“Repaying the tribute” - Steve Hackett's Tribute album re-issue reviewd by Alan Hewitt.

In the recent documentary on his career (review elsewhere in this edition) Steve states that of all his albums he was most proud of 2008’s Tribute. Given the sheer diversity of the music that Steve has released over the years this may come as a surprise to many but it shouldn’t really.

The influence of the Classical/Baroque masters such as Bach has lain heavy on most of his musical endeavours even if it has not been easy to spot and so it was only a matter of time before he brought those influences kicking and screaming (in a suitably retrained fashion of course) out of the closet. The resulting album was a delight to my ears back in 2008 and this re-issue only reinforces that opinion.

Here we have many of the pieces of music which have inspired Steve not least several by the chord smith of chord smiths; J S Bach including the awesome Chaconne which is a tour de force performance demanding total commitment from the performer on so many levels. Other pieces might not be of such magnificent stature but they deserve their place purely for the musical delight they provide. Steve’s own compositions which are sandwiched in between some of these fit seamlessly into the over all flow of the album and Cascada and Sapphires in particular will be familiar to anyone who saw the acoustic trios shows back in 2005-07.

The other “tribute” which this album manages to achieve is a marvellous re-creation of the warmth of the recordings that inspired this album and which in most cases were made in the 1920’s and ‘30’s. I have not heard many “digital” albums which manage to successfully capture the essential warmth of analogue recordings without sacrificing something in the process but this one does and the kudos for that lies with Steve’s fellow studio cohort; Roger King, whose work here is simply sublime.

It isn’t often these days that a recording inspires me to go back and explore some of the original recordings but this one has and my musical horizons have been expanded once again as a result. Steve has chosen to add one new track to this version, the delightfully bucolic Through The Trees which is another superb slice of acoustic Hackett! All in all, a truly enjoyable effort - the muse was definitely at home on this one!