Album review: STEVE HACKETT – Premonitions – The Charisma Recordings 1975-1983

On 25 October, Get Ready to ROCK! Radio replays a 2012 feature when Steve Hackett chose and chatted about ‘Favourite Tracks from Favourite Artists’ – tracks that have inspired and influenced him over the years.

Sunday 25 October, 16:00
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STEVE HACKETT - Premonitions - The Charisma Recordings 1975-1983

UMC/Virgin [Release date 16.10.15]

Steve Hackett’s renaissance over the past few years has been well deserved and well documented, not least by GRTR!  Given that he has spent recent times ploughing his Genesis past it seems only right that – with the present tour ‘Acolyte to Wolflight’ – he’s now also reconstructing his solo career.  And what better way to start reconstruction than with a 14-disc retrospective?  Bolstered by the ubiquitous Steven Wilson mixes?

This handsome, well annotated, box set is a Hackett fan’s dream come true, the more so as there is plenty of previously unreleased and bonus material.  Although sadly they will have to re-buy Steve’s solo heritage – all albums are included in their entirety.  And of course, as always, previous customers should exercise caution;  some of the extras appear on the slew of remastered reissues c.2005.

The six core albums are enhanced by various extended versions and single B-sides as appropriate, plus a BBC Radio 1 session from 1983.  Hackett’s first solo album Voyage Of The Acolyte was started when he was still with Genesis and therefore connects most closely with that band (and also includes Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford). The extended playout version of ‘Shadow Of The Hierophant’ is included in all its 17 minute glory.

The follow up – 1978′s Please Don’t Touch – moved to  Anglo/American production with contributions from members of Kansas, Richie Havens and Randy Crawford on the exquisite ‘Hoping Love Will Last’.  A newly remixed outtake – ‘Seven Of Cups’ – is also included.

Hackett’s solo calling card – and career – was cemented in 1979 with the release of Spectral Mornings.  Not only did this album include set-list staples ‘Every Day’ and the title track, for the first time Hackett had the semblance of his regular touring band that would take him in to the eighties with Nick Magnus (keys) plus brother John on flute.

1980′s Defector is darker and more atmospheric and yielded the excellent ‘The Steppes’ whilst Cured (1981) split fans somewhat as it eschewed the prog of yore for a more simplistic “pop” approach but in truth it is none the worse for that.  And don’t overlook the 1981 B-side ‘Second Chance’ omitted from the track listing on the CD sleeve.

1983′s Highly Strung was a return to a more rocky formula with the instrumental set-pieces ‘Group Therapy’ and ‘Hackett To Pieces’ and a band that featured future Marillion drummer Ian Mosley.

STEVE HACKETT - Premonitions - The Charisma Recordings 1975-1983

This package is expanded with several discs of previously unavailable live material.  There’s a complete July 1979 gig recorded in Oxford (two discs) and Hackett’s Theatre Royal gig a few months later (because of the close proximity there is heavy duplication).  And there’s the 1981 Reading Festival gig although some tracks appeared as bonuses on the 2005 reissue of ‘Defector’.

It’s significant that his setlist in the late-1970s only briefly acknowledged his Genesis past and of course that has now been gloriously exploited for another generation of fans who wondered what all the fuss was about.  In truth, from the late-1990s onwards (with the release of the first Genesis Revisited collection) he had already upped the Genesis quotient in his live shows.

Rounding off this package there are various new stereo and 5.1 mixes of the first four solo albums.  For many, it will be a big enough excuse to get down to Richer Sounds with a well-stacked credit card.

The 68-page book completes this sumptuous treat and a near-definitive retrospective of Steve Hackett’s early solo sojourns.

In the eighties, there were even more delights in store as Hackett further explored world themes and a parallel classical guitar persona before his consistent run of solo work starting with 1999′s ‘Darktown’ which has evolved ultimately into this year’s ‘Wolflight’ offering.

‘Premonitions’ (a working title for his debut solo album) is an essential starting-off point for a musical journey that continues to enthrall audiences especially with his Genesis past now firmly embedded and acknowledged.  *****

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

Footnote: ‘Please Don’t Touch’ and ‘Spectral Mornings’ will be released as deluxe, expanded versions (including 5.1 mixes) in 2016.

Album review and interview (Wolflight, 2015)
DVD review (‘The Man, The Music’, 2015)
Steve Hackett: Genesis Revisited (Audio interview, 2014)

UK Tour dates (October 2015)
 Tue October 06 GUILDFORD G Live
Wed October 07 Shepherds Bush Empire
Fri October 09 NORTHAMPTON Royal and Derngate
Sat October 10 CARDIFF St Davids Hall
Sun October 11 SOUTHAMPTON O2 Guildhall
Tue October 13 BASINGSTOKE Anvil
Wed October 14 YORK York Barbican
Fri October 16 ABERDEEN Music Hall
Sat October 17 GATESHEAD Sage
Sun October 18 GLASGOW Royal Concert Hall
Tue October 20 LEEDS Leeds Town Hall
Wed October 21 LLANDUDNO Venue Cymru
Fri October 23 LIVERPOOL Philharmonic Hall
Sat October 24 LEICESTER De Montfort Hall
Sun October 25 MANCHESTER Lowry
Tue October 27 IPSWICH Regent Theatre
Wed October 28 BRISTOL Colston Hall
Fri October 30 BIRMINGHAM Symphony Hall
Sat October 31 SOUTHEND Cliffs Pavilion


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