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Steve Hackett - Live Archives 70,80,90s CD (album) cover

LIVE ARCHIVES 70,80,90S

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

4.52 | 62 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hackett's steady release of archived live material begins here, with a comprehensive look into each decade of his solo career thus far. The first two discs is the whole of a concert recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon at the height of the Spectral Mornings tour in 1978. The third disc was recorded in Rome in 1981, and the fourth and final disc was recorded in London in 1993. Throughout the different times, line-ups, and styles Hackett was trying to achieve, one can hear a clear progression in sound and in terms of what he wanted to achieve in the live foray. While it's not perfect, it comes very close to it, right down to the magnificent packaging which is comes in.

What could be the problem with four discs of unaltered, raw live material from one of progressive rock's greatest guitarists, you may ask? Well, for starters, the first two discs are plagued with less than stellar audio quality. However, for the most part the setlist makes up for that with a great look at Hackett nearing his creative peak in the 70s and backed by a cohesive and rollicking live band featuring such talents as his brother John Hackett. The setlist, which focuses on his first three solo albums and a few peeks into the Genesis vault (such as a teaser classical guitar snippet of Blood on the Rooftops prior to Horizons), is well conceived and offers a lot of room for the musician's to breathe. Highlights include the extended versions of Star of Sirius and Racing in A on the second disc, which are filled with great guitar licks from Hackett and the contancy of the backing band.

The disc from the 80s shows Hackett in a different light. No longer is he extended pieces with lavish guitar solos, but he's becoming more concise and to the point musically. Although not everybody's favorite era of Hackett's solo career, this disc has a pretty solid setlist that explores some of Hackett's best instrumentals and some of his more streamlined pop songs. Drummer Ian Mosley (of later Marillion fame) is a dream on this disc and while his skills had not yet fully grown, there is a certain magic in listening to him drumming in one of his first major outfits.

The final disc comes from the Guitar Noir era and finds Hackett keeping that streamlined and concise live aspect. The overall sound of this disc is probably the best on the collection, but the setlist leaves much to be desired. Guitar Noir wasn't the best of albums from Hackett (but by no means was bad), and the major focal point of this live disc is of that album, although In That Quiet Earth and the medley towards the end certainly are a treat that can only be found on this disc.

In the end, I guess it really comes down to whether you like live albums or not and are a fan of Hackett's solo work. Those expecting to find loads of Genesis material be warned that while there is some, the main focus of this collection is on Hackett's diverse and eclectic solo material. Despite that, there's a lot to love about this set and it can offer hours of listening joy. Highly recommended.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |

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