Release date 18 November on Hacktrax Catalogue number HTRX012
Singer-songwriter John Hackett, best known in the world of progressive music for his stunning flute playing, produces a rock album recorded alone while under lockdown.
John Hackett has had an unusual career in music. He started out as a twelve year old guitarist with a passion for twelve bar blues. But it was after seeing the original King Crimson line-up in 1969 that he took up the flute and went on to have a career in classical music. Alongside this he joined his brother Steve Hackett’s band just as he was leaving Genesis and toured mostly in Europe and the U.S.A. playing flute, guitar and bass pedals. He has appeared on many of Steve’s recordings from 1975 to the present day.
Since 2005 he has released a number of well received progressive rock albums, mostly on Cherry Red Records. This has included a double album with his own John Hackett Band where he has developed his skills as a multi-instrumentalist, taking on the role of lead vocals, flute, keyboards and guitar.
The current pandemic was the catalyst for John to follow in the steps of some well-known luminaries and make the most of his skills by recording an album alone as he explains:
I was lying in bed one morning at the start of the corona virus lockdown listening to Tony Blackburn’s radio show featuring great music from the Sixties (Elvis, the Hollies, the Drifters –you get the picture), when a name leapt out at me. I had been listening to a song by Helen Shapiro called Don’t Treat Me Like a Child. It was a bit of fun and although it was recorded when she was only fourteen years old, it showed what a great voice she had. Then TB said it was co-written by a certain John Schroeder.
This took me back to the first time I had ever been paid for playing music. It was a recording session for the band Quiet World at Pye studios in 1970. They had very kindly invited me to join them (my brother Steve was on lead guitar) to play a bit of rhythm guitar on a song called Jemima. I have never forgotten that great feeling when as a fifteen year old, I was handed the princely sum of eight pounds for my first recording session by the producer, a guy called John Schroeder, who I knew had had a hit with a piece called Cast Your Fate to the Wind.
This whole sequence of memories reminded me of how much I loved songs, not just the majestic tracks by the giants of prog but also pop songs, Motown especially and all kinds of stuff (and yes, of course, Abba…). I had in the can a whole bunch of songs I had written over the years that I thought were never going to make it onto an album and so would probably never see the light of day. Plus I had some new material I had started working on in early 2020 before the world was turned upside down.
So I decided then and there that, as it was at that time impossible to record a studio album with my own band due to lockdown, I would work on a completely home-produced project where I would write, sing and play all the parts myself.
And now it is ready… If you pick up this album expecting to hear twenty minute epics with gargantuan solos and constant changes of time signature then please put it quietly down right now and retreat to a safe distance. There are some strong prog influences, of course. And yes, if I am honest, I still practise the music of JS Bach most days. But if in these dark times, there is a bit of space for something a little lighter then please sit back and enjoy this musical offering which promises nothing more than the vague possibility of entertaining you for a short time…
Having been reliant on experts for engineering and production skills my whole life, it was a challenge to put something together entirely myself. I could not have done it without the help of several people who I cannot thank enough, whether they downloaded yet another new plugin for me, told me to walk round the block when the computer crashed for the fifth time that morning or simply made encouraging comments about the rough mixes I sent round. (I realise this rather long sentence looks like it could have been translated from a German philosophical treatise on self-reliance but with Brexit looming, I am sticking by it…)
And to all those who have supported me in any way over the years, a huge thank you! Let’s hope it won’t be too long before we are all back to the familiar roar of the grease paint and the smell of the crowd.
Sheffield October 2020