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Hackett, Steve: Genesis Revisited II

Well…can you revise and re-record in the studio, some of the most treasured classics of one of prog's seminal bands…without all the original members….and do it right?

Like science, the question is not...can you…it literally is…should you?

With so many Genesis cover bands doing it all over the world, maybe Steve Hackett wanted to interject his versions of these classics as a way of returning the focus homeward. Or maybe the guy just loves this music and wants to play it every chance he gets?

But…if you are going to do it…especially the penultimate "Supper's"…well you need a gifted member of the band to wade into these delicate waters. Who better than Steve Hackett? No other member of the band has so cherished the spirit of both the Gabriel and Collins eras so well over the years in live performances. This is Hackett's second Revisited set after all. He did well on the "Watcher of the Skies", 1996 version. And besides, few of the original members even express interest in any of this classic material any more.

But still…to be or not to be? To do it live or re-record in the studio? And then why?

The original versions are pretty precious and well done already. They've been recently revised, re-mastered, and boxed up in a set…as if to close the grand text. And of course…how can you improve on perfection…especially in the case of "Supper's"?

Ok…so you have decided to do it. Who do you gather together to make it? A very long list of some of the best contemporary vocalists and musicians. Roger King, Amanda Lehmann, Christine Townsend, Dave Kerzner, Dick Driver, Francis Dunnery, Gary O'Toole, John Hackett, John Wetton, Mikael Akerfeldt, Nad Sylvan, Nik Kershaw, Phil Mulford, Rachel Ford, Roine Stolt, Steve Rothery, Nick Magnus, Neal Morse, Jeremy Stacey, Conrad Keely, Nick Beggs, Steven Wilson, Rob Townsend, Jakko Jakszyk, Simon Collins, Lee Pomeroy, and Djabe.

Right…so now that's taken care of. Now to the painstaking art of creating. What do you improve on?

Well, in the case of this double album set not much. Hackett does a great job adding to some of his solo tracks like "A Tower Struck Down", "Camino Royale", and "Shadow of the Hierophant". He does an especially fantastic re-working of "Please Don't Touch", a highlight for me, of his solo works on this set of discs.

But…still…the question of "Supper's" returns. Ah…the "fox on the rocks…and the Musical Box". Ok…it is my favorite song of all time. "Stairway" is second and "Day in the Life" is probably third. But no song holds so much within it's over 20 epic minutes. The wonderful soft opening of "Horizons", one of Genesis' most under-rated songs. The Apocalypse from your dinner table on maybe a relaxing Sunday afternoon. The lyrics. The ups…the downs. The guitar, the keys, the bass, flute and the drums. The childhood fantasyland of "Willow's Farm". The near supernatural ending, (with Peter holding a light saber broadsword in the video). Nothing compares to it. Or in as epic a scale. And Mr. Hackett, I'm sorry only PG can sing this song…for me anyway. Phil came close on "Second's Out", but this is Pete's dominion.

The vocalists Hackett has chosen do a very good job, but it's just not PG. The biggest question I have is did Steve ask Pete to sing it, first? Or did he want to re-work it with new vocalists?

Ok. Change can be good….sometimes.

Next question. When you are redoing a classic, why not bring in even more exotic talent. I think Kitaro and his Japanese drums would have made "Apocalypse in 9/8" not only unforgettable, but maybe even better than the original. It is the Apocalypse…after all. Maybe an orchestra to take this song over the top. After all, it's not just another track…(or LP side in this case)…it really is an experience.

"The Return of the Giant Hogweed" sounds like Neal Morse's version from the Transatlantic "Whirlwind" album. Good music, but still not up to PG.

"Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers", and "In That Quiet Earth" are wonderful and bring back great memories, and some new bits sneak in.

"Can-Utility and The Coastliners" was wonderful to hear again. The string section supporting is one of the best on the album set. The song even has more of a live feeling to it as well.

"Fly on a Windshield" is recreated with precision.

"Eleventh Earl of Mar" and "Afterglow" are well improved and might at times be even better than the originals.

The guitar interludes, especially "Evergreen" before "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" and the intricate guitar before "Blood on the Rooftops" are excellent additions.

The opening for "The Musical Box' is wonderful. However, the song needs that Gabriel touch and sound.

"Ripples" and "Entangled"…what can you say. Hackett's been playing them for years. They still sound as fresh as Day 1.

The "Lamb" music is also very good with some intricate re-working at times.

The cover art – Steve always choses great cover art. And he was inspired by "Supper's" after all. Ok…five more points.

In fact…if nothing else, this double album package hopefully ignites interest amongst younger listeners. It was a chance for Hackett to play and record this great music again, only this time with a new set of band members who like him, cherish this golden era of prog.

What the album did for me was to send me back to my re-mastered Genesis CD Box Sets to listen to the originals all over again. That is something I do every year at fall, and now I and the many other classic Genesis fans will have one more version of these classics to reflect upon in the future.

Hey…its Hackett…after all. One more member would have made this perfect. Maybe next time. Or maybe it will inspire PG to ask Hackett to try "Supper's" again. Now that would be something special.

Track Listing:

Disc 1:

The Chamber of 32 Doors (6:00)
Horizons (1:41)
Supper's Ready (23:35)
The Lamia (7:47)
Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (8:10)
Fly On A Windshield (2:54)
Broadway Melody of 1974 (2:23)
The Musical Box (10:57)
Can-Utility And The Coastliners (5:50)
Please Don't Touch (4:03)

Track listing

Disc 2:

Blood On The Rooftops (6:56)
The Return Of The Giant Hogweed (8:46)
Entangled (6:35)
Eleventh Earl Of Mar (7:51)
Ripples (8:14)
Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers (2:12)
In That Quiet Earth (4:47)
Afterglow (4:09)
A Tower Struck Down (4:45)
Camino Royale (6:19)
Shadow Of The Hierophant (10:45)

Added: November 10th 2012
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
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Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Hackett, Steve: Genesis Revisited II
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-11-10 09:51:12
My Score:

Although mega chart success has been gained by three other members of the Genesis family outside of their one-time main band, there's a very strong argument to suggest that it is guitarist Steve Hackett - who parted from Collins, Rutherford and Banks way back in 1977 - who has actually amassed the most impressive post-Genesis catalogue. Blues, classical guitar, AOR and prog have all been staples of his output and while not every one of his 20 plus solo releases are masterpieces, very few of them miss the mark. The other thing that sets the expert guitar player apart from all of his past band mates is his willingness to acknowledge and celebrate his past, and especially the years he spent in Genesis. Hackett released Watcher Of The Skies: Genesis Revisited in 1996 and now some 16 years later, the second instalment, more plainly titled Genesis Revisited II follows a similar ideal, unleashing a guest list of musicians talented enough to make you wince on songs we all know and love (or should do!). Vocally alone we have current darlings of the prog scene in the shape of Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth) and Neal Morse (ex-Spock's Beard/Transatlantic), alongside long established names such as John Wetton (Asia/King Crimson), Francis Dunnery (ex-It Bites), Jakko Jakszyk (The Tangent) and of course Steve Hackett himself. However factor in musicians of the calibre of John Hackett, Steve Rothery, Nick Beggs, Lee Pomeroy and Roine Stolt (among others) and let's just say that the quality of the performances is never, ever in any question.

Now there's no denying that you might fairly, be asking what's the point? Well the answer is simple. To celebrate and highlight the side of Genesis that for too long has been swept under the carpet by the very crawlers who made it. It is all too easy to forget, what with the huge chart success of the Hackett-less version of the band, that Genesis first came to prominence as a monstrous prog beast possessing of a poise and grandeur that later efforts would replace with posing and bluster. Dip your toe into the wonderful, multi-vocal of "Supper's Ready", featuring Akerfeldt, Dunnery, Hackett, Conrad Keely and Simon Collins to understand why long-term fans still get themselves all a-fluster over these songs. Or sample the simply stunning "The Lamia", where one-time teen heartthrob Nik Kershaw upstages all around him with a simply stupendous vocal while Marillion's Steve Rothery adds his unmistakable touch and tone to Hackett's already wonderful guitar work.

With 21 songs across two discs, we are only scratching the surface and in truth I could go on to extol the virtues of Dunnery's voice on "Dancing The Moonlight Knight", Nick Beggs prancing bass on "Can-Utility And The Coastliners", or how effectively Neal Morse and Roine Stolt combine on "The Return Of The Giant Hogweed". However two things remain throughout and both are welcome reminders. Steve Hackett is a still a stunning guitar player, talented vocalist and supreme songwriter and arranger, and secondly, even though some of these songs are hovering in and around their fortieth birthday, they still make for some of the best progressive music ever created.

However what the second volume of Hackett's Revisited series doesn't do that the first did, is play about with the original version's arrangements to offer a fresh perspective on this vintage material. Instead this is new and shiny versions showcasing modern recording techniques to the full. As such you won't get the warmth that some of the long loved songs thrived upon, but you do on the contrary get an album that punches through in a way that you might not expect. Either way the results are pretty damn special.

Revisited II doesn't quite stay on script with the Genesis side of things, with the likes of "Camino Royale" and "A Tower Struck Down" being amongst a sprinkling of Hackett solo songs with a Genesis connection. However these tracks too deserve their place on this album by virtue of their outlook matching their Genesis mates and also being extremely fine pieces of music on their own merits.

Doubtless there will be some who claim this whole album to be a pointless exercise that does nothing to move these tracks on, or offer a different interpretation. And they'd be right. But sit back, lose yourself in songs that sound sumptuous and beautiful, hard-hitting and pointed, vintage yet right here right now and you'll be greatly rewarded from the start of disc one, till the very last notes of track 11 on disc two. Very, very few albums can say that and mean it.

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