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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Steve Hackett

Blues with a Feeling

Review by Gary Hill

Those expecting a typical Steve Hackett album will certainly be shocked by this. This is a new reissue of his blues based album with a couple bonus tracks (newly recorded for this edition). Make no mistake, this is only included under prog rock because it’s Steve Hackett. That said, there are some moments that lean toward prog. This is more blues based rock than it is real blues. Hackett shows that he can do a good job on harmonica in addition really nailing a blues guitar sound.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Born in Chicago

A cover of an old school blues tune, Hackett does a great job on both harmonica and guitar. The vocals might not work as well on this, but the instrumental sections really rock. It’s not that vocals are bad, either. They just don’t seem to fit the song.

The Stumble
In some ways this works better simply because it’s an instrumental. It’s a real stomper, too. The guitar soloing on this thing is so tasty. It’s a great blues stomper.
Love of Another Kind
In some ways this is less of a blues tune than it is a rather blues based rocker. For that reason it works better than some of the rest. At least the vocals fit better. This one even does wander toward prog rock at times, too. The guitar soloing is pure blues in a lot of ways, though. There is some harmonica on this tune, too.
Way Down South
Less like blues and more like blues rock, this is a mellower, slower tune. It’s classy. The multiple layered vocal arrangement is cool, too. I really like the guitar solo section on this. It’s a very expressive and evocative solo.
A Blue Part of Town
There is  harmonica on this. I would consider this a bluesy jazz tune more than I would think of it as anything else. This is another instrumental.
Footloose
With a horn presence, this is a stomping hot rocker. It’s more of an old school blues rock jam. The guitar soloing is purely on fire, but you can’t miss that bass playing. This is one of my favorite tunes here for sure. It’s more traditional than some of the rest. It’s another instrumental.
Tombstone Roller
The vocals here get a distant, rather distorted effect. That helps them to work better. This is very much a screaming hot blues rocker. It makes me think of something the Peter Green version of Fleetwood Mac might have done. The jam later gets really involved and intense, including some screaming guitar sounds and a horn section.
Blues with a Feeling
This is very much an old school blues tune. It’s one of the most pure blues things here. It includes some great harmonica. Somehow the vocals on this seem to work better. This almost makes me think of something Eric Clapton might do.
Big Dallas Sky
Cool atmospheric textures start this. It works out to a movement that is much more typical prog Steve Hackett. There are spoken vocals that seem a bit too high in the mix. The music has some cool things going on beneath and around that voice, though.
The 13th Floor
Now, here we get one of the more traditional electric blues cuts of the disc. It’s a killer tune, too. I love the piano on this thing, but you can’t ignore the guitar, either. This is another instrumental.
So Many Roads
This old school blues tune works really well. It’s classic electric blues a bit like something John Mayall might do. I love the harmonica, but everything on the track works well.
Solid Ground
More of a straight hard rocker, this is based on the blues. It’s really a stomper, too. I dig the cut. The later sections of this drive it out toward prog rock, but still the AOR end of that equation, stuff.
Newly Recorded Bonus Tracks
                               
On Cemetery Road

This is cool. It’s got an old school music element. It’s not really blues, but more like old stripped back jazz stuff. I love the guitar, the melody and the vocals. The guitar soloing is so tasty.

Patch of Blue
Here’s another full on electric blues treatment. This is screaming hot stuff for sure. I’d actually put either of these bonus tracks on an equal plane with the stuff on the album proper. This instrumental in particular has some seriously scorching guitar soloing. It gets into some rather proggy territory at times, too.
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