The Chop House: Check Out a Steve Hackett Show from 1979

With “The Chop House,” we explore classic performances from bands with — you know — “chops.” Genres like progressive rock, art-rock, jazz-fusion — they’re nearly extinct in our current music culture. These days, we live (and consume art) impatiently, favoring a quick fix over a challenge. But here at Hidden Track, we refuse to let the dazzling, confrontational spirit of these wonderful bands die.

Steve Hackett Pic

When guitarist Steve Hackett left Genesis in October 1977, it wasn’t due to inner band turmoil or a decline in quality. One of the flagships of ’70s progressive rock, Genesis had already weathered the departure of founding frontman Peter Gabriel, and they’d carried on splendidly, releasing two excellent albums in 1976 (A Trick of the Tail and Wind & Wuthering) as a four-piece. No, when Hackett left Genesis (unexpectedly and rather unceremoniously) in ’77, it was because he had too many ideas to submit to a band democracy.

Though Hackett would never achieve the same level of commercial success as Genesis — or earn such an iconic spot in the annals of prog — his decision to fly solo proved more than fruitful: As of 2013, he’s released well over 20 studio and live albums, exploring a much more diverse range of styles (blues, flamenco, arena-rock) than the Genesis ranks would allow. He’s one of progressive rock’s most enduring and vibrant figures — and one of the few who’s consistently released high-quality work throughout the changes in sonic trends. His music has always existed in a world unto itself: never bowing to a commercial goal, never drawing a straight stylistic line. His discography is a giant fucking mess, and that’s its most beautiful quality.

Hackett’s currently on tour behind his latest album, Genesis Revisited II, which features striking new interpretations of classic Genesis material. But in this week’s “Chop House,” we’re honoring the man’s much-overlooked solo repertoire: This excellent 1979 concert features tracks from Hackett’s first three solo albums (which happen to be his best). The set features the stellar prog epics “Ace of Wands” and “Shadow of the Hierophant,” among more atmospheric cuts like “Racing in A.”

What’s your favorite Hackett solo song? Sound off in the comments section.

Full Setlist

00:36 Please Don’t Touch 08:23 Racing In A / Ace of Wands (outro) 16:02 Ace of Wands 21:47 Narnia 26:20 Acoustic section (incl. Horizons) 29:39 Shadow of the Hierophant 38:59 Clocks/The Angel of Mons

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