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Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

4.14 | 857 ratings

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The Ace Face
4 stars A great step up from Please Don't Touch, an overcluttered album with many celebrity appearances that tended to cramp Hackett's style, this album is where he found his sound. A great album, to be followed by a masterpiece: Defector. Here We go:

Everyday: Starting with some poppy upbeat keyboards, it seems Hackett has sold out, but it keeps the attention of the listener with some dreamy vocals from Hackett and nice guitar work underlying them. The chorus seems even poppier, but the short bridge is positively gorgeous, with the guitar and keyboards keying in a sad melody. The guitar then blasts into the chorus again. Soon we reach the masterful guitar solo, starting with some nice runs and fast playing during the pop keyboard motif, but soon the sad minibridge is reprised and the guitar really takes over. The mellotron provides great background for what may be one of Hackett's best solos ever. He uses some interesting sounds, and the drums keep the steady, quick heartbeat underneath. Overall, one of Hackett's best, and a great way to start the album.

The Virgin and The Gypsy: A nice acoustic track with some great vocal harmonies in a sort of call-answer form, with some nice bubbly percussion. the keyboards create a gorgeous atmosphere for this track to reside in. The middle synth solo followed by some AMAZING flute from Brother John is gorgeous again. A nice relax after the blasting opener.

The Red Flower: Great, atmospheric track using the Koto, a Japanese keyboard like instrument. This track really shows the wide range of influences Hackett has to draw from. Instead of being a solely classical or solely blues based guitarist, he plays EVERYTHING.

Clocks: A famous instrumental of Hackett's, as complex and layered as most prog instrumentals, without massive amounts of overdubs. Very interesting percussion work, and some dark, heavy riffing from Hackett. The bass is also heavy here, being heard more than anywhere else on the album. And of course, the primal, heavy drum break courtesy of John Shearer.

The Ballad of the Decomposing Man: A bouncy, silly sounding song making good use of some weird keyboards and harmonicas. the vocals are also a little odd, but I like it. The harmonica solo is cool, something you never hear on Hackett albums. the second half of the song seems to move to the Caribbean in its melody and percussion. the vocals are the same, I'm not sure who it is singing on here, but they do a good job.

Lost Time in Cordoba: Great instrumental with lots of classical guitar and flute, and the keyboard is added a little later. this is another example of Hackett's wide variety of influences.

Tigermoth: a great shifting song, with the first section being very heavy on the drums and double bass, and there is some soaring guitar leads, and the mellotron sounds evil. then theres a bit of a mellotron solo, changing chords with some interesting synth effects falling. it slowly starts to sound sad, but after a bit kicks up again with the opening theme. this dies down there are some sinister sound effects accompanied by very low register synth notes to emphasize it. then the acoustic guitar comes in with some soaring flute. the lyrics come in telling us about a war hero and his son who wants to follow in his footsteps. the militaristic drums underneath set a good mood for the song. the ending section is a classical guitar solo that gets overdubbed by a second solo after a little bit.

Spectral Mornings: An atmospheric mellotron intro leads us into the instrumental close of this great album. the guitar comes in, and the drums pick up as the main theme is introduced. there is a section with harpsichord that fits very well with Hackett's inspired leads. the soloing continues, alternately being accompanied by either mellotron or organ. about halfway through, it slows down and the mellotron takes a more central role again, creating some of the most beautiful soundscapes imaginable. then the guitar and drums come back in to take us to the end of this relaxing, omniescent instrumental.

Overall, Hackett found his sound and would embellish it on his next album, the mesmerizing Defector.

The Ace Face | 4/5 |


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