Steve Hackett The Man, The Music
directed by Matt Groom
Wienerworld Presentations / MVD Visuals
If your about to collect Social Security, chances are you grew up with “Prog Rock.” That’s “Prog” as in “Progressive,” and it was a wonderful scam. Rock and Roll was the sound of rebellion, the sound of free love, “End the War” and “Tune in, Turn on, and Drop Out.” But the Progressive sound was more complex, deeper, and most of the time the songs went on for what seemed forever; at least compared to the contemporary “Screaming Steve” sound of AM radio. But what was really going on was straight up deceit: Prog Rock was a sneaky method to get us to appreciate “Modern” Jazz and Classical orchestral arrangements with complex time signatures. It also offered an unvarnished intellectualism that said: “I’m hipper then you; I just found an English pressing of King Crimson you never heard of.” There it is: we were 1970s hipsters with head bands and facial hair. All we missed was the craft beer.
Hackett played guitar for iconic Genesis. It eventually launched Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel, but holding the band together was Hackett. He hung with the guys the crucial 1972 to 1977 period; this was the pinnacle of prog rock. This extensive doc has him talking about the band, life and his solo projects. He’s joined by his mother, sister, brother, and band mates; the interviews are complete with stories of childhood embarrassment, playing in the bomb craters of WW2, and his early prodigy with the casual instruments of a working class household. There are 32 little video segments here with a run time of well over two hours. They range from historical to philosophical, but the segments I find myself drawn to are the times he shows off how easily he does the wild sounds that he’s famous for. Some interviews occur in Tammy Wynette’s amazing pink tour bus; Hackett always sounds philosophical and guarded in the interview segments. He’s a serious musician who knows his chops; he’ll share his story but only grudgingly. His current bass player Neil Beggs adds to the story, he’s a striking bloke with long blonde hair and a great Mad Hatter top hat. In the bonus features we meet the recently deceased Chris Squire as he chats with Hackett; the pair have a great chemistry as they remember the still living and long dead musicians they worked with. We never spend too much time on any one segment; this makes for a snappy story that leaves you looking for more information and more music. Check this out, it’s a classic documentary on a man with his roots in the past but plenty of energy and ideas for the future.