Hackett, Steve - Wild Orchids

Year of Release: 2006
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD250
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:27:00

The least you can say about Steve Hackett is that he's repeating himself over and over again. Quite on the contrary as his brand new Wild Orchids is yet another rolling coaster of diversity and genius. Backed with the usual duo of brother John Hackett and keyboard player Roger King, Steve has augmented his line-up with old buddy Nick Magnus on keyboards, Rob Townsend on winds and Gary O'Toole on drums. To top it all he also incorporates the Underworld Orchestra, adding a wonderful classical touch. In a way, it's like this new album combines both the classical experience of the 2005 album Metamorpheus with the rock approach which was delivered on To Watch The Storms in 2003. The result is once again a breathtaking journey by one of the world's leading musicians.

The opening track "A Dark Night In Toytown" probably is the strongest track on the album combining ace guitar playing with a rousing arrangement in which the string section really shines. Big surprise when "Waters Of The Wild" reveals some genuine sitar backed ingeniously by some Indian flavoured percussion and Celtic tin whistle, as if he brings together two extreme cultures in one song. Says Hackett : "I'm looking for places without boundaries where borders and cultures collide in order to influence each other." Now isn't that the bottom line of a multi cultural civilization?

In the pure tradition of the saying: "never judge a book by its cover," we could stretch this also towards the way people look. Both Stones drummer Charlie Watts and Steve Hackett have this rather severe look, although they probably should be rated as some of the funniest people around. Both musicians are the archetypes of typical British humour, as some of their closest friends and relatives will admit. Some of Hackett's humour is sometimes shared with his audience by means of witty lyrics. Steve is mainly a guitar player and an occasional singer. His vocal abilities are not very high standard so he'd rather approach the vocals in a different way. In the lengthy "Down Street" he actually speaks rather than sings adding a certain amount of Zappa zaniness to the whole. The song takes you through various styles even including some swingjazz and merry-go-round naivety. "A Girl Called Linda" slightly goes back to Steve's Please Don't Touch era before John's flute takes it on a jazzy spin and is soon accompanied by subtle acoustic guitar.

As expected Wild Orchids also boosts some intimate moments. The solemn "To A Close" kicks off with some romantic guitar playing soon joined by soft vocal harmonies which give the song kind of a Christmas like atmosphere (I can be mistaken here but do the lyrics contain some French words?) The biggest challenge for Steve is his constant quest for new sounds, a never ending progression of his musical output. Some of the sounds in the rather heavy "Ego and Id" are a nice example of this. Originally written by Bob Dylan, "Man In The Long Black Coat" has a rootsy country feel not in the least because of the use of harmonica, but also because Steve sings like Johnny Cash whilst he treats his guitar like a young Peter Green. The result is the kind of material we could expect from the likes of Mark Knopfler. The existence of the shortest track on this album can be described by its title: "Why?" Why indeed has this strange early twentieth century jazz been added to this otherwise superb album? Why not tuck it onto the limited edition ? Why indeed!

Sounding almost like a tune from a Disney movie, the instrumental "She Moves In Memories" fully uses the magic of the orchestra (including some splendid harp sounding like waterfalls). Maybe Steve should get the opportunity to compose an entire soundtrack like this one day? Although not your average charts contender, "The Fundamentals Of Brainwashing" contains a certain amount of commercial appeal, which could see this music getting played on daytime radio (an edit is available for download on Steve's official website). The album closes with the howling instrumental ? "Howl" where Steve indeed approaches his guitar as if it's living, speaking, letting us know its emotions. It also puts the spotlight on Roger King's jazzy piano interpretation illustrating the gel between the two musicians. The album, which initially would have been called The Wild Orchids Finally Blossom has now been reduced to Wild Orchids (the size of the CD jacket still is very problematic, I know). As Steve explains "the orchid is famous for being a cultivated plant, but when grown in the wild the perfume seems stronger and sweeter." If this orchid is a metaphor for Steve Hackett then I can't wait for him to take this music out "in the wild' for no doubt it will even sound stronger ? and sweeter! Another impressive bouquet of songs I am proud to put in the nicest crystal vase I could find!

The album is also available as a limited edition boasting four bonustracks.

A Dark Night In Toytown / Waters Of The Wild / Set Your Compass / Down Street / A Girl Called Linda / To A Close / Ego And Id / Man In The Long Black Coat / Wolfwork / Why / She Moves In Memories / The Fundamentals Of Brainwashing / Howl

Steve Hackett - guitars, electric sitar, harmonica, psaltery, optigan, voices
Roger King - keyboards, rhythm guitar
John Hackett - flute
Rob Townsend - saxes, flute, tin whistle, bass clarinet
Gary O'Toole - drums, harmony voices
Nick Magnus - keyboards

The Underworld Orchestra:

Christine Townsend - principal violin, viola
Richard Stewart - cello
Dick Driver - double bass
Colin Clague - trumpet
Chris Redgate - oboe, cor Anglais

Genesis - Nursery Crime (1971)
Genesis - Foxtrot (1972)
Genesis - Live (1973)
Genesis - Selling England By The Pound (1973)
Genesis - Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974)
Voyage Of The Acolyte (1975)
Genesis - Wind And Wuthering (1976)
Genesis - Trick Of The Tail (1976)
Genesis - Seconds Out (1977)
Please Don't Touch (1978)
Spectral Mornings (1979)
Defector (1980)
Cured (1981)
Highly Strung (1983)
Bay Of Kings (1983)
Til We Have Faces (1983)
GTR - GTR (1986)
Momentum (1988)
Genesis - Three Sides Live (1982)
Genesis - Genesis Archive 1967-75 (1988)
Time Lapse (1992)
The Unauthorised Biography (1992)
Guitar Noir (1994)
Blues With A Feeling (1994)
There Are Many Sides To The Night (1994)
A Midsummer's Night Dream (1997)
Watcher Of The Skies: Genesis Revisited (1997)
The Tokyo Tapes (1997)
Darktown (1999)
Genesis - Genesis - Turn It On Again (1999)
Sketches Of Satie (2000) (w/John Hackett)
Feedback '86 (2000)
Genesis - Genesis Archive #2 (2000)
Live Archive 70s 80s 90s (2001)
Live Archive - Newcastle (2001)
To Watch The Storms (2003)
Live Archive NEARfest (2003)
Live Archive 03 (2004)
Live Archive 04 (2004)
Genesis - The Platinum Collection (2004)
Metamorpheus (2005) (w/The Underworld Orchestra)
Live Archive 05 (2005)
Live Archive 83 (2006)
Wild Orchids (2006)
Tribute (2008)
Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth (2010)
Beyond The Shrouded Horizon (2011)
Genesis Revisited II (2012)

Steve Hackett Live (VHS) (1981)
The Tokyo Tapes (DVD) (1998)
Hungarian Horizons - Live In Budapest (DVD) (2003)
Somewhere In South America - Live In Buenos Aires (DVD) (2003)
Once Upon A Time (DVD) (2004)
Spectral Mornings (DVD) (rec 1978; rel 2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: September 18th 2006
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.hackettsongs.com
Hits: 3714
Language: english


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