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Steve Hackett - The Tokyo Tapes CD (album) cover

THE TOKYO TAPES

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

3.97 | 160 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is currently my favorite DVD, as it not only encapsulates Steve Hackett's legendary status but also serves my attempts at explaining visually what prog is all about to the innocently unaware. Having uninitiated friends come over the "wall" and delve into this wonderful universe with the majestic "Watcher of the Skies" as an intro is, well, overwhelming. Throw in classic prog tracks like Genesis' mythic "Firth of Fifth" (owner of THE prog guitar solo par excellence), the jaunty "I know What I Like", the unexpected "In that Quiet Earth" and the sublime "Los Endos" as well as King Crimson master jewels : the grandiose "In the Court of the Crimson King" and the delicate "I Talk to the Wind" and you have a catalogue of the most remarkable compositions from a period in history rife with unfrontiered adventure. Throw in some Wetton tracks like "Battlelines" and a sweet acoustic version of Asia's "Heat of the Moment" as well as a plethora of Hackett solo material and they will get the message and most did. Picking up the collapsing mandibles from the floor was a pure janitorial treat.

The musical praetorian guard is entirely first rate, a tight rhythm section of Wetton (who really shines throughout, reminding us of his greatness) and the fantastic Chester Thompson (Genesis, Ponty, Zappa and Weather Report) leading the charge, Julian Colbeck on keys (played with Yes) and Crimsonaut Ian McDonald supplying his usual polyvalence on sax, flutes, guitar and ivories, Hackett finds himself and his trusted Gibson Les Paul in shimmering company. He therefore demonstrates throughout his considerable tonal talents to the max, a consummate mixture of power, grace and elegance. The lead-in jam section on "Firth" is stupendous, as the funky bass and funkier drums propel the arrangement straight into the maelstrom of a blistering solo, a modern electric guitar effigy frozen for evermore in genius. I generally comment there and then that if this piece leaves one indifferent, please return to your Rascal Flatts albums and may Peace be with you! The door is opened, the red-faced infidel ushered out and the rest of the crew continue there sonic travels towards "the river of constant change". Certainly the solo Hackett material finds equal footing here with pleasurable rides such as ramblers "Camino Royale", "Riding the Colossus", the spectacular "Shadow of the Hierophant" and the evocative "The Steppes". The melody on "Battlelines" is perhaps a tad commercial but what a gorgeous chorus, finding both Wetton and Hackett in top form! The acoustic section features Steve picking marvelously on the pastoral "Horizons" and the utterly symphonic "Walking Away from Rainbows", two mini gems that shine ever so brightly. The biggest surprise remains the reworked "In the Quiet Earth" a lesser know Genesis standout from the "Wind & Wuthering" album which really lets the lads express themselves to the fullest, McDonald unleashing some sultry sax blurts that give the Genesis piece as Crimsonesque feel that is utterly delicious, Colbeck fiddling with his synths , all glued together with unyielding bass and bombastic drums. I personally do not care much for "Vampyre with a Healthy Appetite", admittedly a cool Halloween song with an icy riff but ultimately silly vocals, so I generally like to keep this low on the radar. The contrasting effects on "Shadow of the Hierophant" remains a stunner even after so many years, a sheer envelope of unparalleled beauty where volume, density, fragility and power all seem to converge at once from all directions, blooming into this orgasmic explosion of galloping passion and desire, a lesson in the sublime as the mellotron samples smolder in the foreground and Chester rattles of a ruthless drum solo that is simply thrilling (his eyes closed in concentrated reverence is to die for). "Los Endos" just keeps the glowing embers ablaze, featuring more of that sexy sax and veering the arrangement into near jazz session horizons and then back into the heady symphonic stew this supple track is famous for. "The Steppes" is an epic masterpiece that never fails to impress, a true guitar lesson of the highest caliber and one of my favorite prog tracks ever, loaded with sustained effects that have a meaning and not just technical prowess . I can go on but why, you should have gotten the message by now. If you need to get a teaching gig showing off the virtues of prog to the ignorants, this is where you need to start IMHO. A testament, a textbook, a monument and an education, all rolled into a plastic DVD. Simply breathtaking! Arigato!

5 history lessons

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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