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Steve Hackett - The Tokyo Tapes (DVD) CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett

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Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Steve Hackett's Tokyo Tapes is a concert video featuring him and a slew of his former colleagues in all of his years of work. The colleagues in question are John Wetton (ex-King Crimson, ex-Asia), Ian McDonald (ex-King Crimson), Chester Thompson (ex-Frank Zappa, Genesis), and Julian Colbeck (Steve Hackett). What you'll find on this dvd is highly polished songs ranging from Shadow of the Hierophant to Heat of the Moment, and even some King Crimson, but it's all performed wonderfully and the group really puts their own spin on it to make it a unique experience. While the show isn't perfect (marred because of very dated keyboards and a somewhat disastrous vocal performance on I Know What I Like from Hackett [only in parts, though]), there is a lot to like here and most fans of any of the groups that these performers were in will find something to like here.

As a classic Genesis staple, the show opens with Watcher of the Skies, with Colbeck performing the famous Tony Banks mellotron lines, with some help by Ian McDonald. It sets the mood of the album wonderfully and while there isn't a great visual offering in the vein of Gabriel, it's rather fun watching Hackett and the rest of the group perform. You'll find some great extended and modified pieces in Firth of Fifth and Camino Royale, the first getting the Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited middle section that really has nothing to do with the song itself, and the latter getting an extensive Hackett harmonica solo. The first cover song of the night is Battlelines off of John Wetton's solo album of the same name. It's a ballad by and by, but Wetton's voice (which has aged nicely since the 70s) is comforting and Hackett's guitar solo reiterates the main theme well.

The other covers of the night include In the Court of the Crimson King, which is cut short, but McDonald's flute work is poetic and very well played. Heat of the Moment gets an acoustic treatment for this set, and Wetton's passionate vocal is complimented nicely by the three guitar approach and some nice harmony vocals from Hackett and McDonald. I Talk to The Wind has some great harmony vocals from Wetton and Hackett on top of McDonald's great flute performance. Some real highlights to the show are Shadow of Hierophant/Los Endos (bridged together by a Chester Thompson drum solo. Hierophant is played wonderfully from the great 6/4 buildup section at the end, and Los Endos is played perfectly, even with the Moonlit Knight quote in the middle.

The only real problems I have with this dvd is the keyboard sound from Colbeck, which sounds awfully dated (case in point during his solo on In That Quiet Earth, which is otherwise a great number). And I Know What I Like, even though it has a great groove to it thanks to Wetton's walking bass line, is marred by some over the top Hackett vocals, it can even get a bit cringeworthy in moments (especially the, "But I remembered a voice from the past" line). Other than that, though, there aren't any true faults with this live collection.

In the end, I stated above what I find to be wrong with this dvd. The sound is great and well mixed, the video gives lots of camera time to every performer, and the overall set list is a nice blend of everyone's past and present. If you're a fan of Hackett/Genesis/King Crimson/John Wetton/Asia then you should probably find something to enjoy about this disc, and since I like essentially all those groups, this live album is right up my alley. 4.5/5.

Report this review (#83492)
Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent team work , wonderful choice of tracks . In fact i had no idea that someone living on the other edge of this planet can use my tongue in describing the Tokyo tapes gift from giants talented musicians such as Hackett , Wetton , Mc Donald , Thomson & colbeck . Kindly proggers refer to Ivan Melgar M review , it's simply honest in this regard . In fact this live performances deserves much more than stars , it's worth your time , and i know how precious it is . Do not skip any track from this dvd , it's really essential and worth your pennies . Tracks Toni
Report this review (#165644)
Posted Friday, April 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars '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 just for one night?'

As is stated at the back of the box: '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 just for one night?'

The Genesis reference is, of course, obvious: Steve Hackett himself on guitars, vocals and harmonica. Also six classic Genesis songs are played here: Watcher Of The Skies, Firth Or Fifth, Horizons, In That Quiet Earth, Los Endos and I Know What I like. (Some of these songs are given the treatment they got on Steve's Genesis Revisted album.) Really excellent stuff! Steve's solo albums are also well represented with The Steppes, Camino Royale and others.

The King Crimson reference is also fairly obvious; Ian MacDonald (one of the original members of that band) on flutes, sax, guitar, keyboards and vocals. To honor his presence two classic King Crimson songs are played, both from the debut album from 1969 (an album that was a massive influence on Steve and early Genesis); The Court Of The Crimson King and I Talk To The Wind. Both performed perfectly! (I don't think these songs, or any songs from that album for that matter, are available on any other professionally recorded live DVD!)

The Asia reference is John Wetton; bass, guitar and vocals. An acoustic version of the classic Asia song Heat Of The Moment is performed. This is easily the best version of that song that I have ever heard. I must admit that I am not a big fan of the original version of that song, but this one is great! Also one of Wetton's solo songs are performed here; called Battle Lines. This was the only song on this DVD that I had not heard before, and I must say that it is surprisingly good.

The Yes reference is very confusing! None of these people have ever been in Yes. However, keyboadist Julian Colbeck has played with Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. And Steve was once in another band (GTR) with Steve Howe. But, of course, that also was not Yes.

The Zappa & Weather Report reference is the drummer Chester Thompson. He has also toured with Genesis for many years.

To sum up, this DVD is amazing! Highly recommended to all fans of early Genesis, early King Crimson as well as fans of John Wetton and, of course, of Steve's solo work. This DVD is especially great keeping in mind that both Genesis and King Crimson almost completely have given up playing their older material live. There are simply no DVD's by these bands that live up to the standard of this one.

Report this review (#177000)
Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars With a such dream team of musicians like this, how could this DVD go wrong? It´s simply wonderful! (albeit not without its faults). Tokyo Tapes got Steve Hackett backed up by John Wetton (Asia, King Crimson, among others), Ian McDonald (King Crimson, Foreigner), Chester Thompson (Genesis, Weather Report) and Julian Colbeck (Steve hackett). As one was to expect, there are interpretations of songs from Genesis, King Crimson and Asia, besides Hackett´s solo highlights.

Pros: great musicanship of all involved, good sound, good production, excellent song selection, good cameras settings.

Cons: some arrangements are not that similar to originals (they should have dropped I Know What I LIke), some annoying keyboards sounds (too 80´s for my taste). And most of all, why they never played the beautiful piano introduction to Firth Of Fifth? I also wished they played more songs, but then it would have to be a 3 hour show at least. Highlights: too many to mention, but it is enough to know they play a wonderful rendition of In the Court Of The Crimson King.

As anyone can see, there are few cons, really. It´s a must have for any prog lover (specially if you love 70´s classic prog). Oh, how I wanted to be there to watch them live! Fortunatly the DVD is available and it did capture most of the show´s magic. Highly recommended. 4,5 stars.

Report this review (#186121)
Posted Friday, October 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars BORING. I don't think I've ever seen a concert whose musicians are so lifeless before this one. I expected this from Hackett, who would just sit during Genesis performances, but Wetton is apparently no Gabriel. Often just standing in front of the microphone, Wetton's vocals sound uninspired and bored. The keyboards are far too "modern" sounding in many places (but does seem to sound like a mellotron at times). Thompson's drumming isn't terribly special, even simplifying Watcher of the Skies to sound like some 90s song.

The only musician who seems to be really enjoying himself and isn't that boring is Ian McDonald, and it is his performance that makes this enjoyable to watch at all. It was cool to see his solos during Court of the Crimson King and I Talk to the Wind, and to hear his flute added to Los Endos. Otherwise, the songs aren't that interesting and if they are, the people playing them aren't interesting to watch.

And acoustic Heat of the Moment?! The song isn't that great in the first place, and to take away its defining characteristic - its 80sness - is a total mistake.

If you like Hackett's solo work, it might be worth checking out. Otherwise the Genesis/King Crimson songs have been done far much better in other places.

Report this review (#226938)
Posted Thursday, July 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Well, this was the very first DVD I ever owned, well before I owned some device able to read or view it, but I brought it to friend's houses to view it with them a few times. Then I sort of forgot about it in the bottom of a box and it slowly exited from my memory until I found it in that very same box two months ago. Actually after viewing it a few times, I like it better than back when it first came out, fresh on the heels of that Genesis Revisited release, which I had not really appreciated. So obviously my opinion of Tokyo Tapes was a bit "cheapened by its proximity of the afore-mentioned album.

But this start-studded cast has much more to offer than some Genesis revival, even if that group's repertoire still holds an important place in this project's repertoire. Indeed, bassist Wetton and flutist Ian McDonald give a Crimson legitimacy (and unfortunately an Asia edge) while drummer Thompson reinforce the Genesis camp. The usual Hackett sideman Colbeck rounds out the line-up on keyboards. Don't get me wrong: the vast majority of that night concert was Genesis and Hackett's material and it's a pure joy to hear the classics as the band strays a bit from the note for note perfect rendition. Indeed, the orgasmic organized improve in otherwise over-reprised Firth Of Fifth synth solo is absolutely worth the detour, and the abridged Los Endos (still featuring a Thompson solo) and Quiet Earth have since become fixed concert faves of Steve's sets.

Obviously that night's low points are the two Wetton-penned Asia tracks, but the absolutely fantastic renditions of the two Crimson tracks (Court & Wind) are more than making up for those weaknesses. As for the Hackett solo stuff, obviously the more successful tracks are from his earlier efforts like Hierophant and Steppes, but Colossus, Camino and Black Light (the latter showing Steve playing a decent harmonica). Well I wouldn't call this concert footage anything close to essential in regards to prog's overall heritage, but it's certainly pleasant enough to own and still get that fourth star, just because of the emotional impact of that evening.

Report this review (#406844)
Posted Thursday, February 24, 2011 | Review Permalink

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