There isn’t anything new about Genesis’s much-hyped forthcoming box set R-Kive, save for the concept of including hand-picked solo songs from its five best-known members. That provides an opportunity for the uninitiated to delve into perhaps unexplored corners — like, say, Peter Gabriel’s “Signal to Noise” from Up or Phil Collins’ “Wake-Up Call” from Testify, both issued in 2002.
Same goes for “Nomads,” an intriguing deep cut from Steve Hackett’s Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth, a 2009 project that marked the guitarist’s intial return to progressive music after three years. In the interim, Hackett had suffered through a broken marriage, and the album ended up as a turbulent, layered outburst of creativity. “Nomads” perfectly captures that sensibility, making for an inspired choice among expected items like Mike Rutherford’s Mike + the Mechanics smash “The Living Years,” Collins’ air-drum classic “In the Air Tonight” and Genesis’ charttopping “Invisible Touch” found throughout R-Kive.
“That was the first project that I really did after my divorce,” Hackett says of Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth, in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown. “That had been a very dark, difficult period for me to get back on my feet. I did the album in my living room, although it doesn’t sound like that. It was a difficult, traumatic time — and one where I realized that I was clinging to music like a life raft. I had a lot of personal experience to draw from with that.”
“Nomads” was, in fact, one of two songs (along with “Fire on the Moon”) that found Hackett collaborating with Chris Squire of Yes — offering a nifty preview of what would become a full-scale collaboration as Squackett. Hackett also worked with fellow Genesis alum Anthony Phillips on two songs, explored a strange classical dreamscape on “Sleepers,” tore through a crunchy rocker with vocalist Amanda Lehmann on “Still Waters,” and paired with violinist Ferenc Kovacs on the exotic, album-closing “Last Train to Instanbul.”
“It traversed a number of styles, and I wanted to be able to do that,” Hackett tells us. “I always wanted to be able to do what the classical players could do, and the flamenco players. And I wanted to be able to do blues at the same time. That’s what progressive music does, at its best: It doesn’t stick around in any genre long; it’s changing styles. It’s travelogue music, really.”
Genesis’ R-Kive, which also features “Ace of Wands” from Hackett’s 1975 solo debut Voyage of the Acolyte and “Every Day” from 1979’s Spectral Mornings, is due in September.