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Steve Hackett - Wild Orchids CD (album) cover

WILD ORCHIDS

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

3.76 | 232 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars The first HACKETT album from the new era with which I have familiarized myself, "Wild Orchids" possesses many of the hallmarks of his earlier solo work - an eclectic and seemingly haphazard mix of styles with little to unify them but Hackett himself, generally poor vocals sung in novelty style as if he doesn't want to appear to be trying to sing well, and fine acoustic and electric guitar work. Where it drops the ball is in a general lack of defining melodies and songs one could really call "great".

20+ years on I'm a little tired of hearing the same locomotive type beat that we get on "Ego and Id", but at least before he would have had the sense not to sing on it. Even worse is the film noir of "Down Street", amounting to seven and a half minutes of aural torture, while "Wolfwork" and the similarly named "Howl" also provide plenty of fodder to skeptics. The highlights aren't all that high, but include "A Dark Night in Toytown", a breathtaking orchestral romp, the Dylan penned "Man in the Long Black Coat", where Hackett's lead tickles the bluesy nerve, and "Fundamentals of Brainwashing". A couple of the softer tunes are just too somnolent, like "Set Your Compass" and "To a Close". They are pleasant enough but just don't possess that transcendent quality that would elevate them above ordinary nice songs.

It pains me to say but I can't consider this more than a technical equal of albums like "Spectral Mornings", "Defector", "Cured", or "Highly Strung". Sure it's galaxies ahead in production and technology, but compositionally and architecturally "Wild Orchids" is like that floral arrangement that's been on your dining room table a few days too long. Pretty in a withering way, but smelling a tad past its prime. 2.5 stars rounded down.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |

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