"File under G, for Genius" - Steve Hackett's "The Genesis Files". Review by Alan Hewitt.
The Unauthorised Biography release back in 1992 did a fine job as a resume of Steve's career as a solo artist, and now we have a double CD set which captures some of Steve's finest moments in and out of Genesis. Trying to recapitulate Steve's contribution to Genesis' music and sound let alone his contribution to music in general would be a nightmare task for anyone... what do you leave out? Fortunately, this package manages to cover all bases.
Opening with the powerhouse trilogy "Firth Of Fifth", "Watcher Of The Skies" and "Riding The Colossus" from the Genesis Revisited album - if anyone doubted Steve's talents as a musician and creator of impeccable soundscapes, these three tracks alone will soon open your eyes. The glorious rock epic "Rise Again" from one of Steve's best albums in years - "Darktown" - follows, and Steve's impassioned vocals and searing guitar work leave you exhausted. There is no time for rest however, as "Valley Of The Kings" continues the rampaging rock element in fine style.
A breather is allowed during the delightfully timeless acoustic whimsy that is "Time Lapse At Milton Keynes" and the wonderful re-working of Mike's 1977 classic "Your Own Special Way", with a superb vocal from Paul Carrack. Why this was never issued as a single I do not know! Another Genesis Odyssey comes next with Steve's tour-de-force re-working of "The Fountain Of Salmacis" complete with menacing vocal parts and extended rock elements. The traditional Olde Englishe "For Absent Friends" brings a hint of nostalgia to the proceedings but not for long, as the final track on the first disc "Twice Around The Sun" ensures that Steve's claim to the title of "Mr Sustain" is in no danger. Without doubt one of Steve's finest instrumental moments and one which harks back to the glorious halcyon days when such extended soloing was one of the glories of rock - get 'em while they're hot, they're lovely!
What recapitulation of Steve's career would be complete without "Horizons"? Disc two is opened by this classic track from the Hackett repertoire and a slightly re-arranged version to boot! "Prize Fighters" is the sole representative from Steve's flirtation with AOR giants GTR and somehow seems out of place here. "Camino Royale", is always a firm live favourite, and the version here is a stonking one taken from "The Tokyo Tapes". From the sublime to the ridiculous; Steve's new take on "I Know What I Like" comes next including vocal harmonies and gardening implements! Certainly one to prove that Steve has a sense of humour, however bizarre! "Déjà Vu" is a rare hangover from the "Selling England By The Pound" - a classy number with a haunting vocal by Paul Carrack which again gives us a respite before the aural nightmare that is "Waiting Room Only" - even more aural experimentation and one beast that is perhaps best kept in the cellar!
The final quartet of tracks manage to capture the essence of what is so special about Steve's music: the drama, majesty and above all, atmosphere. How can you go wrong with "Dance On A Volcano", "The Steppes", "In That Quiet Earth" and "Los Endos"? Quite simply, you can't and if these don't blow you away, you are deaf or dead - or simply a latter day music critic or Pop Idol fan!
This is certainly an album for anyone considering purchasing their first Hackett album but not sure where to start. For the long time fans, fortunately Steve and Camino have not pandered to the ploy of releasing an unreleased track as part of the package to make you part with your cash (unlike certain bands - ahem!) and this will serve as a nice stop gap until the next project from the guitar of Mr Stephen Hackett- and at least now you don't have to drag down all your Hackett CDs for the car when taking that trip to a gig or going on holiday, do you, this one more than suffices- well done; Steve!