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Steve Hackett - Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth CD (album) cover

OUT OF THE TUNNEL'S MOUTH

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

3.66 | 329 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars The first ever release on Steve's own Wolfworks label. Catalog Number: WWCD001

Steve Hackett has really developed his own distinctive musical style over the last 30 years. But it is in more recent years with albums such as Guitar Noir, Darktown, To Watch The Storms, Wild Orchids and the present one that he really has found (or rediscovered?) his very own musical niche, blending and often "fusing" influences from Rock, Blues, Jazz as well as Classical, Folk and World music in his own distinctive and "progressive" way. As most of you will know, Steve has also made several purely Classical albums and also a pure Blues Rock album, but it is when he fuses his many different influences together that he makes the best and most interesting music, in my opinion. And this is (partly) just what he does on Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth.

Personally, I particularly like Hackett's darkest albums like Defector, Guitar Noir and To Watch The Storms. The present album follows in that same tradition and it is indeed another great album in typical Hackett fashion. The opener Fire On The Moon would have fitted perfectly on To Watch The Storms, for example. Still, Steve is not just walking down a well trodden path here; he also makes interesting detours to previously undiscovered places (by him, anyway). On Nomads and Last Train From Istanbul, he draws inspiration from Spanish and Turkish Folk music respectively to great effect. These two are probably my favourite tracks from this album.

Emerald And Ash and Sleepers are the two longest tracks of the album with a running time of almost nine minutes each and as such these are perhaps the more progressive songs. They blend quiet acoustic passages with distinctive outbursts of wild electric guitar and some quite heavy riffs! Steve has always had a very distinctive and unique guitar sound that he developed already during his years in Genesis in the 70's. In the 80's and 90's he really grew as a vocalist and developed a distinctive and appealing singing voice too and on these songs his vocals are stronger than ever. In the new millennium he has grown as songwriter and he is really as great now as he ever was in all of these respects.

Tubehead and Ghosts In The Glass are instrumentals and as such they are almost each other's opposites. The former being a quite loud number filled with guitar pyrotechnics and the latter a soothing piece that starts out as a Classical piece but ends with a floating electric guitar solo. My least favourite track is the Blues rocker Still Waters, but even this one is more than decent. As a whole, Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth constitutes a great mix between electric and acoustic passages and between modern and 'classic' sounds. There is also a very good mix between up tempo tracks and ballads and between vocal and instrumental tracks and passages.

Steve's backing band remains largely the same here with Roger King (with whom Steve has developed a close professional relationship in recent years and who also co-produces the album with Steve) on keyboards, Rob Townsend on soprano saxophone and Steve's (almost) ever present brother John on flutes. There is no drummer listed in the credits but there are drums on this album and I suppose it is Gary O'Toole playing? In addition there are some other familiar faces guesting on the album. Steve has often worked with other great artists throughout his long career. In addition to past, present and future members of his old group, he has worked with such Prog greats as Steve Howe, Brian May, John Wetton and Ian McDonald among many others. More recently he has worked with Yes bass player Chris Squire and he is one of the guests on some tracks on this album. Also Anthony Phillips (the guy Steve replaced in Genesis after the Trespass album) appears here on 12 string guitar as well as Ferenc Kovacs from Hungarian Jazz/World Fusion band Djabe with whom Steve also has worked recently both live and in the studio. Kovacs adds some very nice violin. There are also some tasteful female backing vocals on some tracks.

Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth is the very first release on his own new label Wolfworks (named after a track from his previous Rock album, Wild Orchids). It is, in a way, a "home production" and it was recorded and produced in Steve's own studio. But there is no doubt about the fact that this is a very professional production. The only problem I have with this being released on such a small and independent label is that it was quite hard to find. I ordered it from Steve's official home page (together with the Djabe DVD on which Steve appears). Maybe it would reach a bigger audience on a major label? But then there would not be the same creative freedom, I suppose.

The only thing I found a little disappointing is the cover art which depicts Steve walking out of a large cloud of steam from a steam train with his guitar case in hand. Looking at the cover makes me think that Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth is a follow up to his 1994 Blues Rock album, Blues With A Feeling. Which it thankfully isn't (despite some bluesy moments)!

Highly recommended in addition to Steve's other recent Rock albums

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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