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Steve Hackett - The Tokyo Tapes CD (album) cover

THE TOKYO TAPES

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

3.93 | 107 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The tagline for this album, found on the back cover, seems pretty hilarious to me. "What would it sound like if occasional members of GENESIS, KING CRIMSON, ASIA, YES, ZAPPA & WEATHER REPORT all got together to form a unique team for just one night?" Well, you'd get a perfectly decent live album, dripping with nostalgia, but not much more than that. The tagline isn't even completely truthful; the Yes representative is Julian Colbeck, who played for ABWH but never with Yes itself (unless you want to count something like Symphonic Music of Yes). That said, the rest of it is true; the band consists of Hackett, Colbeck, John Wetton (King Crimson, Asia), Ian McDonald (King Crimson) and Chester Thompson (Genesis, Zappa, Weather Report).

For all of the guest stars, this live set is filed under Steve Hackett for a reason: the bulk of the album either comes from his solo career or from the recently-released (this was released in 1998 but recorded in 1996) Genesis Revisited (he also does "...In That Quiet Earth" in a manner similar to that on Time Lapse, as well as "Horizons"). The Genesis tracks ("Watcher of the Skies," "Firth of Fifth," "Los Endos," "I Know What I Like") aren't done identically to the original versions, but they're not quite as startling as they sometimes were on Revisited, so they should be easier for an old Genesis to assimilate than the versions on Revisited. Hackett's solo career, aside from "Horizons," is represented by "Riding the Colossus" (formerly "Depth Charge" on Time Lapse), "Camino Royale," a couple of Guitar Noir tracks ("Walking Away from Rainbows," the very silly "Vampyre With a Healthy Appetite"), the ending of "Shadow of the Hierophant" (which is connected to "Los Endos" via a seemingly endless drum solo), "Black Light" (as on There Are Many Sides to the Night, primarily a vehicle by which to tease the audience with old Genesis snippets) and "The Steppes." In all cases, the band members are perfectly game to learn Hackett's material, and in those bits it's hard to tell that this isn't just a typical Hackett live album (aside from having Wetton on vocals).

Fortunately, the setlist is spiced up to take advantage of the unique combination of players, and there are some non-Hackett surprises to be found. There's a lengthy solo Wetton piece called "Battlelines," from a recent (1994) album, that I find passable in an Asia-ish way, but that just seems like a bone that Steve threw to John to help get him on board. Much more interesting are the inclusion of "The Court of the Crimson King" and "I Talk to the Wind," neither of which Wetton had performed during his King Crimson stint way back when. They don't really involve Hackett that much, but again, given the overall amount of Hackett material on the album, I feel like that's by design. And finally, there's an acoustic version (!) of "Heat of the Moment," and it sounds rather lovely. Wetton's change of the lyrics to reflect that the performance year was 1996 instead of 1982 is a little cheesy, but I'm glad they decided to throw in this track.

On the whole, I like this album just fine, yet for all of the good performances and small surprises contained therein, I can't shake the feeling that this album is more of a novelty than an essential part of my collection. According to Colbeck, it was these shows that convinced him that he should retire from live rock performance, on the grounds that looking around the stage and seeing all of these old geezers (who were then only in their 40s mind you) made him decide that live rock music should be done by young people, and I'm not entirely shocked that this would happen. The album is out-of-print at this time, and given the effort and probable cost that would need to be expended to get it, I'm not sure it's worth the effort. If you have some way to find it easily, though, it's worth hearing for the best parts.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |

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