"The Invited Guest" - TWR continues its examination of Steve Hackett's collaborations and guest appearances.
This feature appears to be never-ending with the stream of collaborations which Steve has taken part in showing no signs of abating any time soon. Here we look at some of the more recent additions to the growing list of albums by other artists that Steve has contributed to…
First up is Fall In Love With The World by the United Progressive Fraternity, a rather fancy title but one which certainly lives up to its billing as there are several well known musicians on this one apart from Steve. The album gets under way with the suitably bombastic We Only Get One World (Overture) which among other things reprises the “one world, one dream” chant from Peter Gabriel’s Milgrams 37 song. A heady mixture of eastern rhythms and rock riffs gets this one and the album off to a suitably impressive start. This leads into Choices, a hard rocking but infectious riff driven piece of modern Prog at its best. It isn’t long however, before the album makes its real Prog credentials know with Intersection which has all the classic trademarks of Prog within it. And herein lies my problem with most “new” prog. To my ears it sounds quite dated as the echoes of so many earlier bands permeate the music. It isn’t the musicians’ fault and it has to be said that the standard of musicianship throughout the record is incredibly high, Steve’s presence notwithstanding, it just does not float my boat I am afraid.
United Progressive Fraternity: Fall In Love With The World. Inside Out Music 5 052205 069585
Steve Rothery’s name will be familiar to most of our readers as the guitarist in Marillion. Steve recently guested on Mr Hackett’s Genesis Revisited II project and here Mr Hackett returns the favour by appearing on Steve’s new album: The Ghosts Of Pripyat. For those of you unfamiliar with recent history (and not so recent history) Pripyat was the town built to house the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear plant. It was also the scene of a bitter battle during the second world war. Hardly the most ideal subject for an album you would think, eh?
The album’s opener, Morpheus gets under way with a drawn out synth/guitar intro which reminds me of the classic King of Sunset Town and soon Rothery’s unmistakable guitar takes over, always a sound to send shivers down the spine this is no exception although here the end result is a cross between Marillion and Pink Floyd - no mean feat I guess although the end result reminds me of Marillion’s Brave album and therefore gets my vote - lush and clean, the music is crisp and delightful throughout as indeed it is throughout the entire album making this one which fans of either Steve should have in their collections.
Steve Rothery: The Ghosts Of Pripyat SRM CD
L’Estate Di san Martino are another of those Italian Prog combos which have sprung up with increasing regularity over the years. Always guaranteed to be an intriguing mix this album is no exception. Getting under way with Silbo, a short flute intro, the album kicks off properly with the jazzy sax of Archivista, replete with piano and plenty of time changes as you would expect in Prog but not really to my taste, mainly because it is a tad too reminiscent of Van Der Graaf Generator for me. Fretta is much more to my taste, acoustic guitar and flute duet with each other in a haunting melody which to my mind should definitely have lyrics but is just as enjoyable without. Il Cielo Per San Lorenzo continues this trend with another delightfully melodic effort in which the echoes of early Genesis are there for all to hear. The rest of the album wears its prog influences firmly on its sleeve and will be an enjoyable experience for fans of today’s Neo Prog.
L’Estate Di San Martino: Talsete di Marsantino. AMS203CD
Djabe are no strangers to the pages of TWR and their collaborations with Steve are always a delight and the latest one: Live In Blue is no exception. A superb double live album which documents several live performances by the group between 2011 and 2014 and featuring a series of special guests of which one is our very own Steve Hackett. Djabe’s interpretations of some of Steve and Genesis’ classics make for fascinating listening and the band’s own inimitable brand of Jazz- Rock might not be to everyone’s taste but it is certainly to mine - another excellent effort now if only we could get this band to the UK I would be very happy indeed!
Djabe: Live In Blue. Gramy Records GR-116-2
Speaking of interpretations, our final album in this round up is Steppes Beyond The Colossus, a tribute to Steve’s solo music and his career with Genesis. As usual with such projects sometimes the results are fascinating and others….less so! The album opens with a suitably raucous reading of A Tower Struck Down by Spirits Burning which to be honest, does nothing for me at all I am afraid. Paolo Sommariva’s treatment of Ace Of Wands works much better, evidently recorded live and complete with the occasional bum note, this is a much more convincing performance. It is always fascinating to hear how other musicians view (if you can say that about something as invisible as music?) other musicians’ work it really makes me wonder do we all hear the same things when we listen? Evidently not , as the versions of some of Steve’s best known classics presented here vary wildly in content and quality from the sedate beauty of Clarion’s Hands Of The Priestess to the bizarre reading of Icarus Ascending by Jay Tausig and the simply awful attempt on Clocks by Pensiero Nomade. That said, when it does work as in the case of Karda Estra’s suitably atmospheric reading of Tigermoth and Roberto Magni’s brave attempt at that most atmospheric of Steve’s compositions; The Steppes and Marco Lo Muscio’s truly delightful version of Hammer In The Sand, then you have the essence of what a TRIBUTE should sound like. Even though not all of these effort appealed to my ears, bravo to each and every musician for having the balls to attempt such work in the first place!
Various Artists: Steppes Beyond The Colossus. Mellow Records MMP 523
And there you have it folks some of the latest projects that feature Steve in one way or another. I am sure that on current showing, this feature will need to be updated again pretty soon! My thanks once again to Mr Paul Gibbon for getting the initial idea started and then for lumbering me with it - thanks a lot, Gibbo!