Deutscher Genesis Fanclub it: Startseite
Deutscher Genesis Fanclub it
Choose artist

i/o Peter Gabriel new album
Phil Collins Recording Compendium
Brand X Special: An Urorthodox History


There is many a prejudice against (ex)stars and musicians who are older than 50: They have become lazy, it is said, they lack in creativity. They have become their own caricatures and so on… And if you take a closer look at this age group you will notice that many of these malicious remarks are right. It is a pleasure to note that several members of the Genesis camp are the exceptions to the rule. Steve Hackett, guitarist with Genesis vom 1971 to 1977 is one of them. During the last ten years he has delighted his old and new fans with his regained appetite for music. After some brilliant releases at the end of the 70s he had a creative blackout in the 80s. With a couple of very varied records ranging from blues to classic under his belt and four years after his most recent regular release Darktown Steve Hackett releases To Watch The Storms in May 2003. It’s his seventeenth album if you disregard a couple of live releases and compilations. What can we expect from Steve Hackett after almost 35 years of musical output? Innovation and surprises? A familiar “back to the roots” album? Listening to the album the answer turns out to be: Both.

Hackett’s excellent tour band and a couple of guests recorded seventeen songs. Thirteen of them can be found on the regular CD, the other four made it onto the album’s “special edition”). With Darktown, the album title set the mood for the songs. The turbulent variety of atmospheres on his new album is going to cause quite a stir.

Strutton Ground (3:04)

Could there be a less typical album opener? Not really. This song comes along in an unspectacular and romantic fashion and picks up the thread of days long past. Acoustic guitars and the intense choir remind the listener of early Genesis songs such as For Absent Friends or Harlequin. A modest dose of keyboard and electronic sounds add some flavour of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. This could turn out to be a classic.

Circus Of Becoming (3:48)

When you hear this you will be tempted to wonder whether Steve Hackett has dug up his old records from the 70s for some inspiration. After the dramatic organ sounds of the introduction Hackett’s fans will encounter a familiar instrument, the optigan (more information at  It is the modern sampling technology in its early stages and it produces the sound of a band in the 1920s and ‘30s. The nearly nostalgic mood of the verses is countered by the bombastic parts of the “real” band. Steve makes his electric guitar sing.

The Devil Is An Englishman (4:27)

“All Change!” With this song, Hackett ventures into a whole new area. An 80s drum machine provides pumping lo-fi beats. Groovy synth bass and unpredictable keyboard attacks form the basis for Steve’s narrative vocal performance, the like of which has never been heard before from him. All hell breaks loose as Steve gets his distorted voice worked up for the “devil’s” story. A female backing voice provides peaceful contrast. Do not expect numerous changes in harmonies and rhythms – there is no need for them when Steve screams himself into a trance.

Frozen Statues (2:58)

A calm and inaccessible song that takes the role of its subject. Listen to the jazzy trumpet solo and feel the loneliness and the chilling fog all around you.

Mechanical Bride (6:40)

This song has been tried and tested and preserved on CD and DVD. The band presents a future classic in Hackett’s repertoire. The speakers boom forth a powerful melody and virtuoso drumming. The music sieges your ears and won’t leave it, just as in the good old days of King Crimson’s 21st Schizoid Man. The main theme is interrupted for an unobtrusive vocal blues part based on dramatic string pizzicati before it makes a thundering return supported by saxophone. A transition that is familiar to us from the live ending of the classic Please Don’t Touch introduces the colourful instrumental and solo part. It spans from jazz improvisations and intricate melodies to a number of solo intermezzos before the song comes full circle by the reappearance of the beginning.

Wind, Sand And Stars (5:08)

Time for a lighter number! The instrumental begins with sophisticated acoustic guitar accompanied by ethereal sounds. Strings and a piano join in, and the latter instrument sound as if Genesis keyboarder Tony and Steve were reminiscing about the times of Trick Of The Tail.

Brand New (4:41)

Gone are the times when aged stars still had hit singles. With a more accessible remix this song could be radio material (listen to the official “radio edit” at There are only a couple of moments when Hackett’s usual melancholic sounds give way to a merrier mood. The chorus with its solid vocal arrangement is a real catchy moment. A pleasant sound contrast is provided by some unwonted rhythmic picking on the acoustic guitar. Many other surprises turn Brand New into a very entertaining song!

This World (5:19)

This World is a laid-back ballad. A slow beat and mainly acoustic instruments lead into the majestic multi-voiced chorus. A solo on the electric guitar recommends This World for radio airplay.

Rebecca (4:20)

Guitars with an almost Celtic flair open this song, and at least when the vocoder comes in Rebecca turns into a very peculiar number. Everything points at a clear-cut ballad – that’s why the instrumental middle section will surprise many. A slightly mechanic and dancable drum loop lays the foundation for improvisations on electric and acoustic guitars.

The Silk Road (5:25)

Except for his musical experiments with Latin American percussionists on Till We Have Faces Steve Hackett has never been much involved with world music. On The Silk Road, percussion of the Far and Middle East play the predominant role. The driving rhythms are one sparingly completed by distorted vocals, sound effects and guitar riffs. A welcome diversion.

Come Away (3:13)

Are you ready to sway? We hope so, because that’s the only proper movement with this up-tempo song in 3/4. Don’t worry, this is not a cheap example of mediocre fake-folk music. It’s something that we would not normally associate with Steve Hackett: A folk song with lots of unusual instruments. Accordeon, ukulele, woodwind and brass instruments sound marvellous on this delightful number. Is the melody in the middle section played on a “singing saw”? Not at all unlikely…

The Moon Under Water (2:14)

This is another typical example of Hackett playing the acoustic guitar. The Moon Under Water would have fit one of his acoustic records as well.

Serpentine Song (6:56)

This number has been released before in the DVD/CD package. The romantic Serpentine Song is a pleasant ending to the musical journey on this album. Yet again one is reminded of old quiet King Crimson numbers. A soft-carpeted mellotron floor, flute sounds, a slow groove and vocals by several people lend much warmth to this song.

Wow! After almost one hour’s worth of new music by Genesis’ consistently underrated ex-guitarist the surprising result is this: It is still worthwhile paying attention to new releases of older gentlemen. Forget about the prejudice that “the old stuff” was way better. To Watch The Storms is at least on a par with the music of young, supposedly creative bands and musicians. It certainly has the potential to take one of the top ranks in the charts of all-time favourite records with fans of Hackett and other (ex-)members of Genesis. The instrumentals that are a trademark of Hackett’s other albums have been left off this one, but the musical range and the quality of Hackett’s current band (who really does a great job) make up for it. If you have not yet paid any attention to Steve’s solo career, To Watch The Storms could be the perfect entrance into the musical cosmos of Steve Hackett.

Author – Steffen Gerlach
Translation – Martin Klinkhardt

Steve Hackett

Steve Hackett - The Tokyo Tapes (2CD)

Steve Hackett - The Tokyo Tapes (2CD) Steve Hackett - The Tokyo Tapes (2CD) Verse kaufen bei

Live-Doublealbum with guest musicians such as Chester Thompson, John Wetton and Ian McDonald.
Review available

Steve Hackett - Please Don't Touch (CD)

Steve Hackett - Please Don't Touch (CD) Steve Hackett - Please Don't Touch (CD) kaufen bei
Steve Hackett - Please Don't Touch (CD) Verse kaufen bei

2nd Soloalbum from 1977 feat. Richie Havens among others.

Steve Hackett News

New Steve Hackett content