The prog musicians of the 70s had often travelled long journeys to reach the topography they arrived at in their pomp, and Steve Hackett was no exception. He was playing harmonica from the age of eight and by his mid-teens had developed an infatuation with blues guitar which, despite his later musical elaborations, he considered the most raw and direct way to convey rock emotion.
This album is an homage to the blues, part imitative, part refracted from a cultural distance. So, we kick off with two covers. Born In Chicago by Nick Gravenites, and Freddie King’s The Stumble are salutes to both the originals and the original style. His self-written tracks, however, like Footloose and Tombstone Roller, are more impressionistic and progressive, a more individual take on the genre, with strong hints of white English – Love Of Another, for example, is Cream-like, while Big Dallas Sky even has a touch of ambient about it.
Of the two new tracks, On Cemetery Road is an undistinguished workout, revisiting the blues theme of the pact with the devil, but Patch Of Blue is nicely turned, its title a thoughtful allusion to Oscar Wilde’s poem The Ballad Of Reading Gaol.