Guitarist Steve Hackett’s post “Genesis” solo career has seemingly garnered more visibility in Europe in Japan, while he has maintained a loyal following on these American shores. Other than his brief, and commercially successful affiliation with the 80’s band “GTR,” the guitar great has been churning out significant material throughout the 80s and 90s. In fact, Hackett’s signature approach, consisting of ringing sustained notes, legato voicings and slick picking can account for a major component of “Genesis”’ now infamous 70s sound. The progressive rock label “Inside Out Music America,” has reissued three Hackett solo recordings, that were previously unavailable or only obtainable only as imports.
Feedback 86 is a solo effort that coincides with Hackett’s “GTR” days. With this release, the artist utilizes the talents of “Queen” guitarist Brian May and “Manfred Mann’s Earthband,” vocalist Chris Thompson among others of note. Regrettably, this outing suffers from Thompson’s blasé vocals and the band’s veiled attempt at melding pop style verse-chorus frameworks with Canterbury progressive rock music and EFX. Sure, there are some pleasant segments, but you’d be better off spending your hard earned pennies on the 4-CD boxed set, Live Archives. A culmination of Hackett’s live performances spanning the 70s thru the 90s, the artist’s melodically tinged compositions and overall relevance as an important solo artist rings loud and clear here. This nicely assembled package features a color book insert along with comments and recollections about the tours, and so forth. Essentially, Hackett enlisted high caliber musicians for his various aggregations, featuring drummer Hugo Degenhardt, keyboardist Nick Magnus, and others. While its also interesting to notice how he progressed (in a timeline sort of way) through the years. However, one constant resides within his penchant for merging memorably melodic, Canterbury-induced hooks with his musical associates’ limberly executed rhythmic excursions and zealous exchanges. Much of Hackett’s repertoire boasts sweeping sheets of sound, counterbalanced by tricky time signatures and touching interludes. The leader is also an accomplished classical guitarist, evidenced by a few sprightly solo spots interspersed among the electrifying fireworks.
Darktown represents a rather noteworthy conclusion to the trilogy. This project was recorded in 1999 as we find the artist utilizing digital EFX in addition to his sometimes scathing and somewhat ominously sounding electric guitar-based attack. Vocalist Jim Diamond and saxophonist Ian McDonald enhance the album’s haunting design and murky complexion. An interesting outing, largely due to Hackett’s experimental implications, and his willingness to delve into thematically induced sound shaping exercises. Here, the guitarist succeeds at perpetuating a series of subliminally proposed, mood altering tone poems in sequential and often intriguingly prismatic fashion.
Inside Out | Steve Hackett