288

Steve Hackett: Wild Orchids

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
With the rumor mill in high gear about a 2007 Genesis reunion, the release of band alumnus Steve Hackett's Wild Orchid couldn't come at a better time. This release reminds us just how significantly Genesis changed after his departure in 1977. Virtually all affiliation with the progressive rock camp that the group inhabited during the first part of its career ended when Hackett left after the tour that resulted in Seconds Out (Atlantic, 1977). Given the mega commercial success that followed, it's a fair assumption that the remaining members couldn't have cared less. But Hackett's unlikely to get involved in the reunion, which makes it pretty much a non-event for progressive rock fans.

That said, Wild Orchids may be the most pop-driven album of Hackett's career. But it's still a progressive album—although, with the inclusion of the Underworld Orchestra, one that fits into the symphonic arena. And while Hackett's recognizable electric guitar style is still there, the album is just as much about Hackett the writer.

Thirty years on there are still hints of Hackett's stylistic contributions to Genesis. The acoustic guitar-driven "Set Your Compass" directly references songs like "Entangled" from A Trick of the Tail (Atco, 1976). "Ego and Id" may rock more directly, but it's still a powerful vehicle for the rapid vibrato of Hackett's visceral electric guitar, using an array of effects including whammy bar, wah wah and controlled feedback. It also features Hackett's tapping style—an innovation that, dating back to Genesis' Selling England by the Pound (Atco, 1973), predated guitarist Eddie Van Halen's greater popularizing of the technique by at least five years.

"Waters of the Wild," with its electric sitar and sampled tabla, alludes to an interest in East Indian music, while the equally propulsive "Down Street," featuring Hackett's credible harmonica work, is a dark rocker with a demonic narrative. The pastoral feel of "To a Close" seems at odds with its more serious subject matter, delicate strings and Cor Anglais foreshadowing the instrumental and orchestral reading of the same theme on "She Moves in Memories."

The biggest surprise is Hackett's take on Bob Dylan's "Man In The Long Black Coat." Progressive fans may balk, but there's no sense of incongruity here, and the bluesy grit of Hackett's guitar playing isn't all that far removed from his signature style. But it's an aspect that Hackett has rarely spotlighted so vividly.

Captivating from start to finish, Wild Orchids combines Hackett's interest in orchestration with folkloric and pedal-to-the-metal progressive rock, resulting in the most seamless blend of Hackett the instrumentalist and Hackett the tunesmith since 1982's Highly Strung.

Track Listing: A Dark Night in Toytown; Waters of the Wild; Set Your Compass; Down Street; A Girl Called Linda; To a Close; Ego and Id; Man In The Long Black Coat; Wolfwork; Why; She Moves in Memories; The Fundamentals of Brainwashing; Howl.

Personnel: Steve Hackett: guitars, electric sitar, harmonica, psaltery, optigan, voices; Roger King: keyboards, rhythm guitar; John Hackett: flute; Rob Townsend: saxes, flute, tin whistle, bass clarinet; Gary O'Toole: drums, harmony voices; Nick Magnus: keyboards; The Underworld Orchestra: Christine Townsend: principal violin, viola; Richard Stewart: cello; Dick Driver: bass; Colin Clague: trumpet; Chris Redgate: oboe, cor anglais.

Title: Wild Orchids | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: InsideOut Music America

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jul20Sat
Steve Hackett
Auditorium Parco Della Musica
Roma, Italy
Sep21Sat
Steve Hackett
Place Des Arts
Montreal, Canada
Sep22Sun
Steve Hackett
Place Des Arts
Montreal, Canada
Sep24Tue
Steve Hackett
Wilbur Theatre
Boston, MA
Sep25Wed
Steve Hackett
Beacon Theatre
New York, NY
Sep26Thu
Steve Hackett
Ridgefield Playhouse
Ridgefield, CT
Sep27Fri
Steve Hackett
Keswick Theatre
Glenside, PA

Related Articles

Read Getz At The Gate Album Reviews
Getz At The Gate
By Chris May
June 19, 2019
Read Keep Talkin' Album Reviews
Keep Talkin'
By Dan McClenaghan
June 19, 2019
Read Night Owl Album Reviews
Night Owl
By Dan Bilawsky
June 19, 2019
Read Let's Play Album Reviews
Let's Play
By Don Phipps
June 19, 2019
Read Hidden Corners Album Reviews
Hidden Corners
By Dan McClenaghan
June 18, 2019
Read Special Album Reviews
Special
By Jakob Baekgaard
June 18, 2019
Read Land Of Real Men Album Reviews
Land Of Real Men
By Friedrich Kunzmann
June 18, 2019