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Steve Hackett - Guitar Noir CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

3.26 | 220 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars I am by no means a connoisseur of Steve Hackett's long and diverse career, at least not beyond his groundbreaking work with early GENESIS and later his first few solo albums. So the chance discovery in my local public library of this 1993 release offered me a golden opportunity to become re-acquainted with a musician always near the top of that short list of truly innovative rock guitarists.

Hackett has always been something of a musical chameleon. But even allowing for his admirable habit of changing color from album to album, it's hard to know what to make of this set: a collection of (mostly) bombastic, radio-friendly wannabe singles by an artist who apparently didn't learn his lesson from the aesthetic debacle of GTR (alongside a likewise embarrassed Steve Howe). Certainly Hackett has earned every right to rock out whenever he wants, but the AOR anonymity of this effort, together with a digital pile-driver production job, rarely plays to his strengths as either a composer or a performer.

This is clearly a musician more at home in a strictly instrumental setting, as heard in the song "Tristesse" and in the simply gorgeous "Sierra Quemada". The latter in particular is a showcase for his trademark guitar work at its richest and most emotional, revealing (and not for the first time) exactly what Genesis lost when they let him get away.

But elsewhere on the album the typically limpid sound of his classical guitar (always a Hackett specialty) is all but spoiled by his inadequate skills as a lead singer. While listening (for example) to the half-whispered elocutions of "There Are Many Sides to the Night", I kept wishing for a way to somehow isolate and eliminate the histrionic vocal track, leaving only the lush background of guitars and electronics. Compare that to the unadulterated beauty of the subsequent "Walking Away With Rainbows", the third of the (all-too few) purely instrumental selections on the album.

I have to wonder who the intended audience for this disc could have been. Discriminating Progheads and fans of Hackett's best work ("Voyage of the Acolyte", "Spectral Mornings") might try to defend it out of partisan loyalty, but newcomers aren't going to be easily convinced. Let's hope that like a lot of his projects this was only a passing fancy; Hackett has too much musical integrity to be caught treading such shallow commercial waters.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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