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Darktown (Re-Issue 2013)
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STEVE HACKETT Darktown (2001 UK 11-track CD album from the former Genesis guitarist including Darktown Days Of Long Ago and Rise Again picture sleeve with lyrics and track by track insights CAMCD17)
Steve Hackett, the former Genesis axemeister, is unquestionably a superb player, a capable songwriter and arranger and no bad shakes as a vocalist, but Darktown is unlikely to find its way into the hands of any but his devoted followers. The press blurb describes it as "a theme-park ride through one man's consciousness", which is PR-speak for (whisper it) a concept album based on Hackett's childhood memories. It opens with a churning metal-funk instrumental which, played louder, faster and dirtier wouldn't disgrace a Metallica album, but the mood changes for the title track which could well be an out-take from the soundtrack for Tim Burton's film A Nightmare Before Christmas. In subject matter, the song bears much resemblance to Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In the Wall", and that's where the album begins to slip into pastiche, frequently sounding like attempts to outdo Roger Waters in its exploration of the dark side of the British nostalgia. There are lovely touches--the orchestra/choir interplay on "Man Overboard"; the folksy pennywhistles giving way to sombre rhythmic strings and a Cossack choir in "The Golden Age Of Steam"; and of course, Hackett's superlatively nimble playing in "Dreaming With Open Eyes". It's just that, well, the feeling of listening to outtakes from Pink Floyd albums never quite goes away. --Johnny Black
Top customer reviews
Although the first half of the album is great, I think the second half is where this album really comes into it's own. 'Twice Around The Sun' is an outstanding instrumental with a soaring lead melody being played by Hackett's signature screaming solo guitar tone. 'Jane Austen's Door' is a beautiful vocal ballad with fantastic lyrics sung very well by Hackett himself. It also has a has lovely end section which features a lovely guitar solo over very anthemic chords.
The final song is astonishing. 'In Memoriam' is the longest song on the album but still a manageable eight minutes. There's really no other song I've ever heard that I could compare it to. If I had to assign it a genre it would be gothic-prog. Perhaps there's a slight inspiration from King Crimson's 'Starless' off their 'Red' album. Same dark, deathly atmosphere. Anyway, when I heard an audio sample of 'In Memoriam', that was what convinced me to buy 'Darktown'. I've never regretted it, that's for sure!
This is an album of quality tracks from start to finish with the title track, "Golden Age of Steam" and "In Memorian" standing out as examples of his best original studio work to date, whilst his trademark gentle acoustic numbers are also here in "Man Overboard" and "Days of Long Ago".
"Genesis Revisited" was clearly a moving experience for Hackett and this album demonstrates his learning from that project and successfully manages to merge his musical abilities with his writing skills - and a strong vocal performance - when often in the past they rarely all came together at the same time. Oh and it's great to hear the mellotron!!!
This is a great album to interest a broader population than just Genesis/Hackett fans alone.
The vocals are excellent, with the characteristic feel of the 'Spectral Mornings' album ,but with Steve's voice demonstrating a hitherto unheard quality. There are, as you would expect,blisterring guitar tracks, gentle melodic tracks, but above all a feel that Mr Hackett has placed himself well and truely in the 21st Cenury.
Recommended tracks: Omega Metallicus,The Golden Age Of Steam, In Memorium and Darktown.
A must for Hackett fans, old and new!
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