David Randall chatted to Steve Hackett in early March 2015 for Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, about the new album and the new tour ‘Acolyte to Wolflight’ (27:46)
Inside Out [Release Date: 30.03.15]
Steve Hackett’s star is definitely in the ascendancy.
Following the touring and release of the associated box-sets of the ‘Genesis Revisited’ back-catalogue over the past couple of years – universally acclaimed as an absolute triumph – Steve has returned to the day job with ‘Wolflight’, his first studio album since 2011’s ‘Beyond The Shrouded Horizon’.
Since his split from Genesis in the late ‘70s, Hackett has put together a body of work that, with the odd minor caveat, has cemented his place in the pantheon of rock guitarists as one of the very best, and amongst progressive rock aficionados as the pre-eminent player of his generation.
The startling originality of albums such as ‘Please Don’t Touch’, ‘Spectral Mornings’, ‘Darktown’ and ‘To Watch The Storms’ has served to heighten expectation whenever a new Hackett album is in the offing, and ‘Wolflight’ is no exception.
It is to his credit that ‘Wolflight’ not only exceeds these expectations but also demonstrates that despite nearly fifty years in music he is still capable of producing a contemporary progressive rock masterpiece that both thrills and intrigues in equal measure.
Written during breaks in the hectic ‘Revisited’ touring schedule, ‘Wolflight’ is an album of incessant twists and turns making journeys from Mongolia, Arabia and the deep south of the USA to Ancient Greece and even Battersea funfair – together with enlightening excursions into love and the human psyche.
The ten tracks get underway with the sound of a wolf’s howl morphing into the pounding drum rhythms of instrumental opener ‘Out Of The Body’, which acts as an overture to the album and gives a foretaste of the banquet to come.
And it’s some banquet.
From the middle-eastern vibes of both the title track and the superb instrumental ‘Dust And Dreams’ with its dominant, insistent bass line, to the pastoral acoustics of ‘Earthshine’ and ‘Heart Song’ and from the childhood memories of ‘The Wheel’s Turning’ to the relationship breakdown of ‘Love Song To A Vampire’ (with its ‘How Fragile We Are’ Sting vibe) the quality just keeps coming.
The anthemic ‘Corycian Fire’ with its ever-changing rhythms and tempos is a stand-out, as is Steve’s take on the fight for the freedom of slaves in the deep south of the USA on ‘Black Thunder’.
And running through all this brilliance – like a stick of Blackpool rock – is Hackett’s stunning guitar work, both electric and acoustic. Has he ever played better? I don’t think so.
As usual, with the likes of Nick Beggs, Rob Townsend and Roger King he has surrounded himself with some of the finest musicians around, and the addition of a full orchestra, used in a powerful and innovative way, is the icing on the cake.
‘Wolflight’ really harks back to the brilliance of Hackett’s early solo work and is undoubtedly his most varied, instrumentally dazzling and evocative work for many years.
Review by Alan Jones
Alan sequences “The Eclectic Mix” on the third Sunday of the month at 16:00 on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. The mix invariably includes some prog and occasionally Steve Hackett.
Album launch event (30 March 2015)
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