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Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings (DVD)

Please Don't Miss! Steve Hackett’s fifth solo gig ever officially released on DVD

header Good to see that the Genesis camp is still good for some unexpected surprises. One of them was released in summer 2005. It is the Spectral Mornings DVD which features concert of Steve’s that was recorded for TV broadcast back in 1978. It is the more surprising because Genesis and its (former) members are not exactly known for releasing archived video material from the 70s. It is therefore hardly surprising that the initiative for this release was not taken by Hackett or his label, but by the TV station that was responsible for the recording. Apparently they remembered that Genesis’ former guitarist still commands a respectable fan base.
Radio Bremen, one of the regional branches of ARD [a public nationwide TV station roughly comparable to BBC2], used to produce a very popular (chart) music programme. Occasionally they would broadcast a show that was be produced especially for the programme. One of these “Musikladen Extra” shows [literally: music store extra] was recorded at Radio Bremen’s studios on October 18, 1978 [or on November 11, which the date given in the booklet], which makes it Steve Hackett’s fifth solo concert ever. It was first broadcast on May 24, 1979, and therefore it is the oldest live film material of Genesis & Co. to be officially released.
Hackett’s second solo album (and his first after his departure from Genesis) had already been published when the recording was made, but he had already put together the new band with whom he was to record the next two solo records. It is interesting to note that, though there was enough (released) material available, there already are a number of songs from an album that had not yet been released:  Spectral Mornings was to become Steve’s third and probably best-known record. The line-up consisted of John Shearer on drums, Dick Cadbury on bass guitar, Pete Hicks on vocals and Steve’s long-time partners-in-crime Nick Magnus (keyboards) and brother John Hackett (guitar, bass pedals and flute). All of them gave a perfect performance on a high level  - and this was only the fifth gig they played as a band! The only thing that takes away from the “real” live feeling is the slightly formal studio atmosphere.
For this DVD, the original broadcast of almost 60 minutes was augmented by 14 minutes of additional material that can be seen here for the very first time. Unfortunately, these songs were not spliced into the appropriate slots of the complete set, but the DVD offers an individual playlist as a bonus feature. Whether the other songs that were in the set list for the tour (i.e. Hands Of The Priestess Part 1, Icarus Ascending and I Know What I Like) were performed for this recording remains unknown.

The DVD offers 71 minutes of top quality material, as far as the analogue source can achieve that. Some minor interferences in the images can be accounted for by the transfer, but they are not annoying. The subtitles etc. mentioning song titles and musician’s names are the same as on the TV broadcast which indicates that a complete remaster was impossible due to the original tapes. The audio quality is decent, though I do not quite understand why the 2.0 track is in mono while the 5.1 track offers stereo sound.

The design of cover and four-page booklet is okay, but not too great. The booklet offers some information about Steve Hackett in the 70s and about the video material both in English and German.

The reviewer is well pleased with this release, the more so because nobody really expected this material to be released. A show which had been carefully stored in ARD archives now has undergone an equally careful digitalization. Not only fans who already own the show (which was re-broadcast occasionally across ARD-affiliated stations) but also fans of 70’s Genesis who had not payed much attention to Hackett’s early solo repertoire before will find this document worthwhile acquiring.

by Steffen Gerlach

translated by Martin Klinkhardt

DVD Tracklist                

01          Intro ( Excerpts of Tigermoth & Land Of A Thousand Autumns) /

              Please Don't Touch          

02          Racing In A / Ace Of Wands (Closing Section)          

03          Ace Of Wands (Shortened Version)          

04          Narnia          

05          Optigan / A Tower Struck Down / Spectral Mornings          

06          Horizons / Kim          

07          Shadows Of The Hierophant / Clocks - The Angel Of Mons          

BONUS tracks

08          Narnia

09          Band Introduction

10          Star Of Sirius

Setlist of the  1978/79 tour
01          Intro ( Excerpts of Land Of A Thousand Autumns & Tigermoth)

02          Please Don't Touch

03          Racing In A / Ace Of Wands (Closing Section)

04          Carry On Up The Vicarage

05          Ace Of Wands (Shortened Version)

06          Hands Of The Priestess (Part 1)

07          Icarus Ascending

08          Narnia         

09          Horizons         

10          Kim

11          Optigan / A Tower Struck Down

12          Spectral Mornings

13          Star Of Sirius

14          Shadow Of The Hierophant

15          Clocks - The Angel Of Mons

16          I Know What I Like