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Steve Hackett - Bay of Kings  CD (album) cover

BAY OF KINGS

Steve Hackett

Eclectic Prog


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Sean Trane
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Prog Folk
3 stars What happened to the original cover artwork? The first of his classical music album. Of limited interest for the scope of this site. A very lovely album, where Steve's guitar pieces are often quite excellent, but somehow never manage to bring us the emotions of Horizon. Still fine though. But I must admit that I could never listen to the album in one sitting; even a complete vinyl side was rapidly boring for that matter, so as my shelf space was (and is still) not infinite, I eventually got rid of it.

His love for classical guitar will have him do another three albums (we are in 04, now so this can still increase), all of them fine albums, but that should be filed under classical music in your collection

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#26169)
Posted Wednesday, March 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Another must have, the best example of such grandeur and versatility as well by HACKETT, to be listened by drinking a cup of tea and sitting peacefully on a chair. Often inspiring, this material seems the best guitar lesson for his wife!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#26170)
Posted Thursday, April 01, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Yes this a great instrumental offering from Hackett. Obviously a big change from the rock orientaed albums of the past. I think this was important for SH to express his more classical side, although any Genesis fan would have been aware of this from albums like SEBTP.Persoanl favourites are ' Bay of Kings' and ' Cast adrift'. There are also remakes of ' kim' from PDT and ' Horizons' from Foxtrot.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#26171)
Posted Tuesday, August 03, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Softly, softly. snooze

Let me try to describe, in speeded up linear fashion, my emotions as I listened to this album: ("." represents the passing of unspecified amounts of time).

Hmm, nice soft acoustic guitar piece to start, gentle and relaxing. sounds like the next track has started, another soft acoustic piece eh. a bit of orchestration there behind the acoustic guitar, that's nice .. Ah, flute, that sounds good over the acoustic guitar, wonder what other sounds we'll hear. hmm, back to he acoustic guitar again, he plays it very well, but it's starting to wear a bit.(skip forward several further acoustic guitar solo tracks later ).. wait a minute, I recognise this, that's "Horizons", from "Foxtrot", good to hear that again... oh oh, more intricate acoustic guitar playing, at least it's getting near the end. Is that it then. yes I think he's stopped.

There is no questioning Steve Hackett's guitar playing abilities. Any of his soft acoustic pieces are a joy to listen to. Extract any one of these tracks, and you have a beautiful piece of music. A whole album of similar tracks one after the other though is a different story. The album becomes tedious and dull. In show business, there's a famous saying to the effect that you should always "leave them wanting more". With "Bay of kings", Hackett appears to have overlooked this completely.

The talent on show here and delicate compositions are deserving of a higher rating, but as a package, "Bay of kings" is something of a disappointment.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#26172)
Posted Thursday, February 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
greenback
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Steve Hackett made an entirely acoustic album here: acoustic guitars having a slight Baroque style. The comparison with Anthony Phillips is inevitable, since they both played guitars for Genesis: Hackett is more structured, fluid, accessible and catchy than Phillips: Hackett's sound and style is closer to Jan Akkerman and Liona Boyd. One must say that his atmospheric echoed recording helps very much here. Nick Magnus plays on some tracks accompanying floating keyboards in the background; the flute parts, like on "Kim", a track originating from the "Please don't touch" album, are just graceful and relaxing. He nevertheless adopts the Anthony Phillips' style on the less accessible "St.Elmo's fire". The melancholic "Second chance" is absolutely beautiful: the melodic flute parts perfectly fit with fast & fluid acoustic guitar arrangements. "Horizons", from the Genesis' "Foxtrot" album, is played here with a more rich sound. The fast notes on "Black Light" should remind you the acoustic elements he made on the first GTR album. "Calmaria" really approaches the Liona Boyd's style.

Rating: 4.5 stars

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#26173)
Posted Monday, March 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is a pleasure to see that there are artists that use their popularity to make us discover other sides of music ! This album can be an introduction to classical music. It is very soft, very beautiful. It might seem boring at first if you don't know its is classical guitar only (with a bit of flute and synths), without lyrics. But once you know this album a bit, you can hear very different moods, different rhythms. The melodies are great, the technique is obviously perfect. Fans of Genesis will find a different version of "Horizons", more "dreamy", with a softer sound of guitar.

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Send comments to Flyingbebert (BETA) | Report this review (#26174)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars In this album Steve shows what a great guitar player he is.

Pure and hypnotizing acoustic compositions liike "The Journey", "Kim", "St Elmo's Fire", "Black Light" and of course my favourite "Second Chance". Delicate, nostalgic and very classical. A real masterpiece into Hackett's discography and maybe the best example of why Steve left Collins' Genesis. AN original work with a nice prog sound and full of Hackett's talent.

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Send comments to progadicto (BETA) | Report this review (#40433)
Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
chessman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Not much to say about this one really. The first of Hackett's acclaimed acoustic guitar albums, this is as good as any of them. Superbly recorded ( I have the remastered version now) and wonderfully atmospheric, each track fits on here splendidly. I won't go through the individual songs - they are all good, including the three bonus tracks. The sort of album you can sit back and enjoy with a cup of tea and a biscuit - or a fish supper! Young and old alike will like this, probably this is what you could call a 'Universal album', catering to many tastes. His playing is immaculate of course, and his songwriting is as strong as ever. In fact, having owned, in the past, some classical guitar albums from better known classic artists, I have to say this is as good, if not better than any of them! Very often, the recognised classical players will be playing music by other composers, and not all of it is immediately digestable. Hackett has the wonderful knack of composing melodies that are quickly assimilated by the brain and retained for many years after. A true talent. Fans of Hackett will love this, as will classical guitar buffs, and all lovers of peaceful, beautiful music. Don't sit reading this - go out and buy it!

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Send comments to chessman (BETA) | Report this review (#76497)
Posted Thursday, April 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Steve Hackett's first classical album has him treading in unmarked territory in his repetoir. An album comprised solely of classical works can either be two things, boring or interesting. This album treads into both territories, but the variance in these pieces offers up a diverse atmosphere. There are majestic pieces, there are somber pieces, there are saddening pieces, but they are all wonderfully performed by Hackett and his brother John (who offers some great flute work on a few songs). That brings up another point, there are only two musicians on this album, Steve and John Hackett. That means that this album is very guitar oriented (as it should be). Overall, Hackett's first clasiccal album would ultimately be his best.

Bay of Kings opens the album with a majestic guitar only piece. Hackett's classical work compares considerably well to his electric work, and this track is a perfect example of that. His guitar sound is warm and very vibrant. The Journey is another vibrant track with a more melodic feel mainly because of Hackett's textured and layered keyboard work (which uses an orchestra tone). The album features two old Hackett classics, the first being Kim, which appeared on Please Don't Touch. John Hackett's flute line on this track is different than the original version, and Hackett's guitar tone is vibrant and very bright. Marigold features a steel guitar as opposed to a classical guitar, and Hackett uses a harmonizer to create the illusion of a 12 string guitar. It's a very majestic and somber track all at the same time.

St. Elmo's Fire finds Hackett experimenting with dissonant progressions and uplifting motifs. Petropolis has interesting unison guitar lines from Hackett and a majestic overall feeling. Second Chance has a majestic and very interesting flute line from John Hackett and some interesting underlying guitar work from Steve. Cast Adrift has Hackett drifting into atmospheric and minimalistic guitar themes, and it comes off very well. The second classic Hackett song on this album is Horizons, which is more warm and vibrant than it's Foxtrot predecessor. Black Light features fast unison "cluster notes" from Hackett and some more Spanish influenced arpeggios. The Barren Land has a more desolate feeling and utilizes some very warm classical guitar themes.

Calmaria is a forgettable piece that doesn't really go anywhere and detracts from the overall quality of the album. Time Lapse at Milton Keynes has an uplifting and majestic feel, maybe because Hackett wrote it around the same time as the brief Genesis reunion in the 80s to help Peter Gabriel. Tales of the Riverbank is based off a classical piece by Giuliani titled Andante in C. It's a dynamic and interesting classical piece. Skye Boat song has a majestic and interesting melody as well as an overall uplifting atmosphere. It ends the album wonderfully.

In the end, Hackett's first all classical album was a truly original effort overall. It may be a tad bit on the boring side and some pieces may sound similar, but overall it's a perfect piece that has some great melodies and some superb musicianship. 4/5.

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#84650)
Posted Monday, July 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I have to say that that I am not a desperate fan of classical acoustic guitar but this album is somewhat welcome during Steve's career.

At least, we get rid of these awful sounds from "Cured" and "Highly Strung". This album is for your relaxation and peace of mind. As such, it works very well.

There are some beautiful melodies on this album : "Kim" of course. Delicate and sentimental.Unlike the opening and title track which is 100 per cent guitar oriented, this one holds some great fluting as well as elegant background keyboards. To bring some diversity in this work. Just before this, "The Journey" brought us in the mood of "Jeux Interdits" with some pleasant orchestrations.

At this point of the album, the story will repeat itself with "Marigold". And the baroque "Petropolis" is not great either.

I like the sweet flute in "Second chance". Such a peaceful ingredient. It adds a wonderful touch to this little piece of music. I guess that the global mood of this album was the justification to integrate "Horizons" in here. Always nice to listen to of course.

A good album to spend some time on a Sunday afternoon.The three bonus tracks just add some eight minutes of the same mood. Pleasant, no more.

If I could, I would rate this album with 2,5 stars. A bit too much of the same for me (and those orchestrations during "Calmaria" are not very much of my likings). But I'll upgrade it to three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#159980)
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Very nice acoustic album, but not very outstanding. By the time it was released I was anxious to hear it since I always thought Steve Hackett would make a wonderful instrumental album done mainly with the classical guitar. Unfortunatly the promise was not entirely fulfilled. Some songs are nice, but the flow is a bit uneven and some parts are simply dull, but none is unbearable. Even the new version for the classic Horizons is spoiled here by the use of too much reverb in the recording. A pity, really. Still it´s an enjoyable album, if you don´t expect too much from such a legendary guitar hero.

By the way, the original Kim Poor illustration is much better than the CD version. I rated it between 2,5 and 3 stars. Recommended specially if you like soft ambient music.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#171768)
Posted Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars Steve has more than one string to his fiddle

Steve Hackett is one of my all time favourite guitarists and solo artists. One of the things that make him so special for me is his ability to fuse different styles into something unique and exciting. This ability is put on hold whenever he decides to go into one single direction at the time. I think that Steve is best when he alternates between his different influences within the context of the same album or within the same song and not when he concentrates on one style only for a whole album.

Bay Of Kings is Hackett's first ever pure Classical guitar album. This was the first out of several such albums by Steve and in a way it can be seen as a debut album of a parallel career rather than as a follow up to Highly Strung. From now on Steve had a Rock career and a Classical career running parallel to each other. It is obvious which one of these is of most interest to the people on this site.

Apart from some discrete keyboards by Nick Magnus and occasional flutes by John Hackett, Bay Of Kings is strictly acoustic guitar played in Classical style.

Steve revisits Kim from the Please Don't Touch album and the eternal Horizons, originally from Genesis Foxtrot album (where it leads the way towards Supper's Ready). This little guitar piece will always be Steve's signature song and a constant live favourite. However, I think this beautiful classic fits better in its natural habitat which is either on the Foxtrot album or in one of Steve's amazing live performances.

Even if the album is relatively short, it cannot stay interesting for long I'm afraid. It lacks diversity and any distinguishing features. Bay Of Kings does tend to get boring quite quickly even if the individual pieces are not bad at all.

I can recommend this only to fans and collectors of Steve Hackett and to people with a special interest in Classical guitar music.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#230420)
Posted Friday, August 07, 2009 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Steve Hackett has recorded many different acoustic composition during his career and so when he finally decided to to compile them all together on one record filled only with acoustic performances how could it possibly anything but an excellent album release?

It did in fact sound like a dream come true for me but the results fall short of any excellence based on one simple premise... 40+ minutes of acoustic music is quite dull. Although Horizons does sound better than ever, the rest of the tracks fall short when compared to that one acoustic guitar masterpiece. This album actually reminded me exactly why Steve isn't a full time acoustic guitar player. A mix between styles is what makes his albums stand out compared to most other guitar musicians solo albums.

Bay Of Kings isn't an album I listen to all that often. In fact even album's like Please Don't Touch! make have received a lot more attention from me lately. Still if you're into guitar driven acoustic music and/or are a huge fan of Steve Hackett then this album is worth picking up.

***** star songs: Horizons (1:47)

**** star songs: Bay Of Kings (4:56) Kim (2:25) Marigold (3:36) St Elmo's Fire (3:08) Second Chance (1:58) Black Light (2:31) The Barren Land (3:46) Calmaria (3:23)

*** star songs: The Journey (4:14) Petropolis (2:45) Cast Adrift (2:15)

Total Rating: 3,80

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#255160)
Posted Wednesday, December 09, 2009 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is the first of Steve Hackett's entirely classical guitar inspired albums, and it is a beauty. Everyone should know by now, since "Horizons" on the Genesis album Foxtrot (also appears on this disc), that Hackett is an incredible classical guitar composer. His compositions have an unmistakable contemporary sound, yes, but they often have baroque and renaissance style overtones similar to compositions by J. Bach or D. Scarlatti.

There are some problems with this album, however. The compositions may be fantastic, but the guitar doesn't sound like an actual classical guitar; the guitar sounds like an amplified electric guitar played through a classical-effect filter. It gives the guitar a really drowned sound that vibrates unnecessarily and has always made me prefer Hackett's later classical works. Another problem here is the presence of synthetic orchestral sounds that give the music a very strong taste of new-age music. Steve's brother, John, makes an appearance on flute though (a real flute) which is a nice touch, and would later appear again in great form on Sketches of Satie and Momentum.

I would recommend this album to anyone who is a fan of classical guitar and doesn't mind any new-age touches.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#431200)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars For whatever negative things that can be said about early 80s Steve Hackett, let us also say this: he wasn't in it just for the money. Even as Steve had been repositioning himself as a contemporary peddler of synth pop, he was also continuing to amass a nice pile of (mostly unreleased) classical guitar instrumentals, and he was determined to see them released together in a single album. Charisma refused to allow him to release an album of classical guitar on the grounds that they deemed it career suicide, so Steve went all-out on self- sabotage by jumping from an established record label to a label owned by a car company so that he could release these pieces. This is indeed an album of nothing but Steve's classical guitar pieces, with only some light touches of keyboard and flute applied sparingly, and the effect would have been startling indeed to somebody who, for whatever reason, had come on board only with Highly Strung (which didn't have any acoustic guitar snippets on it).

I like the idea of Steve's career having an album of just acoustic guitar instrumentals (he'd also have another one a few years later with Momentum), and I enjoy the album when it's on, but I'd be lying if I said I had strong feelings for this album. I've always been a fan of Steve including bits of classical guitar on his albums, but my enjoyment of those pieces has always been the way I'd enjoy having a tasty spice included in a meal placed before me. I mean, oregano is nice and all, but "Boy, I sure feel like pouring myself a nice bowl of oregano" is a sentence that would never cross my mind in a million years. Because I've never bothered to learn much (or anything, really) about the world of classical guitar, and thus have no idea where Steve would sit in the hierarchy of the great masters of the style, it's extremely difficult for me to find "good" and "bad" in this album beyond the level of "boy, that's kinda pretty I guess," and thus I feel this album is largely wasted on me. Steve, of course, seems to have a pretty good grip on what he's attempting to do (the liner notes have some elaborate comments on how acoustic guitar can be made to imitate a whole spectrum of instruments, and he's also kind enough to provide brief summaries of all of the tracks), but I can't really get that same grip.

There are, of course, some bits that ultimately jump out at me; I'm struck by the majesty of the opening title track, or the sunny beauty of "Marigold," or by how happy I am to hear familiar material in "Kim" or "Horizons," or similar feelings in other tracks. I also find myself wanting to improvise vocal melodies to use over the chord sequences presented here; quite a bit of the material here, I think, would have made for a good foundation in songs with vocals.

Beyond these bits, though, I end up needing to treat the album in much the same way I'd treat a slightly above average ambient album; ultimately, this album is a bunch of pleasant, perfectly listenable atmosphere, full of tracks I'm happy to listen to individually but would be hard-pressed to want to listen to collectively. Still, there are much worse things in the world, and I don't see why a Hackett fan wouldn't want to hear this a few times.

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Send comments to tarkus1980 (BETA) | Report this review (#916148)
Posted Tuesday, February 19, 2013 | Review Permalink

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