“Hackett To Pieces - The Life Of A Rock Guitarist” (Part Two) By Ted Sayers.
Again, Steve played the guest spot at the Reading Festival during the Bank Holiday weekend in 1981 that also saw the release of Cured. He did this with a new band; Chas Cronk (bass), ex of The Strawbs, Ian Mosley (drums/percussion), now with Marillion, Nick Magnus (keyboards), John Hackett (flute), and Steve himself who had taken over as vocalist. On some of the songs this worked but on others… well.
The album consisted of eight tracks, four of which, in my opinion, join his previous classics, but the other four were rather nondescript. Nevertheless, Steve was still producing the goods on stage and an extensive tour followed including US dates for the second time.
Once more, there were two singles released: Hope I Don’t Wake/Tales Of The Riverbank, and Picture Postcard/The Theme from Second Chance. Steve had still not really found commercial success although his gigs were always major events.
In 1983 he released Highly Strung, which was a return to the session musician approach to recording. Steve continued with the vocals and on this album they were noticeably better, but the album lacked the punch that characterised many of his earlier efforts but again his stage productions lacked nothing.
This time there was only one single released: Cell 151/Time-Lapse At Milton Keynes. The 12” version had the added bonus of a live version of The Air-Conditioned Nightmare. Time Lapse At Milton Keynes is Steve’s acoustic tribute to the recent Genesis reunion at Milton Keynes which had taken place the previous October.
Steve continued regardless and in October, he again took a major gamble when he released Bay Of Kings, an entirely acoustic album. Going straight back on the road to promote it, he played mainly university halls with John accompanying him on flute.
Apart from pieces from Bay Of Kings, he also played some of the acoustic tracks from his other albums. In fact, most of his albums contain one entirely acoustic piece and some of his singles have acoustic pieces on their B sides.
Bay Of Kings was released on the independent label; Lamborghini Records and it included new versions of Kim and the piece he’d written and recorded with Genesis eleven years earlier for Foxtrot - Horizons. The album and tour showed a side of Steve which had always been present but only in limited amounts. That side was given full exposure and for me at least, it worked, and worked incredibly well.
Steve’s next album has to be one of his strangest to date. Till We Have Faces, was partly recorded in Brazil with mostly unknown, (unknown to us at least), Brazilian session musicians. Again it came out on the Lamborghini Records label. I have a feeling Charisma and Virgin didn’t like the record and indeed it is not easy to understand why or how Steve came to write this album. For me personally, it only has one track of any value, and that was released as a single: A Doll That’s Made In Japan/Just The Bones. The 7” version had the instrumental version of the A Side as its B Side.
One other track from the album springs to mind; What’s My Name? which I find myself having a love/hate relationship with. The rest of the album is sadly abysmal in my opinion but it is a must for the collector, but the collector ONLY.
Steve didn’t tour to promote this album but disappeared seemingly from the face of the earth. His quest for commercial success took him into the arms of the super group GTR with Steve Howe among others. They released their debut album in 1986, imaginatively titled GTR and a tour of the US seemed to gain them much popularity. They released two singles from the album: When The Heart Rules The Mind/Reach Out (Never Say No)/Sketches In The Sun/Hackett To Bits and The Hunter (Special GTR Mix)/The Hunter (album version)/Sketches In The Sun/Reach Out (Never Say No). Both appeared in the US but the latter never surfaced in the UK. A European/UK tour followed but for me they sounded too much like Asia for their own good. Sadly the high spots of the set were the old Hackett/Genesis/Howe/Yes tracks and not the new GTR material.
Rumours abound that Steve has now left GTR but these are not confirmed and, if so, what will this rather eccentric genius turn his hand to now? Steve - WHERE ARE YOU?