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Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings CD (album) cover

SPECTRAL MORNINGS

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

4.17 | 556 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Leonardo
5 stars This is Steve's Masterpiece, a classic album with classic tracks that would grace the very best albums of any artist, let alone progressive artists.

By the time Steve was ready to record this album, he had formed a closely knitted team of talented artists that were to be his band over the next few years. Their ability to translate Steve's ideas to music and lend them the emotion and dynamism Steve had intended, only enhances this recording further.

The opening track "Every Day" starts the album off well, a lively rock number with good vocals and an extended play out that allows Steve to exercise his flair on the electric guitar.

The next track, "The Virgin & the Gypsy" was inspired by a book called "A Victorian Book of Flowers", and is an absolute gem of a ballad. The piece is built up from guitar synth with multi-tracked harpsichord and 12-string guitar, and becomes magic when backed with the harmonies of Pete Hicks & Dick Cadbury. The icing on the cake however is the double tracked flutes played randomly by Steve's brother John that lend the song a hauntingly wild and beautiful Celtic airs.

The next piece - "The Red flower of Tachai..." sees Steve performing what would nowadays be called "World Music" - a Cantonese Koto being the main instrument played in this track. This has been used more than once as a backdrop to TV documentaries about Japan, so you can say that Steve captured feeling of that country very well in this number.

The last track slips neatly into the next - "Clocks - the Angel of Mons" which was released as a single at the time. This is another one of Steve's heavy rock classics that starts with the ticking of clocks, and builds up into a frenzy of swooping guitar swings as Steve slides up and down every fret on the neck of his guitar. The finale is the best rock drum solo I have ever heard from any group or artist!

Steve often includes a humorous piece on his albums, and the next track "The ballad of the decomposing man" based round gossip at an office party and is probably the best of his humorous works, changing tempo halfway through into a latin/samba style affair.

The last three tracks on the original album is really what made this release so accomplished.

"Lost Time in Cordoba" is a classical guitar piece with a haunting background accompaniment that lends both a dream like and ghostly element to the proceedings. This sets the scene neatly into a towering piece called "Tigermoth chances" a tale of a first world war fighter pilot meeting an untimely end. This piece starts off at a dramatic and epic pace, with an arial march thundering out from organs and John Shearer's drums (you really have to listen to this on earphones). Steve's guitar in parts mimics the sound of machine gun fire, ghostly voices and falling planes before the whole piece mellows down into an acoustic middle section with Pete Hicks providing the perfect vocals for the ensuing tale. The last third of this piece fades out with a beautiful waltz style ending on acoustic guitar. This is one of Steve's finest "epic" songs.

The last track on the original album is utterly sublime. An composition for electric guitar and synth, this to my mind is Steve's finest composition, in which he produced a majestic, ethereal and incredibly moving piece of classical rock, unlike anything I have ever heard of before, using subdued symbols and percussion other than drums to highlight its atmosphere. The whole piece raises the hairs on the back of your neck. The remastered version comes with a bumper collection of bonus tracks (7 in all!), although most are alternate (and not wildly different) versions of the originals.

Overall, I cannot think of a better album to recommend to Steve Hackett novices, or indeed to anyone else who is new to prog rock.

Leonardo | 5/5 |

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