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Steve Hackett - The Tokyo Tapes CD (album) cover

THE TOKYO TAPES

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

3.97 | 147 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars I always have my doubts when I see super lineups joined to release an album, because normally they don't give what you should expect from great musicians, but at the first listen of "Tokyo Tapes" anyone can notice there's something different.

Wetton, Thompson, Mc'Donald, Colbeck and Steve Hackett, are very competent musicians but they don't have an over dimensioned ego, something that allows them to work as a team, without internal fights or problems, but most important, they all know that this is a Steve Hackett album, so he is in charge of the band and nobody tries to be the star, not even Steve.

The result is an outstanding album, group of former Genesis, King Crimson, Asia, Zappa and Weather Report musicians, working as a solid group instead of a bunch of names joined in the last minute, seems hard to believe they are not part of the same band working for years, because there are practically no bad spots.

They perform Genesis, Asia, King Crimson and Steve Hackett songs as if they had played that stuff for a lifetime, but harder still, they are not afraid of doing it, something very common when doing a cover of a musical icon, some tracks are very faithful to the original version while others are very different, but all have something unique plus a dark mysterious touch that makes them sound original.

In this case, more than in the songs, I want to focus in the performances of the band.

"Steve Hackett" is sober and solid in all the tracks, proficient with the acoustic and electric guitar in which combines his usual atmospheric sound with more aggressive approach, takes more risks with "Genesis" and his own material than with "King Crimson" stuff in which he is absolutely respectful of the original sound. His acoustic performances of "Horizons" and "Walking Away From Rainbows" are simplt delightful.

Julian Colbeck has the hard task of creating atmospheres in the Genesis (to replace Tony Banks is not easy), complement Steve in his material and try to remain faithful in the King Crimson tracks, well he does an excellent job, specially in the intro of "Watcher of the Skies"

Ian McDonald shows how versatile he is adding nice extra keyboards, but specially with the flute and Saxophone, his performance on "In the Court of he Crimson King" is breathtaking.

"John Wetton" is usually a very cold vocalist, sometimes even soulless, but in this album he sounds extremely warm and adapts himself to the different styles, tempo and sounds.

A special mention to "Chester Thompson" who is absolutely brilliant in every track, I had no chance to miss Phil Collins in any "Genesis" song, because he sounds stronger and extremely accurate, his performance in "Los Endos" can only be described as perfect.

Now, if somebody asks me for best tracks, I would think it carefully, the whole show is very solid, there are few weak moments and every song has something special, but if I have to chose I would say that I love the faithful version of In the Court of the Crimson King which sounds as good as the original and the Avant Garde oriented cover of Firth of Fifth, this last one specially because any normal Proghead would had expected a total recreation of one of the best guitar solos in history of Prog, but Steve has the guts to make it sound different and fresh without disappointing the audience.

Normally I press the skip button when it's the turn for "Heat of the Moment" but despite the simple version, it has a special charm that only a na´ve track can provide.

I could spend hours talking about each and every track, but would be like spoiling the surprise for those who haven't heard the album. I believe it's enough to say it's an outstanding release and a very rare opportunity to listen such good and different songs played by the same band and in the same album.

Four solid stars for "Tokyo Tapes" (really 4.5, but the system doesn't allow this), could be five, but the big problem is that it's not an album for every person; you have to know the tracks to appreciate them, because a newbie would have problems understanding the mixture of sounds and styles.

So, if you are a fan of "Genesis", "Steve Hackett" and early "King Crimson", don't think it twice, get the album and the DVD if possible, you won't regret it.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |

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