STEVE HACKETT VIDEO REVIEWS

VIDEO RATING SYSTEM

*****

An excellent video. Strong effort from beginning to end! A must own!

****

A very good video. A few low points but, overall, a decent effort. Recommended. 

***

A good video. Several weak points detract from the release, but it's still worth owning.

**

A mediocre video. Unless you're a real fan, you might not like this release very much.

*

A poor video. Stay away from this one unless you are a hardcore fan!
   
Steve Hackett  - The Tokyo Tapes  DVD (2001)

WOG RATING: ****

Recorded live in concert on Steve's 1996 Genesis Revisited Tour of Japan, The Tokyo Tapes highlights some of Hackett's own solo material along side new interpretations of Genesis classics written while he was with the band. Unlike the 1999 Asian pressing of this DVD (called Steve Hackett & Friends - Live In Japan) on Panorama Music Video, the new Camino issue features 18 minutes of unreleased rehearsal footage. Hackett's line-up on this tour is among my favorites of his touring bands. The band featured: Chester Thompson on drums; John Wetton on vocals and bass guitar; Ian McDonald on flute, sax, keyboards, vocals and guitar; Julian Colbeck on keyboards and vocals; and Steve Hackett on guitars, harmonica, and vocals.

Here are my thoughts on this product:

VIDEO:

The new animated menus are a vast improvement over the old still menu on the original Asian edition. Also, the colors are much sharper and natural looking than the old version.  The picture on parts of this DVD are often a little dark, although it is presented as intended, and is certainly not due to reformatting to DVD. 

As an American fan, this is really my only means of seeing Hackett perform the majority of this material live since he hasn't done a proper tour of North America in almost ten years. The concert itself is excellent. All members appeared to be in top form that evening. Some of the outstanding moments included great versions of Genesis classics like "Watcher of The Skies" and "Fifth of Fifth" with Wetton on vocals (not to mention the instrumentals "In That Quiet Earth" and "Los Endos"), Hackett favorites like "The Steppes" and "Black Light," and cover versions of the touring band's own outside projects including an amazing rendition of King Crimson's "The Court of The Crimson King" and acoustic version of Asia's "Heat of The Moment!" 

AUDIO:

The audio is available in both Dolby Digital stereo and 5.1 surround sound. The standard stereo version is better than expected, but not astounding. The 5.1 surround sound track is very good, and certainly better than many I have heard in terms of overall fidelity. 

EXTRAS:

18 Minutes of Rehearsal Footage
Initially, I wondered if it would be really worth owning the new edition of this DVD since I paid a good chunk of change for the old one. After watching these extras, I'd say that answer is definitely "Yes!" Actually, I enjoyed the rehearsal footage even more than I liked the concert! The whole behind the scenes all access feel of this footage was completely interesting and, frankly, fun to watch. I've always been fascinated with studio outtakes and recording, so watching this was almost like being a fly on the wall during a private session. I should say that the video footage used on the additional material does not appear to be professionally shot; however, that does not detract from the viewing. In fact, it gives the footage a quasi-bootleg feel (except, unlike a bootleg, the picture and sound quality is actually very good). Now that the technology is readily available, I hope that at some point, someone from Genesis puts out a video documentary with nothing but a behind the scenes look at the making of an album in the studio. Personally, I think that would be a cool idea.

Band Biographies
The band biographies included are really nothing special. Basically, it appears to be the same text used on the official Steve Hackett website. So, if you've read all though the site, you're not going to get anything new with these extras. Still, as a fan, I suppose it's nice to have. 

PACKAGING:

This DVD doesn't have a book or even a slip of paper with the track listing inside! This is one area where the original Asian pressing is far superior. I am glad; however, to see that the original artwork has been restored rather than use the cheesy psychedelic graphics of the Asian Laserdisc and DVD.   

MY CONCLUSION:

The Tokyo Tapes is definitely a worth while purchase for any Hackett or Genesis fan. While there is no commentary track or interviews with the band, the extra 18 minutes of rehearsal footage and quality of the live concert are definitely worth the price of admission.
      

 

Steve Hackett  - Somewhere In South America  DVD (2002)

WOG RATING: *****

Recorded live in concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Steve's 2001 tour, Somewhere In South America, features the line-up of Steve Hackett on vocals and guitar, Roger King on keyboards, Terry Gregory on bass and vocals, Rob Townsend on saxophone and flute, and Gary O'Toole on drums and vocals. 

The concert showcased Hackett in all his glory spanning his career with classics ranging from his own solo works and his recent classical project with John Hackett to his work with Genesis and beyond! Musically speaking, Steve Hackett and his band are 'tighter' than ever here. In addition to some old favorites from Hackett's career, we also get a few new, non-album gems like "Mechanical Bride" and "Serpentine Song." 

Here are my overall thoughts on this product:

VIDEO:

First off, let me say... WOW! Visually, the picture quality has come a long way since the release of Hackett's last DVD, The Tokyo Tapes. Not only is the picture sharp and pristinely clear, but the brightness and rich colors from the lighting are simply spectacular! This is as clean and sharp a picture as you are going to get on DVD - Well done! 

Sadly, the initial plan to provide multi-camera angles was scrapped due to technical problems from the original owner of the video masters. Also, the menus are also somewhat bland and unanimated, but if that is the biggest complaint I can make, I'm a happy camper! All that being said, this DVD looks so good its hard to find fault with it.

AUDIO:

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround sound. The 5.1 mix is fantastic! Again, a first rate job! I can't quite figure out if technology has advanced so much since to release of The Tokyo Tapes or if Hackett and company just learned from his mistakes last time out and raised the bar for a higher quality product. Either way, it sounds amazing! 

EXTRAS:

Somewhere In Italy
This is a 20 minute behind-the-scenes featurette on Hackett's 2000 tour of Italy. This bonus clip includes some interviews with Steve and his band along with some very cool rehearsal footage. Personally, I love watching the rehearsals. You don't get quite as much of the rehearsal footage as you do on the Tokyo Tapes, but it blends well with the whole mini-documentary.

PACKAGING:

Again, a first-rate product. There are two editions of this release. The first comes in a standard DVD case with a simple full-color card insert. The other pressing is a deluxe edition packaged in a high-quality slipcase with a beautiful full-color tri-fold digipack complete with the DVD and the 2-CD version of the concert. I highly recommend the latter of the two if you are a Steve Hackett fan, it's truly unique packaging and a comprehensive collection of recordings from the 2001 tour.

MY CONCLUSION:

I managed to see Hackett when he toured the U.S. in 2002 for the first time in ten years, and this set takes me back to that unforgettable summer night each time I pop it in my DVD player. Somewhere In South America is a fantastic package in every sense of the word. Not only is the set enjoyable, but between the quality of the picture, the incredible sound, and the deluxe packaging in the 3-disc version, it might very well be the best package I've ever seen on DVD... period!
      


 

Steve Hackett  - Live Legends DVD (2004)

WOG RATING: ***

Recorded live in concert in Nottingham, England in October 1990, Live Legends, features the line-up of Steve Hackett on vocals and guitar; John Hackett on flute, guitar, and bass pedals; Julian Colbeck on keyboards and vocals; Fudge Smith on drums; and Ian Ellis on bass and vocals. 

If the band line-up, date, and location sound familiar, it is because it is practically identical to the 2003 DVD release called Steve Hackett Horizons, which was issued by Classic Rock Legends, Ltd. (which is apparently not the same as Classic Rock Productions who made this new reissue). The only differences are the new name and picture sleeve (say goodbye to the Roger Dean artwork!), and the newly added option of DTS Digital Surround (as opposed to just Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround available on the old pressing).  

Here are my overall thoughts on this product:

VIDEO:

The video quality on this release is good, but not fantastic. Normally, I might believe that this is due to the quality of the original master tapes, but since I own the original Japanese laserdisc, which is far superior than both DVD pressings (and includes more footage!), I have to assume this is due to lack of effort and not source quality. The performances themselves are good for the most part, but there are a few weak moments in a couple of songs like the version of Genesis' "In That Quiet Earth" which is musically clumsy at times. For some reason, Steve also appears to be hamming it up to the camera on this video which, at times, looks awkward and far less natural than he does on other DVD releases of more recent gigs.

AUDIO:

As mentioned, the audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and DTS Digital Surround. The multi-channel mix is also good, but not outstanding. The mix lacks the well-rounded "Umph!" of sound that will be experienced on Hackett's other DVDs. In fact, its probably one of the flattest surround mixes I have had the experience of hearing. Yes, it is true surround, but it just doesn't leave you overly impressed.

EXTRAS:

There really isn't much in the way of extras on this release. Gone are all the shameless promo clips from other non-Hackett related Classic Rock DVDs that was included on the Horizons DVD.

PACKAGING:

The packaging is bare-bones. No booklet is included and there is no supplemental material inside.  

MY CONCLUSION:

While it is great to have a vintage concert on DVD from Hackett and company, knowing that a superior version with higher quality picture, sound, and added footage exists somewhere in the vaults makes owning this video bittersweet. Hackett fans of old will welcome this DVD to their collections, but one can only hope that a higher quality edition will follow if this gets repackaged yet again.  
      

 

GTR  - Live DVD (2007)

WOG RATING: ***

For many years in the bootleg trading world, you could get a poor-quality copy of GTR recorded live in 1986 from Hanover, Germany on their only world tour. Perhaps not surprisingly, this tour never saw an official release on video despite it being professionally broadcast on German television... until now. I'm very pleased to say that, at least in Japan, this much sought after live video has finally been released commercially through WHD Entertainment, the company that reissued the majority of the Steve Hackett catalog on mini LP style CDs in 2007. Thankfully, the Japanese DVD is NTSC/Region 0, so its playable in Asia, North America, and many parts of Europe (even if NTSC is not their format of choice). The band line-up of Steve Hackett and Steve Howe on guitars, Max Bacon on vocals, Phil Spalding on bass, and Jonathan Mover on drums are all present on this DVD.

Here are my overall thoughts on this product:

VIDEO:

After seeing the bootleg video, I was blown away by the overall quality of the officially released video. There are a few grainy spots but the colors are relatively sharp and crisp - especially for such an old video. There are a few disappointing moments, like the inclusion of "Hackett To Bits (Edit)" on the track listing only to see that "edit" meant you got about thirty seconds of the song (including the intro to the audience)! There is also one moment where the show is cut-into by German commentators who advertise next weeks show (remember, it was taken from an old TV broadcast!). Otherwise, the performance is uninterrupted. Frankly, its not the band's best performance in concert, but it is a fairly good representation of the band's brief career.

AUDIO:

The video offers Dolby Digital stereo sound. 5.1 would have been nice but, for a stereo mix, it sounds very good. Since this came from a TV broadcast, 5.1 surround may not have been feasible given the source used for the making of the DVD. So, I suppose I can't fault them on that. Besides, its a miracle this actually got released on DVD, so beggars can't be choosers!

EXTRAS:

Nothing much to speak of. This was a missed opportunity. Between the "Making of GTR" that was available on video in the '80s and the pro-shot promotional music videos for "The Hunter" and "When The Heart Rules The Mind," they could have really taken this DVD to the next level with the inclusion of some of this other footage.

PACKAGING:

The packaging is nothing special. The DVD comes in a standard DVD case with a one-page insert. The artwork does feature a new variation of the old vintage GTR logo, which was a nice nod to the era.

MY CONCLUSION:

I really enjoyed the GTR album in the '80s, but more than 20 years later, the material does sound very dated (as the concert also reflects). As a Hackett fan and collector, I'm extremely pleased that this title finally surfaced on DVD officially, but it seems a shame that the package does not include the officially released "Making of GTR" video footage that surfaced on VHS in the '80s. That period documentary with the band and inclusion of the music videos would have made an amazing extra for this product and made this truly the definitive GTR title video. Sadly, that documentary will probably never surface on video ever again... Then again, I never thought this concert video would surface either, so you never know!
      

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