I spoke to legendary guitarist already in 2013 for a front cover interview. However, speaking Steve Hackett is always a pleasure. We spoke not only about his top favorite albums, but also his live album from Liverpool, practicing and solo career. I do always enjoy Steve inspirational comments, same as enriching vocabulary.
Buffy Saint Marie – Illuminations (1969)
The album has an interesting blend of electronic and folk music. Buffy has a beautiful voice. She puts so much heart into her songs. She sings with a fascinating ghostly shimmer at times, such as on Poppies.
Paul Butterfield Blues Band – East West (1966)
Paul was the greatest of all blues harmonica players. His tone was comparable to guitar and trumpet. Such passion and control. The band was at its experimental best in the title track with three great lead instrumentalists.
Andrés Segovia – Segovia Plays Bach (1969)
I was blown away from the first note. Later I recorded much of the same material for my Tribute album. When I first heard this material it seemed like a miracle that it could be played all on one guitar.
The Beatles – Revolver (1966)
Production started to come of age as The Beatles matured. Wonderful to hear George Martin’s extraordinary string arrangement on Eleanor Rigby. Tomorrow Never Knows used loops way ahead of its time. Love to You was featured Indian musicians. World Music started here. Great compassion and invention on this record which bridges the gap of the old style and the new more experimental approach.
Joni Mitchell – Ladies of the Canyon (1970)
Beautiful personal songs here from Joni with sweet acoustic guitar production. She has extraordinary vocal control. It has a perfect mixture of personal and commercial ideas, epitomized by Big Yellow Taxi. This sophisticated album has been an influence on many musicians.
Muse – The Resistance (2009)
An interesting mix here of familiar pop/rock and operatic/classical ideas. This record is extremely melodic with a powerful emotional impact. It also has many surprising twists and turns. It’s great to hear influences ranging from Chopin to Dr Who…
Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid (2008)
This album is very atmospheric and impressionistic. At time it has a psychedelic feel. Again I feel the link to sixties music is important. I enjoy the antiphonal nature of instruments answering the vocal phrases. The overall effect is joyous.
Kate Bush – The Kick Inside (1978)
This is the album Kate Bush exploded on to the scene with in a seemingly fully formed way. She was very young with a maturity beyond her years. My favourite track is The Man With A Child In His Eyes which has a beautiful arrangement and a delightfully complex piano part. She had such an unusual singing style… Both childlike and otherworldly. She was essentially a storyteller.
Miles Davis – Live Evil (1971)
Such an impressive array of jazz talent. Bravely atonal but with enough technique in the ranks to pull it off. The track Directions has an extraordinary loping rhythm that blazed a trail for Weather Report to pick up the reins. Although this is a jazz album it’s the surreal nature of many of the tracks which make it non generic. An absolute one off.
Eric Clapton – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)
It’s worth getting this album just for the title track alone which possesses that amazing guitar riff which would do justice to a classical theme. It’s the relentless nature of this that really works, along with the emotional power that drives it. Clapton at his best – most melodic and fiery.
To push the boundaries is important to me
Could you also mention few absolute rarities in your music collection?
Rarities in my collection include:
The New Tokyo Koto Ensemble: Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons played on Koto. Transposing music originally written for string orchestra sounds wonderful played on these oriental instruments.
The music for the Luc Besson film Leon (also called The Detective) by Eric Serra. An extraordinary soundtrack to an amazing film with a sense of Babylon transferred to the streets of New York.
S. Bach: Violin Concertos Mutter / Accardo. Anne-Sophie Mutter has a beautiful tone on violin. Also her extraordinary precision and joy along with impeccable technique gives a thrilling ride through the classics, making them sound as fresh as the day they were written.
From the press release of The Total Experience Live In Liverpool, I got some automatic questions answered. Especially why you have chosen Liverpool, few setlist surprises, but as we have an opportunity, I would like to ask you to describe our readers the “acoustic effect” of the venue.
The whole Liverpool venue acts like an amplifier to create the effect of the livest recording I have ever done. It was an extraordinary night with a powerful combination of solo and Genesis work.
During the wonderful evening, you had truly impressive line-up. However, could you mention one particular guest, for which you were mostly proud to have on stage?
Everyone on stage was equally special to me. They all played and sang brilliantly.
To remind our readers, how did you find a singer Nad Sylvan?
Agent and promotor Winfried Volklein first suggested Nad to me. I watched and listened to him on CD, video, You Tube etc and I was impressed by both his singing and his stage presence.
I must say, with all the respect, the composition of the audience didn’t surprise me. Well educated listeners, mostly men in their best age. Is the composition of your audience similar around the world, or do you get sometimes pleasantly surprised?
Actually, at most shows around the world the audience is mixed. There are an increasing number of women as well as men at my shows. There is a romantic and melodic element to my music which women enjoy. I get great reaction from young musicians too. They want to know how the alchemy is forged.
That evening was also part of the celebrations of 40th anniversary of your first solo album Voyage Of The Acolyte. What are your memories on those days?
It was wonderful to be making my first solo journey. I was able to fully experiment for the first time on those magical all night sessions. I really enjoyed the process of being the captain of my own ship. It was a great team of musicians and singers that made that record from 1975.
During the whole two-an-a-half our show, I was impressed by the precision of yours and your band. Could you please mention, what is your secret towards maintaining, such a musicianship qualities for decades?
I play a lot at home. It’s love of music that drives me to extremes. To push the boundaries is important to me. Challenging techniques that I couldn’t manage yesterday often become the mainstay of future works.
I was definitely not surprised you are still loyal to your favorite brands as Marshall or Gibson. However, is there by any chance an update in you gear collection since 2013? Collector’s guitar, new effects which caught your attention…?
Most people think I’m playing a Gibson Les Paul, but actually I’m playing a Fernandes with the famous sustainer system which allows the notes to ring on to infinity if I want. It’s an important part of my sound. The Zermatis twelves string also has pride of place in my guitar collection. I play it on Loving Sea. The Sans Amp gives all the joy of tube distortion without the tyranny of volume. I also enjoy the Analog.man products too… They do terrific treble booster units which transform the sound with upper harmonics to die for…
With many thanks.