Steve Hackett: Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth
I am a huge Steve Hackett fan, and he has been on quite a roll in the latter part of his career. As with many of his contemporaries, he had a slump in the ’80s. But the run has been steadily uphill since 1993’s “Guitar Noir.” His last release was some of his best work ever, so I was really looking forward to “Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth.”
I guess you can’t expect genius every time out, because I am not so enthusiastic about the latest Hackett album. It is still quality Steve, but the ideas are less than fresh. He is pretty much resting on the laurels recent achievements. Yes it is still better than most of what’s out there, but Steve had raised the bar for himself pretty high. If you have heard “Darktown,” “To Watch the Storms,” Wild Orchids,” and even his most recent classical work “Metamorpheus,” “Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth” will sound very familiar.
So, I was a bit disappointed. However, that does not mean I don’t like it. “Nomads” is a fantastic Spanish guitar work out, “Tubehead” is the obligatory “I’m still a rock God” shred-fest, and he even does a pretty hearty blues on “Still Waters.” The other tracks are good as well, but definitely traveling previously explored territory. Which wouldn’t necessarily be bad if they were significantly inspired. Alas that is not the case, and I get more of a stale taste in my mouth. Even the special guest appearances of legendary Yes leader and bass man Chris Squire, and Anthony Phillips (who Hackett replaced in Genesis) did little to create the much needed spark.
Mr. Hackett has not had an easy year. He has been entangled in a divorce, and much of his business has been thrown into disarray because of it (thus the absence of his ex’s cover art). So, I am willing to let this one be what it is. Steve is saying, “Hey gang, I’m still here and I’m not giving up. I’ll continue to write and release music as long as I can, and am still the best guitarist in rock (even if most people don’t know it).”
If you are just beginning to explore this period of Steve Hackett, “Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth” is probably not the place to start. Some fans could even let this one pass. To me any quality Hackett is worth having. I am glad to own this album, and look forward to seeing him at NEARfest 2010.
Nick Beggs – bass, chapman stick
Dick Driver – double bass
John Hackett – flute
Steve Hackett – guitars, vocals
Roger King – keyboards, programming
Lauren King – backing vocals
Ferenc Kovacs – violin
Amanda Lehmann – vocals
Jo Lehmann – backing vocals
Anthony Phillips – 12-string guitar
Chris Squire – bass
Christine Townsend – violin, viola
Rob Townsend – soprano saxophone