Steve Hackett: Feedback 86/Live Archives-70,80,90s/Darktown (2002)
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.
Track Listing: Feedback 86: 1.Cassandra 2.Prizefighters 3.Slot Machine 4.Stadiums of the Damned 5.Don't Fall 6.Oh How I Love You 7.Notre Dame Des Fleurs 8.The Gulf - Live Archives: 4 CDs - Darktown: 1.Omega 2.Darktown 3.Man Overboard 4.The Golden Age of Steam 5.Days of Long Ago 6.Dreaming with Open eyes 7.Twice Around the Sun 8.Rise Again 9.Jane Austen's Day 10.Darktown Riot 11.In Memorium
Personnel: Steve Hackett: guitars, vocals - and various personnel throughout
Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock