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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Steve Hackett

There Are Many Sides to the Night

Review by Steve Alspach

While reviewing this on my PC, Windows Media Player listed this album as "There Are Many Sides to Steve Hackett." And who can argue? Nobody can argue his rock chops, but if you're looking for those chops on this album, keep looking. This live album features Steve Hackett's impeccable acoustic guitar playing in a live setting - in this case, the Teatro Metropolitan in Palermo. Accompanied in places by Julian Colbeck on keyboards, this is an evocative album, delicate at times, contemplative at others, but there is a sense of technique that is all too hard to find in today's music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Horizons
Any fan of prog rock will recognize this piece from Genesis' 1972 Foxtrot album. He then teases the audience with snippets from other pieces, such as Cuckoo Cocoon and Blood on the Rooftops.
Black Light
This is one of several songs that shows Hackett's considerable classical playing technique.
Skye Boat Song
This is a beautifully done waltz that shows Hackett's interest in romantic-era composition.
Time Lapse at Milton Keynes
The title comes from the 1982 Genesis Reunion concert at Milton Keynes. This piece has a nostalgic, looking-back feel to it.
Beja Flora
Portuguese for "Kiss the Flower," this piece conjures the image of a hummingbird with the quickly-plucked high strings.
Kim
From the "Please Don't Touch" album, this piece is almost Satie-like in its structure. Colbeck joins in playing synthesizer and electric piano. The effect is like a small chamber orchestra - guitar, piano, and strings.
Second Chance
Here Hackett is content with providing a rich background to the melody which is played on a sampled xylophone - or maybe it is a real xylophone - it's hard to tell! Hackett also teases the audience after the piece by pretending to have a hard time remembering some older pieces and plays a snippet from "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight."
Oh, How I Love You
Hackett keeps it simple on this, playing the melody while Colbeck accompanies on piano. For those who aspire to play like Steve, this may be your best bet - he shows little flash on this, but the piece is richly textured. Towards the end, though, Colbeck comes to the forefront while Hackett plays understated fills over a repeated three-chord pattern.
The Journey
A flourish of arpeggios, this song also points to Hackett's romantic leanings.
Bacchuss
Steve introduces this song by saying "Something we do as a joke between ourselves. This has to be called, for now, 'Ba-rock'." The piece starts off as a bright baroque piece, but the piece takes too many turns and short explorations to be a straight baroque piece. The interplay here between Colbeck and Hackett is nothing short of amazing at times.
Walking Away From Rainbows
Sounding a bit like Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, this is a more somber piece than most. Described as piece that examines a feeling one gets when leaving a comfortable situation, is this Hackett's "Solsbury Hill"?
Cavalcanti
This is Hackett by himself, allowing the listener to get a very good chance to hear his enormous ability.
Adante in C
Hackett segues right into this classic piece by Giuliani.
Concerto in D
Paying more homage to Italian composers, Hackett plays the familiar Concerto by Vivaldi. No lightning arpeggios, but Hackett plays the piece simply, allowing the beautiful melody to stand on its own.
A Blue Part of Town
Hackett's first instrument was a harmonica, and he shows his considerable skills on this piece from the "Blues With A Feeling" album. Far from being a 12-bar blues, though, this has a few jazzy undertones to it.
Ace of Wands
The opening piece to Hackett's first solo album, "Voyage of the Acolyte," this piece gets a different arrangement with Hackett playing acoustic guitar and Colbeck playing piano. Hackett admirably defers to Colbeck for playing the main themes on this cut. The song stops after the opening section, though. Hackett comes back for an encore and plays a few more Genesis snippets - "Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers" and "Cuckoo Cocoon" (again).
Cinema Paradiso
Hackett has a keen ear for film scores, and here he covers Enrico Morricone's love theme from this movie. Colbeck accompanies him on synthesizer, offering a rich string background.
End of Day
It's one more solo piece to end the show. One can't help but be mesmerized not only by Steve's guitar playing but also by his sense of composition as well. Technique is worth a lot, but a good sense of songwriting is just as important, and Hackett demonstrates that he has both mastered.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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