"If music be the food of love..." - Steve Hackett's new album, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" reviewed by Alan Hewitt.

Well, over the last three years or so, Steve has managed to keep us all guessing about which musical avenue he would choose to explore next. During that time we have had a rock album, a blues album and an acoustic live album; all of which begged the question: what next?

The answer to that question is now upon us, in the shape of Steve's new album, "A Midsummer Night's Dream", released by the Classics Division of EMI Records on March 24. As its title suggests, it is an album based around the title of the play of the same name by England's greatest playwright, William Shakespeare.

Musically , this is an album which most would call "classical" in its orientation; however, personally I think that such tags are now redundant with the musical crossovers that fill our ears these days. Instead, I would prefer to call this work "Classic". Steve has managed, with the aid of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and a little help from his brother John, to weave a timeless work of magic and beauty. I find it both ironic and apt that Steve has always referred to the acoustic guitar as the "little orchestra" and on this album the little orchestra meets its Big Brother!

The additional depth which the orchestra lends to Steve's musical palate, means that his view of the main events and characters in the play is not obscured but flows evenly throughout; encompassing the more formal moment such as the description of "The Palace Of Theseus", to intimate portrayals of the play's main protagonists, Oberon and Titania. Cunningly woven amongst the eighteen tracks on the album are a few which may prove familiar to fans of Steve's previous acoustic works, but the re-working of existing material in no way detracts from the whole.

In everything that he does, Steve is at great pains to create something of lasting worth and with this album his music has come of age, and I am sure that it will rank among his finest works; if not in fact, his finest work - a magnificent effort!

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