Book review: On track…STEVE HACKETT (Every album, every song) – Geoffrey Feakes

On track...STEVE HACKETT - every album, every song by Geoffrey Feakes

Sonicbond Publishing [Publication date 30.05.21]

The hallmark of a good rock read has to be when the reader genuinely learns something new about the subject matter.  Geoffrey Feakes is evidently a real fan of Hackett’s work but once again there is a slight inconsistency of approach when compared to other volumes in this series.

In fairness, Feakes has pretty much stuck to the main narrative which is a track by track expose of each of the artist’s solo albums bringing the story right up to date with “Under A Mediterranean Sky”.  But unlike other volumes the author has not assimilated a range of secondary sources to bolster the story and provide more context.  In this respect much is gleaned from sleeve notes.

Perhaps a dedication at the front of the book – easily overlooked – from the guitarist himself provides insight: “Geoffrey Feakes has devoted time to comment on all of my tracks from over the years in this book.  Combing through each album, he expounds his personal view.” It is hardly a resounding endorsement.

Feakes doesn’t mention other books about Hackett which he could have plundered at least as a starting point, notably Alan Hewitt’s biography and there’s no reference or even mention of Steve’s entertaining autobiography published in July 2020.

And whilst there is a section on live recordings and videos, some critical comment to explain the relative merits of a succession of live albums  (i.e. from 2013 onwards) would have been helpful for the novice or the confused.

Another missed opportunity is the omission of a section on recordings for which Hackett contributed sessions.  This helps the completist.

There is the usual photo section of album covers and video grabs, together with a selection of fan photos and memorabilia.  It is a pity the author didn’t source some professional shots of the current band.

So, again repeating the inconsistency of many of the titles in this series, the book does fall short of being anything remotely definitive.  Basically without strong editorial control it seems it is left to the author to supply a comprehensive manuscript, or not, as the case may be.  And perhaps only sitting down with Steve would really illuminate the book’s proposition.

When describing each track Feakes is not too opinionated which makes for a less controversial read.  If you don’t end up shouting at these books for that reason – the subjectivity – at least the author usually reinforces the merits of certain albums.  In this example, plotting Hackett’s fully rounded journey via  several superb acoustic albums that arguably reached their peak with the current release.  ***

Review by David Randall

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