Lee Speaks About Music… #166

Sculptures – Heartscore



The latest release from Dirk Radloff’s project of Heartscore could be seen as either a way of reinventing oneself or perhaps he’s taken onboard what many of the older mainstream artists are doing these days by putting out newer mixes of their older albums. However, you look at it, this is not really a new album but a remake of his debut album Sculptures he originally released back in 2002.

To be perfectly honest this is not the kind of thing I personally do not like to see and you would have to do something quite spectacular to convince me that a remake of an album is better than the original. I am even dead set against artists putting overdubs on albums later on and you will soon see how disappointed I was when reviewed the Expanded Deluxe Edition of Barclay James Harvest’s classic album Everyone Is Everybody Else here: https://leespeaksoutaboutmusic.wordpress.com/2017/07/13/lee-speaks-about-music-16/  

The only album I ever thought that was improved upon by doing such a thing was what Mike Oldfield did with his remake of Tubular Bells back in 2003. He himself had good reasons for re-recording some of the instrumental sections of the original 1973 album and they were down to much of those sections being muddy in the mix. As much as I myself love the original album I was never happy with the mix myself because it was muddy in parts.

The original album also never benefited from the 5.1 mix either and if anything, it made it worse than do it any real justice. Whereas the 5.1 mix of Tubular Bells 2003 is simply to die for and one of the best recordings I have in my entire collection. It’s totally GORGEOUS! and very much now a surround FREAKS! paradise and blows the 1973 mix out of the window by miles 😁😁😁. Which is a damn site more that I could ever say for the remakes of both Wishbone Ash’s Argus and Camel’s Snow Goose albums that I also picked up on in that BJH review.

Being in closer contact with Dirk and having more or less near enough his entire back catalogue of music. I do know that he does have his own personal reasons to want to do a remake of this older album of his. The original album is also one of my personal favourite albums of his, and this remake is certainly going to present me with a real challenge to review.

The question is have I just wasted my money in purchasing Sculptures 2020? Before I answer that question and delve deeper into the new release, let’s first take a look at the packaging and artwork.

Packaging & Artwork…


The album has been released in 2 formats (if you count the physical extremely Limited Vinyl Edition) the cheapest option is the Digital Download and its just as well I no longer collect vinyl 😁😁😁. However, to a certain degree I can understand the amount of pride one will get by having their album pressed onto vinyl even just to display it on a shelf.

Thankfully he has seen sense once again to stick with the Digital Download being more of the priority release and not wasted his money on having a load of CD’s made to clutter up his garage. The Digital Download will not break your bank account either and is reasonably priced at €7 (Euro).

Limited Vinyl Edition.


Like I mentioned the vinyl release is extremely limited and only 3 copies have been made available to purchase. Dirk is not an artist who sells albums by the bucket load which is why he no longer has a couple of hundred CD’s knocked up and is perfectly understandable.

With any physical format the more copies you have pressed the cheaper and more viable it is to sell them at a respectable and reasonable price. Having any physical product knocked out in small runs is going to cost you an arm and a leg and in the case of vinyl it will often work out to costing more money than its actually worth and in this case, he is even selling it for less than it cost himself.

Just as well he’s only got 3 of them for sale otherwise this might very well be one of most foolhardy decisions, he has ever made 😁😁😁. Hopefully he can generate enough money back from the sales of the Digital Download to compensate towards some of the loss. Though at the end of the day the money side of things has never been of any great importance to him in relation to getting his music out there. Most vinyl lovers will often pay more money for vinyl and its higher price tag might even seem a fair price for an extremely limited edition.

The extremely Limited Edition is pressed onto 180-gram Clear vinyl and is priced at €45 (Euro). It also omits 2 tracks from the album due to vinyl restrictions. Though it does also come with a free digital download of the album so you are not entirely missing out on the extra couple of tracks.


The cover design for the album cover was done by Dirk Radloff himself using photos and a background that he’s pieced together. He’s gone with something entirely different for the new release in comparison to his original idea as you can see in the artwork that was done for both the original and new remake of the album side by side below.


I can understand to a certain degree as to why the need for a change in relation to how he’s brought the music more up to date by remaking it to fit in with the metal genre side of things. However, regarding the albums actual title of “Sculptures” this new cover design looks like something out of Star Wars in relation to the picture of Stonehenge which happens to be a sculpture 😁😁😁.

Personally, I would of thought something more along the lines of the Stonehenge sculpture being made out of metal instead of stone would have been more fitting. The other thing I thought to be rather strange is that both albums have exactly the same title and I personally felt that it would have been better to title the new version “Sculptures 2020”.

However, I did confront him about the title and it was something he did think about, but as he explained that most bands don’t rename a reissue, even if radical changes have been made. He gave me Ozzy Osbourne‘s remake of Blizzard of Oz as an example that had newly recorded bass and drums on the 2002 reissue of the album. Which was really down to both Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake suing him for writing credit royalties.

To be honest I was not aware of it and brought the album on vinyl upon its release back in 1980. I also later brought it on CD later on in the 90’s. The new reissue would not have any interest to me either and personally just because other bands and artists give exactly the same titles to remakes of their albums would not alter my way of thinking either. Simply because when it comes to music there are no rules.

The Album In Review…

Sculptures by Heartscore was released on the 3rd October 2020. The album just like the original debut album of the same title contains 10 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 45 minutes, 24 seconds and is almost a minute longer than the original. Although there is a logical explanation as to why the new version of the album is a tad bit longer and that is because this new version has been remade completely from scratch.

A lot of things have changed over the years in the Heartscore camp in particular with how the vocal side of things are now handled. Since the release of the self-titled album Heartscore back in 2016, Radloff’s project has very much become a 2-man outfit simply because he himself no longer feels confident enough to take on the vocal duties by himself like he did for his first 4 albums that were released between 2002 – 2009.

As a matter of fact, since the release of Black Riders (Part 2) he has relinquished himself from all vocal duties including his QUEEN-ESC! harmonies. However, the 2-man operation thing may very well have been what he wanted from the very beginning because on the original debut album Sculptures it did also feature Oliver Harstack singing lead vocals and contributing some dramatic vocals on 4 of the songs.

To be perfectly honest Dirk Radloff has never really had what one would call a rock voice and I quite often seen his voice as more along the lines of somebody like Kevin Rowland the lead singer of Dexys Midnight Runners who sang pop songs such as “Come on Eileen” for example.

I would also say that his choice of vocalist he chose to sing on his later albums Heartscore and Black Riders (Part 1) who he hired Courtesy of Studiopros.com namely Chris. Never had what I would call a rock voice either and was somebody that sang along the same lines of Ashley Holt who Rick Wakeman had as his vocalist for many years and had more of a deep baritone operatic voice.

The vocalist he has now and who sang on his last album Black Riders (Part 2) namely Giacomo Rossi is 100% of what I would call a rock vocalist and his vocal range can also stretch out to some of the finer operatic qualities that certainly fits in with Radloff’s music. Not only the music he has written more recently either, but could also easily fit in with his earlier material such as the material he wrote for the original Sculptures album which was more rock and pop orientated.

41760363-c52f-4665-a67b-0b4c5e8c45d9_FotorGiacomo Rossi

However, no matter what qualities any singer may possess when it comes to remaking any album, replacing the original singer will be very hard for many people to accept. There is no doubt in my mind that Rossi is by far the best singer the Heartscore project has ever seen. But even for myself remaking an album such as Sculptures with a singer of this calibre is going to present me with a real difficult challenge to be able to accept it. Especially knowing the album as well as I do over the years of having it.

If I was to look at the Heartscore catalogue the only two albums that are really out of place in my eyes are the last two Black Riders (Part 1 & 2). This is simply because it has two different singers delivering the songs from the same project and for some people this might seem rather odd. Not only that it was this project that started the change in the musical direction were Radloff decided to go down the road of metal in relation to the earlier albums that were more prog-rock, rock and pop orientated.

Black Riders (Part 1) would certainly have been my choice to redo and would have been simple enough just to replace the vocals with Rossi’s voice. Not because it was a bad album and that Chris never had a good enough voice. That was far from the case. But I do feel that Rossi’s voice is more suited to the metal genre and will fit in with it more precisely like it does on Black Riders (Part 2) which is really an album I personally felt should have attracted a lot more attention because of his voice.

I am pretty sure for any artist who only does studio work and does not go out and play their songs live on a regular basis, going back 20 years to completely remake an album from scratch would present them with quite a challenge. Especially if they were like myself who never writes anything down apart from the lyrics. It would very much be a case of having to learn to play the songs all over again.

However, in Dirk Radloff’s case he very much writes down all the music before he’s even played a note. Hence the reason for the name of his project being called Heartscore. So, he may very well still have the original musical manuscript. But the way he has gone about remaking Sculptures he may very well have had to write it all over again because this is not quite a carbon copy of the original songs on the album where everything is played exactly the same and there is a slight difference and more of a difference regarding the new production.

As to how different we shall find out later when I run through the tracks in the album tracks section of my review, but first let’s take a look at the album credits.

Musicians & Credits…

Band Pic

All music composed, arranged and produced by Dirk Radloff. Lyrics written by Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, E.E. Cummings and E.A. Robinson. Mixed & Mastered by Dirk Radloff at his home studio. Artwork and sleeve design by Dirk Radloff.

Dirk Radloff: Composition, Arrangement, Instruments.
Giacomo Rossi: Vocals.

The Album Tracks In Review…

One of the things I instantly picked up on when listening to this new version of the album is that the track order has been changed. At first, I thought this may have been done down to vinyl restrictions and him rearranging the tracks to fit. However, he informed me that his reason behind this was because the songs on the first side of the original album were influenced by Yes and Led Zeppelin. Whilst the songs on the second side were more orientated on 80s Metal. By flipping the sides, he felt it would achieve a good connection to his previous album Black Riders (Part 2).

One of the things that perhaps fitted in with his previous couple of metal-based albums with the Black Riders project was the lyrical content. Radloff does not write his own lyrics and uses poems written by American poets. Stephen Crane wrote more along the lines of the darker sinister side of things which portrayed the sort of evil that can be associated with most heavy metal-based music. Whereas Sculptures uses the words from 4 different poets that are quite different and may also reflect some humour along the way.

https _www_FotorLangston Hughes

Langston Hughes was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry, and was best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He was one of the few prominent black writers to champion racial consciousness as a source of inspiration for black artists. Most of the novels he wrote depicted the history of the Negro in America. This could also reflect in some of his poetry too. Although his poetry also portrayed the struggles, joy and laughter of life and was also put to music. He was featured on the 1958 album Weary Blues by Charles Mingus & Leonard Feather reciting his poetry and also contributed lyrics to Randy Weston’s 1960 album Uhuru Afrika.

GettyImages-171135660-00819da09c0b445abb6619d289351c55_FotorEmily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson like many was one of those unfortunate people to become more on an important figure after her death. She did however manage to get 10 of her poems published during her lifetime. However, it was not until her younger sister discovered the bulk of her work after she had passed on that she became one of the most important figures in American poetry.

It’s said that she spent most of the latter years of her life as a recluse and never married. She also responded to most people via the many letters she wrote. However, through her poetry it was quite evident that she took the time to observe life around her and treated everything including animals, plants, rocks, and homes as equals.

7948ef59e8185b1ba18af2f84816370c_FotorE.E. Cummings

Often regarded as one of the most important American poets of the 20th century. E.E. Cummings wrote approximately 2,900 poems and associated with modernist free-form poetry. Much of his work has idiosyncratic syntax and uses lower case spellings for poetic expression. He was also a playwright and wrote four plays Santa Claus: A Morality perhaps the most successful one he wrote back in 1946. His first book of poems was published in 1923 entitled Tulips and Chimneys which was rather a strange title. However, many of his poems are sonnets often with a modern twist and are also often rife with satire.

59ff95bd28368e1eea5936164c9a62d651d4048c_FotorE.A. Robinson

E.A. Robinson was one of the most prolific American poets of the early 20th Century and won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry on three occasions and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times. Although he described his childhood as stark and unhappy and his early struggles led to many of his poems having a dark pessimism side about them. He also hated his Christian name “Edwin” to which it took his parents 6 months to give him the name due to them wanting a girl. The name was also drawn out of a hat of boy’s names.

The album Sculptures mainly features the poetry of Langston Hughes and just by having a quick glance at the history of the four poets he used here, I would say that the dark pessimism side of E.A. Robinson‘s poetry would be perhaps more fitting to Metal genre of music. Though looking at some of the words that appeared on his 3rd album Many Directions that also included poetry from Robinson, Hughes and Dickinson they might all very well fit the bill to a certain degree. “There’s Been a Death in the Opposite House” shows how observant Emily Dickinson was.

So, let’s now take a look at it all has turned out as I take you through the individual tracks from the new version of album and see if the metal structure that has now been given to it really works.

Track 1. The Saddest Noise, The Sweetest Noise.

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There is no doubt that placing this song as the opening track on this newer version of the album works more effectively in drawing you into the album than the original opening song “Men Treats Woman” that was more of a pop song. To be honest even though musically it might feel heavier than the original, it’s really the bass, drums and the recording that give it the extra weight and not so much the electric guitars. By adding the extra weight to how the guitars have been re-recorded does take away some of the finer nuances that could be heard on the opening riff on the original recording.

For example, the opening riff is played more or less spot on even down to how the guitars were originally panned from left to right. However, the incrementation is much wider on the original panning and you will also hear some of the nuances coming from the strings bleeding into the right channel that are no longer evident on the new recording. The guitars pretty much rocked in the first place and I do feel it’s not so much them that are behind the process of giving this song more of a metal edge, because they already had that in the first place.

The biggest change is in the vocal department and the original song was sung by Oliver Hartstack with Radloff’s harmonies supporting him in the chorus and on a few of the verses. Both are quite high and sweeter, they might also appear to be a bit light hearted for the songs potential power.

All the vocals on this newer version of the album are handled by Giacomo Rossi and are a bit more unified with the one voice. His supporting vocals work more like backing vocals and not so much like a harmony as in the chorus of the original. I always call Radloff’s harmonies QUEEN-ESC! because they do have that Queen presence about them and they are influenced by his love of that band.

There is no doubt that Rossi’s voice does have more of the right expression and weight to match the songs potential power, and when paired with the more weight that’s been added by the bass and drums and how it’s been recorded this is what really brings this newer version more in line with his previous album Black Riders (Part 2). Though for myself to say this version is better is hard to say, simply because the density that’s been given to the musical side of things does strip away some of the nuances and atmosphere the original recording had.

This is the only song on the album that features one of Emily Dickinson’s poems and “The Saddest Noise, The Sweetest Noise” she wrote back in 1764. Like I mentioned earlier it was quite evident that she took the time to observe life around her and the words she wrote here are written in a paradox and a contrasting way that describes how the seasons change. She was very observant to notice how happily the birds could be singing away happily in the spring and no longer be there in the winter. It’s quite a haunting poem that takes in the sweeter side of life and sadness of death.

To be honest having looked more into the Dickinson’s words here I would say that the darker density that has now been given to this newer version of the song is perhaps more fitting for her words and a very good overall job has been done here.

Track 2. Judgement Day.

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Written by Langston Hughes in 1927 the subject matter we have here is very much in line with the poems of Stephen Crane that Radloff chose for his Black Riders project and like many of the poems he does tend to choose they do tend to have some dark sinister side to them. I guess that’s down his love of horror films and it’s easy to see why they would fit in with the Metal side of things.

I think the most notable thing about most of the poems he uses for his songs is in general they can be very short. Though I will say that he does not seem to have any problem getting more miles to the galleon out of a shorter set of words and will quite often stretch them out by doubling them up. Using them for both verse and chorus in some cases.

Judgement Day” is one of the couple of shorter tracks on the album and travels along at quite a rushed pace. To be honest no matter what version you listen to they both purely ROCK! Radloff may not have the rock voice Rossi possesses but his voice works well on the original song and it does sound as if it’s stretched out a bit more even though it’s not.

What does help is the reverb and I think that even works better for musical side of things and the darker density does tend to hide a good few of the finer details the original production had. There is no doubt this new production brings it up to date and in line to what he is doing today. But for me to actually say this is a better production what the original album had would be very hard especially, listening to both of these songs back to back.

Just listening to the opening guitar riff on the original version sounds like we have a wall of sound here reverberating back at you it’s a very cool effect and works extremely well. The overall spread of the sound has much more space to breath in and it has a much wider dispersion about it all. The newer version sounds more closer in proximity it’s still very good but if you are a Surround FREAK! like myself you will most likely be paying closer attention to every detail.

You can hear all the notable differences between the both versions for yourself when you listen to them back to back. I always find it helps to listen to the original version first.

I do quite like the attack on the short lead guitar solo on the new version better though and it does feel like it has more of blistering pace about it. The drums also have more of a punctuation about them as well.

Track 3. Little Julie.

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Another Langston Hughes poem and this is about a teenage delinquent and if memory serves me right the word “Delinquent” was even put in brackets at the end of the title on the original album. Quite a few of the titles on the original had extensions to their titles to which do not appear on this new remake. Though I am sure they are not necessarily needed.

This is another song that Radloff gave to Oliver Hartstack to sing on the original album and I much prefer his own voice to his. Rossi’s vocals give this song a much better attack and are much better suited to the song and I prefer this newer version to the original. It also ROCKS! harder with everything that has been done here.

Track 4. What If a Much of a Which of a Wind.

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The forces of nature and the evil force of mankind are taken onboard in this poem written by E.E. Cummings. Destruction is the menace whether it comes in the form of hurricanes, tornadoes or atomic nuclear power and the music has the right driving force and energy to portray the menacing destruction we have here and it drives along at quite a blistering pace.

Even though both versions musically have been played more or less spot on even down to the twin guitars and solo. The song itself I find can have a totally different feel to it with how Radloff and Rossi deliver the words. For some reason the way the original song sounds with Radloff’s voice puts me in mind of “Stand and Deliver” by Adam & The Ants. Musically it does also sound like there is a duel going on and I get this visualisation of him riding on horse at high speed speaking the words through a megaphone in a way of heeding every one of the dangers that lies ahead.

The newer version with Rossi’s voice makes it sound like more of a full blown out rock song and his voice I do find has more of the power to deliver the words to marry up with the music. Though I quite like both versions and there is some really GREAT! guitar from Radloff on this song.

Track 5. John Evereldown.

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This next song is my favourite track on the album and it’s very much one of the two more PROGMATIC! tracks on the album. The story behind the poem that E.A. Robinson wrote pertains to lust for women and the way the character he wrote about sneaks about like a thief in the night trying to keep out of sight, might even have you thinking of something along the lines of Jack The Ripper. Whatever he was up to was mischievous and no good.

To be honest I am surprised more Folkies have not picked up on his poem because it does have that sort of folklore element about its story. It’s also quite fitting to the subject matter that bands such as Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span would present in the way of a English traditional folk song and it’s story does tend to have more of an English trait about it.

This is another song that features some GREAT! guitar work from Radloff and I’ve always liked it for its progression. His voice on the original version is without doubt excruciatingly high and easy to see why he no longer sings on his albums today. Rossi’s voice on this new version handles it with ease and it gives the song a bit more aggression. There is no doubt he is clearly the winner out of the two though both versions do not give me a problem listening to them.

The newer version does sound like it’s slightly running along at a faster pace and it is actually 14 seconds shorter than the original version. Though to be honest it’s quite hard to notice even playing them both back to back. There is however a slight difference with how the lead solo was played but once again it’s quite hard to notice because it does run over the same lines more or less.

Track 6. Blue Bayou.

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The title and the subject matter behind it may very well suggest something like this picture I chose above. However, the words in this poem by Langston Hughes are pertaining to a lynching and the sun really has gone down on more than one occasion here. I’ve always seen this one as more of a commercial rock song despite the brutality behind its story.

Like the previous song there is a notable difference in the timing and once again the newer version is played at a slightly faster pace and is 13 seconds shorter than the original song. There is also more of a notable difference on this song and the newer backline of the bass and drums very much give it more of a groove which enables Radloff to play both the guitar riff and the lead work slightly different almost giving it more of a funky feel to it.

There is no doubt the original recording does once again have more of that wider space in the field for everything to breath in. However, this newer version is much better because Radloff’s voice on the original did tend to make it sound like it was dragging the song out too much, were as the slightly faster pace and Rossi’s voice has much sharper attack to give the song more of the right edge.

Track 7. All I Want Is You.

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The words in the title of this one is taken from the Langston Hughes poem “Madam and Her Might-Have-Been“. They were in brackets like thus: “All I Want Is You (Madam And Her Might-Have-Been)” on the original version. Hughes wrote a series of these poems to convey the delicate conflict between a wealthy white woman and the black woman that portray and the struggle and plight many black women had back then.

Musically this song has a bluesy Led Zeppelin vibe about it and the only difference between both versions is the vocals and the darker density that has been given to this new recorded version. Even though once again Radloff’s voice is excruciatingly high I would still go with the original version myself, because I like the presence of the atmospheric space the recording has to offer.

Track 8. Men Treats Woman.

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Just like the previous song the title is taken from a sentence contained in the Langston Hughes poem “Lover’s Return” he wrote back in 1931. I can see why he chose the sentence for the title and it does have a bit of satire side to it with how some men are seen to be treating women like an old pair of shoes and kick em’ around a bit.

Oliver Hartstack sings the lead vocals on the original version and his voice does suit this particular song and Rossi also does an admiral job on the vocals on this version. Musically the song follows suit regarding its structure and the way it was originally played.

The notable differences are with how guitar sounds on the verses and the on the original version they do have more of a plucky vibe sort of like what Hank Marvin gave to some of The Shadows tunes or perhaps something along the lines of what you would find on surfing songs.

This version takes that feel away from it even though the plucky vibe is still present. I do prefer how more punctuating the bass and drums are on this new version and would give this version the slight edge over the original.

Track 9. When Sue Wears Red.

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The words in this love poem by Hughes reflect beauty and how it stands out so clearly with its fiery colour. This is another song that features some excellent guitar work from Radloff and it has some GREAT! progression along its path too. It’s the second of the shorter tracks on the album and no matter what version you listen to they both very much ROCK!

Track 10. Aunt Sue’s Stories.

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This poem of Hughes dictates black slavery and the aunt’s stories in this case are real ones rather than children’s fairy stories so to speak. Both this track and “John Evereldown” are the longest tracks on the album weighing in over 6 minutes. They have always been my personal favourite tracks on the album and this newer version is some 20 seconds longer than the original. Though were the extra 20 seconds come from it’s hard to tell even listening to the both versions back to back. My guess is somewhere along the long instrumental section.

The song itself has been structured around a dominant bass line and its heavy guitar riff and they are the main driving force behind it, though it also has an organ to fall back on also for support. The keyboard is one of the easily noticeable changes because on the newer version the organ has been replaced by an electric piano. The other major change is right at the beginning where the opening guitar riff is no longer supported by the bass.

This is another song that featured Oliver Hartstack on the lead vocals and his voice is quite expressive enough on this one to deliver the words very well. The same can be said for Giacomo Rossi on this new version.

However, if I was to say there was anything any better with this newer version, I would say it was how more punctuating the bass and drums sound and that is perhaps not enough to make me choose this over the original. Though it’s always going to be hard to beat any original unless it was completely bad in the first place.


To sum up the new 2020 version of Sculptures by Heartscore. Like I mentioned in the introduction of my review this was always going to be a difficult album for me to review. What we have here is an album that has been given two productions and I could not honestly put my hand on my heart and say this new production is better than the original. However, there is no doubt that this newer production brings things in line with what Dirk Radloff is doing today and he has very much achieved what he was aiming to do in the first place.

The chances are that its most likely that unlike myself nobody as even heard the original and if you were to hear his last album Black Riders (Part 2) you would easily identify it with what Heartscore is about today and it would not sound out of place either.

The fact of the matter is that both versions of the album have been very well produced and I can take good and bad points from them both. I certainly think that most people would prefer Giacomo Rossi’s vocals too and in the past Radloff has been heavily criticized for using his own voice on his albums. Which is why he originally stopped making music for a while and decided to get in others to take on the vocal duties.

Personally, I never had a problem with his own voice and his harmonies in particular I have always seen as very cleverly constructed. However, listening to both of these albums back to back it is quite evident that Rossi’s voice is way more controlled and is not overstretching the boundaries. Whereas Radloff’s voice can at times sound excruciatingly high which might have been off putting for some of those earlier critics.

There are many singers in this world who are not the best and one does at times have to get more accustomed to accept and be able to appreciate them. For example, many people could not listen to Steve Howe of Yes sing. Personally, I do not have that much of a problem with his voice even though it’s not the best at times at all. But I would rather listen to him than Bob Dylan any day of the week 😁😁😁. But we are all different of course and all have different acquired tastes.

The one thing I certainly do not see anybody being able to do is criticize Giacomo Rossi’s voice. He is by far the best singer I have ever heard on any Heartscore album and to be honest I am surprised that Radloff’s music is not enticing more people to take more notice of it.

My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Judgement Day“. “John Evereldown” and “Aunt Sue’s Stories“. I would also include both “Little Julie” and “Blue Bayou” because I do feel those are the two tracks that have been improved upon over the original versions.


To conclude my review of Sculptures 2020 by Heartscore. There is no doubt that a lot of hard work has been put in to remake the album from scratch. However, as to why Radloff decided to do this in the first place is perhaps a bit beyond my comprehension. To a degree I can see that some of the tracks on the original album had an 80’s metal structure to them, but that is far from the grinding metal that you will hear on Black Riders (Parts 1 & 2).

The material on the original album Sculptures is more rock based than anything else it has a few PROGMATIC! moments but nowhere near as much as his second two albums that followed it Straight To The Brain and Many Directions. Granted this newer version does bring it in line with what he is doing today though I would not entirely say it had the same grinding metal that we heard on his last two albums to which metal is more of the direction he heading in today.

The album Sculptures is not what I would call a solid album but nevertheless it is one of my favourite albums (though not his best) because it does have the right amount of power to rock on many of the songs upon it. There are also certain PROGMATIC! aspects that make the album float my boat more so than the biggest majority of metal albums that are out there that are not to my personal taste.

Some people may very well prefer what Judas Priest were doing in the way of metal from the 80’s onwards but that does not appeal to my taste in relation to what the band was doing in the 70’s with the album Sad Wings Of Destiny. For me what they went on to do later in the 80’s lacked a lot of the variety that album had and they became too sterile like Status Quo churning out the same thing all the time.

The album Sculptures does not lack variety and I can say that about the music Heartscore has always presented to me throughout the years I stumbled across Dirk Radloff and his project. Remaking the album I personally do not feel makes it any better than what it originally was and like I mentioned earlier if there was an album that needed to be redone. It would have to be Black Riders (Part 1). Simply because it makes no sense having two different vocalists on the same project.

However, there are some improvements on a couple of songs like I mentioned and getting back to my original question in the introduction as to if I have waisted my money in purchasing Sculptures 2020? The answer has to be No! Simply because its cheap enough to purchase for the Digital Download of the album and I can still get some pleasure out of hearing it done this way. It’s also given me much to talk about in my review here too.

You can listen to the album for free or purchase the album here @ Bandcamp: https://heartscore.bandcamp.com/ It’s also available to purchase from other outlets such as Amazon, Apple Music etc.

Newly Re-Sculptured To Fit In Today…

The track listing of the album is as follows:

01. The Saddest Noise, The Sweetest Noise. 5:23.
02. Judgement Day. 2:51.
03. Little Julie. 3:10.
04. What If a Much of a Which of a Wind. 4:55.
05. John Evereldown. 6:34.
06. Blue Bayou. 4:15.
07. All I Want Is You. 5:02.
08. Men Treats Woman. 4:06.
09. When Sue Wears Red. 2:40.
10. Aunt Sue’s Stories. 6:28.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 6.5/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #165

Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings: Live At Hammersmith – Steve Hackett



Steve Hackett is back with yet another live release and I am beginning to lose count of how many live concerts I have of his I have brought over the years. To be perfectly honest I had no intention of buying this one especially down to the fact of how badly mixed Genesis Revisited Band & Orchestra Live At The Royal Festival Hall turned out. The only real thing that twisted my arm was that it was mixed by one of the wizards of 5.1 recordings namely Steven Wilson.

To be perfectly honest the biggest majority of live concerts I have on DVD & Blu Ray in surround sound are disappointing and in general it is studio albums where most of the immersive enjoyable experience of surround sound can stand out a lot more.

However, I do also have some STUNNING! live concerts mixed in 5.1 that can also give you the same immersive experience. So, it just goes to prove and show that if the 5.1 mixing engineer has the right head on his shoulders the best results can be achieved and exist in both studio and live recordings. It’s just a shame that there are only a few 5.1 mixing engineers in this world who are really capable of doing such a thing with them.

There is nothing out there that could ever really capture the atmosphere and true sound of a live concert and the only way you will ever capture that is to be at the concert itself. Though I will say that if a 5.1 mix is done right it is by far the nearest thing to it you will ever get. It can to a certain degree actually give you the presence and feeling of being there which is something even Steve Hackett’s long-time recording engineer Benedict Fenner did when he did the 5.1 mix of Hackett’s live acoustic concert back in 2003 that can be heard on the Hungarian Horizons: Live in Budapest DVD.

That 5.1 mix only has the audience placed in the rear surrounds and it does give the presence of you actually sitting there at the venue itself and is probably one of the best examples of how well effectively 5.1 works in an acoustic surrounding. It’s also certainly the best 5.1 mix I have ever heard Benedict Fenner do and one I would most certainly use as a reference recording. I do have some excellent stereo recordings of live acoustic concerts that can also give you the presence of being there, though this recording excels those by quite a margin and sounds purely FANTASTIC!

There is no doubt in my mind that multi-channel recordings can bring the listener much closer to the music where you can get to hear everything in it, much more than even a pair of headphones will ever give you. Where there is a lot more instruments to be placed in the mix as in the case of even a live band, separating them all is where 5.1 has a lot more advantage over stereo.

As well as I know of how good of a 5.1 mixing engineer Steve Wilson is. I have never heard him mix a live album before. He may very well have done 5.1 mixes of his own live concerts though I honestly could not tell you because I am not into his music and it does not appeal to my taste.

The 5.1 mix he did of Steve Hackett’s 3rd studio album Spectral Mornings is by far the best 5.1 mix that has been done on any of his studio albums. There is no doubt in my mind that Wilson would of done a top job on the 5.1 mix of this latest live concert of Hackett’s.

However, can it compete with some of the other STUNNING! live concerts I have that have been mixed in surround sound? And most importantly will the 5.1 mix make this a GOTO concert that will make you want to play it more often like the effect that those other live concerts have on you?

I should also stress that there is a lot more to this review than just the surround mix in that this is a live concert that features Steve Hackett and his band playing two iconic albums back to back. That alone should be a tempting turkey more so than any mix. But before I delve any deeper into the concert itself, let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork as usual.

Packaging & Artwork…


The 3 discs come in a very well-made cardboard 4-panel DigiPak that has plastic trays to firmly hold the discs in place and it also has a handy pocket to store the booklet. The 12-page booklet consists mostly of pictures from the concert, it does contain a bit of informative information plus all the production linear notes and credits.


The cover design was done by Thomas Ewerhard and like most live concerts was made up with the use of photographs taken from the concert. The photographs were taken by Lee Millward, Mick Bannister, Howard Rankin, Chris Simmonds, David Clay, Martin Porter and Andrea Holmes.

Release Editions.


The concert was released in 5 formats counting the Digital Download which would be the cheapest option and costs £11.99. The cheapest physical formats are the 2 CD/DVD, 2 CD/Blu Ray packages at £15.46 & £15.68 respectively. For vinyl lovers the Vinyl Edition comes in a box set that contains 4 180-gram LP’s & 2 CD’s for £39.85.


The vinyl Edition was also released on a “Lawnmower Green” colour but was a Limited Edition of 300 copies only (all sold out) and was sold exclusively on Steve Hackett’s website. Please note that all the prices I have quoted are from Amazon UK and the prices can fluctuate. They are however considerably cheaper. For example, on his website the vinyl box set will cost £45 plus postage & packing.


There is also a Limited Art-Book Edition that can be had for around £40. It also comes signed if you purchase it from his website and is not sold any cheaper on Amazon UK. This edition comes with 2 CD’s plus the DVD & Blu Ray. Though personally I find these types of packages may look very neat and come in a quality presentation. However, does one really need all 3 formats.

One of the biggest downfalls that prevented me from buying this package is really down to the lack of informative information that is contained in the Art-Book. I know this from my experience of buying the Art-Book of his Live At The Royal Albert Hall concert which comes with the same amount of discs and cost £10 cheaper than this. It’s mostly filled with Glossy pictures taken from the concert.

Had it have been more like what Arjen Lucassen does with his Ear-Books by putting in plenty of well good detailed informative information besides just pictures. I may have been tempted to buy it. The other downside is that unless you are a vinyl collector (to which I am not) these things can present you with a problem of being able to store them.

Live At Hammersmith In Review…

Steve Hackett’s Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings Live At Hammersmith was released on the 25th September 2020. It’s very much a concert that captures Hackett and his band at the London venue back in November last year. It’s also a venue he has played at many a time, though he does still have fond memories of playing at the same venue back in the early 70’s with his former band Genesis playing the material from one of the bands most iconic albums.

There can be no doubt that this would have attracted most people to pay the price of the concert ticket see the show and buy this new release. Adding to it he is also playing material from one of his own iconic albums that will also help in pulling in the punters adding to the sales. Which can only be a good thing and I am glad to see that he is still going strong today and wish him all the success in the world.

Steve Hackett is someone I do have a lot of respect and admiration for and he is the only former member of Genesis who really stuck by his guns and never changed his style of music from prog-rock to pop like the band did. His own solo career continues to see him work in the field of prog-rock which is also something I could not say for the other members solo careers of the band. Although there is no denying that the band and even some of its members namely Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Mike Rutherford became far more successful and popular. But today you could also say that Steve Hackett is more in the limelight than any of those now.

Part of his success is very much down to him keeping the music of his former band still alive today. Though as much as I love the music of Genesis up until the time, he had left the band back in 1977. I have to confess the only thing that did attract my attention to this particular live concert was like I mentioned in my introduction was the 5.1 surround mix done by Steven Wilson and not so much the fact he was playing two iconic albums that I do also love to bits. As to if I got more than I expected? I will let you know at the end of my review but for now let’s take a look at the package contents.

The CD’s.

Like the CD’s that come in some of the previous live releases Hackett has put out they exclude all the talking in between the songs. However, you do get all the songs that were played at the concert spread over the 2 discs. The first CD contains 12 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 63 minutes, 10 seconds. The 2nd CD contains 9 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 63 minutes, 50 seconds.

The Blu Ray.

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The main menu gives you four options to choose from “Play Concert”. “Behind The Scenes”. “Song Selection” and “Audio Menu”. It’s simple enough to navigate and has a white square to indicate each of the four options which by default is set to the first of them.

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The “Song Selection” menu (as seen above) is split over two screens with the first of them displaying all the tracks that were played in the first half of the set and the second screen displays the second half of the set. The “Chapters 1 & 2” are your way of navigating between the two screens and you also have the option “Return To main Menu” to take you back.

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The “Audio Menu” gives you the choice of two audio soundtracks both in 24-bit 48K lossless formats. By default, its set to the Stereo Mix and you also have the DTS HD 5.1 Audio for surrounds FREAKS! like myself 😁😁😁. Overall, the interface of the menu is very good and looks pristine sharp and is burst shot bright. There is a slight pause in between loading the screens of the navigation panel and each screen plays different audio snippets from the concert.

The “Behind The Scenes” is the only bonus feature you do get and it is exclusive to Blu Ray only and not included on the DVD Edition. Though I personally would not say it was a deal breaker regarding your choice and for me the DTS HD 5.1 Audio is the bigger deal because the DVD does only come with a lossy stereo mix and a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.

You get near enough 34 minutes of Hackett and the band talking about the show and you have things like the meet and greet where people paid the extra to get to talk to the man himself and him basically having a bit of a drink after the show with his wife, and mother. It perhaps does not have enough informative information to entice you to want to see it more than once but better than nothing 😁😁😁.

The Picture & Film Editing Quality.

The concert was filmed, edited and produced by Paul M Green of Film 24 Productions who specialise in high-definition multi-camera filming and have filmed many other well-known artists. The show was captured by 10 camera operators capturing all the right angles and the footage has been very well edited capturing both the audience and the band and enabling it to bring you closer the musicians on the stage.

The picture quality is perhaps not pristine like some shows have been captured and put onto Blu Ray. However, the Hammersmith Odeon was always a dark and dismal place and it’s only really down to the better lighting they have these days that they are able to capture concerts a lot more clearly now. Overall, an excellent job has been done by all here.

The 5.1 Surround & Stereo Mixes.

Two mixes done by two different mixing engineers is perhaps a strange thing to come across but I can see why. Although the latter of the two engineers is very much capable of doing a GRAND! job of both. The stereo mix was done by Steve Hackett’s long-time keyboard player Roger King who also does the biggest majority of the mixes for his studio albums.

To be honest most stereo mixing engineers tend to know what they are doing and King has done a very good job of the mix as always. I don’t think I could ever doubt his ability in that field. 5.1 mixes however, are a completely different ball game and there are very few engineers that excel in that field and King is certainly not one of them. Though I have seen some improvements on some of the more recent Hackett studio albums he has done the 5.1 mixes for and he is improving.

Steve Wilson on the other hand I will say is excellent at doing both stereo and 5.1 mixes and he does excel in both of these fields. You only have to listen to what he did with the Jethro Tull’s 1971 Aqualung album to vouch for that. I doubt Roger King and a million other stereo mixing engineers could have ever brought that album back to life and done what he did with it. That was a MASSIVE! achievement in that it was a very difficult album to mix in the first place and never sounded right till he got his hands on it.

When it comes to multi-channel surround mixes Steve Wilson has very much became a GOD! for many surround FREAKS! including myself and he is without doubt one of the top mixing engineers in this field. Mixing engineers of his calibre are very much a rarity in this world and only a minute few exist.

There are perhaps a couple of reasons as to why the stereo mix was left to Roger King. The first being tied in with his long-term relationship of being close friends and the other down to time constraints in getting the job done quicker. However, I can assure you that at the end of the day there is nothing remotely disappointing about the stereo mix and you will be happy enough with it.

The 5.1 mix however could very well add to the amount of sales this release sells and surround FREAKS! like myself will not be disappointed either. This is by far the best 5.1 mix that has ever been put on any of Hackett’s electric live concerts and it excels every one of them by quite a margin. The attention to detail that Wilson has given to the live mix is flawless in that he has very much carefully arranged some of the right instrumentation to be placed in the rear channels to make it work, and panned other instruments and FX to good effect.

The wind instruments played by both Rob Townsend & John Hackett work extremely well placed in the rear and so to do the backing vocals. Both the clarity and dynamics work extremely well and are well defined throughout the whole of the show.

Rob Townsend’s sax in some parts being placed in the left rear speaker reminds me of the Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature live DVD from 2003. Although the sax does not quite project as well as in that concert and give you the notable surprise effect for you to turn your head towards the sound of it and think WOW! It’s a concert I highly recommend for surround FREAKS! and Elliot Scheiner is very much another GOD! and perhaps the number one in the field when it comes to surround mixes. It would not surprise me if Steve Wilson has been learning from his mixes either.

Overall, considering this is the first live 5.1 mix I have heard Steve Wilson do, he has without doubt done quite an impressive TOP JOB! of it and it easily merits TOP MARKS! of 10 out of 10. However, what I will say is that as good as the job he has done here I do have a few live concerts that are certainly more STUNNING! than this one and more of what I would call Surround Sound Heaven in that they will blow your socks off. That Steely Dan live DVD I mentioned is also one of them.

Musicians & Credits…

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Directed & Produced by Paul M Green. Concert Sound Recording by Martin Knight. Sound Recording Engineer Benedict Fenner Front House Sound. Stereo Mix by Roger King.  5.1 Surround Mix by Steven Wilson. Camera Operators Stephen Lay, Gwyn Hemmings, James Fox + Doco, Nick Payne, Chris Flemming, Alfie Warnham, Anthony Graham, Mike Simpson, Phil Davis & Ryan Clutton.

Editing & Authoring by Paul M Green. Cover Design by Thomas Ewerhard. Photography by Lee Millward, Mick Bannister, Howard Rankin, Chris Simmonds, David Clay, Martin Porter and Andrea Holmes.

Steve Hackett: Guitar/Vocals.
Roger King: Keyboards.
Rob Townsend: Saxophone/Woodwind/Percussion/Vocals/Keyboards/Bass Pedals.
Jonas Reingold: Bass/Bass Pedals/Variax/Twelve String Guitar/Vocals.
Craig Blundell: Drums/Percussion/Vocals.
Nad Sylvan: Vocals/Tambourine.

Special Guests.
Amanda Lehmann: Vocals/Guitar.
John Hackett: Flute.

The Concert In Review…

The live concert we have here was filmed at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London on the 29th November 2019. It was also the final show of his Genesis Revisited tour that he embarked on and kicked off earlier on in the year at the Kursaal in  Oostend, Belgium on the 22nd of April. In total Hackett played 83 shows mostly in Europe but also in some parts of America and Canada.

You may well of noticed the change of name from the Hammersmith Apollo to the Eventim Apollo and it’s currently now named like this for sponsorship reasons just like it’s previous name. Venues such as this change their name all the time down to sponsorship deals and its been that way since the building was refurbished with the Canadian brewing company Labbatt’s contributing towards the cost of the refurbishment around 1993/94. Though many including myself will still commonly call it the Hammersmith Odeon.

Venue Collage

The Art Deco styled building was designed by Robert Cromie and it was originally called the Gaumont Palace when it opened up in 1932 and seated nearly 3,500 people. It was not until 1962 that the venue became more better known as The Hammersmith Odeon and its one of London’s most popular indoor venues to stage live concerts.

Just about everybody who has been in the limelight has played there since the late 50’s including Buddy Holly who played a couple of nights at the venue back in 1958. it opened up in 1932. Many more famous American acts followed suit in the early 60’s such as the likes of Tony Bennett, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. Even The Beatles played there in late 1964 and played 38 shows over 21 nights in 1965 at the venue.

Around 2005 further developments to the building extended its capacity from 3, 500 to 5,000 and in it was given an extensive refurbishment in 2013 and upon re-opening in the same year that’s when it was given the name of the Eventim Apollo.

Steve Hackett’s band line up and the couple of guest musicians he has tagging along with him, is more or less the same line-up he had on his 2018 tour with the orchestra. The only real notable change is that there is no orchestra and Craig Blundell has replaced Gary O’Tool on the drums. Blundell is no stranger to prog-rock and has previously played in the past with the neo-prog bands Frost*, Kino and others.

He’s also played drums for Steve Wilson back in 2015 where he was ushered in as a last-minute replacement for the absent Marco Minnemann on one of his live tours and played on four of the tracks on his 2017 studio album To The Bone. So, he obviously has right credentials to fit in with this band line-up, though I have to confess I do miss Gary O’Tool because he also came with a GREAT! voice beside being quite an outstanding drummer.

Like I mentioned earlier regarding how playing the music of his former band Genesis as in many respects catapulted Hackett’s success back into the limelight and pulls in a lot more attraction. I’ve also noticed over the last few years that he has injected a lot more of his former bands music into his live shows and it’s starting to take over his own solo career.

By doing what he is doing you could say that effectively he’s becoming a bit like Roger Waters who tends to brush the music from his own solo career under the carpet at his live shows. Although he’s not completely gone as far as Waters in that respect however, it does tend to come across to me like that and his live shows are starting to become too much of the same thing. Which is also one of the reasons I did not intend to buy this new live release. So, let’s now see if this live concert is going to give me anything special apart from the surround mix.

On With The Show…

What you do get on the DVD or Blu Ray is the whole of the show which has a running time of near enough 2 hours, 18 minutes. The first half of the show celebrates the 40th Anniversary of Steve Hackett’s classic 1979 album Spectral Mornings and although the biggest majority of the album gets played in the first set, he’s shuffled it around a bit in relation to the playing order of the tracks on the original album. He’s also sandwiched a few of the tracks from his latest album At The Edge Of Light in between.

Set One.

The intro to “Tigermoth” is played as the band enter the stage which also includes one of the special guests Amanda Lehmann. Although you would hardly call her a special guest as she has been making appearances on Hackett’s studio albums and been on tour with him for quite a long time now. However, I was surprised to see that Nad Sylvan had also joined them as he’s only usually there for the Genesis part of the show.

After the intro Craig Blundell’s drum rolls into action and they roll out the first track from the classic album “Everyday” and I will say the way Hackett’s voice has improved over the years and does make this sound like they have more or less got it down to tee vocal wise. Lehmann’s voice works particularity well alongside Hackett’s and all the other members of the bands harmonies also work well. She also gets to play guitar alongside Hackett on this opening number too.

Musically once again they have more or less got it down to a tee and the only real thing that is missing is the harmonic effect on the bass guitar to which I have heard both Ian Ellis and Lee Pomeroy emulate the sound pretty much precisely in the past on his live shows.

Though as with any live performance it does not have to be spot on to the studio recording and if it was, I am sure one would soon get bored and they really do an excellent job of it as always. I should also stress that I am not having a knock at Jonas Reingold either who is also an excellent bass player, he also contributes a lot of guitar on this show too.

Hackett then explains to his audience the kind of show they are in for and it’s at this point we take a break from the Spectral Mornings album already. It’s also at this point that he decides to roll out 3 tracks from hie new album At The Edge Of Light and they happen to be the first 3 tracks on the album and once again he’s shuffled the playing order around.

Under the Eye of the Sun” is the first of them up and you can see the GRAND! job they do it from the video from the concert that was posted on the record labels official Tube channel.

Nad Sylvan then exits the stage and is not seen again till the second part of the show. Lehmann also temporarily leaves stage but only for the a couple of minutes whilst the rest of band knock out the short instrumental piece “Fallen Walls and Pedestals” which runs straight into “Beasts in Our Time” and once again they have all do a GRAND! job and Rob Townsend gets to play some tasty sax parts on this little set from the At The Edge Of Light album.

It’s time to return back to the Spectral Mornings album and this next song “The Virgin and the Gypsy” is one of my personal highlights from the first half of the show. It’s also the first of two of the songs to feature his brother John Hackett on flute and I’ve always loved Hackett’s acoustic playing and his 12 strings acoustic sounds GORGEOUS! on this one and also accompanied by Reingold on electric 12 string. It’s also Amanda Lehmann’s final contribution of the show and the vocals are extremely well done on this song.

A rather short version of “Tigermoth” follows and it’s only the instrumental section they play of the song which I felt was a shame as it is my personal favourite song from the album, though I could add a few others easily enough too. However, it’s very well arranged and along with the albums self-titled instrumental track “Spectral Mornings” to which they play next I would also include both of them in my highlights from the first half of the show.

Hackett’s nylon stringed classical guitar is then brought out for “The Red Flower of Tai Chi Blooms Everywhere” and once again John Hackett returns to the stage for his final flute contribution to the show and this final part of the set are all instrumental pieces and it gets wound up with “Clocks – The Angel of Mons“. It’s perhaps a bit strange ending off this part of the show this way and surely the self-titled track would have been the better option. But nevertheless, I cannot take anything away from the performances and Hackett and the band have done a really GREAT! job.

Set Two.

The second half of the set is dedicated to Genesis and mainly features the material from their 1973 album Selling England By The Pound. It also features the main musicians only and none of the special guests feature in this part of the show. Unlike Spectral Mornings they play the whole of the album and it’s good to see they have not shuffled the track order around. The other good thing is that although most of these songs have been played live by Hackett before there are a few that have not.

The second half of the show opens up with Nad Sylvan’s unaccompanied voice on the introduction to “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight” and he has quite a GABRIEL-ESC quality to his voice to deliver the song very well too. However, I would also say that it is his voice that perhaps contributes more to the tribute side of things here and as to if that’s a good thing that really depends on how you yourself see it. As for myself I can be on the opposite side of the fence most times and there are moments when I can get used to it, and others when I just can’t.

There is no doubt he is doing a GRAND! job though and they are more or less have this song down to a tee. The band have a playful time by doing an extended version of “I Know What I Like” which allows Rob Townsend to play solos on both the sax and flute and its perhaps the only song where they have done a different arrangement by adding the solos. It also allows Hackett to take a seat on the drum riser.

Firth of Fifth” is one of the couple of songs in this set that gives Roger King a chance to play more of a vital part especially with its opening piano solo. It is actually very evident by watching this live concert that on most of the songs he has less to do and that is something you would very rarely see if you were to watch Tony Banks playing the same songs.

This is really down to some of the keyboard parts and in most cases more of the dominant lead parts being given to Townsend to play on the sax. I suppose in a way they do this to make him fit in more with the band were as most wind players would only appear in a short section of a song were needed. He even gets to play some of the guitar parts in some cases too.

However, what is noticeable is that it is only ever on the live shows and not on the studio albums that Townsend gets all this extra work and at times I do feel that his role can be too much and be too overpowering. He did also say in his interview in the behind the scenes footage that he gets to play more parts and people will either love or it hate it.  I would not say that I hate it and he is a really GREAT! musician but perhaps he needs stop bogarting the joint 😁😁😁.

The next 3 numbers from the album Hackett has never played live with his band before and the first of them “More Fool Me” he never even played guitar on the original version back in 1973. The acoustic guitar was played by Mike Rutherford and it was sung by Phil Collins.

To be perfectly honest I have no idea why this song was included on the original album in the first place because it’s nothing to write home about and something that would be more fitting to stick on the B-Side of a single more than anything else. It is without doubt the weakest track on the Selling England By The Pound album and perhaps prevents it from being the solid album that it would of been without it.

Though I have noticed that some reviewers are hailing this version has the nearest thing to hearing Peter Gabriel sing it. I personally would not go that far and I think Peter Jones of Tiger Moth Tales has done just as much of a fine job of reviving the song by himself singing and playing it on his acoustic guitar over the more recent years.

The next couple of tracks from the album are certainly more to my taste and are really good to see they have been included. “The Battle of Epping Forest” is one of my personal favourite tracks from the album and a song that even the original band very rarely ever played live. I absolutely love this song and I have to say that Nad Sylvan certainly would have had his work cut out here and does do quite a good job of the many expressionate characteristic roles that Gabriel originally gave to the song.

The instrumental track of the album “After the Ordeal” is another pleasant surprise and another track from the album I’ve always loved unlike Tony Banks who at times can really do my head in at times when I hear him speak about much of the bands earlier material. What I do miss in this live version though is Hackett’s nylon guitar because he does play it all on his electric. The second part also has quite a Brian May ESC! sound too which is quite lovely and it also had that one the original version.

This is also a piece were Townsend’s sax does work really well by playing a slightly different counterpart melody to accompany Hackett’s lead lines on the guitar. Both of these are amongst my personal highlights from the show along with “The Cinema Show” and “Aisle of Plenty” which in reality is really one song.

Like “Firth of Fifth” this is a song that they have played several times in the past but I quite like this performance because it does give King the chance to play more of a role on the keyboards in particular with the solo. Sylvan’s voice also works very well on this song has you can see in this other official video that the record label posted on their Tube channel.

This song very much puts an end to the album although its not quite over because the next song “Déjà Vu“is a song that Steve Hackett was working on with Peter Gabriel around the time they made the album back in 1973. It was though only a rough demo and Hackett asked Gabriel if he could finish it off around the time, he was working on the first Genesis Revisited studio album Watcher of the Skies back in 1996. The song was also included on the album and sung by Paul Carrack.

It now gets its first live airing and  Sylvan’s voice on this one does give you an idea of what it would of sounded like if Peter Gabriel had sung it. To be honest I am surprised that Gabriel never thought about doing it himself because it is a good song and in my opinion much better than “More Fool Me“. Though both songs in reality do not really fit in and GEL! with the rest of the material on Selling England By The Pound.

It’s at this stage that Hackett introduces the audience to the members of the band and they then roll out a couple of songs from the 1976 Trick Of The Tail album both of which they have played live on numerous occasions. “Dance on a Volcano” is up first to which afterwards they go off the stage and come on back for a final encore and end the show off with “Los Endos“. They then bring back the 2 special guests and all take their bows to the audience in appreciation to them.


To sum up Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings Live At Hammersmith by Steve Hackett. I am going to start by tackling two of the three questions I posed throughout my review which should shed a bit more light has to why I put Steve Wilson’s surround mix before the concert itself and it really being the tempting turkey why I brought this live concert in the first place.

Firstly, I should explain that regardless of any concert having a surround mix or not, it should not make a blind bit of difference when it comes to the enjoyment one can get from listening or watching any live concert. I am sure like myself you have many live concerts that contain outstanding live performances and at the end of the day just because a concert comes with a surround mix should not really make it the deal breaker.

I have my own personal reasons why I was going to avoid buying this concert in the first place and it has nothing to do with how badly mixed his last concert Genesis Revisited Band & Orchestra Live At The Royal Festival Hall turned out either.

My real gripe for not wanting to buy this concert in the first place in all honesty is really down to him becoming a bit too much like Roger Waters in wanting to play too much material from the previous bands they were in. I am not saying that Hackett has quite gone as far as Waters in that he more or less plays most of the material from his former band and ignores the biggest majority of his own solo material like he does. But it’s becoming too much of the same thing and we are seeing far less of his own acoustic material which for myself is where I personally think he shines a lot more.

The other thing is that the way he is now playing the Genesis songs has become much more like a tribute with how they are played too close to the original songs. He’s even got it down to having one singer for them who has a GABRIEL-ESC voice (to which no doubt many may prefer) but as much as I could even enjoy seeing a tribute band such as The Watch play these songs live. There is no way I would actually spend my money buying a live recording of it and they have more of a GABRIEL-ESC singer than what Hackett has 😁😁😁.

When Hackett first started all this Genesis Revisited malarkey back in 1996 with the first of the studio albums. He very much gave the Genesis songs something that bit different with how they were arranged. He also had many different singers to sing them to which he also did the same with the follow up studio album and when he first took the songs out on the road to play live for a good few year. However, over the years both the different arrangements and the many singers got thrown out and over the more recent years I do find his shows have started to become a bit too sterile.

I can perhaps understand him not using many different singers down to how less cost effective it would be to play these songs live and, in some respect, he was lucky to have a drummer like Gary O’Tool who really had the GREAT! voice to tackle some of the songs. But I could not put my hand on my heart and say that any of these Genesis Revisited concerts are better than his much earlier concerts where he only played the odd Genesis song if you were lucky.

Even though Steve Hackett may very well be keeping the spirit of these Genesis songs alive he’s not the only one who is. I don’t mind hearing the odd Genesis song now and then but they are not what attracts me to buy the concert in the first place simply because at the end of the day it is only a tribute and will never speak the same to me as the original line-up of the band from back in those days no matter how well they play the songs.

Getting back to the surround mix and to my couple of questions. In answer to the first of them of can it compete with some of the other STUNNING! live concerts I have that have been mixed in surround sound? To a degree I would say YES! because Steve Wilson’s 5.1 mix is well worthy of its 10 out 10 rating.

However, regarding the second question of if this mix will make it a GOTO! concert that you will want to play it more often? The answer has to be NO! Simply because this concert does not have the STUNNING! factor like others I have of other bands and they go up to a Spinal Tap 11 😁😁😁.


To conclude my review of Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings Live At Hammersmith by Steve Hackett. There is no doubt that the material from the two iconic albums will appeal to many to want to buy this live concert. There can no doubt that the live performances of all the songs are far from disappointing and they have more or less nailed all the songs with this performance.

The final question I have to answer is did I get more out of this concert than I expected? Personally, it’s difficult for myself to say that I did even though it comes with an excellent 5.1 mix and GREAT! performances. I think it boils down to my own personal views of wanting to see something different from him and many of these live concerts are now too much alike.

I did however enjoy the concert and in particular the songs he had never performed live with his own band before. I certainly think that others will take a lot more from it than myself down to my own personal viewpoint. The other thing I can say is that I certainly never wasted my money and at its price point it’s well worth getting.

My personal highlights from the concert are as follows: “The Virgin and the Gypsy“. “Tigermoth“. “Spectral Mornings“. “The Battle of Epping Forest“. “After the Ordeal” and “The Cinema Show“.

Take A Little Trip Back…

The 2 CD Track Listing is as follows:

Disc 1.
01. Intro. 1:24.
02. Every Day. 6:29.
03. Under the Eye of the Sun. 5:36.
04. Fallen Walls and Pedestals. 2:15.
05. Beasts in Our Time. 6:26.
06. The Virgin and the Gypsy. 4:42.
07. Tigermoth. 3:14.
08. Spectral Mornings. 6:25.
09. The Red Flower of Tai Chi Blooms. 2:16.
10. Clocks – The Angel of Mons. 6:56.
11. Dancing With the Moonlit Knight. 7:28.
12. I Know What I Like. 9:47.

Disc 2.
01. Firth of Fifth. 10:05.
02. More Fool Me. 3:27.
03. The Battle of Epping Forest. 11:43.
04. After the Ordeal. 5:00.
05. The Cinema Show. 11:01.
06. Aisle of Plenty. 1:39.
07. Déjà Vu. 6:24.
08. Dance on a Volcano. 6:08.
09. Los Endos. 8:23.

Lee’s Overall Package Rating…

The Price Point Rating. 10/10.

The Picture Quality Rating. 9/10.

The 5.1 Mix Rating. 10/10.

The Stereo Mix. 8/10.

The Bonus Material Rating. 2/10.

The Overall Concert Rating. 7.5/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #164

Steel Wheels Live The Rolling Stones (Blu Ray Edition)



The Rolling Stones have been recently jumping on the same bandwagon as The Beatles when it comes to remixes and remasters of their studio albums and packaging them in expensive Box Sets. To be honest these things I do tend to avoid and the only real thing that entices me about most studio albums is the 5.1 surround mix. Although these types of bands are the big sellers and tend to get GREEDY! by not releasing the surround mix in a smaller package so the only way you can get your hands on them is to fork out for the extravagant price tag of the box set.

Surprisingly enough though most of the studio albums from their back catalogue they have put out so far in box sets were only in mono, and that is a bit like going back to the land of the DODO’S! and is never going to interest a surround FREAK! such as myself in a million years 😁😁😁. However, just recently they did release a 5.1 mix of their 1973 album Goats Head Soup in a box set.


Though it’s £110 price tag put me right off and, in all honesty, it looks like you are getting very little here for your money. They did also release a double CD and vinyl packages at more of a respective price point and has to why these BIG GUNS! cannot release the 5.1 release in a smaller package like many other artists and bands do for around £20 – £30 is beyond me and at the end of the day it is nothing more than GREED!

Luckily for myself it’s just as well that they never because after watching this review I would of been extremely disappointed just like this reviewer was who has his own channel on Youtube entitled Life In Surround.

Mike’s Tube channel is a very reliable source especially for surround FREAKS! and what I admire about this guy is his honesty. I can genuinely see that by the many reviews of some of the surround albums I have in my own collection, he’s generally spot on with how he describes both the mix and the packaging.

However, this latest live release of the band playing live in Atlantic City on their Steel Wheels tour back in the late 80’s is not going to cost you an arm and a leg and comes at a more respectable price to suit everyone’s pocket.

I have a lot of admiration for The Rolling Stones and have always been into their music since the 60’s. I was also more of a Stones fan than Beatles and even though I can appreciate The Beatles more so today I have still never brought any of their music. I guess it never ROCKED! enough for my own personal taste, though I could also say to a certain degree that neither did the Stones in relation to the heavier side of rock and prog-rock that I prefer the most. However, their music had a hook and sat well in the groove and that is what really drew my attention to them.

I never brought every Stones album although I did buy a good few and I did buy their Steel Wheels album when it was released back in 1989. I’ve never seen the band live either and by the time I did want to see them I could never afford the price of the ticket which in some cases were around £300. I do have quite a few of their live concerts on DVD and this is really a band that impressed me as they got a lot older.

As old as the guys are today in their ripe old age. This is a band that no doubt still has got what it takes to put on a live show and that is what I admire a lot about them. This concert captures the band when most of its members were in their mid-40’s to which some people might of already have been questioning back then if the band still had the energy and what it takes to take on such an extensive live world tour. But where they really any better back then? Before I delve any deeper let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.

Packaging & Artwork…


The Blu Ray comes in a standard plastic blue case and this type of case is commonly associated with this format. Although it does an ample enough job of protecting the disc they do feel a bit flimsier than most Amaray DVD cases. These type of cases don’t do a lot in the way of a good presentation like the cardboard Digipaks they now do in the same size. To be honest I was quite surprised that there was not a Steelbook Edition to coincide with the title.

The good thing is that is does come with a 16-page booklet unlike buying a film on DVD & Blu Ray and as well as the usual glossy pictures, credits and linear notes, it does also come with some very good informative information that is really good to have. 

I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon UK on the 8th August and it arrived a day after its release. I got it slightly cheaper than its retail price of £18.99 and ended up paying £16.75 which is perhaps a bit pricey but reasonable enough for the single Blu Ray Edition.


The artwork design was done by Mark Norton who has worked on much of the design work for the bands live shows and DVD & Blu Ray releases and even designed the bands logo. Here you can plainly see that he’s re-coloured John Warwicker’s original design for the Steel Wheels album which fits in nicely with the concept of the live tour.

Release Editions…


Counting the Limited 6 Disc Box Set the live concert was released in 7 physical formats that range from various prices. The cheapest being the one-disc editions such as the DVD & Blu Ray retailing at around £14 & £18.99 respectively. You can also get both of these formats that come accompanied with 2 CD’s at around £23.19 & £26.50.

The Vinyl Editions are the most expensive and both of these packages come with 4 X 180-gram vinyl LP’s. The standard black edition retails around £45 and the orange & blue vinyl £50 though currently ridiculously a lot more on Amazon UK right now.

The 6 Disc Limited Box Set retails around £47 and this set includes 3 CD’s. 2 DVD’s and a Blu Ray. The extra DVD contains the complete full show from their ten-night residency at the Tokyo Dome in February 1990, exclusive to the box set. The extra CD is also exclusive and contains rare performances.

Steel Wheels Live In Review…

Steel Wheels Live Atlantic City New Jersey was released on the 25th of September 2020. This is a previously unreleased live concert from 1989 to which the band put on in support of their 19th studio album Steel Wheels. It was actually their 21st studio album in America at the time and both 12 X 5 and December’s Children (And Everybody’s) were only officially released in the states. Though they were more or less compilation albums and us Brits were not really missing out on anything.

This was very much the tour were the Stones had returned to full commercial power after a seven-year hiatus in touring marked by well-publicized acrimony amongst its band members. It was also notably the final tour for the bands bass player Bill Wyman who eventually retired a few years later in 1993.

The band decided to make it one of their biggest ever tours and made it much longer than they ever had at this stage of their career by taking on twice as many shows than they had ever done before.

Money was no object in putting it on either and they had a special stage built for the shows costing around 40 million US dollars to make. The British architect Mark Fisher designed the stage with the participation of both Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts. It was the largest ever touring stage ever built back then and stood 82 feet-high and 236 feet wide.

The official Steel Wheels Tour was launched in North America and they kicked it off right at the end of August back in 1989 at the Veterans Stadium (now demolished) in Philadelphia. By the time the band had reached Japan in February 1990 to play ten shows at the Tokyo Dome they had already grossed 140 million US dollars back in revenue.

They renamed the tour to the Urban Jungle Tour for the European leg of the tour and travelled with a smaller stage at some of the smaller venues. They ended off the tour by playing 2 nights at London’s Wembley Stadium on the 24th & 25th August 1990. They were originally supposed to of played these two shows on the 13th & 14th of July but had to reschedule them due to Keith Richards cutting a finger.

Before I go on any further and onto the show. Let’s take a look at what you get and what you don’t get on the Blu Ray and see if it was actually worth paying any extra for it in comparison to the DVD.

The Blu Ray.

S 1_Fotor

The main menu of the blu ray looks quite pristine and sharp with the album cover design used for the background picture it. The shafts of the wheels have also been animated and you can see them turning around which is a nice touch. You have the choice of 3 options to choose from “Play”. “Song Selection” and “Audio Options” and its navigation is simple enough and your choice is highlighted in orange so that you know where you are.

S Collage

The “Song Selection” menu (above) is split into 3 screens and the good thing about the menus interface is that it was most likely done in Flash so there is no waiting for another screen to load. In total there are 27 songs to choose from split over the 3 screens with “Next” and “Previous” buttons to navigate through them. The “Close” button simply closes them and returns you to the main menu.

S 5_Fotor

The “Audio Options” give you the choice of 2 audio soundtracks both of which are lossless 48K and by default its set to LPCM Stereo. The DTS-HD Master is the 5.1 surround mix. Unfortunately the concert is all you do get and there is no bonus content. Which is a shame considering the amount of film footage they do have of this tour.

Picture, Editing & Sound Quality.

As with the biggest majority of live concerts from 30 odd years ago and beyond it’s very rare you are going to get anything spectacular or anywhere near the standards we have seen over the last decade. Technology has moved on and they never even had HD cameras back then and regardless of whether you purchased this live concert on DVD or Blu Ray there is going to be no significance whatsoever in the picture quality of the both formats.

Though the picture quality is still very good and better than most old concerts that were captured on video cameras instead of TV Cameras that used 35mm film. Both Simon Marbrook & Pete Lynch at Final Frame have done a good job on the restoration and grading of the film footage. The concert was captured by 14 camera operators coordinated by Ron Sheldon,

The biggest downside regarding the actual picture is that it’s in a 4:3 aspect ratio instead of 16.9 as to be expected for back then. Because of the 4:3 aspect ratio not capturing the width of the stage you do have to rely on the editing of the footage a lot more. However, the editing is very well done and was done by Kyle Smart.

TV Borders

However, I do think they could of improved the way it looks by putting borders on the side like in the picture above. But unfortunately, this screen shot is taken from the bit of footage that plays on the blu ray’s main menu and the borders have been removed for the actual concert.

The sound quality is also very good and the only real reason I decided to buy the blu ray instead of the DVD was to be sure of getting a lossless stereo mix. Old concerts like this are certainly not going to attract surround FREAKS! like myself and I would go as far as to say that over 90% of them that come with a 5.1 mix are a JOKE! 😁😁😁.

The 5.1 Mix.

As expected with all concerts that go back this far you are going to be getting practically nothing in the 5.1 surround department though I have heard a lot worse than this 5.1 mix where the surround channels are practically or completely non-existent. To be perfectly honest this is not a proper 5.1 mix at all and all the engineer has done is mirrored the stereo sound from the 2 front channels and placed them very low in the rears to work in the way of a reflection and nothing more.

I very much doubt that audio engineer Sam Wheat who done the mix even had a multi-track recording to work with in the first place and if he did, he certainly never knew how to utilise it for a 5.1 mix.

Even if you could of just had the audience coming out the rears it would of been better. Instead all you get is practically everything from the stereo mix shoved in the rears set at a level that low that you will have to put your ears close up to the rear speakers to be able to hear anything coming out. However, by doing what he has done with the mix does tend to give you a fuller overall sound in relation to the stereo mix.

The DTS Decoder perhaps would have more of a bearing has to why the 5.1 mix does present you with a fuller sound and regardless, both mixes sound good. Although this is not a 5.1 mix by any means that is going to give you an immersive experience or make you feel you are at the concert itself and in reality, it’s perhaps an insult to even call it a 5.1 mix which is why it only gets 2 out of 10 from my rating.

Musicians & Credits…

Credits pic_Fotor

Original 1989 Production Produced by Gregory Sills. Directed by Louis J. Horvitz. Executive Producer Lorne Michaels. Associate Producer Jeff Ross. Lighting Design by Patrick Woodroffe. Set Design & Art Direction by Mark Fisher. Tour Director Michael Cohl

2020 Production Executive Producers for The Rolling Stones. Joyce Smyth. Jane Rose & Dave Trafford. Executive Producers for Eagle Rock Entertainment. Geoff Kempin. Lindsay Brown & Simon Hosken. Audio Mix by Sam Wheat. Audio Mastering by Mazen Murad @ Katara Studios. Camera Coordinator Ron Sheldon. Video Editor Kyle Smart. Picture Restoration by Simon Marbrook @Final Frame. Grading by Pete Lynch @ Final Frame.

Tour Photography by Mikio Ariga. Richard Bonenfant. George Chin. Mark Fisher. Kevin Mazur. Paul Natkin & Dimo Safari. Sleeve Notes by Anthony Decurtis. Design by Mark Norton.

Mick Jagger: Vocals/Guitar/Harmonica.
Keith Richards: Guitar/Vocals.
Bill Wyman: Bass.
Charlie Watts: Drums.
Ronnie Wood: Guitar.

Additional musicians.
Chuck Leavell: Keyboards/ Backing Vocals.
Bobby Keys: Saxophone.
Matt Clifford: Keyboards/Backing Vocals/Percussion/French Horn.
Lisa Fischer: Backing Vocals.
Bernard Fowler: Backing Vocals.
Cindy Mizelle: Backing Vocals.

The Uptown Horns.
Arno Hecht – Saxophone. Paul Litteral – Trumpet. Robert Funk – Trombone. Crispin Cioe – Saxophone.

Special Guests.
Eric Clapton: Guitar.
John Lee Hooker: Vocals/Guitar.

The Concert In Review…

This particular concert was captured on the 19th December 1989 at the Convention Centre (more profoundly known as Boardwalk Hall) in the county of New Jersey in Atlantic City, America. It was the second of three concerts they played at the Convention Centre in that month and their North American tour ended the very next day on the 20th at the same venue.


The Convention Centre held a capacity of around 16,000 people and it was the smallest venue the band had played at on their Steel Wheels Tour. It was also the venue that staged many of Mike Tyson’s fights and many other sporting events took place at the venue besides many other bands and artists who played there. Even The Beatles played there on their very first US Tour back in the early 60’s.


Right next to the Convention Centre stood one of the former president’s empires the Trump Plaza which was an hotel and casino owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts. Donald Trump tried to wrestle his way into many of the events that took place at the Convention Centre including the WrestleMania IV and WrestleMania V events that took place in 1988 and 1989 respectively. Although in reality Trump was only the sponsor of both events and nothing more.


He even managed to weasel his way into being part of the promotion of the three nights that the Stones played at the venue which did not go down particularly well with Keith Richards. None of the Stones liked Trump even back then and they were not too pleased when they arrived in Atlantic city and was greeted by a sign reading “Donald Trump Presents The Rolling Stones” with Trump’s name appearing in a larger font than the band’s.

The Canadian concert promoter Michael Cohl nicknamed the so-called Howard Hughes of rock ‘n’ roll was in charge of handling the Steel Wheels tour and was the tour director. Cohl is most famous for having overseen the tours and related ancillary businesses for more than 150 artists, including Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Pink Floyd, U2 and so on.

Part of the deal to play the concert in Atlantic city was that they needed a venue where they could stage a pay per view concert to generate more money from the tour. Trump owned many properties and had a lot of holdings in the city and was their back door into staging such an event. He also appeared to be the only one interested.

However, the Stones didn’t want to be associated with Trump. So, they cut a deal with him through Cohl, stipulating he wouldn’t be involved in any promotional capacity outside of Atlantic City and wouldn’t be allowed at the show itself.

But on the day the Stones arrived at the venue and was about to give a speech in the press room. Trump was giving his own speech in the room which did not got down to well with Keith Richards resulting in him coming to blows with Cohl pulling a knife out of his pocket and slamming it on a table telling him that either Trump leaves the building or we will.

Apparently according to the story Cohl had to evict Trump out of his own building by force by signalling his head of security, who “got 40 of the crew with tire irons and hockey sticks and screwdrivers” effectively sending off Trump and three of his goons who he had noticed two them putting on gloves and the other brass knuckledusters. As to if that’s true or not I could not tell you and for all I know it could of been Michael Cohl who started all this FAKE NEWS! 😁😁😁.

The only reason the concert footage still exists is that the band were able to set up a pay-per-view deal to broadcast the concert live on Television which also helped to generate a lot of revenue from the concert. They also roped in a few special guests to attract further attention and pull in the viewers and pundits to pay for it.

It’s also widely remembered by fans for a mishap where viewers were cut off from the performance during the song “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction“, as well as the performance of “Miss You” in some countries. Oddly enough they have advertised this official new release as coming with 100% satisfaction guaranteed most likely due to that mishap on the night it was screened back then. 

On With The Show…

Like many of the bands live shows they tend to roll out a few songs from their latest album along with many of their big hits from the past. In general, that is very much the norm with most bands and for the biggest majority of people it is their old classic hits that they go to see them play. However, the one thing I have noticed about the Stones is that they like to mix it up and throw in something from all their albums where they can and even play an odd album track, they have never played before and this show is no exception.

What you are getting here is full show that was played on the night in question and the band rolled out 27 songs over the 2 hours, 37 minutes and 48 seconds you do get. They also included 5 of the 12 songs from their latest Steel Wheels album and often mixed up some of the songs from their new album for some of their other shows on the tour.

The band kick off the show with a song from their 1981 Tattoo You album “Start Me Up” which really is a GREAT! song to get you in the mood and the swing of things. They keep things moving with “Bitch” which is one of three songs they play from their 1971 Sticky Fingers album, they then roll out one of their new songs from the Steel Wheels album which is actually the first track on the album “Sad Sad Sad“.

Undercover of the Night” from their 1983 album Undercover is up next and there is no doubt the Stones still have what it takes to be ROCKING! things up still in their 40’s. They continue to do so has they fire up a cover of Bob & Earl’sHarlem Shuffle” that found it’s way on their 1986 album Dirty Work and was more of a commercial success for the Stones than it was for Bob & Earl and they really ROCK! this one out.

Another of the bands smash hits “Tumbling Dice” is fired up next and strangely enough this is one of only two songs they chose to do from their 1972 album Exile On Main St. This is followed up by another sure fire hit from their 1978 album Some Girls with “Miss You” and I quite like this song though I personally think they have performed it better than they do here. It’s then back to the second of the songs from their new album Steel Wheels as they roll out “Terrifying“.

Speaking of terrifying the performance of this beautiful ballad of a song “Ruby Tuesday” of theirs is not to my liking. It’s really down to how low-key Mick Jagger sings it and it’s perhaps understandable because many singers do tend to lose a lot of the higher notes as they get on in life.

Jagger still very much has certain aspects of his voice for the harder edge songs however, quite often his voice no longer reflects the finer qualities it had when he was much younger. It does show whenever he sings ballads has you will see in this official video release from the concert the band posted on their Tube channel.

To be fair it is far from terrifying and I was being harsh by even suggesting that it was 😁😁😁. Really it is down to me comparing how his voice was much sweeter back in the 60’s to give the song more of the justice it deserved because it really is such a GREAT! song. In all honesty this is still a good performance.

I can also remember hearing Julian Lennon cover the song on the radio back in 1992 and I thought he gave it more justice with the sweeter tones of his voice than what Jagger does here. I even brought the 4-track CD single release of “Get A LifeLennon had released just for his version of the song. I thought he done quite a GRAND! job of it but I personally don’t think you will never beat the original version from the 60’s.

Next up we have “Salt Of The Earth” which is one of the two songs they decided to do from my all-time personal favourite Stones album Beggars Banquet released back in 1968. They also drag out the first of the special guests who get to accompany them on the song who happens to be Guns N’ Roses front man Axl Rose and the bands rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin.

Both Guns N’ Roses and Living Colour were the opening acts for the Stones earlier on the same North American Tour and played over a few days at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in October 89′. The latter of the two bands Living Colour also supported them on the tour longer and played at a good few other venues, although there was no support act for the shows they put on in Atlantic city.

What did surprise me about this performance was Axl‘s voice and it sounded entirely different to his husky growly voice that he sings with his own band and much more refined and sweeter. I would not say it was one of the highlights of the show but it’s a GREAT! song.

It’s back to the Steel Wheels album next and this time they roll out a couple of the singles they released from the album “Rock and a Hard Place” and “Mixed Emotions” the latter of the two being the more successful hit from the album reaching number 2 in the UK and 3 in the US respectively. They knock both of these songs out of the ballpark has you can see in this other video of the latter of the two songs the band put on their Tube channel.

To be honest I am surprised the Stones never put out a video of this next song from the show on their Tube channel and “Honky Tonk Women” is certainly one of the highlights from the show. During the performance a couple of hooker dolls get inflated and blown up and they must be about 50 – 60 feet high. It surprised me even more when they deflated them and only used them for this song only. No expense was spared whatsoever and they must have cost a fortune to have made.

The band continue to roll out numbers from the same time period and up next, we have a couple of three songs they chose to do from their 1969 album Let It Bleed. Which is another of my personal favourite Stones albums. You can certainly see that the band were well fired up after their 7-year hiatus from playing live with this excellent performance of “Midnight Rambler” they also posted on their Tube channel.

I love Jagger’s (Gob Iron) harmonica playing on this one and he is such a GREAT! player of the instrument he’s always been so energetic too and that’s what makes him such a good front man. Which is more than I can say for Bill Wyman who is that stiff at times and he looks like a cardboard cut-out 😁😁😁. The band really knock this song out of the ballpark though and also do the same with the classic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” that follows.

The other couple of special guests that take the stage for the next couple of numbers though it’s only Eric Clapton who plays on two of them and he does a GREAT! job on Willie Dixon’sLittle Red Rooster” with the band. John Lee Hooker then proceeds to join them and they roll one of his songs “Boogie Chillen” and both these songs are amongst my personal highlights from the show too and are really GREAT! to see.

The next couple of songs “Can’t Be Seen” and “Happy” gives Keith Richards a chance to take on vocal duties whilst Jagger exits the stage for a change of clothes. Unfortunately, he’s not the best of singers and his voice does sort of murder the first of them which happens to be the final song they do from their new album Steel Wheels. I would have loved to of heard them do “Hearts for Sale” or “Almost Hear You Sigh” which are amongst my favourite tracks from that album. However, Richards voice is not to bad on “Happy” which is the final of the songs Exile On Main St and his voice does suit some songs.

The band go back to the 60’s and roll out a few more classics starting with “Paint It Black” which is followed by a song from their 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request and “2000 Light Years from Home” gets its first live airing as the band have never played it live before. I have to confess it was an album I was never fond of but it’s not too bad hearing it here. 

Mick Jagger then makes good use of one the higher platforms of the stage for other classic from their Beggars Banquet album “Sympathy for the Devil”. Speaking of the stage the 4:3 aspect ratio does not entirely let you get to see all of it and widescreen is really missed for a concert like this. However, the editing is quite good but it does not capture all of Jagger’s antics of running around the stage like you will see on their much later concerts like Voodoo Lounge and Bridges To Babylon.

It’s then back to the final song from their Let It Bleed album and they really are running through some classics and do another GREAT! job of “Gimme Shelter“. They then belt the only song from their 1974 album It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll and “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)” always goes down a treat at most of their shows and there is no exception here.

The band finish of the show with 3 MASSIVE! classics the first of which is the final of the three songs from the Sticky Fingers album “Brown Sugar” and is followed up by “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” the only song from their 1965 album Out of Our Heads and for an encore they belt out “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and finish the show off in GREAT! style.


To sum up Steel Wheels Live At Atlantic City New Jersey by The Rolling Stones. There is no doubt the band were well oiled and fired up by the time they played at this venue after their 7-year hiatus from playing live and they certainly put on a GREAT! show. But as I posed in my question in my introduction. Where they really any better back then?

Judging by the performance it’s very difficult to really say and for me the Stones have always been a GREAT! live band regardless of the members that have been in it and are no longer in it over the past 5 decades. They certainly know how to put on a GREAT! show too and I would say that as they got older their shows became even more SPECTACULAR! and BIGGER!

Though I will admit that I certainly get a bit more more of a kick out of their much earlier live performances when Mick Taylor was in the band in the early 70’s. The Ladies and Gentlemen live DVD that was released in 2010 captures the band very well back in 1974 on their Exile On Main St tour.

But if you want more of a pristine picture and sound quality you will only really get that from their much later concerts from 1996 onwards on the live DVD’s & Blu Rays of their Voodoo Lounge, Bridges to Babylon and The Biggest Bang live shows and so on. Those live shows really amaze me with how well the band can still perform so well and they are also better suited for the Blu Ray format as well being filmed in HD and have fairly decent 5.1 surround sound too.

My personal highlights from the show are as follows: “Honky Tonk Women“. “Midnight Rambler“. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want“. “Little Red Rooster“. “Boogie Chillen“. “Gimme Shelter” and “Brown Sugar“.


To conclude my review of The Rolling Stones live concert captured at the Convention Centre in Atlantic City back in 1989. I am going to mainly focus my attention on whether this release offers any real value and is worth buying in relation to what has already previously been released from their 1989/90 Steel Wheels Tours. 


Parts of the bands Steel Wheels Tour was also released on DVD and later on Blu Ray such as Live At The Max originally released on VHS & DVD back in 1992. Although this captures the band in 1990 on their Urban Jungle part of the tour in various parts of Europe. It was also shot with 8 IMAX cameras and basically this concert has been stitched together by using footage from the shows they played in London, England. Turin, Italy and in East Berlin, Germany. What you have here is not a complete live show like what was captured at the Convention Centre.

However, what you do get here is way more visually STUNNING! in that it captures not only the band a lot better in their performance but also the massive stage they had built. You can also see everything far more clearly in relation to this Atlantic city concert. It’s also in 16.9 widescreen and not in a 4:3 aspect ratio and even sounds better. In terms of quality this is by far the best footage that has ever been captured of their Steel Wheels Tour and it’s been very well stitched together to make it look like it’s from one show.

Though despite the visual 4:3 aspect ratio to which no doubt will put off a lot of people from buying this new release. This is still very much a quality release and is much better quality than Live At The Tokyo Dome they released earlier on DVD & Blu Ray. 


The footage from this particular concert is really what the Stones even called themselves an official bootleg release. You will instantly notice the difference in the quality between the both shows if you watch the video clips I have posted in my review of this concert and the footage from the Tokyo Dome DVD on the Tube.

As to if they have cleaned it up for the box set package you can also buy of this concert, I could not tell you, and I avoided buying the box set due to the footage I had seen on the Tube a few years back. Though if it’s a full concert you are looking for both of these will give you that.

The beauty about any live concert is that no performance is ever the same and each live performance can give you something different even if they are more or less playing the same set of songs like on all three of these releases. The good thing is that their career has been very well documented and there are plenty of live concerts you can go out and buy on DVD & Blu Ray plus in audio only on Vinyl & CD.

Even though this concert of the band playing live in Atlantic city has been advertised as previously unreleased. Parts of it have been released in audio only and a couple of the songs from it found their way onto their live Flashpoint album back in 1991. I dare say other songs from it have appeared as bonus tracks on remastered albums over the years too.

Steel Wheels Live At Atlantic City is not my personal favourite show of the band and I would recommend both the Voodoo Lounge and Bridges to Babylon concert releases over this. However, it still provides GREAT! entertainment for the buck in my honest opinion. Though if this is something you are interested in buying, I would personally recommend you save yourself a few bucks and go with the DVD.

The Rolling Stones are highly entertaining no matter what decade they played in and I can get a lot of pleasure from all their concert releases on DVD & Blu Ray that have been released over the years. They maybe only rock n’ roll but I do like them and I am sure many others do as well.

It’s Only Rock N’ Roll But I Like It…

The Blu Ray track listing is as follows:

01 Intro
02 Start Me Up
03 Bitch
04 Sad Sad Sad
05 Undercover Of The Night
06 Harlem Shuffle
07 Tumbling Dice
08 Miss You
09 Terrifying
10 Ruby Tuesday
11 Salt Of The Earth (featuring Axl Rose & Izzy Stradlin)
12 Rock And A Hard Place
13 Mixed Emotions
14 Honky Tonk Women
15 Midnight Rambler
16 You Can’t Always Get What You Want
17 Little Red Rooster(featuring Eric Clapton)
18 Boogie Chillen (featuring Eric Clapton & John Lee Hooker)
19 Can’t Be Seen
20 Happy
21 Paint It Black
22 2,000 Light Years From Home
23 Sympathy For The Devil
24 Gimme Shelter
25 It’s Only Rock n Roll (But I Like It)
26 Brown Sugar
27 (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
28 Jumpin’ Jack Flash

Lee’s Overall Rating…

The Price Point Rating. 9/10.

The Picture Quality Rating. 7/10.

The 5.1 Mix Rating. 2/10.

The Stereo Mix Rating. 7/10.

The Overall Concert Rating. 6/10.