This opus opens the album, yet bizarrely you would think that your listening to the soundtrack of a Horror film along the lines of something Alfred Hitchcock would have released, The sound effects library has been raided and used to great affect especially the Howling Wolf at the beginning.
Waters Of The Wild;
From the opening strains of the Sitar you begin to picture this as a lost George
Harrison song either that or something from around the time of the Beatles
Revolver album, This song has very Beatle orientated production values from
Backwards guitar to Indian hand percussion and I am sure I have heard a Violin
in the mix, This song is a strong nod towards the Beatles and that doesn’t make
it a bad thing, As my girlfriend said where is Ravi Shanker?.
Set Your Compass;
A Twelve String guitar opens this aural delight, Steve is in close harmony with his own voice so some clever production technique used there, Of course there is a slight refrain to the Genesis song Entangled which is a nod to his past. This
song is easy on the ears.
The Story of Down Street which was a Piccadilly Line tube station between Green Park and Hyde Park Corner. It was very closely situated near Buckingham Palace. It closed down as a London Underground Tube Station on the 21st May 1932 just after 25 years of service. It stood idle until around 1938 when it looked inevitable that Britain would be drawn into another World War.
It was converted into an underground bunker with some work to strengthen it and to make it habitable for the Railway Executive Committee who were based there and from time to time Winston Churchill and the War Cabinet, The REC was set up around the time of the Munich Crisis to prepare for the Government to take over the main line railways which it did so under orders in 1939.
Down Street was used by Winston Churchill and his cabinet until the now famous War rooms had been finished, Churchill had a nickname for Down Street which he called the Burrow. The station is allegedly haunted, and there are active Train lines within the confines of the Station. A final piece of trivia was that Down Street never appeared on any TUBE maps.
The song itself could also be referring to Turnpike in BOX Wiltshire, The effects
are out standing again and Steve don’s his manic voice to tell a dark tale.
The song has some very unnerving lyrics and sets a very eerie scene, and way the song ends is amazing especially for anyone who has traveled on the tube you’ll know what I mean with the scary voice slowly chanting DOWN STREET, DOWN STREET, DOWN STREET…..Sounds like a Tube train on the tracks of course the song reprises into a full blown romp which doesn’t disappoint the listener.
A Girl Called Linda;
This is a strange song and it sounds like a domestic between a husband and a wife and then it turns into a song to a child about the harsh reality of growing up, Steve uses a strange effect on his voice and the drummer gets out the brushes it has a very jazzy feel to it, John Hackett makes an appearance with his Flute and adds a more aurally nod in the direction towards the Jazz genre.
This song opens up with Steve’s trademark guitar sound with hints of sustain and whammy bar, the orchestral strings come in and send you on a different direction to. Gary O’toole sounds busy but not aggressive in his drumming which is just right for the part, with him riding nicely on the ride cymbal. This sounds very bluesy a nod to Jeff Beck or Eric Clapton I’m not entirely sure.
To A Close;
This song opens with Steve on his acoustic guitar, the lyrics are quite gentile and the song weaves a nice pattern. Not sure were the choir come from but it fits in with the song very well and allied to Roger King’s keyboard work with those Organ like sounds this could almost be being played in a Church or other Religious temple, Listen out for John Hackett’s Flute.
EGO & ID;
Just when you thought it was safe to have the volume up loud this cover of Steve’s brother’s song blows away the cobwebs the windows and most of the leaves in the street. Steve’s voice is a lot clearer on this version than the voice of Tony Patterson, Steve of course uses his guitar to exceptional effect, with Gary O’toole thumping the drums with the kind of aggression that would have put Keith Moon and John Bonham in the shade, Roger plays a Hammond Organ or sample at one point which had me thinking it was Steve Winwood at one point, Then there’s a Sitar Ravi Shanker makes a return.
With loads of Sustain from Steve’s guitar and pedal with a fade out to finish this
future rock classic.
Man In A Long Black Coat;
This Bob Dylan Cover could almost be played in the swamps of Louisiana from the crickets
and frogs that make up the soundscape that starts the song. Steve utilises many different guitar playing styles throughout this song. It is sang with the kind of melancholy that Johnny Cash used to sing with. This song is a strong nod in that direction and Steve’s ability to sing like him is scary. Some great and clear sounding guitar work from Steve to give the song an electric feel. Steve uses his own guitar as though it was a Lap Steel guitar again another skill utilised.
Cedars Of Lebanon;
This song starts with Steve slapping an acoustic guitar to make a percussive effect, The song describes the middle east and all of its historical beauty, John Hackett’s flute and the underworld orchestra make a great team on this song, The song has what sounds like a Siren in it, which is when the meaning shifts to the conflicts out in the middle east and then the song ends with some hand percussion.
A Fantastic piece starting with a horn, and then the rest of the Orchestra joins in, which is when Steve’s vocals come in…followed by his Guitar and a firm beat and tempo set by Gary O’toole. The song then takes on an interesting pace which sounds a little like Revolution number 9 from the Beatles White Album, Steve returns with his Guitar style of playing which drags the listener back into the Rock world.
A Funny piece which has had a few people on the internet asking why is it on the album, I quite like it reminds me that Steve can be intensely funny and also mysterious this again sounds a bit like Honey Pie from the Beatles White Album which itself was a Jazz pastiche that would have sounded just as at home in the 1920’s, expertly played by all concerned.
She Moves In Memories;
The Underworld Orchestra play on this beautiful song its very gentile and could
be described as tranquil as a placid ocean there is aural delight to be found
with every note, Not for the Rock and Roller’s though.
The Fundamentals Of Brainwashing;
The song starts with some very persuasive piano playing, Steve sings, Gary O’toole keeps rhythmic time and the song carries on, It sounds like a protest song I just cannot tell the listener what it is about though, I do like it, The guitar is similar to the slide guitar that appeared on the Beatles Free As A Bird.
This sounds like a part of the previous song this is far longer though with a similar theme to The
Fundamentals Of Brainwashing, except that the Guitarist and Piano player get to solo over the song.
Night In Toy Town;
This was first previewed at Dartford on Steve’s 2004 Rock Tour and it was
played just after Dark Town in the set, It sounds very similar to that song but
it’s a completely different beast, Opening with a distorted Musical Box playing
away, then the Full rock band come in. This isn’t a happy song again painting
an eerie landscape and scene of a run down theme park with a demonic Mr S
Hackett at the controls of a neglected Rollercoaster.
The band fire on all cylinders on this track listen out for the gong, soaring guitar, pipe organ and many more sounds, samples and instruments on this song, It ends with the spooky child’s musical box just as it opened
Until The Last Butterfly;
This opens with Steve finger plucking his acoustic guitar and is a rather
quieter piece than the previous track, it shows that Steve isn’t just a Rock
Guitarist and it reminds me the listener of his Acoustic Trio tour of 2005, a
nice way to end the album.
Wild Orchids, A great collection of songs, sounds, scenes, surrealists, This album is a colourful collection of songs and theme’s which keep the listener hooked, There will of course be some favourites in future live shows but Wild Orchids should be remembered for the more daring pieces like Why, Howl, and Down Street amongst others.
The artwork was picked by Steve from Kim Poor’s collection and Steve choose the particular piece because of the fact that it looks half masculine and half feminine as if it is at war with itself.
I reviewed the Special Edition, and I am more than pleased with it again Steve has come up with another daring album.
For more information about Steve Hackett please visit HACKETTSONGS.COM