GUITARIST, singer, songwriter and former member of the iconic progressive rock giants Genesis, Steve Hackett, has seen a big resurgence in his career in recent years. With his last album Wolflight rubbing shoulders with the likes of Madonna and other more modern artists, as it reached number 24 in the UK album, coming on the back of his top 40 Genesis: Revisited 11 album, Hackett finds himself in the midst of yet another career high point.

With the imminent release of a huge 14 disc retrospective box set, focusing on his recordings with the legendary Charisma label between 1975-1983 (Premonitions) and currently halfway through a successful European tour, the surge of popularity looks set to continue.

“The box set has been in the pipeline for about two or three years, when we started discussing it with Mark Powell at EMI. Then they got brought out by Universal, and I expected us to have to go back the beginning and start again. Luckily the new label liked the idea so we carried on. The set contains all my studio albums with Charisma, plus three full live shows, along with a load of unreleased material and some old BBC recordings. Steve Wilson has done some excellent 5.1 remixes on some of the tracks. The truth is I haven’t even seen the finished article yet, people in the industry are coming up to saying it's a really nice set, and I have to say is it?” laughs Hackett.

Even the artwork on the box set is a nod back to heyday of the progressive 70s, being designed by artist Roger Dean (famous for many Yes album covers amongst many other bands)

“We spent a lot of time with Roger, discussing the artwork among many other subjects, including the reflective qualities of insects. Roger wanted to create an image that looked like a combination of an animal and a craft, very bright and colourful; he was very keen to get it right. He has done a great job, and I am very proud of the whole set.”

Hackett admits that the 5.1 remixes have given a number of the tracks from those early days a new lease of life and a greater depth. On the current tour the guitarist is using a surround sound system, to present the music in its best light.

“I remember having numerous conversations with Peter Gabriel, when we were in Genesis, long before surround sound was even invented, about the importance of placing the speakers and stuff like that, and agreeing that it would be great for the music.

"Surround sound does give certain albums more depth, one of my favourites and a popular one with the fans is Spectral Mornings, listing back to that in surround sound I can hear instruments that got lost in the stereo mix. It creates this whole new magical world."

Despite having a vast solo catalogue to call upon in a live situation, Hackett still features a number of iconic early Genesis tracks in his set list. He joined the prog rockers at the age of 21, and found himself hanging out with the larger than life owner of Charisma records Tony Stratton-Smith.

“I learnt so much about life from him. His was worldly wise and a man of experience. The Charisma offices were above the Marquee Club in Wardour Street, so it was a bit like popping in to the staff canteen every night after work. Tony knew so many people, not just in the music industry but he knew royals, sports stars, gangsters and other entertainers of the time. They were great times to be part of."

Since Hackett left Genesis in 1977, he has built and developed a loyal following in his own right, through his solo work, his brief collaboration with Yes and Asia guitarist Steve Howe, in the short lived super group GTR and even reuniting with his old bandmates in 1982 for a few shows.

His recent Genesis Revisited tour has raised interest once again in the bands glory days of the Gabriel era, but don’t hold your breath for a reunion. Hackett is more than happy with this music - and it would appear so are his ever growing legion of fans.


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