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Steve Hackett

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Steve Hackett The Unauthorised Biography album cover
2.90 | 34 ratings | 4 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Narnia
2. Hackett To Pieces
3. Don't Fall Away From Me
4. Spectral Mornings
5. The Steppes
6. The Virgin & The Gipsy
7. The Air-Conditioned Nightmare
8. Cell 151 Slogans
9. Icarus Ascending
10. Prayers And Dreams
12. Star Of Sirius
13. Hammer In The Sand
14. Ace Of Wands
15. Hoping Love Will Last

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Hackett / acoustic guitar, keyboard strings
- Various other musicians
- Brian May / guitar and backing vocals on "Don't Fall Away From Me"

Releases information

CD Virgin 7 86514-2 (1992, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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STEVE HACKETT The Unauthorised Biography ratings distribution

(34 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

STEVE HACKETT The Unauthorised Biography reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by richardh
3 stars This compilation wraps up some of Hacketts most well known peices including his dangerously fast fret work on Slogans and the wonderfully eerie The Steppes.However as with many collections the tracks just don't gel together.I also find that many of the songs here are just not to my liking.I would much prefer a 100% instrumental compilation album from this great guitarist.
Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Most of the time I buy a compilation featuring a prog artist, I end up regretting it. For while there are inconsistent prog artists whose best work could be condensed to just one or two quality CDs, those who make up the compilations almost never think in terms of an artist's best prog moments. And while Hackett certainly made some strong consistent albums early in career, I do feel that his work could have benefitted from the compilation treatment. Unfortunately, The Unauthorised Biography is designed to showcase all aspects of his music, which includes his more pop-orientated work alongside his best prog moments.

What makes this compilation is difficult to address is that it still contains some great prog songs, but it isn't all it could be. Any fan of Steve Hackett who looks at things from a prog perspective would undoubtedly push for the inclusion of tracks like Shadow Of The Hierophant, Tigermoth and Everyday instead of something like Hoping Love Will Last or Cell 151. The songs have been selected as follows ...

Voyage Of The Acolyte (1975) - Star Of Sirius, Ace Of Wands

Please Don't Touch (1978) - Narnia, Icarus Ascending, Hoping Love Will Last

Spectral Mornings (1979) - Spectral Mornings, The Virgin And The Gypsy

Defector (1980) - The Steppes, Hammer In The Sand, Slogans

Cured (1981) - The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

Highly Strung (1982) - Cell 151, Hackett To Pieces

2 previously unreleased songs (1992) - Don't Fall Away From Me, Prayers And Dreams

As one would expect, the music on the compilation is somewhat uneven. On the plus side there are two fantastic (and one decent) prog cuts in Star Of Sirius, Ace Of Wands and Icarus Ascending, which are definitely among his best solo works. There are also some personal favourites in the delectable folk-ballad The Virgin And The Gypsy and the awesome instrumental Hackett To Pieces that distinctly outdoes the tune Hackett To Bits that he would later record for the GTR project.

There are some songs I feel conflicted about ... namely the metallic fusiony instrumentals Slogans (in which Steve just burand The Steppes (which I've always felt was rather overrated). I admire the playing but not the sound of these tracks. Then there's the uplifting albeit poppish Narnia which despite the excellent vocal contribution of Kansas' Steve Walsh, took me a while to get used to it (maybe I was expecting too much as Narnia is my favourite series of books!). The acoustic guitar instrumental Prayers And Dreams is quite nice, but there's a voice at the back of my head that keeps shouting out for the glory of Horizons. The poppy guitar ballad Don't Fall Away From Me, which Steve co-wrote with Queen's Brian May (is that Brian on vocals) is hummable, but again, seems wrong for an overview of the great Steve Hackett.

Songs I don't really like include the 80s' pop/rocker Cell 151 which seems to foreshadow the GTR sound, even if I do like portions of the closing instrumental section (that includes a theme used in Hackett To Pieces) and The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (which just plain irritates me). Hammer In The Sand is a little too close to New Age schmaltz for my liking and despite a brief proggy break, the Randy Crawford R&B tune Hoping Love Will Last just doesn't quite work for me ...

Ultimately this is a frustrating collection with lots of great music and some duds, which does sort of sum up Steve's solo career. I don't think any record company is ever going to put out prog-orientated compilations ... but we can hope, can't we? ... 59% on the MPV scale

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A Good Introduction to Steve Hackett

For those of you who only know Steve Hackett during his tenure with Genesis, this compilation serves well to introduce you the music of Steve Hackett. Actually, it's not recommended to buy a compilation CD for Steve Hackett music because most of them are very invaluable collection even those with "mundane" composition. Making compilation is really a tough job especially if you find an album with all excellent tracks where you get the whole thing if you listen to the whole set of the album in its entirety. A good example is "Spectral Mornings" album - how could you select only some songs if you find every single one is an excellent one. Even if it's not, it all forms one cohesive whole. "Please Don't Touch", "Defector" and "Voyage of The Acolyte" are also albums that should be listened to entirely.

But then it's okay for newbie to start with this compilation CD as an entry point. Some songs I do not think the best representative of the respective albums. For example, I'd rather put "Please Don't Touch" title track than "Narnia" for the compilation. But this does not mean that this is bad compilation - nope ! Not at all. In fact, I do enjoy listening to it even though my chief reason to purchase this CD at that was "previously unreleased" tracks "Don't Fall Away From Me" (co-written with Brian May of Queen) and "Prayers and Dreams"

One thing interesting to notice about this CD is the liner notes for each song by Steve Hackett. It tells everything about the story behind the making of each song. This is another value I gain having this CD because I cannot find it on each individual album. This compilation spans across Steve Hackett's seventeen years career (1975 - 1992) as solo artist. One album was released in 1975 "Voyage of The Acolyte" when was still key member of Genesis. In this album his Genesis mates helped it out in the studio: Phil on drums and Mike on bass.

Stand Out Tracks

As far as my personal taste, these are stand-out tracks: "Hackett To Pieces" (with "Camino Royale" in it), "Spectral Mornings", "The Steppes", "Ace of Wands", and "Hoping Love Will Last". These do not mean that other tracks are bad ones. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars Don't fall away from me, Brian!

I never ever rate compilation albums unless they contain some material that is not available on the artist's regular albums. In this case it is really very sparse with such material; only two tracks on this compilation are not from Steve Hackett's regular studio output, Don't Fall Away From Me and Prayers And Dreams. The former is a soft ballad apparently featuring Brian May of Queen, but I can honestly don't hear him in there. This is still a pleasant song, but hardly something that will interest any Prog fan unless they are really hard core Steve Hackett fans and completionists like this reviewer. And even for someone like me, this is not much worth searching hard for. Luckily this compilation is available on Spotify so there was no need to actually pay any money for it. If you want to hear Steve play together with Brian May, you should get the much better Feedback '86 album, there Brian's presence on guitar and vocals is more clearly noticeable!

The other previously unreleased track is a Classical guitar piece and as such it is certainly not among Steve's better ones. Indeed, the role of that track here is only as a refreshing little Classical interlude. All the rest of the material is from Steve's regular solo studio Rock albums and I must say that the choices made are by no means the most essential Hackett songs. Still, there are some really great songs here (Hackett To Pieces, Spectral Mornings, The Steppes, Air-Conditioned Nightmare, Cell 151, Slogans, Ace Of Wands), some good ones (Narnia, The Virgin And The Gypsy, Star Of Sirius) and some awful ones (Icarus Ascending, Hoping Love Will Last). But all of these songs are best heard in their original setting.

You should by no means make this your introduction to Steve Hackett's solo career. As always with compilations: simply forget about them and go for the regular albums! Or if you want a single release with an overview of Steve's career, try one of his recent live DVD's - they are all brilliant! If you already have all of Steve's regular albums and DVD's, you really have to be a completionist to want this one for those two unreleased tracks!

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