Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Review: Steve Hackett – The Charisma Years 1975 – 1982

Steve Hackett the virtuoso guitarist first came onto the music scene with progressive rock band Genesis, after joining them in 1970 to record their third album Nursery Cryme, and stayed with them for another five albums, before leaving in 1977 to concentrate on a solo career. He has written and recorded many albums up to the present date and tours frequently.

Although Genesis went on to have worldwide success after Hackett left the band, for myself his influence in the band was greatly missed; but a parting of the ways was probably the best for both parties considering the differing musical paths Hackett and Genesis took in future recordings.

Although Genesis managed to slip the net that other progressive rock bands of the day fell, into Hackett remained true to his art and made some fine albums and would also show his love for his former band mates’ music by including the songs they recorded together in his live shows and even rerecording most of them on two albums, Genesis Revisited I  and 2.

Steve Hackett’s box set of his solo albums is now released and well worth a listen. For myself as a big Genesis fan Hackett’s music filled in some of the voids left by the band on many of their subsequent bestselling albums. Therefore, as big as Genesis got, they were never quite the same after Hackett’s departure and Hackett never hit the heights of his former band mates but his music for years to come kept many an old prog fan very happy.

Voyage Of The Acolyte

Very much an extension of the work Steve Hackett was doing with Genesis at this time but with a less commercial direction. ‘Great opening track ‘Ace of Wands’ with the rest of the album being mainly instrumental too.  For me this album was something I listened to and enjoyed when I was in the mood for it but it wasn’t something I played over and over. I kind of missed the melodies that Genesis gave me at that time. Stand out track, ‘Star of Sirius’.

6/10

Please Don’t Touch

A complete refreshing change in direction with this album. Loved it. What makes this album work is the vocalists. The standout tracks being sung by Richie Havens and a beautiful ballad by Randy Crawford, but with Hackett’s distinctive guitar sound never far away. Stand out track, ‘How Can I’.

8/10

Spectral Mornings

Steve is really in his element with this album. Leaning towards his debut album but with a more upbeat feel about it. But what is disappointing are the vocals and although I love the opening track ‘Everyday’ the rest of the vocals songs seem a bit limp by comparison. ‘Clocks’ and the spectacular title track light up the album overall.

7/10

Defector

Love this album. Some really good tracks here, all a bit different from each other but with strong melodies. Although again the vocals are a bit of a letdown the music wins you over each time. From the opening track ‘Steppes’ to songs like ‘Jacuuzi’ and the beautiful piano piece ‘Hammer in the Sand’.

8/10

Cured

Just look at the boring album cover and it says quite a bit about this album. Apart from a couple of good instrumental tracks, the rest of the songs are weak and the vocals yet again don’t help.

3/10

Highly Strung

Another disappointing album from Hackett saved a little by his guitar work on the instrumental tracks, but the rest of the tracks just go over my head.

3/10

Live In Oxford

Great selection of songs from his early albums. Really enjoyed this one. Loved ‘Ace of Wands’ and ‘Star of Sirius’. Great band too. But the stand out track as to be ‘Spectral Mornings’.

7/10

Live In Reading 81

I remember Steve was the highlight of the weekend according to many music papers at this particular event. Still sounds really fresh and most of the songs are from his first four albums; great stuff. Wish I’d been there. Standout tracks ‘The Steppes’ and ‘Spectral Mornings’.

7/10

LIVE EP 1979

‘Ace of Wands’ and The Red Flower Of Tachai standout here – I know what I like!

6/10

For more background information The Charisma Years 1975 – 1982, including quotes from Steve Hackett himself about the recordings, click Ramzine here.

Gary Frost
Gary Frost’s passion for music started early in life, taking school friends home to hear the delights of The Kinks’ single ‘I’m An Apeman’ and when they grew out of short trousers later turning them onto Bowie, Genesis and Led Zeppelin. He continues to express his views on contemporary bands, from Coldplay to Rival Sons and strategic points in between.

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