With Genesis Revisited II, Steve Hackett has finally succeeded at a game that many have attempted of late, but have sadly failed. In an age in which many acts are re-recording old hits and albums, most generally for reasons financial, Hackett has went boldly into his past for reasons more artistic than commercial, and he's done a rather fantastic job.
Musically, that's where this beast shines so mightily. Hackett has remained true to intents, but he has not sought to create note for note renditions. He also should be awarded huge points for spending the time, energy. money, and resources to make this sound fantastically good. He's grown as a guitarist, and as a musician, and he hits things head on and with tremendous gusto. Roger King, who is Hackett's musical majordomo is a vastly underrated resource. His playing, arranging, and recording are superb. Gary O'Toole's drum work is stellar, and always sits perfectly in these awesome mixes.
I'm going to depart with my normal format now - I'm going to reprint Hackett's notes on the songs from his website. Suffice to say, what he has to say about it is vastly more interesting, accurate, and informed than any thoughts I could at this point put to paper. Not a cop out, just a simple truth. I love the sound of my own voice, but I also know when to shut up and let the music and musicians do the talking. This is a massive achievement.
Please, buy this album, and enjoy it as much as I have - to Steve, thank you for doing such great work and bringing such joy to so many. Best regards.
An Overview by Steve Hackett:
I sympathise with Hitchcock's need to re-make an earlier film. The vision is clearer, techniques improve inwardly and outwardly. For all us musicians songs of innocence are now inevitably songs of experience. I love the original Genesis music so much that I want to highlight it even more. The temptation to infuse those tracks with more detail and enriched clarity was irresistible.
Musos set the ball rolling by passing it to one another as a means to carry forward combined ideas. The songwriters then necessarily move on to the next project, but the avid listener knows it's really a chariot of fire, a bow of burning gold or a dark satanic mill... It's emblazoned into the mind with a life of its own that moves way beyond the dreams of the original perpetrators. But sometimes dreams need to be re-lived!
On these versions I've altered the detail within the songs whilst aiming to preserve the authentic spirit of the originals. Real string instruments are often used either with or instead of Mellotron, there are several new introductions, plus many additional effects recorded on Apple Mac Logic with amp plug-ins instead of going the traditional route. You'll also find changed guitar and other instrumental solos, as well as additional vocal parts.
Every time I change a solo I feel I'm in danger of messing with people's childhoods, but sometimes the muse just has to have her way with me...
The Chamber of 32 Doors:
I've always liked this song harmonically. It's an Anglo-American hybrid with unexpected gusts of passion. I wanted to re-play the original guitar parts with more control and sustain. Having tracked up string and flute players, this new version started to take on symphonic proportions. In contrast, the new subtle distant wailing guitars add to the song's unnerving quality. Nad Sylvan's expressive soulful range also reinvigorates the song for me, while sympathetically echoing Gabriel's vocal performance.
A small starter on the menu before Supper's Ready, recorded with a six string steel acoustic sent out through a Leslie to give it that authentic early Genesis sound. Influenced more by Bach and Byrd than Blues, this kicked off many acoustic ideas that were to follow.
This one is often referred to by fans as their favourite progressive track of all time... This version includes several vocalists to add to the varying texture of all the elements. It begins with a soulfulness in Mikael Akerfeldt's presentation, followed by a sweetness in Simon Collin's voice and the exuberance of Conrad Keeley. I aimed to pull off the English pastiche aspect of Willow Farm with its array of characters in a kind of Teddy bears Picnic meets I am the Walrus. The whole thing finally opens up into its epic ending with the warm and expansive vocal of Francis Dunnery. I played extra guitar parts which aren't on the original in both the organ section and on the end to give it more colour.
To my mind this is the most poetic song on The Lamb... It expresses Pre Raphaelite magic amidst the urban sprawl of Rael's tale. It's a song that speaks to women as much as men. Nik Kershaw sings this one with great passion. His take is hymn-like, emotional and erotic at the same time. Steve Rothery of Marillion and I swap guitar phrases that wrap around each other in a snake-like way, reflecting the lyric.
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.
Fly on a Windshield:
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.
Broadway Melody of 1974:
Gary sings this with more blues inflection than the original. His vocal turns police radio commentary surveying an imaginary parade as the whole of the American dream turns nightmare. Consumerism runs riot whilst cheerleaders and the Clan join the procession.
To introduce this new version I used a musical box sound that distorts into another kind of nightmarish feel. On this track was the earliest recording of the tapping solo. The three part harmony guitar on the end now is everything I always dreamed of doing on the original. Also check out Nad Sylvan's cameo choirs and the Fiddlers three who have become soprano sax and violin along with slightly distorted flute...
Can-Utility and the Coastliners:
The lyrics and music were essentially mine on this song about King Canute. This was Steven Wilson's favourite track on Foxtrot and he's sung it beautifully, with real feeling. Real orchestral instruments on this track enrich the sound.
Please Don't Touch:
Another Genesis branch rehearsed by the band, originally linked to Wot Gorilla on Wind and Wuthering. It's a variation on my Unquiet Slumbers melody and I feel more strongly thematic than Wot Gorilla. An orchestra again plays on this version, in places making it huge and uncompromising... something I couldn't get in the same way without the orchestral instruments on the original. This time I also enjoyed really letting the guitar sustain and let rip...
Blood on the Rooftops:
At the beginning is a totally new part for the nylon intro which then links to the original intro. Again, there's also now the addition of orchestral instruments which create an enriched sound. A great vocal from Gary O'Toole who really lives the song I wrote with Phil long long ago...
Return of the Giant Hogweed:
Roine Stolt leads the main guitar solo and we go off the map significantly together in the new version, with power chords and police siren noises coming in from me as the track reaches its crazy finale with disembodied Mellotron hurtling towards the end ... With John Hackett on scat flute and Rob Townsend doubling the bass from Lee Pomeroy in places the whole effect makes the track now sound even more preposterously huge than ever!
A song I wrote with Tony, inspired by the dream state. On this version Jakko Jakszyck's beautiful vocal is joined by Amanda Lehmann's harmonies in the chorus...
Eleventh Earl of Mar:
Again Nad Sylvan adds extra vocal parts here and I get to do the voice loops, an idea I had for Phil when the tapes were in danger of being chewed up. Doing many tape loops of vocals going 'aaah', my chest felt punctured from inside during the process! Guitar parts are clearer than before, plus a six stringed Rickenbacker, beloved of the Beatles, chimes in on the "features are burning" section.
This time I've chosen a female singer. Amanda Lehmann sings the song with beautiful vibrato like the young Marianne Faithful along with the poignant tone of the older Marianne. The electric guitar melody, which I created, I enjoyed really feeling my way back into and the guitar sound at the end was the product of three fuzz boxes hooked in series to create a distant string orchestra effect.
Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers:
This started out life on the nylon guitar but Roger King added Mellotron mandolins plus repeat to swirl the whole effect around. The synth sounds more voice like on our version as it's ghosted by vocal sample.
In That Quiet Earth:
I used one guitar on this instead of three. It's much clearer than the original. It's unnerving on the backwards section with a real siren quality. The Fernandes sustainer guitar comes into its own on this version. Gary O'Toole's drums sound deliberately aggressive and compressed on the slow powerful moments. Soprano sax replaces the synth for what I think of as the snake charmer phrases.
John Wetton seizes hold of this song and really lives the powerful romance of it, especially when he sings "And I would search everywhere..." On this version there are two Les Pauls and a Rickenbacker - a nod to George Harrison and the sound he developed with the Beatles.
A Tower Stuck Down:
With original input from Mike Rutherford, this is one of my Genesis Branches. Now played with more brutality than the original, this has a killer riff. Written by John Hackett and myself, we've returned to it with added fervour! Genesis was never quite this heavy...
Another Genesis branch, this time inspired by a dream I had of Genesis performing in a surrealistic version of New Orleans. Hungarian fusion band Djabe take the middle solos... creating a whole new authentic jazz feel to the song. Great mute trumpet from Ferenc Kovács and piano from Zoltán Kovác.
Shadow of the Hierophant:
This was a co-write with Mike Rutherford, part of which was rehearsed by Genesis for the Foxtrot sessions. This version is a little faster than the original and partly in a lower key and this time we've used two twelve strings plus a keyboard twelve string, giving it the English Rose feel behind Amanda's glorious vocal. The spirit of Genesis from a mere forty years ago is back, sounding fresher than ever, mellotrons scream, bass pedals thunder, and Gary's drums sounding like his life depended on it. There's a dead stop to give the piece an explosive finale.