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Steve Hackett - Guitar Noir


An impressive comeback for Steve


It was just after the new edition of our magazine had come out that Steve Hackett released his new album, Guitar Noir. It is his first record since 1998, unless you count the live album Time Lapse and the "best of" CD The Unauthorized Biography. The CD has twelve pieces, three of them instrumental, with a total playing time of some 52 minutes. For the first time since Till We Have Faces (1984) Steve sings on the other songs.

This album was recorded with a new band and a new producer. Gone are the names of Nick Magnus and John Acock we were so familiar with seeing them in the booklets.

Take These Pearls, Dark As The Grave, Like An Arrow and Tristesse were recorded, co-produced and/or written in collaboration with the keyboarder Aron Friedman. Sierra Quemada, Lost In Your Eyes, Little America, In The Heart Of The City and Vampyre With A Healthy Appetite developed with Steve’s new band (Julian Colbeck on keyboards, Hugo Degenhardt on drums, Dave Ball on bass). This line-up actually went on tour through North America in 1992 to “test” the pieces before the landed on the LP. Paint Your Picture, There Are Many Sides To The Night and Walking Away From Rainbows are pieces Steve recorded on his own with his friend and manager/producer Billy Budis. Steve has written brief notes about the songs that can be found in the CD booklet:


Take These Pearls
A song about bearing gifts

Dark As The Grave
A pessimistic view of the human condition

Paint Your Picture
The visualisation of a loved one through brush and canvas or... "Here's looking at you kid!"

There Are Many Sides To The Night
The story of a streetwalker and her deepest motivation

Like An Arrow
From an idea as old as Eros

Walking Away From Rainbows
Sometimes the afterglow isn't enough and we must move on

Sierra Quemada
Loosely translated means `the scorched earth'

Lost In Your Eyes
The harmonica has finally come out the closet - born again through the Blues!

Little America
American TV is a guest that has taken up permanent residence in all our homes

In The Heart Of The City
A total experience in aural claustrophobia, man!

Vampyre With A Healthy Appetite
Inspired by a newspaper headline about the theft of several pints of blood from a hospital in the French Quarter of New Orleans

Tristesse
For Roger Weil - Who knows what lies behind... "that patch of blue we prisoners call the sky" (Oscar Wilde)

Guitar NoirThe album has quiet and emotional as well as rock and pop songs. It is all well-balanced and fits together very well. Hardcore fans may miss the darker, more peculiar pieces from the early LPs. Only Vampyre With A Healthy Appetite reminds one of Steve’s experimental phases with its tough instrumental parts and the peculiar vocals. The album title, Guitar Noir, is actually an expression Steve’s wife, Kim Poor, used to describe the music of his first albums. Way at the end of the booklet there is a brief note of Steve’s that describes the mood of the album and possibly of Steve himself: "If ever an album was also a love letter it's this one, addressed to Kim for all her inspiration, understanding and sweetness... Keep painting the light!"

One can be quite contented with Guitar Noir. It is a big asset for Steve that he does not make music for the masses but stays true to himself and his fans whether he plays live or on an album.

by Helmut Janisch
translated by Martin Klinkhardt
first published in German in it magazine #8 (September 1993)

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