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Steve Hackett - Wild Orchids CD (album) cover

WILD ORCHIDS

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

3.77 | 230 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars A toy night in Darktown!

People seem surprised at the progressive nature and the generally high quality of this album, but this is mostly the same kind of music Steve had been doing for years. Bearing strong similarities with his previous three efforts, To Watch The Storms, Darktown and Guitar Noir, Wild Orchids basically offers more of the same, and while generally better than the somewhat disappointing Darktown, it is, in my opinion, not up to par with the other two mentioned albums.

The opening track, A Dark Night In Toytown, was immediately familiar to my ears from the live DVD Once Above A Time where Steve and his band performed an earlier version of this song, then called If You Can't Find Heaven. This is a great song with a strong melody and fantastic guitar work. The following two tracks are also very good and they constitute a very promising start. However, the seven and a half minute Down Street is where he looses it. It is clearly trying to recreate the mood and atmosphere of Darktown, but this song ends up sounding a bit like a theme song from a Tim Burton film and is even sillier than Vampyre With A Healthy Appetite from (the otherwise far better) Guitar Noir.

To Watch The Storms and Guitar Noir had perfect mixtures of several different styles and those albums managed to hold together very well. Wild Orchids stretches it a bit too far in various different directions and it does not hold together well enough in my view. It all becomes a bit too shattered. The styles involved are (as usual) Jazz, Blues, Classical, Avant- Garde, Folk/World music, (hard) rock and (dark) humour.

The material is generally good but not as strong as on To Watch The Storms. Indeed, as far as I'm concerned there is nothing on Wild Orchids that is as good as the best material from the previous three Steve Hackett studio albums. Even the somewhat sterile Darktown and the underrated Guitar Noir have some really strong songs. Wild Orchid also lacks a counterpart to the amazing, King Crimson-esque, Mechanical Bride from the previous album.

Steve also found it necessary to record a cover of a Bob Dylan song, Man In The Long Black Coat. The same song was also recorded by Emerson Lake & Palmer in the 90's.

As a big fan of Steve's, having all of his albums, I must say that Wild Orchids is not one of his best. If you want to have a taste of this genius recent work (and you ought to!) I would recommend one of his excellent live DVD's or the previous studio album To Watch The Storms.

Wild Orchids is good, but not essential.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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