Exposé Online banner

John Hackett — Velvet Afternoon
(Hacktrax HTRX001, 2006, CD)

John Hackett — Checking out of London
(Hacktrax HTRX002, 2005, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2006-05-01

Velvet Afternoon Cover artChecking out of London Cover art

John Hackett has long been in the extended shadow of his brother Steve, who has seen high profile both in and out of Genesis. The flautist has finally stepped out on his own in both duet and full band configurations. Velvet Afternoon is a collection of the most romantic interludes from TV themes between flute and acoustic piano accompaniment. The fifteen songs range from pretty relaxing tones (“Vergebung”) to more pensive melodies as heard on “Freefall,” which recalls Thijs van Leer’s ballads with Focus. Some of the briefer pieces carry heavy emotive weight to them despite the brisk interplay between the flautist and pianist Sally Goodworth. Although the composer details a time differential between older and newer pieces, the tracks are appropriately sequenced such that it becomes irrelevant on playback. “Sausage Boy” is my pick for the most endearing piece due to the personal subject matter and the simple folk-based melody that could bring a parent to tears recalling their children’s early years. “Oily Rag” is the lightest fare in the set that shows the duet knows how to mix it up bit. The tone gets a bit sleepy toward the end until the sorrowful “Next Time Around.” The title piece closes out the disc on another precious melancholy note. Overall the disc carries a consistently singular beauty of such as brother Steve’s “Kim” and the more recent classical tinged collaboration performing the works of Satie.

Checking out of London is John Hackett’s first full band recording and the debut of a songwriting partnership with lyricist Nick Clabburn. Enlisting the talents of Nick Magnus from the old Steve Hackett band really seals the deal with me as his keyboard playing fits the songwriting style of the composers. Steve is very prominent on several tracks playing a distinctive harmonica solo on “The Hallway and the Pram”. He also contributes a trademark whiny but quiet lead guitar lead on the opening cut, “Late Trains” that kicks of the CD on an up note. The songwriting does have a slant toward neo-prog but less heavy handed and not at all derivative. “DNA” is a perhaps the best ballad comparable to many of the Hackett band pieces from the past; it highlights a subtle rhythmic section. The piece that reminds me most of Genesis is “Whispers” which sports Tony Patterson’s lead vocal that easily maps to the subject matter. Overall the disc deserves a bit of live performance to really see what damage a live incarnation of the line-up could deliver.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 33, 2006 releases, 2005 releases

Related artist(s): John Hackett

Latest news

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Jon Rose - The Fence – Continuing in the Musique Concrete experimental mode defined by Rose's last disc, The Fence is less an album of music than it is an aural documentary. In this case, Rose has chosen Fences as his...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues