Collecting Hackett - A maniac's guide by: Alan Hewitt - February 09
To the unitiated, the fascination that fans of a particular group or artist have for the assorted ephemera that are attached to their careers must seem nothing short of deranged. Funnily enough, my bank manager thinks exactly the same about my collecting "habit".
However, collecting records and/or memorabilia is not as strange as it may seem, take a look at any edition of The Antiques Roadshow or visit any record or collector's fair and you will see on occasions, just how shrewd an investment collecting such material may be. To die-hard fans, the investment value of the items in their collection is not the reason for having them though. To many (myself included) it is the thrill of the chase of hunting down a particular obscure item be it a foreign 7" single or a tour poster. The excitement that finding such items generates is hard to explain to anyone who doesn't share the same passion but for those of us who do, what follows is a guide to some of the more interesting areas that a collector might find himself/herself embroiled in once they become a Hacketteer.
Canterbury Glass CD
To begin at the beginning then. Your first port of call when you start collecting is usually the recorded output by the artist in question and Steve has almost forty years' worth of material to explore here. His early album with Quiet World is extremely rare in its original vinyl incarnation. His other early work with Canterbury Glass never even made it to vinyl and was only recently issued on CD. The former also generated a single which, like its album counterpart, is extremely rare and commands a fairly high price if you can find it.
Steve's work with Genesis could (and probably will) form a feature in its own right so I will leave that alone and concentrate on the material that has been released since Steve started his solo career in 1975. Indeed, his debut album, like all of his subsequent albums up to 1988's Momentum are of interest to collectors merely because they are available on vinyl. The earlier albums are of extra interest to collectors because of the items that sometimes accompanied first pressings. Please Don't Touch; Defector Cured and Highly Strung were all initially issued with lyric sleeves which were omitted from subsequent pressings. The initial pressing of Defector also came complete with a poster featuring a live shot of Steve from the previous year's Reading Festival. The fascination with record labels themselves also forms part of the collectability of these items. Up until Defector, all of Steve's album were released on the standard "Mad Hatter" label of the Charisma Records company. Charisma changed their single labels from this design to a silver or purple one in 1976 and all of Steve's solo singles apart from the latter release of A Doll That's Made in Japan which appeared on the Lamborghini imprint. Strangely enough,. Cured was issued on a black label which still featured the famous "Mad Hatter" character. When Virgin Records eventually took over the Charisma roster of artists in 1984, this label was replaced by the standard blue Virgin label making the original releases more collectable. Bay Of Kings and Till We Have Faces were initially issued on the Lamborgini label before being reissued by START Records and therefore the former are of more interest to collectors although both variants are still quite easy to find. Even details such as the texture of the paper from which the record sleeve is made can also indicate an earlier or later pressing of an album. Earlier versions tended to have a sleeve which is tangibly textured whilst later releases of the same album have smooth lacquered sleeves. See, I told you this collecting lark borders on mania, didn't I?!
In the good old days of vinyl, many albums were also released as "white label" pressings or promotional pressings which were exactly the same as their commercial counterparts apart from the artwork sleeve which was not part of this package intended originally for use by radio stations or as part of the "in store" promotion for new records in record shops. Strangely enough, these items are still quite common and appear at record fairs with a fair degree of regularity although usually for greatly inflated prices! Funnily enough, I recently saw "white label" CD versions of the remastered Voyage Of The Acolyte, Please Don't Touch and Spectral Mornings albums on sale at a record fair so the habit hasn't died out with vinyl after all.
As with any artist from this period, Steve also had to contend with the record company's desire for the "hit" single and Steve had a fair few released between 1975 and 1990 all of which are collectors' items in their own right for a variety of reasons. For an album which was so successful here in the UK, no single was issued from the Voyage Of The Acolyte album here in the UK but promotional only singles were issued both in the USA and France both of which are extremely rare these days. The first single to be released commercially here in the UK was How Can I? taken from the Please Don't Touch album and featuring the acoustic track, Kim on the B side. Both tracks were standard album versions and in the Uk the single appeared without a picture sleeve. This was not the case in Europe however, where in both France and Holland it was issued with a photo taken from the promotional video for the A side.
John Perry version Narnia (SH 001 catalogue number)
This was followed by a promotional 7" single here in the UK which paired the John Perry vocal version of Narnia instead of the Steve Walsh version from the album with Please Don't Touch itself. Strangely enough, the single bears two different catalogue numbers: SH 001 and CB 318, the former being the rarer of the two. This appears to be a UK only edition although the pairing of the two album versions of the tracks did appear subsequently elsewhere in Europe and further afield with a remixed version of the A side and picture sleeve appearing on a couple of them making these items of interest to collectors.
Steve's next album; Spectral Mornings gave collectors two more singles; Every Day which was coupled with Lost Time In Cordoba which was not issued in a picture sleeve here in the UK. the A side was an edited version on the Dutch single which also came with a picture sleeve. The second single; Clocks - The Angel Of Mons was much more interesting to collectors. The 7" version contained a remixed version of the A side with the B side featuring a live recording of the live "acoustic set" recorded in Paris on the earlier tour that year. The 12" version (Steve's first 12" single release) was released in a picture sleeve but it was the material contained on the record itself which was of most interest to collectors. Not only was the A side a different version to that contained on the album, but the B side, as well as containing the "acoustic set" from the 7" also had a live version of Tigermoth (subtitled "Lay Down Your Arms And Surrender To Mine - Part 1") all of which made this a highly sought after item.
The Show single cover
Defector too, gave collectors a couple of nice items to add to their collections. The first single; The Show was housed in a picture sleeve and the B side was a bona fide rarity: a non-album track: Hercules Unchained making this another essential item for collectors. The second single: Sentimental Institution coupled with The Toast gave collectors nothing new in terms of material but the picture sleeve was a limited edition and is now quite hard to find. The version of The Show released in Argentina also had the titles translated into Spanish as ; "El Show" and "Hercules Desencadenado".
Cured, was very much Steve's attempt to get some much needed radio play and to aid this endeavour two singles were lifted from the album. The first; Hope I Don't Wake was coupled with another non-album track: Tales Of The Riverbank and was issued in a picture sleeve both in the UK and in several other territories, the most interesting of these being the Japanese edition which has a different picture sleeve to that of other territories. The single was also released in the USA and Canada; Steve's first US single release since Narnia. The second single Picture Postcard was released, strangely enough, without a picture sleeve but it did give collectors another interesting item in the non-album track; Theme From "Second Chance" a hit UK TV series at the time featuring Steve's friend, actor Ralph Bates.
Fans had a two year wait for Steve's next offering but eventually, on 16th April 1983 they were given their first taster from it in the shape of Cell 151, the new single. The 7" version was housed in a picture sleeve which also had the details of Steve's upcoming UK tour on the back. The B side was another unreleased acoustic track; Time Lapse At Milton Keynes. The single was also released as a 12" housed in the same artwork sleeve as its 7" counterpart. The B side threw up another rarity with a live recording of The Air-Conditioned Nightmare in addition to Time Lapse At Milton Keynes. Initial copies also had a "bonus" white label 12" single of Clocks, which was a re-issue of the 12" single mentioned earlier. Both versions are now quite hard to find. The US version of the album gave collectors another rarity with an extended version of Walking Through Walls replacing the version available on the UK edition. This was eventually to be issued as part of the bonus material on the EMI remastered CD in 2007.
Steve's next album; 1984's Till We Have Faces saw only one single, the oriental-tinged A Doll That's Made In Japan which like its predecessor, was issued as both 7" and 12" versions both housed in an artwork sleeve. Both of these contained different material on the B sides. In the case of the former it was an instrumental version of the A side; while in the case of the 12" it was another unreleased track; Just The Bones making both versions collectable. Both this album and Steve's acoustic album which preceded it in late 1983; Bay Of Kings are also collectable. Initially released on the Lamborghini Records imprint, they were soon re-issued by START Records and copies on the former label are quite hard to find. Bay Of Kings also gave collectors a rarity in Japan. Due to Japanese sensibilities about the depiction of female nudity, the album was released with a different sleeve in that territory.
When The Heart Rules The Mind picture disc
Steve took just about everyone by surprise by forming AOR supergroup GTR with Steve Howe in 1985/86. the resulting album was a huge hit in the USA and did fair business in the UK and Europe too. Only one single was issued from the album in the UK featuring When The Heart Rules The Mind coupled with Reach Out (Never Say No) on the 7". The 12" version was augmented by album tracks Sketches In The Sun and Hackett To Bits. In the UK the 7" version also gave collectors quite a rarity; a version was issued with a fold out sleeve with a Pete Frame style "Family Tree" which is very rare. The 7" also appeared as a picture disc shaped like a guitar plectrum and is another collectable item. In the USA, Europe and Japan a second single was issued. This was The Hunter which paired with Sketches In The Sun in every instance and featuring a group shot picture sleeve.
Steve's last foray into the world of singles was the charitable release of Sailing in 1990 organised as part of the "Rock Against Repatriation" project. The single featured a host of talents from the world of rock music and is therefore sought after by fans of the artists involved as well as Hackett fans.
By the beginning of the 1990's the Compact Disc format was beginning to make real inroads into the world of recorded music and after 1990 no commercially available singles were issued by Steve and all of his albums after 1988's Momentum were released solely as CD and cassette versions. That is not to say that the format didn't produce some interesting items. The first of these is the original CD re-issue of Spectral Mornings by Virgin Records. Issued in 1989, the first pressing of this contained an unsuspected bonus track. During the mastering process, an unbanded run-out track on the master tape was included on the CD in error. This track; "The Janitor" was subsequently removed from the album and was only re-instated recently as part of the EMI remasters series. Steve's first effort at a live album: Timelapse was also a rarity on first release. Initially issued on the Dutch Crisis label, it was subsequently re-issued by Steve's own Camino label. Guitar Noir also gave collector's a rarity with a three track promotional CD single featuring radio edits of some of the material from the new album. The remastering of many of Steve's mid period albums also meant that albums such as Till We Have Faces, Momentum, Bay Of Kings and indeed Guitar Noir were re-issued on the Camino imprint making the original CD issues collectable in their own right.
In 1995, Steve released There Are Many Sides To The Night, probably the first "unplugged" live album ever released. Initially intended as a "fan only" release and limited to 1500 copies on the Kudos label. Demand for it subsequently led to it being re-issued by the Camino label making the original release another rarity.
Many of Steve's subsequent albums have also generated collectable items in different territories, especially in Japan where their desire for something unique to their own territory has led to many albums being issued with tracks unique to the Japanese market and creating an additional market for them in territories where they are not available. This began with the Genesis Revisited album which was initially issued in Japan in 1996 and subsequently in the UK, Europe and USA (where it had its title changed to Watchers Of The Skies for some unknown reason). The Japanese and non-Japanese editions contained material unique to their region and in the UK a promotional one track single featuring Your Own Special Way was issued. A three track "sampler" disc was also issued from 1997's A Midsummer Night's Dream album.
Steve's subsequent albums; 2003's To Watch The Storms and 2006's Wild Orchids also generated a plethora of collectable versions of the album with the European and Japanese versions featuring different tracks and running orders. As if that wasn't enough, Europe also had "Special Editions" of both albums with material NOT available on either the standard editions or the Japanese editions of the albums - confusuing isn't it?!
In 2000 Steve also decided to have a go at beating the bootleggers at their own game by releasing the Live Archive '70's, '80's, '90's box set of live recordings. Even this release was to generate a couple of collectable items. When released in Japan the set was spread over two double CDs with two differences from the box. Feedback '86 had not been issued in Japan at the time and so, that album replaced the Hammersmith '79 live recording on one disc, while a single disc recording from Newcastle '79 became that recording's replacement. Of course, collectors were eager to acquire this disc, and fortunately Camino made it available as a stand-alone disc which also happens to fit quite niftily into the Live Archive box! Fortunately, every subsequent Live Archive release has been a standard edition everywhere as far as I am aware!
The Japanese also gave us the most recent collectable CD item in the shape of the Guitar Wars CD and DVD. Organised to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Hard Rock Cafe chain in Japan, Steve and Roger King took part in a series of concerts alongside such other alumni as John Paul Jones and Paul Gilbert. The resulting CD and DVD are still only available in Japan and have not gained wider release.
Genesis archive sampler
Between 1998 and 2000 Steve's connections with his former band mates; Genesis were brought back into high profile with the release of two archival box sets covering the periods 1967 -75 in the first instance and 1976 -92 in the second. Both of these sets gave collectors some interesting items not least the "sampler" discs which were issued to radio stations etc to help promote the releases. In addition to this, the first box set also had a double CD interview disc set with comments from all the members of the band including Steve on it. This was issued to radio stations as well and is very difficult to find these days. The band also issued a one track promotional single of the "new" version of Carpet Crawlers. This was housed in a picture sleeve and is quite a rare item these days. Out of all the items associated with the two box sets, however, one more than any other is sought after by collectors. A two CD set of the band's BBC sessions between 1970 and 1972 was compiled at the time of the second box set and a handful of promotional "white label" copies were made exclusively for record company and band members. These are probably one of the rarest items around and highly prized by collectors.
We close this part of the feature with a brief trip back to the world of vinyl. Back in 2000 Steve and John released their Sketches Of Satie album as a tribute to one of their earliest musical influences. The Hungarian label; Gramy renowned for their high quality vinyl releases, decided to issue this album on vinyl. Not ordinary vinyl however; 180 gram vinyl no less! This edition was limited to a mere 500 copies making it one of the most collectable vinyl items in Steve's catalogue.
The recorded side of things isn't the only area for collectors however. There are many more. Practically anything associated with an artist is collectable to somebody. Here, however, I will concentrate one more area of officially avaiable material : the tour programme.
Like any artist, promotional material of this nature is part and parcel of the entire marketing strategy of record companies and there has been plenty for Steve's fans to get their teeth into. Steve was a little bit slow with regard to tour programmes. There were none officially sanctioned for any of Steve's tours before the 1981 Cured tour of the UK however, once he got going, each successive tour has generated something in this area.
The Cured Tour programme
The Cured tour took in both the UK and USA but also Europe as well. I am not sure if the tour programme was issued for any of the territories outside of the UK but the version I have contains details of the band's UK and European itineraries although research has shown that some of the gigs mentioned in the text of the programme did not take place. The programme itself is A4 sized sporting an advert for the album on the front cover and a live shot of Steve on the back. Inside is the usual mix of information on the band and advertisements. Not a particularly difficult item to find it is nonetheless, essential to collectors. Steve also performed at the Reading Festival that year and also gets a mention in the programme produced for that event.
1983 was an incredibly busy year for Steve with two albums and two tours in the UK. The first, in support of the Highly Strung album, generated a new tour programme. Like its predecessor, this was an A4 affair with album artwork on the cover. Inside, once again we have the usual mix of information, photographs and advertisements, much of it recycled from its predecessor, it has to be said. The second tour, in support of Steve's first acoustic album: Bay Of Kings also produced a tour programme and one which is a bona fide rarity. An A5 postergramme featuring the shot of Steve at home which is on the album's inner sleeve as its cover with a brief text and tour information this is possibly the rarest of Steve's solo tour programmes and very hard to find these days.
The massive GTR tour in 1986 does not seem to have been commemorated by a tour programme and so our next offering comes in 1988 when Steve and John undertook their second acoustic tour in support of the Momentum album. Once again, this is an A4 sized brochure but much more satisfying both in style and content than either of its predecesors. Another item which appears to be becoming harder to find these days and definitely a nice item to have in any collection.
Steve's 1992 -94 tours in support of the Guitar Noir album did not produce a tour programme. Nor did his next batch of touring in Japan and elsewhere in Europe and it was not until 2001 and his extensive tour of South America that another brochure appeared. Sadly, I have only seen the cover to this one (reproduced here) and so I am unsure as to its contents but I am assuming that it was similar in format to the preceding efforts with a text in Spanish/Portuguese I would imagine!
Malta 2002 programme
2002 saw Steve and the acoustic trio play a series of concerts at the beautiful Manoel Theatre in Malta. For this special event a lovely A5 sized programme was produced. Full of informative text and plenty of excellent quality photographs, this is another nice item to have and was available via Steve's old web site until recently. 2003 saw Steve back on tour in the UK for the first time in almost ten years and to commemmorate the event, a tour brochure was organised. The To Watch The Storms programme was another A4 sized effort featuring an informative text and plenty of photos and other information. This brochure served as the programme for both the 2003 and 2004 tours and so is easy to find and well worth a look.
The most recent tour brochure to be produced by Steve was for the Acoustic Trio series of gigs in 2005. An extensive touring schedule brought Steve and the rest of the trio to audiences in the UK, Europe and the USA and this was commemorated by another well put together A5 sized booklet which may have continued to be used on the subsequent outings by the trio in 2006 and 2007 as well. Either way, it is an item which should be quite easy to find and another essential addition to any collection.
With Steve returning to touring activity later this year, there may well be yet another programme for collectors to get their mitts on we shall have to wait and see. Of course, with tours things such as posters T shirts, press cuttings and ticket stubs are also collectable and becoming increasingly valuable - for instance at a record fair recently I saw a ticket stub for Peter Gabriel's gig at the New Vic Theatre London in 1977 priced at £25 so if you have items such as these in your Hackett collection, look after them, they are only going to increase in value!
All illustrations are taken from the author's own archive unless where indicated.