Steve Hackett

Till We Have Faces

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Though you will see Till We Have Faces often mentioned as the first rock album to draw from world music influences, that's not quite true. Santana, John McLaughlin, Os Mutantes, the Police, Jade Warrior, and others were doing it long before. That said, the album was done before Paul Simon ushered it in as a trend with Graceland. Recorded in Rio de Janeiro and mixed in London, it's a step away from the progressive rock he'd become recognized for and is a mostly successful venture. A couterie of Latin percussionists flesh out the almost all Brazilian band that graces the album, adding layers of complex rhythms. These rhythms are the core of the album and make such songs as "A Doll That's Made in Japan" and "What's My Name" more exotic and interesting; they creatively juxtapose Oriental and South American styles. The re-released version (besides re-arranging the song order) is also remixed, with the most noticeable difference being in "Matilda Smith-Williams Home for the Aged," which has new parts added in and overdubbed in places. In some ways this song is the centerpiece of the album, incorporating Hackett's signature melodic guitar work and an extended jam by the percussionists. This version also contains two songs not on the original album, "The Gulf" and "Stadiums of the Damned." The first fits in well with the other songs, the second doesn't quite make it, being a bit too glossy and synthesizer heavy. Similarly, the bluesy "Let Me Count the Ways" contains some of his most expressive guitar work, but is a little out of place among the other tracks. All in all, though, it's an album with inventive songs and skilled playing and is worth seeking out.

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