Steve Hackett

To Watch The Storms

Steve Hackett - To Watch The Storms ©2003 InsideOut Music
1. Strutton Ground
2. Circus Of Becoming
3. The Devil Is An Englishman
4. Frozen Statues
5. Mechanical Bride
6. Wind, Sand And Stars
7. Brand New
8. This World
9. Rebecca
10. The Silk Road
11. Come Away
12. The Moon Under Water
13. Serpentine Song

It would seem that anyone leaving Genesis to pursue a solo career had better be named either Peter or Phil. The track record otherwise isn't so hot. Granted, Mike Rutherford did find a miracle once, but he's probably only going to be known for writing one of those typical 80s songs that gets featured on VH1 when they're feeling all retrospective. Guitarist Steve Hackett left Genesis after their Seconds Out live release and went on to release a wealth of solo records, most of which are obscure to the average listener. If, for some reason, you are a collector of Steve Hackett material, including the tedious pop of GTR, please do not email me to set me straight because you're a freak and should be locked up on general principles. So the upshot of all that obscurity, defined solely by my purposes and needs, is that this is the first Steve Hackett solo album that has ever crossed my path. And to my surprise it's not all that bad!

Lately the association for InsideOut Music releases is rehashed 70s rock being performed by men who should have retired and bought a bakery instead. Moreover, you expect polite music from this label, so polite they'd offer a compliment to someone who just splashed mud on their fancy guitars and keyboards. Steve Hackett fortunately does not fit into these categories, although his music is more polite than, say, Venom. Two things immediately stuck out about To Watch the Storms: the lack of focus on the guitar and generally how contemporary much of the songwriting is. Naturally, a man known for playing guitar would be expected to feature his instrument early and often, but Hackett doesn't use it as the main focus of this album. For that we thank him profusely. Despite the presence of guitar oriented songs and acoustic meandering, the focus of a lot of the album is song oriented. Heck, Hackett even offers an evil narrative over throbbing music in "The Devil is an Englishman". There are bits of dark barroom jazz, ambience, orchestration, ethnic percussion, and many other things throughout this album, saving it from being a tedious, repetitious affair. Towards the end the music seems to venture more into polite territory, which detracts a bit from the overall impact of the album. However, there is enough enjoyable material on here to overcome it.

To Watch the Storms was a modest, enjoyable surprise from a label that has begun to specialize solely in dull music for adults who can't handle biting rock music anymore. Hackett demostrates a good amount of creativity and restless energy. This certainly beats any Phil Collins solo record ever made. But then again, that's not exactly something that needs explicitly said.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2004

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