“The Maestro's Story” - Steve Hackett - the Man, The Music DVD reviewd by Alan Hewitt. Photos: Jo Hackett/Hackettsongs, Alan Hewitt.
Well, it HAS been a long time hasn’t it? Hard to believe that in his forty year solo career there has not been any attempt to document Steve’s incredible solo career. Various Genesis documentaries have skirted around the fact that Steve was the first to leave the nest and embark on a solo career but until now, the man’s career outside of that band has remained doggedly undocumented - astonishing to think really!
It is impossible to truly do justice to a career such as Steve’s in one documentary. As someone who has tried to document his career through my own work, I can attest to the fact that no one project will ever encompass all of the facets that make up his story thus far. The producers of this DVD have managed to do better than most however as you will see as you watch the story unfold in front of you. It begins with some innocuous shots of the exterior of a Georgian terraced house from which are emanating the banshee like sounds of a guitar. For those of us in the know, you will recognise the building at once as MAP Studios, home to most of Steve’s albums since the late 1990’s and also the location where your editor did his (in)famous interview for the Genesis Songbook but enough of that! We are soon inside that very emporium as Steve begins to outline the story of his fascinating career.
Unusually (and thankfully) for such a project, the emphasis is placed firmly on Steve the MUSICIAN and not Steve the ex-member of Genesis. Of course, his time with that band is examined but not dwelt upon but rather placed firmly within the context of the rest of his career. I for one was delighted to see Steve and his mum talking about his childhood and his early musical influences accompanied by images from that time and snippets from the typically eccentric ‘60’s films made by one of his friends. I just wish she had shared the story about the members of Genesis and various bags of rubbish but hey, that’s in my book, isn’t it?!
The bulk of the documentary is quite rightly focused on Steve’s incredible solo career and despite its necessarily episodic nature, the documentary does focus on many of the key moments in his career with many an amusing anecdote about how some of those magical albums came to be recorded. If I can venture one criticism here though, it might have been an idea to possibly hear from some of the other musicians who contributed to those classic albums but we can’t have everything, can we?
The additional comments from most of Steve’s current band and his brother John most of which (including my own cameo appearance) take place in the unlikely setting of Tammy Wynette’s Winnebago backstage at The Assembly in Leamington Spa which is also the location for the live clips which pepper the documentary, and make for a highly entertaining video and it is refreshing to see how much they enjoy working with Steve. The musical showcases in which Steve demonstrates many of his playing techniques and his co-producer Roger King (he of the ironic phrase) also demonstrates how some of the music is actually put together will make for fascinating viewing for those with an interest in and understanding of how the music actually “works” so to speak. Throughout the DVD, Steve is a refreshingly honest and self -effacing narrator, in fact at certain points he looks as amazed by all of this as we are!
Existing fans will even learn something new from this project and although revelations are few in number, there is enough here to please and surprise Steve’s fans. There are some omissions - the story leaps from Spectral Mornings to the 1996 Genesis revisited album and then back via GTR for example, with some albums in between and afterwards being overlooked but as I said at the outset, you can’t cram everything into such a limited amount of time.
The extras are confined to what serves as a delightful epitaph to the late Chris Squire as we see the two protagonists talk in a very relaxed manner about how they came to work with each other. Sadly, Chris’s comment about the possibility of some Squackett live performances will never be realised now but it is delight to watch the pair of them chatting about it all - and for anyone with eagle eyes, you might just see a certain author’s book perched on the bookshelves behind the pair of them!
All in all, this release more than does its subject justice. Major albums are discussed, and the magic of the music explained in several demonstrations of the “how I did it” and the end result is a marvellous exploration of Steve Hackett, The Man, The Music, what more can you ask for?