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Steve Hackett - Blues with a Feeling  CD (album) cover

BLUES WITH A FEELING

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

2.94 | 90 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
3 stars I was born to overrate albums like this. Putting it mildly, this is an album without a natural audience; many prog fans would hate the idea of a great British prog guitarist "reducing" himself to doing a pure blues album, and most blues fans would hate the idea of their favorite genre being perverted by a British prog guitarist. If any major prog guitarist was going to do a blues album, though, it was going to be Steve Hackett; not only did he have an eagerness to dabble in as many genres as he could, and not only had he done a pure blues song once before, but blues was his first love, and harmonica was his first instrument. No, the fit isn't perfect; his voice, however treated and modified it may be, doesn't quite have the oomph to be fully effective in this setting, and he definitely doesn't sound like somebody who's been doing blues all his life. And yet, these performances are far more than passable, full of spark and verve, and the very lack of total familiarity with the blues that leads some to dismiss this album is what adds a unique tension that makes me like it as much as I do.

One of the original tracks on here manages to provide a delightful fusion of Steve's natural compositional tendencies with the blues framework. "Big Dallas Sky" sounds a little dumb at first, what with the low-pitched spoken delivery, but the main guitar line in the instrumental breaks is Hackett at his very best, and the music in the verses is pretty and awfully atmospheric. It's definitely an approach to the blues totally unlike anything I've heard before, and it's a clear highlight.

Of the other tracks, four are covers and sevens are originals (either written himself or in collaboration, but it's not immediately clear upon listening which are which). Among the covers, I find myself most partial towards "So Many Roads," which is full of slow wailing lines played with a great tone, but the opening "Born in Chicago" gets things off to a rollicking start, with some really fun harmonica. Among the originals, I really like "Love of Another Kind" (which has lots of great guitar and harmonica interplay) and "Solid Ground" (based around a fun harmonica riff and featuring a delightful chorus), but that may well just because they're upbeat and they're the first and last originals on the album, respectively. Among the slower pieces, "A Blue Part of Town" is a definite standout (it's a moody instrumental featuring harmonica and keyboards without any guitar), and ... oh wait, I guess the only other slow original is "Way Down South" (which is alright though not really anything special). Anyway, "Footloose" and "Tombstone Roller" are both great up-tempo numbers, especially the latter with all of its elaborate guitar passages (definitely more prog than blues).

The rest of the album isn't really filled with standout tracks, but I quite enjoy the rest of the material on the whole, and in the end I feel quite comfortable giving this the grade I do. Yes, this album is somewhat of an elaborate joke (nobody was expecting this blues obsession to manifest on more than one album, and it didn't), and it's definitely not a great blues album, but it's undoubtedly a good blues album. As of writing, it's quite out of print, and I'd be surprised if it ever came back, but if you can find a way to hear "Big Dallas Sky" and a few other tracks from it, you should.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |

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