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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Hackett, 30 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Wolflight (Audio CD)
This album has been described by Hackett himself as his best work. His impressive and varied solo career has now entered its 40th year and covered various genres from blues to classical, as well as a significant number of albums widely regarded by many as bone-fide prog rock classics, so this is no small boast. Happily, it turns out to be exactly right.

Bearing in mind this album was written and recorded in-between major blocks of a world tour reviving classic-period Genesis - the resulting collection of music here is first class. Opening with the sound of a wolf cries nicely treated with frozen reverb, 'Out of The Body' - charges right in - a concise barrage of musical ideas and shifting dynamics that serves as an overture to the whole album. There's probably more musical imagination, riffs and left-field changes here than in most other artists' whole albums.

Moving smoothly into track 2, 'Wolflight', the expansive soundscapes continue, with both didgeridoo and tar evocative of the Eastern European nomadic tribes described in the lyric. The combination of acoustic and electric guitars is tastefully done and both are well served by an expansive but appropriate use of keys, orchestral strings and thumping drum beats. Of note are Hackett's vocals - the best they've ever sounded on record.

Next up is 'Love Song To A Vampire' a suitably gothic-flavoured epic that narrates the entrapment of someone in an abusive relationship using the ongoing modern fascination of vampires and dark fantasy figures as a powerful metaphor. Hackett's acoustic opening, fluid and shimmering, leads into another great vocal with the chorus being a real sucker-punch explosive vocal moment - the chorus is essentially the second half of the word 'vampire.' On paper it shouldn't work, but it really does. There is highly effective instrumental support by Roger King and Chris Squire and Amanda Lehmann on backing vocals. Just when the song appears to be resolving, Hackett throws a fantastic heavy rock section in and opens up a different dynamic again.

'The Wheel's Turning' recounts the guitarist's childhood memories of Battersea Funfair - and it is an appropriately rollercoaster-flavoured track. Imagine a cross between Hackett's 'Waiting Room Only', 'Down Street' and ELO-style vocals, plus a 'Pomp and Circumstance' Elgarian classical interlude and you're halfway there. Some great wah-wah and harmonic guitars that evoke memories of Queen for good measure too.

Steve goes even more 'widescreen' on 'Corycian Fire' - an epic number than starts with atmospheric playing from Rob Townsend on doudouk and builds bigger and bigger, adding layers of instrumentation and climaxing with a Greek choir - all very Carl Orff/ES Posthumous. This is followed by a very effective acoustic piece, 'Earthshine' that bridges the extreme dynamic difference to its predecessor by reprising the theme before exploring the possibilities of what a nylon-stringed guitar can do in the hands of musician of Hackett's calibre.

'Loved By The Sea' is a rarity - a deceptively simple-sounding strummer, but infused with layers and layers of harmony vocals and psychedelic-sounding backwards guitars.

'Black Thunder' opens with the sounds of the Deep South and then kicks in with another killer riff (this album is packed with them), that works well against Hackett's soft vocal delivery. The track ends with a complete change of mood courtesy of Rob Townsend's sax and some orchestral washes.

'Dust and Dreams' does exactly what it says on the tin, evoking a Saharan travelogue to crisp drum and bass work - the second half is reminiscent of 'Valley of The Kings' - no surprise as it features the drummer from that track, Hugo Degenhardt. Hackett layers up electric lead, distorting and interweaving lines with THAT golden guitar tone that is unmistakably him. Finally the album concludes with the uplifting, 'Heart Song' - a radio-friendly love-song that encapsulates the signature sounds of classic Hackett and over-arching theme of freedom well.

Prog rock can get bogged down with odd time-signatures and the like - there can be too much punctuation and not enough sentences - but Hackett has put together a whole album than hangs very comfortably together - one for the prog-heads and the more casual listener alike.

Highly recommended!
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Access All Areas
Access All Areas
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Return of Steve Hackett live - Sept 13th 1990, 5 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Access All Areas (Audio CD)
This great value CD/DVD combo is a good starting point for anyone interested in exploring Hackett's rich and varied back-catalogue. I was lucky enough to attend this concert at Central TV - it felt like this was Steve's 'comeback' moment - with a mixture of classic tracks from his early albums and some 'new' material, some of which ended up on his next studio album (1993's Guitar Noir). The band, formed from a mixture of old and new friends (including brother John on flute, guitar and bass pedals), pull off a fine performance all round and all of Steve's trademark sounds are here - the golden toned lead guitar, the beautiful nylon work and those vocal harmonies - Steve has since gone on to produce many more musically adventurous albums in the meantime- all of which are worth tracking down.

Genesis Revisited II
Genesis Revisited II
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hackett re-opens the musical box, 22 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Genesis Revisited II (Audio CD)
It's been 16 years since Steve Hackett originally revisited his early career with Genesis (1971-77). That volume proved to be a mixed bag for Genesis fans - he bravely/foolishly decided to go off on some major detours with those tracks (notably the middle section of 'Firth of Fifth' and adding Brazillian percussion to 'Los Endos' - always interesting, but thought by some to have gone too far afield from the originals, perhaps.

Fast foward to 2012 and Hackett and (hugely expanded) stellar company have put together an album twice the length. This time around, he stays generally faithful to the originals, adding the occassional guitar phrase or effect here and there - perhaps mindful of his intention to tour a 2-hour show of these classics next year.

The production is immaculate as you'd expect from right-hand man and co-producer, Roger King and the attention to detail (many of the original synth sounds are lovingly recreated here, mellotrons and all, sometimes beautifully supplemented or replaced with real string players). Whether or not these will ALL get heavy rotation on your system I suppose is down to whether you can take to the vocalists. Nad Sylvan aquits himself well, but stand-out voices for me are Nik Kershaw, Francis (ex-It Bites) Dunnery, Simon Collins (yes, son of...) and Hackett himself who takes on the 'Willow farm' section of 'Supper's Ready' himself brilliantly. Maybe he should have done a bit more singing himself?

Steve also adds some 'Genesis branches' including a meaty version of 'Please Don't Touch' (which Genesis dropped during sessions for 'Wind and Wuthering'. This with the tracks from 'Voyage of the Acolyte' and a jazzy 'Camino Royale' from 'Highly Strung' suggest that a 'Hackett Revisited' project would be a fascinating prospect at some point - provided he sang his own songs...

Highly recommended for prog fans. Guarantee you will go back to originals, which is no bad thing.

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