Artist/ Band: Steve Hackett
Title: Genesis Revisited II
Label: Inside Out Music
Year of Release: 2012
Offical Artist/ Band Link

The Review:

It was a completely surreal moment in TV history that may never be duplicated - and possibly the most satisfying moment I've ever experienced watching an award show. The befuddled audience sat in stunned silence as the alternative rock band Phish opened the show with "Watcher Of The Skies". The 'oh so' beautiful people appeared dazed and slightly disorientated as if exposed to a hazardous chemical spill - or discovered too late that they boarded the wrong plane and were headed for parts unknown. Where were they? What in God's name was that Baroque funeral dirge coming from the main stage? Where was Ozzie Osbourne ... Aerosmith ... The Stones ... or the latest 'flavor of the month' heroine chic rock & roller propped-up against a stack of Marshall amps? This was the 'Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Award Show' ... where was the rock and roll?

In 2010 when Genesis were inducted into the 'Rock And Roll Hall of Fame' vocalist Peter Gabriel was conspicuously absent from the award ceremony (for what-ever lame reason) ... but one former member was delighted to be in attendance - guitarist extraordinaire Steve Hackett. A sense of accomplishment and long over-due recognition registered in his face while watching Phish perform a signature piece from a time when the guitar work of Hackett was an integral component of the classic Genesis sound. And even though Collins did the lion's share of speaking, the exuberant Hackett beamed with joy as he stood behind the podium with award in hand. Steve Hackett has never shied away from his association with Genesis and the contributions he made to the band during their Classic years throughout the 70s.

And even though a majority of progressive rock purist derided the post-Gabriel years, Genesis continued to represent the genre with much aplomb on their next two studio albums, "Trick Of The Tail" and "Wind And Wuthering". It was after the departure of Steve Hackett that the band charted an altered course - much to the chagrin of their original fans. But it was this change that garnered the band mainstream success and chart topping singles. So in retrospect, without this change in direction their induction into the 'Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame' seems highly unlikely.

Throughout their turbulent career it was impossible for Genesis to be all things for all people while remaining true to themselves - critics were never particularly kind to the lads at any point in their career; older fans lambasted the band for abandoning them for a more commercial approach; and artistic chasms splintered the band from within as members struggled to have their compositions accepted for the next album. But instead of allowing the fruit on the vine to wither and die, Genesis continued to blossomed, with new sprouts and off-shoots branching out and expanding their influence on the popular music scene. Peter Gabriel left the group, embraced the age of MTV music videos, and went on to become a highly successful solo artist. Phil Collins established himself as a multi-platinum solo artist while still performing with Genesis. Mike Rutherford made a series of solo albums and split his time between Genesis obligations with the successful side project, Mike And The Mechanics. Tony Banks recorded a variety of interesting solo projects during his tenure with Genesis, which also included the short-lived band Bankstatement, and two post-Genesis symphonic orchestral recordings. And Steve Hackett ... well he remains the most consistent and interesting of the Genesis alumni, with over 20 solo albums to his credit running the gamut from acoustic classical guitar pieces, to blues, and complex highly energetic progressive rock masterpieces. The soul of Classic Genesis still resides within him.

Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Phil Collins remain content to let their Genesis laurels lie buried in the past, practically disassociating themselves from that chapter in their life as they would the memory of an ugly prom date. Any talk of a reunion has been quelled (Phil's announced retirement from music all but sealed the deal) and most of the members have moved on to other things closing the book on Genesis. But Hackett is that one Genesis alumni who is unwilling to let their amazing library of music languish in the dusty archives.

In 1996 Steve Hackett recorded the album "Watcher Of The Skies - Genesis Revisited" which featured several re-interpretations of classic Genesis tunes. Some of the tracks were experimental re-imaginings with a bit of tongue-in-cheek sacrilege while others remained true to the original compositions. It was a bit of a mixed bag ... yet masterfully done. Hackett unapologetic relishes the music they created during his time with the band. And apparently felt some gnawing obligation to bring a generation of new listeners (kicking and screaming) to the fold with his re-imaginings of Classic-era Genesis.

In 2012 Steve Hackett once more returned to his roots of morbid nursery crymes and faerie tale wonder with this ambitious 2-disc project "Genesis Revisited II". As Steve explains on his website: "I sympathise with Hitchcock's need to re-make an earlier film. The vision is clearer, techniques improve inwardly and outwardly. For all us musicians songs of innocence are now inevitably songs of experience. I love the original Genesis music so much that I want to highlight it even more. The temptation to infuse those tracks with more detail and enriched clarity was irresistible."

And if "Watcher Of The Skies - Genesis Revisited" was a veiled attempt to bring in new blood by introducing them to re-imagined Genesis classics, then "Genesis Revisited II" is for the original stalwart Genesis fans and prog/rock purists who may have been unimpressed with his experimental tinkering and noodlings on the last album. Hackett approached this album as a respectful homage to early Genesis and their fans, retaining the integrity of the original compositions with minimal blasphemes and transgressions. And on the odd occasion where he deviates a bit from the original recording - it's for the better.

"Genesis Revisited II" is a true paradox and a hard sell in today's market - an extinct dinosaur from the antediluvian age of adventurous analog music, now digitally reanimated for 21st Century consumption by microbloggers with a short attention span who communicate in 140 characters or less. Most with an aversion to complex time signatures and poetic flights of fancy lasting upwards of 20 minutes.

"Genesis Revisited II" contains all the epic tracks like "Supper's Ready" (23:30), "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" (8:08), "The Musical Box" (10:55), "The Return Of The Giant Hogweed" (8:45), "Eleventh Earl Of Mar" (7:50), and "Chamber Of 32 Doors" (7:35) - long and unfamiliar tracks for kids who grew up listening to the band inducted into the 'Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame'. Those three Genesis guys who made the funny videos and cranked-out pop hits like "Follow You Follow Me", "Misunderstanding", "Turn It On Again", "No Reply At All", "Man On The Corner", "Mamma", "That's All", "Invisible Touch", "Tonight Tonight Tonight", "Throwing It All Away", "No Son Of Mine", and "Hold On To My Heart".

Yet for many of us old timers ... 'this' is the Genesis we knew and loved! And Hackett has captured that moment in time like a mosquito trapped in amber. He then polished and transformed that 'skeeter stone' from an ancient relic into a priceless gem.

Over the years a handful of good Genesis tribute albums have been released (I personally have three in my collection: "The Fox Lies Down", "Supper's Ready" - featuring the Magna Carta stable of artists, and "River Of Constant Change" - a double CD of mostly obscure Italian artists ... in addition to "We Know What We Like - The Music Of Genesis" - from The London Symphony Orchestra). But none can compare to what Hackett has accomplished with "Genesis Revisited II". Hackett has assembled an impressive cast of vocalists to bring this project to fruition including: Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth), Simon Collins (Phil's son), Francis Dunnery (It Bites), Conrad Keely (You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead), Nik Kershaw, Nad Sylvan (Agent Of Mercy), Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Jakko Jakszyk (21st Century Schizoid Band, The Tangent), Amanda Lehmann, Neal Morse (Spock's Beard), Gary O'Toole, and John Wetton (King Crimson, UK, Asia). His list of musicians is equally impressive, but for the bulk of the recording Hackett enlisted members of his touring band which include Gary O'Toole (drums), Lee Pomeroy (bass), Roger King (keyboards) and John Hackett (flute). Additional guest include guitarists Steve Rothery (Marillion), Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings); keyboardist Nick Magnus; bassist Nick Beggs (Kajagoogoo), Dick Driver, and Phil Mulford; additional sax and flute Rob Townsend; and Rachel Ford (cello), Christine Townsend (violin and viola). For the track "Camino Royale" - a cut from Hackett's 1985 solo album "Highly Strung" - Hackett enlists the band Djabe (Tamás Barabás (bass guitar), Attila Égerházi (guitar, percussion), Ferenc Kovács (trumpet, violin, vocal), Szilárd Banai (drums) Zoltán Kovács (piano, keyboards).

There are over 50 Genesis tribute bands listed on the Genesis Official Website, but if you're looking for the ultimate tribute band look no further than this album. Hackett has assembled the best.

If I have one minor quibble with the album it would be his choice of vocalist on the track "Ripples". Amanda Lehmann has something of a Bonnie Tyler/Stevie Nicks quality in her voice when singing in the lower register which isn't quite suited for the song. When singing the chorus in a higher register she sounds quite wonderful. Another version of "Ripples" was performed by Annie Haslam of Renaissance on the Magna Carta tribute album "Supper's Ready" and it worked much better with Annie's angelic voice. It's strange that of the two Genesis tribute albums I've heard containing the track "Ripples", both are performed by a female vocalist. Amanda Lehmann is also lead vocalist for the track "Shadow Of The Hierophant". On this song her voice is perfectly suited and she sounds absolutely beautiful. So it's a matter of matching the vocals to the song.

Hackett managed to slip in four revamped tracks from his solo career that were originally intended for Genesis but never quite made it into their repertoire. The songs are "Please Don't Touch", "A Tower Down", "Camino Royale" and "Shadow Of The Hierophant", and the specter of Genesis can be heard in each of them. One can't help but wonder what direction the tunes might have taken had the band made a firm commitment to include them as a Genesis track. "Shadow Of The Hierophant" has all the majestic qualities and ethereal elegance of "Supper's Ready" or "Cinema Show".

"Genesis Revisited II" is a must have for both Hackett and Genesis fans. One of my favorite releases of 2012.

Rather than end my review with a simple track listing I've opted to include Steve's personal track list commentary which can be found on his website. I found it to be most enlightening - and decided to include his comments in the review for your enjoyment.

Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on January 15th, 2013


01. The Chanber of 32 Doors (I've always liked this song harmonically. It's an Anglo-American hybrid with unexpected gusts of passion. I wanted to re-play the original guitar parts with more control and sustain. Having tracked up string and flute players, this new version started to take on symphonic proportions. In contrast, the new subtle distant wailing guitars add to the song's unnerving quality. Nad Sylvan's expressive soulful range also reinvigorates the song for me, while sympathetically echoing Gabriel's vocal performance.)
02. Horizons (A small starter on the menu before Supper's Ready, recorded with a six string steel acoustic sent out through a Leslie to give it that authentic early Genesis sound. Influenced more by Bach and Byrd than Blues, this kicked off many acoustic ideas that were to follow.)
03. Supper's Ready (This one is often referred to by fans as their favourite progressive track of all time... This version includes several vocalists to add to the varying texture of all the elements. It begins with a soulfulness in Mikael Akerfeldt's presentation, followed by a sweetness in Simon Collin's voice and the exuberance of Conrad Keeley. I aimed to pull off the English pastiche aspect of Willow Farm with its array of characters in a kind of Teddy bears Picnic meets I am the Walrus. The whole thing finally opens up into its epic ending with the warm and expansive vocal of Francis Dunnery. I played extra guitar parts which aren't on the original in both the organ section and on the end to give it more colour.)
04. Lamia (To my mind this is the most poetic song on The Lamb... It expresses Pre Raphaelite magic amidst the urban sprawl of Rael's tale. It's a song that speaks to women as much as men. Nik Kershaw sings this one with great passion. His take is hymn-like, emotional and erotic at the same time. Steve Rothery of Marillion and I swap guitar phrases that wrap around each other in a snake-like way, reflecting the lyric.)
05. Dancing WSith The Moonlit Knight (This is possibly my favourite Genesis song, with influences ranging from Scottish plainsong to fusion... Elgar meets Brave new World. It epitomises the character and magic of early Genesis. It features tapping, nylon and twelve strings. Jeremy Stacey's drums give this version even more precision. The "Disney" section at the end has an English pastoral hypnotic feel - a thread to the world of Spencer's Fairy Queen - a small corner of England remaining while the rest is sold off as a job lot plunging headlong into an alienated future. In this version I started this piece with the beginning of Greensleeves to give a sense of the old English thread and the poignancy of the song, which Francis Dunnery's sensitive vocal also expresses.)
06. Fly on a Windshield (Influences in this powerful piece range from Ravel to Hendrix, with the ramming speed of Ben Hur along with echoes of the Egyptian pyramids, all brought to life under the watchful towers of New York. A wall of sound meets the wall of death. In this new version the guitar sometimes screams like slaves under the whip.)
07. Broadway Melody of 1974 (Gary sings this with more blues inflection than the original. His vocal turns police radio commentary surveying an imaginary parade as the whole of the American dream turns nightmare. Consumerism runs riot whilst cheerleaders and the Clan join the procession.)
08. Musical Box (To introduce this new version I used a musical box sound that distorts into another kind of nightmarish feel. On this track was the earliest recording of the tapping solo. The three part harmony guitar on the end now is everything I always dreamed of doing on the original. Also check out Nad Sylvan's cameo choirs and the Fiddlers three who have become soprano sax and violin along with slightly distorted flute...)
09. Can-Utility and the Coastliners (The lyrics and music were essentially mine on this song about King Canute. This was Steven Wilson's favourite track on Foxtrot and he's sung it beautifully, with real feeling. Real orchestral instruments on this track enrich the sound.)
10. Please Don't Touch (Another Genesis branch rehearsed by the band, originally linked to Wot Gorilla on Wind and Wuthering. It's a variation on my Unquiet Slumbers melody and I feel more strongly thematic than Wot Gorilla. An orchestra again plays on this version, in places making it huge and uncompromising... something I couldn't get in the same way without the orchestral instruments on the original. This time I also enjoyed really letting the guitar sustain and let rip...)
11. Blood on the Rooftops (At the beginning is a totally new part for the nylon intro which then links to the original intro. Again, there's also now the addition of orchestral instruments which create an enriched sound. A great vocal from Gary O'Toole who really lives the song I wrote with Phil long long ago...)
12. Return of the Giant Hogweed (Roine Stolt leads the main guitar solo and we go off the map significantly together in the new version, with power chords and police siren noises coming in from me as the track reaches its crazy finale with disembodied Mellotron hurtling towards the end ... With John Hackett on scat flute and Rob Townsend doubling the bass from Lee Pomeroy in places the whole effect makes the track now sound even more preposterously huge than ever!)
13. Entangled (A song I wrote with Tony, inspired by the dream state. On this version Jakko Jakszyck's beautiful vocal is joined by Amanda Lehmann's harmonies in the chorus...)
14. Eleventh Earl of Mar (Again Nad Sylvan adds extra vocal parts here and I get to do the voice loops, an idea I had for Phil when the tapes were in danger of being chewed up. Doing many tape loops of vocals going 'aaah', my chest felt punctured from inside during the process! Guitar parts are clearer than before, plus a six stringed Rickenbacker, beloved of the Beatles, chimes in on the "features are burning" section.)
15. Ripples (This time I've chosen a female singer. Amanda Lehmann sings the song with beautiful vibrato like the young Marianne Faithful along with the poignant tone of the older Marianne. The electric guitar melody, which I created, I enjoyed really feeling my way back into and the guitar sound at the end was the product of three fuzz boxes hooked in series to create a distant string orchestra effect.)
16. Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers (This started out life on the nylon guitar but Roger King added Mellotron mandolins plus repeat to swirl the whole effect around. The synth sounds more voice like on our version as it's ghosted by vocal sample.)
17. In That Quiet Earth (I used one guitar on this instead of three. It's much clearer than the original. It's unnerving on the backwards section with a real siren quality. The Fernandes sustainer guitar comes into its own on this version. Gary O'Toole's drums sound deliberately aggressive and compressed on the slow powerful moments. Soprano sax replaces the synth for what I think of as the snake charmer phrases.)
18. Afterglow (John Wetton seizes hold of this song and really lives the powerful romance of it, especially when he sings "And I would search everywhere..." On this version there are two Les Pauls and a Rickenbacker - a nod to George Harrison and the sound he developed with the Beatles.)
19. A Tower Stuck Down (With original input from Mike Rutherford, this is one of my Genesis Branches. Now played with more brutality than the original, this has a killer riff. Written by John Hackett and myself, we've returned to it with added fervour! Genesis was never quite this heavy...)
20. Camino Royale (Another Genesis branch, this time inspired by a dream I had of Genesis performing in a surrealistic version of New Orleans. Hungarian fusion band Djabe take the middle solos... creating a whole new authentic jazz feel to the song. Great mute trumpet from Ferenc Kovács and piano from Zoltán Kovác.)
21. Shadow of the Hierophant (This was a co-write with Mike Rutherford, part of which was rehearsed by Genesis for the Foxtrot sessions. This version is a little faster than the original and partly in a lower key and this time we've used two twelve strings plus a keyboard twelve string, giving it the English Rose feel behind Amanda's glorious vocal. The spirit of Genesis from a mere forty years ago is back, sounding fresher than ever, mellotrons scream, bass pedals thunder, and Gary's drums sounding like his life depended on it. There's a dead stop to give the piece an explosive finale.)

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