Steve Hackett: Wild Orchids
Wow, and again, wow. What a treat to have a progressive icon delivering music of this caliber, this late in his career. I would have been satisfied if was just decent. The previews had it looking pretty good, but this is one of the few times that expectations have been far exceeded.
If you have been paying attention to his more recent releases, you can see something new developing (the days of GTR are long behind him). The final ingredient was 2005’s “Metamorpheus.” This is a return to rock, but he utilizes orchestration as well. It is a blend of many styles and moods (he even covers a Bob Dylan song … yeah, Dylan!). The title is a good indication of what is in store for the listener. Yet, there is a consistent flavor throughout. The dark narrator is back, he shreds, plays with eastern influences, jazz, and there is even a hint of the old days. Hackett is in fine form (as always), and doesn’t even strain on the vocals. I look at it as a musical buffet, and Steve is the well-aged fine wine.
I find it all wonderful, and have yet to find a weak moment. My copy is the special edition, with the extra tracks. It wasn’t any more expensive, so go for it. They belong on the album, unlike the usual afterthoughts. It may be the rush of a fanboy reviewing one of his heroes, but this is my vote for best album of 2006. I could change my mind later, but it’s not likely.
A good amount of time has passed since I wrote this (2006), and I still feel the same way.
Steve Hackett – guitars, electric sitar, harmonica, psaltery, optigan, voices
Roger King – keyboards, programming, rhythm guitar
John Hackett – principal flute, riff guitar
Rob Townsend – saxes, principal flute, Alto flute, tin whistle, bass clarinet
Nick Magnus – keyboards
Featuring The Underworld Orchestra:
Christine Townsend – principal violin, viola
Richard Stewart – cello
Dick Driver – double bass
Colin Clague – trumpet
Chris Redgate – oboe, cor Anglais