"Genesis Revisited" - the new album by Steve Hackett. Review by Alan Hewitt.
To coincide with Steve's own thoughts on this album; here are a few of my own...
When I first heard about this project I must admit that I was quite surprised; after all, Steve's thoughts on his own compatriots have been mixed to say the least. In view of the impending plethora of boxed sets by the band and the emergence of several "tribute" bands, the time was right for Steve to exorcise the ghost; and here is the finished result. What does it offer to you, the listener? Well, we shall see...
Opening the album with "Watcher Of The Skies" certainly grabs your attention and this new version with added orchestration certainly gives a glimpse at what might have been, and John Wetton's vocal performance is pure class! A surprising version of "Your Own Special Way" follows, given the soulful treatment of ace Mechanic Paul Carrack. A sadly underrated song, this new arrangement is brilliant and could be a hit single if released, and Steve's guitar playing is superb. The pure rock power of "Dance On A Volcano" grips us by the scruff of the neck and shakes the living daylights out of you, and Steve's vocals add an even greater element of drama to an already dramatic piece.
A new Hackett composition is next - "Valley Of The Kings" is a rhythmically charged romp through the Middle East aided and abetted by Hugo Degenhardt's powerhouse percussion. "Déjà Vu" is another one of those delightful pieces of Genesis history lovingly restored. The piece began its life as a track originally recorded at the time of "Selling England By The Pound" but never finished. Steve has persuaded Peter Gabriel to let him finish the job and he has done a beautiful job on it. The finished result is yet another tantalising glimpse at what could and what should have been another Genesis classic.
From the sublime to the fantastic; "Riding The Colossus" follows, or as it has been known previously, "Depth Charge", another pure rock classic with inspired riffing from Steve himself. The atmosphere calms down for a Waltz adaptation of another undersold Genesis track, "For Absent Friends" in which Colin Blunstone's vocals are accompanied by the orchestra for a delightfully different version of this lovely song.
A beautiful acoustic melody lulls us into false security before the familiar intro to "Fountain Of Salmacis" emerges, picked out on flute and keyboards before Steve's menacing vocals lead us through the tale of doom-laden Hermaphroditus. "The Waiting Room Only" paraphrases moments of the "jam" that bears its name on "The Lamb..." a deliciously frightening version and no, Steve I certainly will not play this one at a dinner party!
A completely off the wall version of "I Know What I Like" follows and I think Steve's own description suits this one best as a meeting of Cajun and Blues styles with some hilarious contributions in the background effects department! Finally, rounding off an amazing album is another beautiful track from "Selling England By The Pound", "Firth Of Fifth" prefaced by a bemused Steve asking if the tape is running! There follows a delightful interpretation of Tony's keyboard intro on triangle and flute before the band and orchestra take their rightful place in the proceedings to round off the album in a suitably dramatic fashion.
As an album of, dare I say it, "covers" this one has the bonus of so many musicians who have been involved with the band in one way or another that it cannot fail to delight fans. What impresses me personally is the sheer sense of fun that pervades each and every track, and it is to Steve's credit that each piece brings something new and unexpected to the fore. Sadly, this album is only available on Japanese import so far, but is well worth buying if you can't bear to wait for a UK release, either way you are in for a treat, I promise you!