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Steve Hackett - Highly Strung CD (album) cover

HIGHLY STRUNG

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

2.94 | 173 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars All strung up

Highly Strung is actually one of the better of Steve Hackett's solo albums! It was an improvement over his previous album, Cured (which is not at all as bad as some people say in the first place!), and better than his incoherent first three albums albums. Compared to these earlier albums this one is more consistent. With the exception of the most recent Cured album, all previous Hackett solo albums employed other vocalists. On this album, Steve again handles all the vocals himself - and he is really good at it here! Hackett has a really good Rock voice that fits this music very well. The styles involved are Rock, Pop and Jazz-Rock/Fusion, blended in a very nice way. The Rock songs Camino Royale, Cell 151 and the Jazz-Rock/Fusion style Group Therapy and Always Somewhere Else are all excellent numbers. These are also the best tracks here together with the lovely piano ballad India Rubber Man. Cell 151 is similar to Every Day from the Spectral Mornings album.

The poppier songs on Highly Strung, such as Walking Through Walls and Weightless, on the other hand, would probably not have attracted my attention on their own. But they somehow work within the context of the other songs, making the overall impression of the album a very good one. India Rubber Man is a beautiful piano number with an excellent vocal from Steve. I often catch myself humming the melody of this song, even when I haven't heard this album for a long time! India Rubber Man is the only really quiet moment here where the listener can catch his breath for a while before the closer, Hackett To Pieces (not to be confused with Hackett To Bits from the GTR album). This last instrumental revisits some earlier themes, tying the album up neatly.

I am well aware that many Prog fans will find this album too Pop and be distracted by the 80's production. But I have a soft spot for this album's fusion of Rock, Pop, Jazz-Rock and Prog. The guitar work is amazing (as usual) and Nick Magnus' keyboard work is great as well. The drums are by Ian Mosley of Marillion fame. However, I must say that the drums are perhaps not the strongest link in the band here. There are indeed some parts where the drums are allowed to stretch out and be complex to great effect, but on other parts they are rather simple and not very elaborated. The drums on Walking Through Walls are the worst. There is also no acoustic instrumental this time, which I miss. But you can't have everything can you?

I know that I am in a minority here, but in my opinion, Highly Strung is a very underrated album that is actually one of Hackett's better albums!

Highly recommended!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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