with him), and the amazing interpretation of “Firth of Fifth”, with some beautiful classical guitar in the middle, and then Steve demonstrating he’s one of the best rock guitarists in the world in the following section, not just with speed, but taste, and (more importantly something sorely missing these days),”creativity”.

The orchestra, at the beginning of this piece, recalls something enchanting, and beautiful not unlike “Nutcracker Suite”. Too bad that section wasn’t even longer! “Your Own Special Way” is nice, but occasionally there’s a little synth “riff” that sounds a little too “soft rock”, but Steve (I think wisely), leaves out the familiar riff in the chorus, and does a brilliant solo, that I can’t possibly imagine being topped by anyone on the planet!

“Waiting Room Only” is the “strange” piece, pretty much a “Number Nine”-ish, weird bit of Hackettry- at first. But by about two minutes into the piece, it starts to get rather interesting, and soon, more “musical”, with some fairly cool stuff going on.

I have to admit that I don’t really care for the following version of “I Know What I Like”, except for the funny bits, and the famous solo that Steve pretty much keeps intact and even adds to, that is only now becoming deservedly recognized for being the very first “real” example of the two-handed, finger-tapping technique in rock guitar, years before Eddie Van Halen unjustly got all the credit.
At the beginning of “Los Endos”, Steve demonstrates that he can play a pretty decent bit ot Flamenco, and then the band goes into high energy mode, the rest of the song being intact with all kinds of great little moments, with great drumming and layered drums, synth guitar, mellotron, and so forth.

Overall, a great album, especially for the usually low price. But if you’re not that familiar with Steve Hackett, he has even better albums- since, and prior. But this is still a “keeper” considering that almost all of it is superb.

January 25, 2014 Posted by | Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited | , | Leave a comment

Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited (1996)


Despite the somewhat deceptive title, this certainly isn’t a Genesis album: it’s a pure Steve Hackett product destined to bring you back memories of blossoming Genesis classics from their ‘prog’ years so as to distract you from the murky crap of Calling All Stations… nay. I bought it out of curiosity quite a long time ago, and, since I didn’t have the least desire to start a Steve Hackett solo page at the time, I thought I’d review it here, like, you know, kind of a posthumous appendix for the whole band.

One might expect a helluva lot of fun and well-tingled nostalgia from this album, especially seeing as Steve was the only remaining member of the band that managed not to lose his ‘serious’ image over the years. Moreover, he was the guitarist, and through 1971-77 he was the strongest link in the chain that bound the band to rock music. You’d expect something brilliant on this record, wouldn’t you, now that Steve broke free and was totally free to reinterpret the classic Genesis tunes to his own liking? Well forget it. This album sucks. No, not as bad as Stations, because this last incarnation of Genesis should take its rightful place in Lucifer’s jaws alongside the Spice Girls and Puff Daddy, but still nowhere near as good as even the weakest product of Peter Gabriel.

There’s a cast of thousands on the album, with well-known stars like John Wetton, Tony Levin, Bill Bruford, Ian McDonald (guess Steve was really a big fan of King Crimson), Chester Thompson (the guy who drummed on Seconds Out), a ton of little-known vocalists and even the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Talk of megalomaniacs! What they really manage to do, however, is successfully butcher half a dozen Genesis classics, plus adding their contributions to a couple new and totally forgettable Hackett compositions. When the record opens with ‘Watcher Of The Skies’, you’d think everything’s gonna be alright: they recapture the vibe with the soaring Mellotrons (whose existence was probably long forgotten by Tony Banks) and some good vocals from I don’t know whom (one of the main vocalists seems to be Paul Carrack of Roxy Music fame, but there’s just too many of ’em, including Steve himself), the only point of insecurity being electronic drums used in the middle section. However, this is the first and nearly last good moment on the record. Yup.

To cut it short, there’s so many songs on here that I really enjoyed in their original versions, but I just can’t stand these fantasy-less, sometimes atonal reinterpretations! ‘Dance On A Volcano’ is completely ruined by the affected vocals that get totally lost in the background (Phil, come and save us!) ‘Fountain Of Salmacis’ is performed as sloppily as possible – never in my life could I love the song if this were my first version. The delicate guitar and Mellotron lines are turned into a horrid mess of murky, synthesized sound, and the vocals are affected again by some totally unnecessary gadgets. The worst blow, however, comes when they deliver two of my favourites.

‘Firth Of Fifth’ starts off okay (I actually like that glockenspiel intro that replaces the pianos), but the instrumental section is tossed off as badly as possible – Steve does a good job on his trademark solo, but man, this passage was never limited to that solo! Where’s the beautiful flute? And what’s with that synth/drum battle in the middle? It sucks! What a horrendous version! Not as horrendous, though, as ‘I Know What I Like’ that’s transformed into a primitive reggae march with about zero percent of the power and the humor it initially possessed. Dang, dude, this is bad.

This is ear-offending for me! And to top it off, Steve offers us a reinterpretation of that classic tune from The Lamb, yeah, ‘The Waiting Room’, you guessed right. Here it’s called ‘Waiting Room Only’, but it’s only fair that it stinks even worse than the original. Six minutes of unlistenable cacophony that end only to lead us into the above-mentioned version of ‘I Know What I Like’. YUCK! YUCK! As far as I know, ‘Watcher Of The Skies’ and the reinterpreted version of ‘Los Endos’ that closes the record (and even includes a short, delicious snippet of ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’) are the only welcoming aspects of the record, but even so, they add absolutely nothing to the originals. And the two original compositions are blistering pieces of finest bullshit (especially the booming instrumental ‘Valley Of The Kings’). Shun this record, exclude it from your sight and hearing. If you really need to hear somebody ruining ‘I Know What I Like’, get Seconds Out: that one is at least substantial.

Oh! I almost forgot that they do ‘Your Own Special Way’ here! Well, doesn’t that prove my point that this is the best song on Wind And Wuthering? ‘Pop’! Hah! Actually, Steve Hackett likes it better than ‘One For The Vine’! Ha ha I say!

March 5, 2013 Posted by | Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited | , | Leave a comment

Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited (1996)


Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett has assembled a wide variety of musicians to rework many classic Genesis songs. The end result is quite interesting. Some songs are quite true to the original, some are quite different. Some are wonderful, some not quite so impressive. In general, this is an intriguing work, that is quite satisfying for the fans of old Genesis. Musicians joining Steve Hackett on the album include John Wetton, Bill Bruford and Tony Levin.

Track by Track Review

Watcher of the Skies
Very true to the original version, this track is very ominous and mysterious in the intro. The number gradually builds into a very strong performance. The musicians on the track are John Wetton, Steve Hackett, Bill Bruford, Tony Levin and Julian Colbeck.

Dance On A Volcano
Other than two aspects, this is a very faithful cover of this Genesis classic. The elements that vary this version from the original are a gritty guitar introduction and strange, spooky vocals (similar to the Horror-based prog band Halloween). The lineup for this number is Steve Hackett, Chester Thompson, Alphonso Johnson, Julian Colbeck and Will Bates.

Valley of the Kings
The musicians here, Hackett, Nick Magnus, Jerry Peal and Hugo Degenhardt, put in a nice performance on this instrumental guitar showcase.

An adult contemporary format is given character by a strong instrumental break and solid guitar stylings. Hackett, Paul Carrack, Pino Palladino, Hugo Degenhardt, Roger King and the Sanchez/Montoya chorale are the musicians on this piece.

Firth of Fifth
A refreshing change in this rendition, which, otherwise, is very true to the original song, is made by a very intriguing orchestral instrumental break. Hackett, Bill Bruford, Ben Fenner and John Wetton all put in solid performances on this cut.

For Absent Friends
Colin Blunstone, Steve Hackett (with two others providing the orchestration), produce a pretty and delicate performance of a song which has always been quite enchanting.

Your Own Special Way
This song has always been one of my favorite Genesis songs, but this rendition has far too much of an adult contemporary sound (in the vein of late era Doobie Brothers). The musicians here are Hackett, Paul Carrack, Aron Friedman, Richard Macphail, Jeanne Downs and Richard Wayler.

Fountains of Salmacis
This tune has always been a very dramatic and powerful piece. Here the musicians (Hackett, Chester Thompson, Alphonso Johnson, John Hackett and Julian Colbeck) turn in a rendition which, (other than a vocal line in the first verse that is in the vein of death metal and a short orchestral break), is quite faithful and well executed.

Waiting Room Only
According to the liner notes “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway had an atonal jam called The Waiting Room-we tried to recapture its spirit by similarly abandoning form here and creating a whole new piece in the process which we`ve titled Waiting Room Only. ” The result is a very solid piece with textures ranging from beautiful to unnerving. The musicians on this track are Hackett, Roger King, Hugo Degenhardt, Will Bates and the Sanchez/Montoya Chorale.

I Know What I Like
This number features `60`s rock, blues and jazz modes, which make it an unusual reworking. The result is somewhat familiar in certain ways, yet completely new in many others. The musicians on this piece are Hackett, Tarquin Bombast, Will Bates, “Spats” King, Aron Friedman and Nobody.

Los Endos
The musicians on this piece are Hackett, Ian McDonald, Pino Palladino, Hugo Degenhardt, Roger King and Chester Thompson. This seems to be a somewhat of a modernization of this Genesis classic with some interesting changes. This version is a unique prog rock/fusion instrumental full of surprising twists and turns.

March 4, 2013 Posted by | Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited | , | Leave a comment

Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited (1996)


In late August a new Steve Hackett album was released in Japan, and hardly anybody has heard about it before hand. Genesis Revisited follows the trend of the Genesis tribute albums that have come out last year and the first boxset [Archive 1967-1975] that is to come out soon: The album consists of eight remakes of Genesis songs from Steve’s time in the band, the completed version of a hitherto unreleased song Peter Gabriel initiated in 1973 and two of Steve’s own instrumentals.

In a somewhat exhausting prologue Steve explains that he had returned to the “strange yet beautiful planet called Genesis” with a couple of friends from the genre of “permissive music” (which term he prefers to “progressive music”) and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He touches on the problem the Genesis line-up encountered in their songwriting back then and thanks his fans for their continuing support. According to what he said in an interview this project was a healing return to the past; apparently it was triggered by the doubts a fan in Palermo had whether Steve would sign the Genesis record he had brought. Steve explains that attempted to develop the sketches from back then into complete paintings by adding colours and highlighting details through the use of his grown experience, modern technology and a bigger team. Since Steve admits to reworking the old compositions under completely different conditions, one cannot, indeed, must not see this album as a kind of reckoning with the band, a smart-alec product of an egotist or something similar.

Here is a brief list of interesting details from the eleven pieces: The clear sound is the first thing you will notice about the opening song, Watcher Of The Skies (of course!). “Tony’s portentous introduction” (as Steve puts it in the booklet is ruled by violins and still has the desired effect in 1996 – less threatening than it used to be, but gentler instead and very secretive. Instead of the hi-hat a computer comes in with “Phil’s inventive morse code rhythm” (I think it spells the word “heeeeiss”).

John Wetton’s vocals are a bit more conventional than Peter’s, and neither Bill Bruford’s whipping drums nor Julian Colbeck’s quietly grandiose foundation for the verse can complete compensate the odd flaw in the arrangement of the original organ part. The final chord, however, is even more bombastic than you would ever have dreamt – listen for yourselves! The precise bass work comes from Tony Levin. The version of Your Own Special Way, “one of Mike’s most beautiful songs” (arranged by Aron Friedman), removes two flaws from the original: The incompatible time signatures in verse and chorus are replaced with a 4/4 throughout, and the instrumental middle eight with a virtuoso e-guitar solo. Paul Carrack was a superb choice for a singer, his voice complements the wonderful arrangement. Incidentally, Richard Macphail sings backing vocals here. Dance On A Volcano proper is preceded by a brief musical sketch of the “volcano landscape”. When we “glimpse into the crater”, as it were, the famous guitar riff comes in. Steve sing-speaks with an electronically lowered voice. Chester Thompson’s drumming and Alphonso Johnson’s bass work are not as overwhelming as Steve thinks. Dance… evolves into a musical sketch with low notes and heavy rhythm that were inspired by the big Egyptian pyramids. The piece is therefore called Valley Of The Kings, and it has Hackett’s old mate Nick Magnus in it. Déjà Vu is the Gabriel/Hackett piece we mentioned before. It is sung by Paul Carrack again; the accomplished arrangement make it seem like a chorale, and it involves a choir, too. The instrumental in the middle shows Steve sailing through different keys. The listener is then refreshed by Riding The Colossus – with this song Depth Charge, a piece that allegedly dates back to 1962 and was released on the live album Time Lapse, has found its way into the studio, albeit with a different second interlude. The Colossus is a wooden rollercoaster ride in California, and that’s why you can occasionally hear rollercoastersounds. For Absent Friends was arranged for Colin Blunstone and orchestra only as a slow waltz (conducted and arranged, as all orchestra pieces on the album, by Matt Dunkley). It seems a bit as if Blunstone did not feel quite at home with the rhythm.

Steve considers the tale of the first hermaphrodite in The Fountain Of Salmacis a mini-opera, and he adds the odd passage and musical figure. Though these rather dissolve the coherence of the original they provide many a fine moment along with the flute played by Steve’s brother John. Steve sings himself. Waiting Room Only, like The Waiting Room, is an attempt to journey through various moods. The piece does not only involve instruments but also many other recordings from a railway station, a scary/funny theatre and a fun fair. After three and a half minutes a rhythm begins that rules over the rest of the piece. I Know What I Like moves far into the farcical. It has a swing rhythm, Mr. Farmer is given a deep voice, and a jam is attached to the song proper (as in the live versions) before the final repetition of the chorus in which you can also spot Antonin Dvorak’s Humoresque and various musicians are introduced with their instruments (e.g. “toy piano”) … very peculiar.

The best is saved for last: Steve describes Firth Of Fifth as “one of Tony’s finest, in my humble opinion” – and it is a particularly precious gem on this album, too. The former piano intro is performed on glockenspiel and orchestra while a full organ sound supports John Wetton’s vocals. Steve plays the flute part on his “little orchestra”, the six-string acoustic guitar before a hectic new motive is briefly introduced and taken up by the orchestra and other instruments. Calmness returns after a beautiful transition into Steve’s big (though not too long) solo on the electric guitar. We would also like to mention how the orchestra fades in quietly after the piano outro with a piece I cannot place – a fantastic moment! Both The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and …In That Quiet Earth have allegedly been rehearsed but were left off the album. Rumour has it that Steve is currently working with Tony Banks on a remake of Los Endos as a bonus track for the U.S. version of Genesis Revisited.

The cover is a new painting by Kim Poor that illustrates the Creation. Apart from many celestial bodies, some UFO-like objects and a couple of animals the two-colour cover shows Adam and Eva freshly expelled from Paradise. The final evaluation of Steve’s revisit, he concludes, “dear listener, lies with you”.

February 20, 2013 Posted by | Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited | , | Leave a comment