In The Rapids, An Overlooked Gem By Genesis

In The Rapids is a Genesis song that really does not get much attention. It is the penultimate song from the band’s superb concept album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974). At two minutes and twenty two seconds the track is short, but it sure is not sweet. The band packs an incredible amount of music and emotion into this compact gem.

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Peter Gabriel certainly had his fair share of great vocal performances during his time with Genesis. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, The Lamia, The Battle Of Epping Forest, Back In N.Y.C. are just a few that come to mind. I would say that In The Rapids stands as one of my favorite vocals from Peter Gabriel.

It is amazing how much the band packs into this song. There is more brilliance on display inside of this short song than many bands are able to put onto an entire album. Every member of the band shines here adding their musical parts and pieces to enhance the collective whole.

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The song has a deceptively low key intro, just clean guitars. Peter Gabriel enters soon after, initially delivering a reserved vocal.  At the 0.54 mark the rest of the band slowly enters. They spend the remainder of the song slowly building layer upon layer of musical tension, emotion and drama. To fully appreciate this gem you really have to listen to it with headphones on.

The band puts on an absolute clinic in subtlety and finesse. Initially the music is a foundation for Gabriel’s vocals. But as the song progresses there is so much going on, the music feels as if it is swirling around Gabriel’s vocals.

At the 1:29 mark Steve Hackett’s electric guitar wails and the rest of the band bring up the intensity. At this point there is less than one minute until the song segues into the album’s finale with the song It. The desperation in Gabriel’s vocal is nearly heartbreaking. Steve Hackett’s guitar adds to the melancholy felt during this end portion. It almost sounds like his guitar is weeping. Phil Collins is at the top of his game here and throughout The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Not content to just display his considerable skills on the drums, Phil always had a musical approach to the drums. His drumming is not merely keeping the time, his playing elevates the somber mood of the song.

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Before you know it the song is over. The tension is released with the siren like intro of the album’s final song.  As a stand alone track In The Rapids is very emotional. But taken in context with the rest of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway the song is so much more. At this point of The Lamb’s storyline as a listener you are emotionally drained by Rael and John’s journey.

For me In The Rapids is the most overlooked gem in the entire Genesis discography. At 2:22 it is all too easy to miss this track. After the tour for The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway the band never played this song live again. It is to bad that in later years Genesis never really explored much of The Lamb live beyond the title track, In The Cage, The Carpet Crawlers and a section of Colony Of Slippermen.  Granted, In the Rapids is an unusual song to play on its own. Perhaps it would have worked best in the context of a medley. I have included audio for both In The Rapids and It.  Since one goes directly into the next, it is hard to play one without the other.

Troy T.

The Music Of Cirrus Bay: A Trick Of The Wind, A Wuthering Tail

Cirrus Bay are a U.S. based band with its musical heart firmly rooted in 1970s progressive rock. One of the great things about this band is that they do not sound retro. They may be playing 1970’s styled progressive rock, but their sound is throughly modern.

The band’s predominant influence is 1970’s Genesis, with a huge emphasis on the keyboard stylings of Tony Banks. The overall sound of Cirrus Bay is a laid back, slightly folksy, take on the sounds of the classic Genesis albums A Trick Of The Tail and Wind And Wuthering. The big point of difference with Cirrus Bay is the band’s use of female vocalists. While the music heavily draws on the sounds of Genesis the female vocals help to give the band a different sound. The influence of Genesis looms largely on all of Cirrus Bay’s albums. The band utilizes that influence to create a progressive rock sound that is their own.

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To date Cirrus Bay have released five albums. With each new release the band continues to hone their craft. The first album, The Slipping Of The Day (2008), is a mixed bag. It features a male and a female vocalist. I am sorry to say that the male vocalist is not a very good singer. As a result about half of the album is good. On subsequent albums female singers have handled the vocals quite effectively. The band’s second album, A Step Into Elsewhere (2009), firmly establishes the Cirrus Bay sound. The band delivers melodic, keyboard driven prog accented by acoustic and electric guitars. Overall the music may not be as flashy as other prog bands. That said, there are plenty of long, well played instrumental passages present. Whimsical Weather (2012) and The Search For Joy (2014) continue the band’s evolution and subtle refinements. With their latest album, Places Unseen (2016), the band delivers their best album.

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Bill Gillham is the band’s main songwriter and he handles multiple instruments on the albums. It is quite obvious that he is heavily influenced by Tony Banks. Whether playing keyboards or piano he proves to be quite a skilled disciple of the unique keyboard styling of Tony Banks.

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Gillham also handles most of the guitar playing on the albums. He is quite adept at acoustic and electric guitar. Strummed acoustic guitars feature prominently throughout the music of Cirrus Bay. On the electric guitar Gillham does, at times, produce some Steve Hackett-like guitar sounds and riffs.  Keyboards may be the primary instrument on Cirrus Bay’s albums, but there is plenty of tasteful guitar throughout.

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For the bulk of the albums Sharra Acle and Anisha Gillham handle the lead vocals. On the band’s most recent album, Places Unseen, the lead vocals are handled by Tai Shan. All three singers have similar sounding voices that would not be out of place singing folk songs or ballads.

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Mark Blasco handles the drums and bass. Cirrus Bay’s intention is not to showcase over the top virtuosity. This is reflected in Blasco’s handling of the drums and bass. A skilled player, he lays down the song’s foundation, playing what each song requires. When he needs to step it up for the more involved instrumental breaks he does so quite well. There are plenty of opportunities for the band to showcase their instrumental prowess.  Over the course of their albums some songs routinely extend pass the ten minute mark.

Although the main influence is A Trick Of The Tail and Wind And Wuthering the sounds of other Genesis album do crop up as well. Listening to Cirrus Bay’s catalog one can hear small musical traces of the Genesis albums Foxtrot, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, And Then There Were Three and Selling England By The Pound.

Another great aspect of Cirrus Bay are their beautiful album covers. There is a running theme of painterly landscapes on the band’s album covers. Some of these pictures are so good you want to hang them on your wall. Of the five albums The Search For Joy contains my favorite album cover.

With four solid albums under their collective belts Cirrus Bay has a lot going for them. I am really enjoying their modern take on 1970’s progressive rock. Their future appears to be very bright. If you like well written, melodic progressive rock with long instrumentals this might be a band for you. I highly recommend Cirrus Bay to fans of Genesis and 1970’s progressive rock.

Troy T.

Is It Time For Steve Hackett To Stop Revisiting Genesis?

I love the music of Genesis immensely, they have been one of my favorite bands since the early 1980’s. Their music was my introduction to progressive rock. To this day they remain my favorite progressive rock band.

I also love the music of former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. He has established himself as a forward thinking solo artist since leaving Genesis in 1977. During his career he has put together  a discography that is quite impressive. He has explored various genres including progressive rock, classical guitar, world music, blues, pop, hard rock and classical music.

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As a solo artist he has always been one to be in touch with his past. Genesis music has always had a presence in his live shows. For many years Horizons, and sections of Firth Of Fifth, Los Endos and In That Quiet Earth have been pretty constant in his live set lists. Over various tours other Genesis songs have been included as well. Songs such as I Know What I Like, Hairless Heart, Carpet Crawlers, Watcher of the Skies, Fly On A Windshield and Blood On The Rooftops. The latter song was a treat because it was never performed live by Genesis. Steve Hackett’s touring drummer Gary O’Toole does a fantastic job putting his own spin on the lead vocals. From tour to tour there was a nice balance of Genesis songs intermingled with his solo material.

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In 2013 Steve Hackett began his highly successful Genesis Revisited tour. This was a tour that featured a set list that was 99% – 100% Genesis songs. Some shows featured the Steve Hackett song Shadow Of The Hierophant. I believe that the popularity of this tour surprised all involved. What was initially intended to be a one off tour has spilled over two tours later. I understand the reason for the show and I understand it’s popularity. However, I now feel that the music of Genesis Is taking up far too much room in his setlist.

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His last tour was titled Acolyte to Wolflight With Genesis Revisited. It was a tour meant to celebrate the forty year anniversary of his first solo album, Voyage Of The Acolyte. He also had an incredible new album out to promote, Wolflight. He played about five songs from each album and a few highlights from the earlier part of his career. This tour could have been an incredible retrospective of his solo career. Unfortunately the Genesis Revisited section of the show ate up half the set list. Do not misunderstand me, the Genesis Revisited set was absolutely great. The opportunity to hear his incredible band expertly play songs like Get ‘Em Out By Friday, The Cinema Show and Can-Utility And The Coastliners was quite an experience. But as great as it was part of me was imaging a two and a half hour set list spanning Steve Hackett’s solo career.

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His recent tour just started and the timing seems a little odd. He has a new album set for release in March, so I am curious as to why the tour started now. That said, I had the great privilege of seeing one the early shows of the new tour. Steve Hackett and his touring band were incredible as always. But I must say that I left the show slightly disappointed. This was a first for me. I have seen Steve Hackett live several times over the years. I know what a full live set of his solo material sounds like. This most recent show featured too much Genesis! Once again please do not misunderstand me, I love the music of Genesis a great deal. But I also love Steve Hackett’s solo music and I wanted to hear more of it.

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At this point it may be time to leave some of the Genesis songs in the past. This new tour is billed as celebrating the forty year anniversary of the Genesis album Wind And Wuthering. So I was aware of that going in. Hearing a few songs from that classic album was great, along with the song Inside And Out. Inside And Out was recorded during the Wind And Wuthering sessions but it was not released on the album. It was later released on the Spot The Pigeon EP in 1977. I was pleased with the Wind and Wuthering set list, especially Inside And Out. When that portion of the show was over I thought for sure that he would return to playing his solo material. To my surprise the set continued with Dance On A Volcano, The Musical Box, Firth Of Fifth, Dancing With The Moonlit Knight and Los Endos. The band did play sections of Steve Hackett’s songs Myopia and Slogans during Los Endos, but that was it.

I know that there are many fans who will strongly disagree with me. I feel that it is time for Steve Hackett to leave Genesis Revisited in the rearview mirror. This Steve Hackett fan wants to hear more Steve Hackett songs on the next Steve Hackett tour. He left Genesis in 1977 and he has not looked back musically. He has proven himself to be a vital artist who continually pushes himself and his music forward. He proves that with each new album that he releases.  I do not have an issue with Genesis songs in his set list, just the amount. Going forward I would love less Genesis and more Steve Hackett.

Troy T.

Steve Hackett, A Birthday Appreciation

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I want to acknowledge the 67th birthday of one of my biggest musical heroes, Steve Hackett. His music has been such a huge part of my life for over thirty five years. I first became aware of him in 1981 after hearing the Genesis album A Trick Of The Tail. After fully exploring the music of Genesis it was only logical to look into the solo albums of the band members. Highly Strung was the first Steve Hackett solo album that I purchased. 1981 started a musical journey with the music of Genesis and it’s members that has continued to present day.

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Steve Hackett’s unique approach to the guitar and to songwriting have had a profound impact on me. I would consider myself to be an amateur musician and songwriter. His work with Genesis, and more so his long solo career, have influenced me a great deal. I absolutely love his musical contributions with Genesis, but it was as a solo musician that he truly blossomed as an artist. Over the years he has established a musician vision that is uniquely his own.

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I applaud Steve Hackett for truly being a progressive artist. He has not been content to repeat the past or rest on his laurels. Four decades into his solo career and he continues to take risks as he pushes himself as a singer, songwriter and musician. It is astonishing how much music is inside of this one man. With each new album he continues to delight me. Just when you think that you have heard it all from Steve Hackett he puts out an album like his last one, Wolflight. Released in 2015 Wolflight features Steve Hackett taking his songwriting and guitar playing to new levels.

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His newest album, The Night Siren, is slated to be released in March of 2017. I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to plunge into  his newest collection of songs. For some time Steve Hackett has been one of the few music artists that I trust. Whatever musical journey that he opts to go on I am right there along for the ride. Over the course of this long journey I can honestly say that he has disappointed me only twice. I was extremely underwhelmed by the albums Tribute (2008) and Beyond The Shrouded Horizon (2012). The albums are not  bad, they are just not up to his usual standards. I would definitely rank them as my least favorite albums in his catalog.  On the flip side his 1993 release Guitar Noir is my favorite of his solo albums.  I would also rank it as my favorite album by any artist.

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I will now proceed to wrap this up by listing my favorite songs by Steve Hackett. With over twenty studio albums to his credit picking favorites could be a difficult task. After some very deep thought, here are my top twelve favorite songs by Steve Hackett.  Of course this list is subject to change over time.

Walking Away From Rainbows
Spectral Mornings
The Steppes
Overnight Sleeper
Little America
Valley Of The Kings
The Virgin And The Gypsy
Hoping Love Will Last
Icarus Ascending
Take These Pearls
This World
Every Day

Troy T.

John Wetton, My Humble Tribute

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As a fan of progressive rock I am well aware of the importance of John Wetton.  However, outside of his work with Steve Hackett I do not own any of his music.  Of course I have heard some of his work with King Crimson and  U.K. in the 1970’s and Asia in the 1980’s.

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It’s his work with Steve Hackett, when Wetton  toured as part of his band in the late 1990’s, that I am most familiar with.  The set list was mostly Steve Hackett and Genesis songs.  But also included were songs from Wetton’s past, including The Court Of The Crimson King, Battle Lines and Heat Of The Moment.  One of the things that impressed me about Wetton was how dignified he looked on stage singing and playing the bass.  He also brought a different feel to some of the classic Genesis songs that was rather refreshing.  In 2012 Wetton lent his vocals to Steve Hackett’s reworking of the Genesis classic Afterglow.  This live rendition seems like an appropriate song to end this tribute.

Troy T.

 

Steve Hackett: A Selection Of Album Covers

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Information on Steve Hackett’s newest album was recently released. The new album, entitled The Night Siren, will be released March 24 2017. This is extremely exciting news. The man already has a very impressive discography, but new music is always welcome.

Steve Hackett has been quite prolific and productive for the last several years. He has released several solo albums and recorded an album with the late great Chris Squire. It seems as if he has been on tour nonstop. Somehow he also found the time to guest on other artist’s albums including John Hackett, Nick Magnus, Dave Kerzner, Steve Rothery, Nad Sylvan and John Wetton among others.

One of the constants of Hackett’s long career, besides his fantastic music, has been many wonderful album covers. For the bulk of his career most of the album covers featured artwork  produced by his now ex-wife, Kim Poor. An unfortunate aftermath of their divorce in 2007 was a shift to the use of photography for his album covers. Gone are the beautifully dreamlike painting of Kim Poor.

The reveal of the upcoming album cover for The Night Siren left me a bit underwhelmed. As it stands now I would rate it as one of my least favorite Steve Hackett album covers. With that being said, here are my favorite Steve Hackett album covers.

Guitar Noir (1993)

An album cover where  the colors used by Kim Poor reflect the sounds and atmospheres of the music.  A beautiful album cover for an incredibly emotional album.

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Spectral Mornings  (1979)

Once again the cover, beautifully rendered by Kim Poor, reflects the feel of the music. Arguably Hackett’s definitive album musically. One could argue the same for the artwork.

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Guitar Noir / There Are Many Sides To The Night (2008)

Two of Hackett’s prior albums reissued together.  The cover contains my absolute favorite photo of Steve Hackett.  I would love to have been sitting at the same table enjoying  a cup of coffee and this moment in time.

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Live Archive 90’s (2001)

I love this photo, the man at work live.

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Live Archive 70,80,90’s (2001)

Like Genesis, Steve Hackett over the years has effectively used lighting during his live shows.  This photo captures one of those moments.

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Momentum  (1988)

An incredibly   intimate painting by Kim Poor.  A wonderful reflection of the intimate acoustic music contained on the cd.

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Live Archive 04 (2004)

Another great live photo, so full of mystery.  Somehow the colors convey the sounds of the Hackett concert experience.  The filter used on the photograph gives the image an impressionistic look.

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Defector (1980)

Musically and art wise Spectral Mornings and Defector are an excellent one-two punch.

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Out of The Tunnel’s Mouth (2009)

The start of a new era in Steve Hackett album covers.  Kim Poor’s painting are now just  in memory.  There is something about the cover photo that has a sense of new beginnings.  As a photograph it does has a bit of a painterly quality to it.

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Metamorpheus (2005)

Another fantastic dreamlike Kim Poor painting.  Like much of her work there is a sense of stillness, drama and mystery.

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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.