On January 25th Inside Out Records will drop Steve Hackett’s 25th solo LP since leaving Genesis. I’ve heard of prolific artists before (Santana, Zappa, Miles and Peter Hammill just to name a few), but that’s some true longevity. The sheer magnitude of work is mind-boggling. The LP is the monumental At the Edge of Light, and it is no mere prog rock release. True, it is loaded with stuff like that, but there are lots of things on here. Even the little blurbs like the opener Fallen Walls and Pedestals and Conflict are short but sweet, chock-full of menacing riffs and lightning-speed lead runs.
However, we are not dealing with just prog rock here. There is heavy, intricate stuff, to be sure, but there are also plaintive ballads, guest singers, horns, strings, etc. Everything including the proverbial kitchen sink. There is some serious blues wailing and extraordinary lead work in Underground Railroad. I am just grazing the tip of the iceberg here, folks. If you want prog, it’s here. From the heavy to the light, from the dark to the ultimately bright. No false facades here, my dear readers. What you hear is what you get. Mssr. Hackett is NOT pretending. But,then, I must confess to being somewhat biased. Let me tell you why.
Hackett is part of what I like to call my ‘Triumviarate’ of prog rock: all of these fellows are Steve H’s: Hackett, Hillage and Howe. Prog fans, hell, even most regular rock fans, can tell you who these three blokes are. They are probably three of the best prog rock guitar players to ever grace the planet. They don’t always show off their chops, but when they do, it’s just plain beautiful. For example, the brilliant playing in Those Golden Wings – some of it may be simple, and Lord knows Hackett is not the world’s leading vocalist. Somehow, though, with the gently sway of the orchestral strings behind him, his voice evokes a heavenly aura that the guitar and the back-up just enhances. It’s beyond brilliant, it’s majestic. We are dealing with sheer genius, folks. Of course, that is just my opinion.
Need further convincing? Just listen to the leads. I mean, that IS why we’re here, right? We want to hear guitar heroics, don’t we? Look no further, my friends. It’s all right here. Of course, the centerpiece, These Golden Wings, is the mind-blowing leviathan of them all. It takes a few listens to even begin to comprehend it all. Top marks!
By the way, if you are interested in seeing Steve live, he is on tour in 2019 doing the Genesis Revisited thing featuring Selling England By the Pound, Spectral Mornings and Highlights. Catch him if you can!
1. Fallen Walls and Pedestals
2. Beasts In Our Time
3. Under the Eye of the Sun
4. Underground Railroad
5. Those Golden Wings
6. Shadow and Flame
7. Hungry Years