Saturday, November 17, 2012

Genesis Revisited II by Steve Hackett

Remastering, reimagining, and revisiting music is fraught with peril. For example, I cringe and roll my eyes whenever I hear of a rocker reimagining their work with a full orchestra. On the other hand, remastering can yield fantastic results in the same way restoration breaths new life into a painting. (For a perfect example, listen to Steven Wilson's work on King Crimson's albums, especially In the Court of the Crimson King.)

Which leads us to revisiting. This is Steve Hackett's second revisitation of Genesis' catalog. The first (1996) is good with a few exceptions. (I think it's I Know What I Like that is turned into something silly.) So it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to Genesis Revisited II which begins, coincidentally, with my litmus test - The Chamber of 32 Doors. And this track is really wonderful - a really great way to start the album.

Let's stipulate to the fact that all the tracks on this 2 CD collection have been lovingly and faithfully rerecorded by superb musicians. As you'd probably expect, Hackett's guitar playing gets special treatment with additional bits added and a "front and center" placement. In fact, other than the guitar and vocal parts I keep thinking of this as a remastering of the original songs - that's how faithful the arrangements and playing are to the source material. Everything's brighter and clearer and unmuddled, especially compared to the vinyl versions I'm used to.

Because I'm so intimately familiar with Genesis' catalog what I notice the most are changes to the vocals. If I read the liner notes correctly, it's Nik Kershaw who takes over Peter Gabriel's vocals on Lamia and really nails the naivete and innocence of the Rael character as he is seduced by the Lamia.

Fly on a Windshield, while clocking in at only 3 minutes, sounds absolutely fantastic and makes me wonder whether anyone has thought about remastering the entire The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album. (Are you listening, Steven Wilson?) Unfortunately, Broadway Melody of 1974 doesn't get high marks from me, mostly due to the vocals (by Gary O'Toole?). He sounds too much like a hotel lounge singer - which might have been the intent but I hear it as a step backward. This goes doubly so for his contributions to Blood on the Rooftops. On the other hand, the relatively obscure Can-Utility and the Coastliners is sung to great effect by Steven Wilson who also benefits from perhaps one of the best reworkings of music on the entire album, mostly due to what I perceive as a widened dynamic range.

Ripples, one of Genesis' more radio-friendly early hits, was never one of my favorites but Amanda Lehmann's vocals give the song a slightly edgier feel and a stronger sense of longing. And the pair of Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers and In That Quiet Earth make up perhaps my favorite section of the album simply because it's great to hear cleaned-up versions of those two tracks. Those two bring us to the anthem-like Afterglow about which my only minor complaint is that John Wetton's pipes just ain't what they used to be (possibly evidenced by how his vocals are over-processed).

Four of Hackett's solo works are also included on this album: Please Don't Touch, Camino Royale, A Tower Struck Down, and Shadow of the Hierophant. I'll only say one thing: Mr. Hackett should leave the vocals to others and stick to the guitar.

Here's the obligatory name dropping of some of the artists who appear on Genesis Revisited II: Steven Wilson, Nick Beggs, Steve Rothery, Nick Magnus, Neal Morse, and John Wettton.

If you're a fan of Hackett-era Genesis, you'll enjoy Genesis Revisited II.

Now, if I can only get someone working on that Lamb remaster.

You should now go to and read a review of Genesis Revisited II written by someone who's much better at translating his aural impressions to the written word.

Hackett's website,, includes most everything you'll want to know about the artist and his work.

This review is based on the special autographed version of the album purchased from the artist's website.

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