Former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett has racked up over 20 albums over the course of his long solo career. After his indelible contributions to that group’s classics such as Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Hackett followed Peter Gabriel out the door in 1977. His solo career had actually begun in 1975 with the great Voyage Of The Acolyte, and has continued at a prolific pace ever since. And as unlikely as it may seem, the 61-year-old axe-hero has come up with one of his finest efforts yet with Beyond The Shrouded Horizon.
Beginning with a wickedly powerful feedback-laden riff, which then opens up beautifully ala “Watcher Of The Skies,” the time-shifting “Loch Lomond” soon settles into an acoustic groove that just screams Selling England By The Pound. Although Steve’s vocals have always been a little on the thin side, his guitar playing has always more than made up for it. In the case of “Loch Lomond,” his electric solo midway through is a powerful testament to the man’s talent.
More than anyone, Hackett is aware that he is a guitar player first and foremost. His solo recordings have always held a fair amount of instrumentals, and Beyond is no exception. Of the 13 tracks on the album, five are instrumental. One of Steve’s trademarks is in providing a short, acoustic introductory piece to his songs. Actually this practice dates back to Genesis, and the indispensable “Horizon’s” which precedes “Supper’s Ready” on Foxtrot. For Beyond The Shrouded Horizon, he prefaces two tracks in this manner. “Wanderlust” does a nice job of setting up “Til These Eyes,” and “Summers Breath” performs the same function for “Catwalk.”
Without a doubt it will be the final song on the album that will receive the most attention. “Turn This Island Earth” is a nearly twelve-minute slice of prime British prog, and longtime Hackett fans should love it. I know I do, as it features time and mood changes galore, as well as plenty of guitar.
Even though Steve Hackett qualifies as a bona-fide guitar legend for many of us, he has never received the widespread acclaim he deserves. Although I realize that this album will probably not be heard much outside of his avowed fan base, it should be.