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Steve Hackett - Highly Strung CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

2.95 | 296 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars Why do I have to rate this three stars... Why do I have to rate this three stars... Why do I have to rate this three stars...

Wow, I mean, this could have been one monster of an album. As it is, it's still a great entry and, in my not so humble opinion, ranks as one of Steve Hackett's best albums. But didn't he 'proofread' or, at the very least, get the inkling that maybe, just maybe, some of the 'vocals' on this album needed 'improving'?

I very much enjoy his singing. His vocals are very sincere and heartfelt. But sometimes he delivers a very weak vocal.

Now this album ain't what you would necessarily call full on 'prog', it's sort of a mongrel mix, with almost half the album being progressive rock instrumentation, with three intrumentals and two songs that are half instrumental (like the Genesis SONG Abacab, the second half is all intrumental). The remaining four and two-halves seems dedicated to 'stadium-rock' or the like, which was popular at the time.

'Give it away' - wow, this sounds JUST LIKE Boston, complete with Tom Scholz style guitar and Steve's vocals even sound a bit Brad Delp. Sure, we ain't talking about prog, I get that, but this is ONE BLISTERING rock n roll cut that would have made any AOR band mighty proud.

'Wieghtless' - this is a far more laid back song and feels nice. I don't know exactly what to compare it to... it could be a complex ballad for an AOR band or someone like 10 CC, but I just know it's really nice...

'Cell 151' - sadly, this is the closest thing Steve ever got to a 'hit', It'd have been great if he'd had a few hit singles. The best things about this song are the second half full of excellent, progressive rock instrumentation (including a brief snippet of what would become 'Matilda Smith Williams') and Steve's dedicated vocal delivery. The main part of the song is VERY MUCH like Trevor Rabin territory.

Then, there is of-course, the three instrumentals 'Hackett to pieces', 'Always somewhere else' and the best one, 'Group Therapy', all worthy songs, though not as hard-edged as, say, 'Please don't touch' or 'Slogans'.

Everything seems fine, so why oh why was I complaining before about giving this album three stars? A bunch of great rocking songs, progressive enough when it needs to be, top notch songwriting, surely it's worth at least a four.

Well, 'Walking through walls' is a fine, shuffling rocker' with insistent beat, good to sing along to the chorus, but the vocal is very weak and ruins the song. 'India rubber man' is a truly second rate track. The title might or might not be a reference to the famous Ritchie Havens song 'Indian rope man'.

The comes the most frustrating song 'Camino Royale'. It's not only the most progressive sounding vocal track here, with some mesmerising instrumental sections, but it's also THE MOST CATCHY. The chorus is dang infectious 'Only the fool / learns to get through' (I think that's what Steve says). But a rather weak and mumbled vocal delivery, and buried under instruments, ruins the thing, rather than shining and making it probably the best song on the album.

So, it's a semi-spoiled prog meets arena rock masterpiece. Three stars

Brendan | 3/5 |


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