If you love ‘classic’ Genesis, then this track-by-track commentary by Steve Hackett will give you chills

‘Genesis Revisited 2′ is Hackett’s second album reinterpreting the music of his youth.  It comes out in late October and boasts a slew of special guests.

Here’s what Steve has to say about ‘Fly on a Windshield’ from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway:

Influences in this powerful piece range from Ravel to Hendrix, with the ramming speed of Ben Hur along with echoes of the Egyptian pyramids, all brought to life under the watchful towers of New York. A wall of sound meets the wall of death. In this new version the guitar sometimes screams like slaves under the whip.

 

And on ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’:

This is possibly my favourite Genesis song, with influences ranging from Scottish plainsong to fusion… Elgar meets Brave new World. It epitomises the character and magic of early Genesis. It features tapping, nylon and twelve strings. Jeremy Stacey’s drums give this version even more precision. The “Disney” section at the end has an English pastoral hypnotic feel – a thread to the world of Spencer’s Fairy Queen – a small corner of England remaining while the rest is sold off as a job lot plunging headlong into an alienated future. In this version I started this piece with the beginning of Greensleeves to give a sense of the old English thread and the poignancy of the song, which Francis Dunnery’s sensitive vocal also expresses.

Read the rest of Steve’s commentary at his website.

Nearfest 2010 – just a lil taste

If you know me, you know that Gabriel-era Genesis is sort of where it all begins.  I’m not old enough to have seen the classic line-up, but when I finally discovered the genius of that quintet, well, that pretty much changed everything forever.  I’ve gone deep with Genesis, seeing the trio when possible, collecting every manner of album, bootleg and video, and going to see the amazing Musical Box tribute show countless times.

And my Prog Rock education and appreciation has just gone on and on.  I have recently opened my mind to extraordinary groups from Brazil, Sweden, Poland and other points across the globe.  I have gotten to know bands old and new, finding music that is uplifting, challenging and extraordinary.  So much of what I love about all the music I have discovered is that it relates back to that wondrous moment when Messrs. Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett, and Rutherford brought forth the beauty of The Musical Box, Foxtrot, Selling England By The Pound and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.  It was no coincidence that those selections had such a profound impact on me.

So, among the first-generation proggers, I’ve been pretty lucky to see the reunions and comebacks of Yes, King Crimson, ELP and even Genesis.  But Hackett, long exiled from the group he helped make famous, does more to keep that original spirit of innovation and irreverence alive than all the rest.  When I found that his only area performance would be at Nearfest 2010, I pounced on the opportunity and grabbed very good seats.

I had long known of Nearfest, but never mustered the strength or inclination to spend the better part of an entire weekend in nearby Bethlehem, PA watching a lot of prog with which I was wholly unfamiliar.  Thanks to the miracle of social networking, I got more info and encouragement than ever to make Nearfest happen this year, but in the end, I only sprung for Friday night, electing to, once again, pass on the vast majority of music and fellowship that makes up the weekend.

I would have let the whole thing pass me by (again), had it not been for the encouragement of my spiritual music guide, my teacher, my long-lost big brother: Cousin Steve.  He played a rather large role in the whole Genesis thing taking shape for me, and though we’ve seen Hackett before, he was not about to let this opportunity pass.  Thanks to Steve (who had never been either), I got my first taste of Nearfest.  And now, a few days later, I am comfortable in the firm belief that it will not be my last.

Lehigh University is a beautiful setting and the Zoellner Arts Center is the Perfect theater.  We arrived in plenty of time to see Riverside (a phenomenal Polish band I have followed for a few years, but never seen live), but I locked my keys in the trunk just as we were heading over to the theater.  The Lehigh security department was understanding, kind and efficient in helping me put that brain cramp in the rearview mirror and Steve and I took our seats in the fifth row center after only missing a couple songs.

Riverside was tremendous.  They lean more toward the prog-metal end of the spectrum, with a dash of Porcupine Tree thrown in for good measure.  But after seeing Dream Theater last summer, I really appreciated Riverside’s more deliberate approach.  The emphasis was less on individual pyrotechnics and more on creating a dramatic musical experience.  I was thrilled.

We then got a nice long break to kibbitz with our fellow proggers.  Serge Morissette (artistic director of The Musical Box) was present and in good spirits until he saw my Transatlantic shirt.  He missed the gig in his home town of Montreal on account of being in Europe during the eruption of a certain Icelandic volcano.  He was delighted, however to chat us up about his groups latest doings (their version of The Lamb may be coming back!) and we even shared a few laughs about Mr. Hackett’s personal difficulties.  Serge said that Hackett’s (now) ex-wife would now be changing her name from Kim Poor to Kim Rich.

Serge’s good nature and attitude was emblematic of every soul we encountered on Friday night.  Everyone was happy and willing to share a story as we bonded over this music we share and love.  I finally understand why people have been telling me to just do it.

So after this lovely experience in this beautiful place, Steve and I walked back into the theater to see Hackett – the original, the real thing.  And, of course, he did not disappoint.  It was a full set, with such surprises as Carpet Crawlers, Slogans, and Ace of Wands thrown in to the crowd’s delight.

So I’ve had my taste of Nearfest.  I get it.  Next year, even if I have to go solo, I’ll be there.  And I’ll look forward to seeing all those beautiful folks who come from far and wide to enjoy the greatest music ever composed.

October is shaping up to be a big month for prog heavyweights

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Marillion (pictured above) is betting that their fans will still shell out the bucks even though the ‘new’ record doesn’t have any new music. ‘Less Is More‘ (October 2) contains acoustic arrangements for older tracks – some favorites and some obscure. They’re emphasize that they really worked hard on doing something new with these songs. I’ve already placed my order.

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Steve Hackett looks to get up off the mat after his ex wife Kim Poor metaphorically shattered his jaw with a lawsuit that could cost him his Genesis royalties. As a result of the hard times, this electric rock album, featuring hall-of-famer Chris Squire, had to be completed in Hackett’s apartment. ‘Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth‘ is available on October 5.

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On October 27 we’re all going to be crushed by Transatlantic’s ‘Whirlwind.’ No word about touring yet, as bass player Pete Trewavas will be busy promoting Less is More with Marillion (see above). And you can decide for yourself whether it’s genius or a dick move to have the record as one track. this pretty much forces us all to buy the ‘bonus disc’, which has the rest of the songs and some covers. Of course, that bonus disc will, no doubt come at a premium.

You will notice that only the Transatlantic title is slated for a Tuesday release. Hackett’s record is due on a Monday, which is, I think, normal for UK releases. But the Marillion release on a Friday is just more proof that, no matter how many years you have in this business, traditional distribution rules don’t hold up for prog records – unless you’re Dream Theater.

Steve Hackett is getting crushed

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(I don’t know how I let this one slip by last month.  For those of you to whom this is old news – sorry)

Poor old Steve Hackett.  When he was in Genesis, he could never get enough of his ideas across to the other band members.  One day, he threatened to quit, they mixed him out of the record, and went on to become multi-gazillionaires.  Steve managed to maintain a lot of artistic integrity by keeping all his solo stuff in-house. in other words, no major labels were used to get his prodigious and extraordinary solo material to the streets.

And while said material is all pretty good (very good, in fact), old Steve has never gotten the kind of economic remuneration that has been showered on all four of his former bandmates Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Michael Rutherford and Phil Collins, although it should be noted that Collins has three ex-wives.

And now, as Hackett approaches his 60th birthday, he’s being sued for everything he has by his ex-wife.  According to the TimesOnline, Kim Poor is making a play for EVERYTHING – including Hackett’s share of his royalties from old Genesis music.  Ouch!

Apparently things are so bad that Hackett is working on his new album in the living room of his flat.  Double ouch!!

But even with all this adversity, his new record will still be coming out on October 5, and I’ll bet it will be ten times more amazing than anything we’ve heard from Tony Banks in the past ten years!

Good news and bad news

The good news people are reading Blogerantz!  The bad news is that one of them is Dave Meros of Spock’s Beard.

Thanks for the nice words. Not so many thanks for offering our CD up for illegal downloading, though.

You P2P and Bittorent guys are killing us. .. literally.

Dave Meros / Spock’s Beard

Sorry about that, Dave.  I thought the title (Live at Whiskey and Near Fest) was unavailable through conventional means, but I have since confirmed that it can be purchased directly at Radiant Records on CDR.

I’m pleased to say that I did purchase this item back in the day, as opposed to getting it from bittrorrent or P2P.  My original vision with Blogerantz was to share music the way I did back in high school when I would copy Steve Hackett’s Defector for one friend and they would copy Tony Banks’ Curious Feeling for me.  Behavior like that generally did not lead to cease and desist letters, even though it was technically in violation of copyright laws.

But I understand Dave’s point and I am very sensitive about posting ‘official’ releases for artists who are young or independent.  Despite my deep and abiding love of Beardfish, I’m not posting any of their studio records at Blogerantz, no matter how much I want to spread the word.  Those guys really need the money.