Esoteric Antenna [Release date 29.09.17]
Let’s be honest. John Hackett has for too long laboured in the shadow of his better known older brother. He’s guested on Steve’s classic seventies albums and appeared in his live band. He’s made two albums previously as ‘John Hackett Band’ and ‘We Are Not Alone’ adds to a commendable if not exactly prolific output. Alan Jones of GRTR! called 2015′s ‘Another Life’ “an under-stated gem” and the same could be applied to the latest release, a near 50/50 mix of vocal tracks and instrumentals.
Hackett is happy to let his band shine on this album, notably his guitarist Nick Fletcher, but adds exemplary flute and a pleasant lead vocal throughout. Stylistically, the album occupies the prog space somewhere between Alan Parsons Project, Camel and Supertramp. So it’s well produced, melodic, and punctuated by fluid guitar.
Where’s Steve? Well of course there’s a guest appearance – on harmonica – on ‘Never Gonna Make A Dime’. Elsewhere his influence and presence is felt on the acoustic instrumentals ‘Blue Skies Of Marazion’ and ‘Ossian’s Lament’.
By way of catch-up this album comes with a bonus disc recorded live in 2016. This gives Hackett’s new band a chance to show their mettle on the older material, not least the mainman himself who in addition to flute also plays rhythm guitar and keyboards. A good value package and introduction to “an under-stated gem”. ****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
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