Steve Hackett, John Wetton, Ian McDonald, others – Tokyo Tapes (1998; 2013 reissue)

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A remastered reissue of the 2DVD/CD Tokyo Tapes — bolstered now with a new studio recording of Steve Hackett and John Wetton doing “All Along the Watchtower” — seeks to provide insights into both Genesis and King Crimson. They get half way there.

Hackett’s fellow Genesis alum Chester Thompson is also part of the lineup, as is Ian McDonald — who left Crimson a couple of years before Wetton’s arrival. Together on this souvenir from a pair of concerts on December 16-17, 1996 at Japan’s Koseinenkin Hall, they perform many of the tracks from Hackett’s then-new tribute Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited, including the stirringly episodic concert-opening title track, a soaring “Firth of Fifth” and the supremely funky “I Know What I Like” — as well as several other favorites from the guitarist’s 1971-77 stint in the band. Both the solo Hackett feature “Horizons” and a galloping “In that Quiet Earth” later appeared on Hackett’s well-received Genesis Revisited II project last year.

Where the set tends to stumble is with the Crimson material. Though they have two of band’s early members on board, McDonald and Wetton are from radically different lineups. This set, curiously, ends up focusing on only the celebrated title track and (the admittedly diaphanous) McDonald showcase “I Talk to the Wind” from their Greg Lake-fronted 1969 debut Court of the Crimson King — rather than on anything from Wetton’s maybe even more interesting tenure from 1973-74, which included both Larks’ Tongues in Aspic and Red.

But things are quickly righted with the inclusion of a number of worthy Hackett solo efforts, among them “Riding the Colossus,” Camino Royale,” “Walking Away from Rainbows,” “Vampyre With a Healthy Appetite,” “Black Light” and “Shadow of the Hierophant” (where Thompson gets an unexpected spotlight) — along with the title cut from Wetton’s still deeply underrated Battlelines and a touching acoustic version of “Heat of the Moment,” from the bassist’s post-Crim band Asia. Studio takes on “Firewall,” “The Dealer” and “Los Endos” round out the project.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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