Song Spotlight: Steve Hackett’s Overnight Sleeper

Those who have followed Steve Hackett’s solo career know that he has an extensive  back catalog. To date he has released over forty albums, including twenty four studio albums.  These albums range from progressive rock to classical music to the blues to classical guitar. Over the years he has proven to be the most prolific of the various Genesis members.

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His 1981 album Cured is an interesting release in many ways. To start off, the album cover features a photograph of Hackett and not the usual dreamlike painting, which for years were produced by his then wife Kim Poor. An odd photo it is, it really does not look like Hackett.  Secondly the album, musically, is basically Steve Hackett and keyboardist Nick Magnus, with some assistance from Steve’s brother John Hackett. Thirdly it is his first album to feature Hackett fully on lead vocals. Lastly there is a clear shift to a more commercial sound. There are still progressive rock stylings throughout, but this batch of songs are definitely more mainstream. It is in this context that he produced one of my favorite songs in his catalog and that would be Overnight Sleeper.

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At a lean four minutes and 30 seconds  Hackett sure packed this song with a great deal of progressive rock goodness. Songs like this one prove that prog songs do not need to be 15 – 20 minutes to prove their prog worthiness.

The song begins with a short, but fast paced, classical guitar intro. Than the band kicks in with Nick Magnus’ keyboards leading the charge. This opening instrumental passage showcases Hackett’s uniquely emotional approach to lead guitar. The second extended instrumental passage features some fantastic interplay between Magnus’ keyboards, Steve Hackett’s acoustic guitar and John Hackett’s wonderful flute work. At the 2:57 mark the full band kicks in; keyboards, flute, bass, acoustic and electric guitars. The music is full on until it ends in a wonderful flourish of guitar licks and drums.

Overnight Sleeper was a part of Steve Hackett’s live set for a brief time in the early 1980’s. Of all of the songs in his catalog Overnight Sleeper would be at the top of my list of songs that I would love to see his current band perform live.

Troy T.

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