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Steve Hackett - Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

3.68 | 367 ratings

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3 stars In an interview focused on the release of this album, STEVE HACKETT described it as a "series of aural ambushes". It is therefore not surprising that the album be judged on the effectiveness of the clearly deliberate shifts within and between tracks on "Out of the Tunnel's Mouth".

I am not an artist but I think I understand one's need to stay fresh and to be reborn into new forms of expression. No other member of the GENESIS extended family has lived this philosophy to this degree. Unfortunately, to come forth and say so, as Mr Hackett implied in the interview, smacks of contrivance, even if not to the same degree as 90% of PETER GABRIEL's own solo material. But then Hackett has always had the advantage of a lucid classical instinct, melodic wisdom encroaching on genius, and virtuosity across the fretted diaspora. He has even figured out how to incorporate his increasingly impassive voice to utmost effect. So it's no surprise that this album is best when he combines all four strengths at once rather than doling out a disjointed minute to each.

Two of the biggest highlights come straight away, the contrast of "Fire on the Moon's" pregnant spaced out verses and mountainous wordless choruses being utterly convincing (although I have to say that it is really meant to be seen live), while "Nomads" provides an even smoother transition between delicate classical guitar and lead guitar licks with an unlikely emotional vocal section bridging them delicately. "Sleepers" also shifts from gentle acoustic to wailing rather well before ending peacefully. It is notable for surprisingly strong vocals, which appear to be from Steve himself albeit ably backed up.

Elsewhere, the tunes alternate between good ("Last Train to Instanbul") and mediocre ("Tubehead", "Still Waters"), or both at once (the failed suite "Emerald and Ash"). Technique tends to obliterate any aspect of thematic strength there might have been on these also-rans, and even relatively enjoyable passages leave us behind with a vague sense of lost opportunity and personal inadequacy.

Like many HACKETT albums, this is simultaneously somewhat satisfying and wanting, but I have the utmost respect for this man whose main weakness is that he is too emphatically progressive for his own good. OK he is not that great a composer either. He might not represent the light at the end of the tunnel, but at least he consistently helps us find our way out.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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