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Steve Hackett -  Genesis Revisited CD (album) cover

GENESIS REVISITED

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

3.36 | 237 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars Not a cover or a tribute, new fresh versions of old classics

I remember that winter afternoon in 1997 as if it was yesterday, the chain stores sold the CD's at such high prices that I had to search for an alternate store, and found one in a gallery on a not so nice zone called "GalerĂ­as Brasil", there I knew a guy in his early 50's who sold official albums at cheaper price, and he called me to see this new wonder, when I reached the store, my first words weer "No, not another damn tribute", but when I saw STEVE HACKETT'S name on the cover, took the risk?I will never regret this moment, because it was an unexpected experience.

The album starts with Watcher of the Skies, the classic opener for Gabriel era concerts, and the Mellotron/Hammond (this time with Mellotron and full orchestra) intro sounded slightly better than the original, it was good but nothing radically new, so when I was about to press the skip button, the sound changed, somehow slower and less heavy, in that moment John Wetton's warm voice took me by surprise.

The guy is not Peter Gabriel and doesn't try to be him (The best possible option when playing other guy's parts is to be different), he sings like himself and really changed my perception of the song, surely is less aggressive, but incredibly warmer. Don't misunderstand me, I love the original version, but always sounded a bit distant and cold, this version is more enjoyable (won't say better, just different) and playful, loved the new approach, a great start.

Now, Dance on a Volcano is one of the best Collins era songs (when he tried to sound like a Gabriel clone), and now Steve tries to sing it, I had to listen it. From the start everything is different, after an absolutely weird and skillful guitar intro by Hackett that enhances the mystery, the familiar sound starts, I couldn't wait to listen Steve in the vocals, and after a section respectful to the original, Steve enters with a vocoder?Yes it's strange, but the new arrangements are so rich that the weirdness almost vanishes. If Bill Bruford was outstanding in the opener, Chester Thompson is superb on this one, making me forget Phill Collins drumming (something hard to achieve). At the end the Mellotron and the subtle guitar additions make this song worth to be listened.

With an intelligent appreciation of the moment, Hackett plays one of his own songs, the ultra-pompous and ambitious Valley of the kings, a moment of rest for the listener who doesn't have to compare it with GENESIS, and is allowed to enjoy it fully. The blend of frantic guitar and orchestra is simply delightful. Great interlude.

The next track is Deja vu a work in progress by Peter Gabriel during the Selling England by the Pound sessions, so even when it has that 70's GENESIS flavor somehow reminiscent of For Absent Friends, we can listen it without remorse or need to compare. The guitar work by Steve is brilliant, and the selection of Paul Carrack in the vocals is the appropriate, at the end reminds me a bit of Steve's solo debut, but with that Tony Banks unique Mellotron. Extremely Beautiful.

Now Firth of fifth is a challenge, and Steve makes it so different that takes the pressure out of the musicians, from the start the replacement of Tony's grand piano for an orchestral and playful intro is a great option, its' clear that this is a different song with a different singer (John Wetton), that respects the original but adds enough changes to make it a completely different version. Before the famous solo, Steve adds a nice acoustic section and then an orchestral passage that leads to what we all were waiting for, Steve Hackett in all his glory, at last the best guitar solo in history (In my opinion of course), simply brilliant, left me breathless for some minutes.

From the start I must say that I always hated For Absent Friends, a cheesy little filler in the magnificent Nursery Cryme to allow Phil Collins make his singing debut in GENESIS, not as bad as the horrendous More Fool Me, but a candidate for the skip button. But Steve caught me by surprise, in first place selecting a great singer as Colin Blunstone from "The Alan Parsons Project" and replacing the band with his guitar and orchestra. I don't know how, but he turned a terrible filler in a highlight of the album?.Sadly Steve Hackett t doesn't make miracles, the next song Your Own Special Way can't be saved, this the only track I never listen from this album, slightly better than the original, but still terribly boring.

But after a bad song comes the best piece of the album, the already fantastic Fountain of Salmacis is resurrected in a totally new and brilliant presentation. In first place an acoustic guitar intro prepares the listener for the beautiful intro (this time orchestral instead of Hammond based), then Steve again with vocoder starts to sing, but then, he leaves all the gadgets and uses his own voice, surprisingly does it pretty well, he's not Peter but does an amazingly good work, adding the voice to his well-known talents. A perfect piece of art from the first to the last note, the best song of the album. The original version is a masterpiece, this one is a masterpiece +.

When I bought the album, hated Waiting Room Only with all my guts, but time has passed and things have changed, and yes, the first half is full of strange sounds, but the second part is more than interesting, in the sleeve notes the author said he tried to capture the spirit of the atonal song with the same name from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and they succeeded.

A re-visit to GENESIS wouldn't be complete without I Know What I Like, the only hit single from Gabriel's era, incredibly after this phrase I admit I don't like the original and even less this sort of Bossa Nova rendition, but I love that Steve dared to do it with him in the vocals, I hate the song, but recognize the brilliance in the idea of doing something knowing that most people will dislike it, because the artist believes in it.

The album is closed by Los Endos, and again Steve manages to make in better than the original, what started as a frenetic track to put a closure to every show, has been turned into a complex track, with a lot of elements GENESIS would had never dared to add. An extra point for using two drummers as Genesis did in the life shows and one more for calling Chester Thompson.

Well, I must say that the album is not perfect, but despite having a couple of flaws, I admire the bravery of Steve Hackett when he re-created the songs instead of making a tribute that everybody would love but without originality, the album is risky. ambitious and even full of the humor required, I consider Watcher of the Skies - Genesis Revisited a masterpiece and a transcendental piece of art, so 5 stars for me

Ivan_Melgar_M | 5/5 |

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