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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Steve Hackett
    Posted: July 09 2012 at 23:51
Hello, I was recently thinking that Steve Hackett's Voyage of the Acolyte is a near masterpiece. What could any of you tell me about his other works? What are they like? It looks like most of his albums throughout his discography are pretty well liked - are many of them similar? They don't necessarily have to be for me to be interested, but I'm just wondering. What are some of the different ones like? Are any of the lower rated ones nice, just not proggy (in other words, are they good, but likely rated low because they aren't progressive rock?)?

You don't necessarily have to answer each question, but just answer what you can or just give me an idea of what his other stuff is like. I like all sorts of stuff, so just reading some little descriptions could give me an idea of what albums I might want to consider buying next. That's right: it could give me an idea of what I might consider.


Edited by N-sz - July 09 2012 at 23:52
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 10 2012 at 00:13
Of the all the Hackett albums I've heard only "Voyage" and "Spectral Mornings". The latter isn't quite like the former. The former is more like Genesis, but the latter is more like just Hackett. Quite an ambitious feat. In the credits it says all things are written by Steve. I personally did not like the album so much, although it does have some highlights. While "Voyage" is more on the classical side of things, "Spectral Mornings" is more guitar-oriented and quite diverse in its own way. There's some Japanese koto music, pop rock, a bit of folk, experimentation, electric guitar soloing.

Usually, some reviews on PA can pretty much give you an idea of what an album is like.

Hope you'll like the album.


Edited by Dayvenkirq - July 10 2012 at 00:15
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2012 at 17:58
"Voyage" and "Spectral Mornings" are grand. "Please Don't Touch" features a diverse line up of vocalists. Steve Walsh does a fine job and although I am not personally a huge Kansas fan, his vocal work on "Please Don't Touch" is simply beyond beautiful and has power like you wouldn't believe. I am not fond of the Richie Havens vocal efforts except for maybe the closing piece of the album where he sings a dark and dreamy Genesis style ballad. I sometimes find myself skipping through the album. "Kim" where Steve is joined by his brother Jon on flute, is one of my favorite Hackett compositions.
 
"Defector" has some essential prog instrumentals that you won't want to miss. However songs like "The Show" are more like basic "Rock" songs with a dance groove. It's a great song, but don't expect the style of "Voyage" to be creeping in there anytime soon. "Cured"..I would steer clear of. Although again...."The Air Conditioned Nightmare" brings me back to those instrumental sections of the early Genesis and the piece is cool. LOL!  Nick Magnus adds in his ideas for song writing and the project along with the drum machine come across very modern 80's mainstream. Songs like "Funny Feeling" sound like mainstream Genesis tunes.


"We Have Faces" is interesting at times and may entertain you a bit more than "Cured". The only letdown for me is a Blues number which has vocals reminiscent of Robert Plant. "Highly Strung" still conveys that 80's rock style although there are some excellent progressive songs throughout the recording. I am not particularly fond of "Walking Through Walls". A fine acoustic album to pick up is "Bay Of Kings". I like the live concert box set which features a show from the "Spectral Mornings" line up....however, the vocalist does not measure up to Steve Walsh and he attempts to cover the Steve Walsh material , only coming across lame in some cases or simply not fitting. Another disc features the 80's band which is very good, however I prefer their concert at the "Reading Festival". I can't recall the drummer's name , but he played with Trace and I like his work. The 90's concert is outstanding! Love the drummer! One of my favorite studio recordings is "Darktown". Very oddball for Steve Hackett. Very unique.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2012 at 18:27
Cool, thanks you too. I figured Spectral Mornings would be a highly recommended one, and I'm also a bit intrigued by some of the lesser known ones that you mentioned. I had a feeling "Bay of Kings" might be a good acoustic - maybe easy listening - sort of album, which sounds like something he could do well with. 

Darktown seems like it'd be interesting too. I'm curious to see how his later works are - 90s, 00s.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2012 at 18:31
Please Don't Touch is my favorite, followed by Spectral Mornings.  Please Don't Touch isn't as overtly "prog" as Voyage of the Acolyte, but it's got some real quality (short) instrumentals and some fine cameo vocals by Steve Walsh and Richie Havens.  I especially love the acoustic, Havens-sung "How Can I", one of my favorite songs.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2012 at 01:22
I can't count myself as a massive fan as I only own about 6 of his albums but the one I like the most is To Watch The Storms. At times it is obviously a homage to King Crimson but it does contain a variety of music that I've not really heard on his other albums. The songs are strong and there are some lovely instrumentals especially Wind, Sand and Stars.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2012 at 06:20
Already plenty of good advice.  I have something like 90% of his studio albums.  An average prog fan will have a hard time topping Voyage.  It's like a long lost old Genesis album without Tony Banks.  Subsequent early albums Steve experiments a lot more being completely out from under the thumb of Genesis.  He kind of jumped the commercial shark with Cured, but I saw him live on that tour.  It's got some good stuff but way too much eh, whatever kind of stuff.

A lot of his later albums are modern classical, which I was beginning to tire of when To Watch The Storms came out.  I had completely missed Darktown, which I think marked a major return to progressive rock for Steve.  I'd send you to TWTS next.  Go for the expanded version which has the very funny bonus track: Marijuana Assassin Of Youth.  He steals the melody from the Batman TV series and a few other assorted songs. 
"You need a haircut and then a degree
Don't you want to start a family
Take a stand and make some real cash
Sell your guitar and throw away your stash"

Also, Steve has put out several good concert DVDs.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2012 at 11:29
I have Voyage, Defector, Spectral Mornings, and Please Don't touch. Voyage is the only one I listen to consistently. The others are worthy but only partially Prog. I had Highly Strung for briefly but it was dreadful and got traded in.  I also have Tokyo Tapes DVD that has a wacky hybrid line up that includes Joh Wetton, Ian Mcdonald, and Chester Thompson. Its a fun blend of Hackett, Genesis, KC and Asia tunes.


Edited by Tapfret - July 12 2012 at 11:30
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2012 at 13:18
You can't go wrong with the first four albums, although Please Don't Touch is quite different than the rest, but still I wouldn't miss it.

I would advise you to go with Spectral Mornings it's the logical next step.

Edited by sagichim - July 12 2012 at 13:20
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2012 at 14:06
Originally posted by Tapfret Tapfret wrote:

I have Voyage, Defector, Spectral Mornings, and Please Don't touch. Voyage is the only one I listen to consistently. The others are worthy but only partially Prog. I had Highly Strung for briefly but it was dreadful and got traded in.  I also have Tokyo Tapes DVD that has a wacky hybrid line up that includes Joh Wetton, Ian Mcdonald, and Chester Thompson. Its a fun blend of Hackett, Genesis, KC and Asia tunes.

^ Don't listen to him. Tongue

But, yeah, Strung was really disappointing never got the CD.  If you think you hate that one you might really hate a few more.  I have TTT on DVD.  Got it first on VHS.  I give it a thumbs up.


Edited by Slartibartfast - July 12 2012 at 14:06
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2012 at 15:03

I'm a huge Hackett fan and couldn't resist giving my opinions on his albums, which are quite many so it will be a little lengthy...

 

His first album is one of a kind, and is the most seventies sounding . But it's natural since technology evolves

and the sound changes with the times, and that's the same for all artists.

 

Please Don't Touch (1978)         He uses his freedom of control as a solo artists and invites a lot of guest muscicians, so the resulting album has a variety of styles. Great approach, though its not an album I really love. My favourite song might be the instrumental "The voice of Necam" (which features no guest musician)

 

Spectral Mornings (1979)             One of my favourite albums. His music may not always be incredibly technical and complex, he often uses pretty simple melodies, but some harmonies and how they are expressed is very original. The ending of "Clocks" for example ends on a very specific chord which I have heard him take on acoustic guitar, but it's played with a powerful rock sound , and it feels very unique. Part of his greatness is in those special harmonies which has a very deep character. And also the contrasts between solo instrument passages and parts with full band playing with a big sound.

 
Defector (1980)                               Another great album, slightly darker, a little more introspective and a bit simpler than the previous but still great

 

Cured (1981)                                    A light, happy pop album. As a singer he takes the highest notes he ever has taken. It's a drastic change towards radio friendliness. But there is "A Cradle of Swans", pretty nice acoustic guitar piece and "The Air-Conditioned Nightmare" which would have fit very well on the Defector album.

 
Highly Strung (1982)                        Very marked by 80's sound and has pop characteristics, but it is a nice album. Great pop, "Camino Royale" is the standout track. I also like the use of recurring themes , for example at the end of Cell 151 there is a theme from "Camino Royale" that reappears and in "India Rubber man" there's a theme from "Group Therapy". Some may not like Hacketts vocals, I think his singing works better with more introspective albums rather than the extroverted pop approach, but his singing is a bit toned down compared to "Cured".
 
Bay of Kings (1983)                            One of my favourite albums, just classical acoustic guitar, sometimes accompanied by synth strings or john hackett on flute. At first it sounded to me like pleasant guitar music, but after many listens it became a much deeper experience once you  become more aquainted with the songs. Fantastic.

 

Till We Have Faces (1984)                 An attempt of fusing pop with brazillian or world music influences, which doesn't work very well. One of his weakest albums 

 

Momentum (1988)                                  His second classical guitar album is every bit as good as the first. Just fantastic.

 

Guitar Noir (1993)                                 His darkest album, with yet a new sound. The atmosphere is sincere and focused, like a melancholic romantic noir atmosphere. Generally an open sound with reverb. There are a few slick rock tracks also as well as the slightly silly "Vampire with a healthy appetite" track. I like the drumming by Hugo Degenhart, which is slick and precise with a treble:y sound, but nice. Really great album.                       

 

Blues With A Feeling (1995)                Blues oriented rock tracks, with a crisp sound. Not great, but I like that romantic track with harmonica. And I like "Big Dallas Sky"which has a big arena rock sound, pretty straightforward, similar to "In The Heart Of The City" or "Lost in your eyes" from "Guitar Noir". Not an important album.

 

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1997)        Classical concept album with an orchestra. Really great. It has a specific atmosphere, sort of positive and dignified, kind of reminding me of Händel. It's style is inspired by earlier classical styles, like Baroque but is very romantic in character.

 

Darktown (1999)                                             Another super great rock oriented album. All tracks are varied and are great. Not that intricate, pretty straightforward but has a lot of character in sound and expression. It has an intimate and focused atmosphere and is just great to listen to from beginning to end.

 

Sketches of Satie (2000)                           Songs of Satie were John Hackett on flute plays the melody and Hackett accompanies on guitar. Very minimal and clean. There are a couple of tracks I really like, but generally I prefer the piano versions.

 

Feedback 86 (2000)                                Pop oriented album, made in 1986 but not released until 2000. Not very good.

 

To Watch the Storms (2003)                   I think this marks a new period were he has a new set of musicians. The feeling of the album is kind of retrospective, playful and entertaining. You don't reach the same depth achieved on earlier albums. As light entertainment it is okay. Some people love this album, I'm not too fond of it.

 

Metamorpheus (2005)                            Classical album with "The underworld orchestra". It was a whikle since I heard it but it is quite good.

 

Wild Orchids (2006)                               His best album from 2000-2012. He fuses the classical side with rock. Some of the songs involved more than hundred channels in the mixing process, so there is a lot going on in the songs. The feeling of the album is like a dark roller coaster ride, it has kind of a halloween atmosphere. You get a lot of music with the special edition, and even if it's a bit uneven, there's still a big amount of good stuff.

 

Tribute (2008)                                             Guitar versions of workd by classical composers. I don't have this, but I've heard it once or twice. Can't say much, but it's a tribute to his influences in classical guitar.

 

Out of the Tunnel's Mouth (2009)         A meager album, only 40 minutes or so, and only 1-2 good songs. It was disappointing.

 

Beyond the Shrouded Horizon (2011)          Better, more ambitious than the previous. A varied album, many different sounds. It has a bit of the style from "A Midsummer Night's Dream"at times, especially on solo acoustic guitar bits. But still not very adventurous when it comes to other things like rhythm, it's mostly a half-time beat with a very large sound, a bit smooth and new agey in character. Not so daring as a whole. But there are a few tracks I really like, and you get a lot of music with the 2CD special edition.



Edited by wilmon91 - July 12 2012 at 15:22
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2012 at 15:39
Originally posted by Slartibartfast Slartibartfast wrote:

Originally posted by Tapfret Tapfret wrote:

I have Voyage, Defector, Spectral Mornings, and Please Don't touch. Voyage is the only one I listen to consistently. The others are worthy but only partially Prog. I had Highly Strung for briefly but it was dreadful and got traded in.  I also have Tokyo Tapes DVD that has a wacky hybrid line up that includes Joh Wetton, Ian Mcdonald, and Chester Thompson. Its a fun blend of Hackett, Genesis, KC and Asia tunes.

^ Don't listen to him. Tongue

But, yeah, Strung was really disappointing never got the CD.  If you think you hate that one you might really hate a few more.  I have TTT on DVD.  Got it first on VHS.  I give it a thumbs up.

You clearly overestimate the possibility that someone may listen to me.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 17 2012 at 22:35
Of course, I really like the first couple of Hackett recordings: Voyage of the Acolyte, Please Don't Touch, and Spectral Mornings, but lately I've been really enjoying his later recordings like Out of the Tunnel's Mouth, Darktown, Wild Orchids, and his newest release Beyond the Shrouded Horizon. Great stuff. I haven't heard Live Rails yet. I don't rate his '80s recordings too highly.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 17 2012 at 23:57
Sorry for the late response. Thanks to all of you for your descriptions. They were really interesting and helpful - especially thanks to Wilmon for the huge list!

This definitely gives me a good idea of what albums of his to go for next, and actually this has really made me want to get more of his albums sooner! I feel like there's so much that he could do, whether it's progressive rock, modern classical, calm acoustic guitar music, or whatever, I think it will take a while for me to come to the point where I've heard everything worth hearing by him.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 19 2012 at 17:35
Never met a Steve Hackett album I didn't like! Such a variety to choose from. His latest release, A Life Within a Day by Squackett (a portmanteau of Squire and Hackett) seems promising!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 19 2012 at 17:53
I would definitely go with Spectral Mornings.  My favorite of Hackett's output.  The instrumental title track is absolutely killer and so is the song Every Day (could have easily been a Genesis song from Trick or Wind).  The rest of the album is pretty grand too.  You also can't go wrong with any of his last five rock albums (Darktown - very dark and brooding but a masterpiece in its own right, To Watch the Storms, Wild Orchids, and the last two Tunnel's Mouth and Shrouded Horizon having a feel similar to some of his Genesis work and his early solo works).  Last, but not least, Defector is also a pretty cool album and is the follow up to Spectral Mornings, with the same band.  
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 19 2012 at 22:43
Originally posted by The Doctor The Doctor wrote:

I would definitely go with Spectral Mornings.  My favorite of Hackett's output.  The instrumental title track is absolutely killer and so is the song Every Day (could have easily been a Genesis song from Trick or Wind).  The rest of the album is pretty grand too.  You also can't go wrong with any of his last five rock albums (Darktown - very dark and brooding but a masterpiece in its own right, To Watch the Storms, Wild Orchids, and the last two Tunnel's Mouth and Shrouded Horizon having a feel similar to some of his Genesis work and his early solo works).  Last, but not least, Defector is also a pretty cool album and is the follow up to Spectral Mornings, with the same band.  

I couldn't agree more. Darktown is underrated IMHO. The opening track Omega Metallicus sounds like something that could have been on a Buckethead album! The quick solo Steve did where he just shreds it on guitar was very impressive. Every now and then, Hackett will cut loose like that and it never fails to surprise me. He's certainly one of the greatest guitarists of all-time.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 20 2012 at 01:22
I am a big time Steve Hackett fan. There are a lot of good descriptions and recommendations for studio albums in the other posts, but don't neglect his live work, both CDs and DVDs. His live work is a little more dynamic than his studio creations.

His studio albums are fantastic and combine all sorts of musical styles. He is the quintessential progressive artist in my opinion. A prime example of the variety of musical styles is Spectral Mornings. Someone already mentioned the Japanese Kyoto he played on that album. It also has a pretty hilarious ragtime piece, Ballad of the Decomposing Man. All of the albums are different and very eclectic, so don't be too hasty if you run across an album that doesn't quite turn you on. There are perhaps three different eras to his solo career. The seventies and early eighties, of which the best is, in my opinion, Spectral Mornings. The post GTR eighties and nineties, of which I would call Guitar Noir the best, but don't neglect Momentum for classical guitar and Blues with a Feeling which delves into a different style of blues than what normally gets covered. And then there is the 2000 material, of which To Watch the Storms might be the best (very similar to Spectral Mornings in its range of styles). But the very recent Beyond the Shrouded Horizon might be better still, and it even turned up in a poll as the best progressive album of the year. Disc 2 has some magnificent vocal free guitar work including a rendition of the old Focus piece, Eruption: Tommy, which is absolutely precious. His vocals have gotten much better over time. He just released an album with Chris Squire that highlights some pretty fantastic vocal harmonies. If you want to hear some old Genesis stuff just once in awhile, check out his redo of a number of Genesis songs on the Wather of the Skies album. His vocal on Fountain of Salmacis is astonishingly good. There is supposed to be another album of old Genesis material coming out this year I hear.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 20 2012 at 23:13
The Hackett live DVDs are:

Steve Hackett Spectral Mornings 1978, Live for German TV
Live Legends 1990, Live in Nottingham
Somewhere in South America ... Live at Teatro Coliseo Buenos Aires
Once Above a Time 2004, Live in Budapest
Fire and Ice 2010, Live in London

My very favorite is Once Above a Time. I would recommend this as a good starting point for getting familiar with a lot of his later work, although Fire and Ice should be considered too because it's more current. Same band members in both, though.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 20 2012 at 23:21
Originally posted by HackettFan HackettFan wrote:



My very favorite is Once Above a Time.

I agree! It's a great concert and catches Hackett in an inspired performance. I haven't watched Fire & Ice yet. How is it? Nice to meet another Hackett fan by the way. Cool


Edited by Mirror Image - July 20 2012 at 23:23
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