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Steve Hackett - Cured  CD (album) cover

CURED

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

2.38 | 209 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Steve Hackett is finally cured from his previous vocal inhibitions

Don't get me wrong, there were some great vocal moments from Steve on previous albums as well, but most of the songs were handled by guest vocalists, or by Peter Hicks. Also a lot of the time, when he did get to sing, Steve felt the need to "hide" his own vocals behind effects and/or humour on songs like The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man, for example. Cured is the first album on which he did all the vocals himself and his voice sounds very good here. The a cappella introduction to Hope I Don't Wake is a powerful statement to that effect. Surely, these layered vocals have been given a studio treatment of some kind (apart from the layering itself), but everyone does that (well, not really but you get my point). Steve is often accused of not being a good vocalist, but I think he has a wonderful tone to his voice, and from this album onwards he was the perfect vocalist for his own music.

Because of Steve's newfound confidence in the vocal department this album is more song orientated than his previous, more instrumentally based albums. This has led some people to dismiss this album as a pure Pop record. I think that is just a little bit rash. I agree that there are several poppier songs here, notably the first three and also Funny Feeling. But the instrumental attack of guitars, keyboards and bass is basically the same as on Defector and Spectral Mornings. There are drum machines on this album, however. I usually hate drum machines but they don't bother me too much here.

Further, the great instrumental Jazz-Rock/Fusion workout on Air Conditioned Nightmare would have fitted perfectly on any of the two previous albums both in terms of style and quality. The guitars, bass and keyboards all sound amazing here.

A Cradle Of Swans is the obligatory classical guitar piece. Not one of Hackett's most memorable, but it works as a nice little interlude. Interestingly, the bonus tracks on the new CD edition includes two other classical guitar pieces that are much better than A Cradle Of Swans. So make sure that you get the remastered edition.

My favourite track from Cured is Overnight Sleeper. This song has a classical guitar intro that leads into a loud and somewhat mysterious keyboard melody. At this stage you think that this is going to be another instrumental Fusion track in the style of Air Conditioned Nightmare, but instead it turns into a vocal rock/pop song. After that there is a danceable(!) Folk passage with hand claps and flute leads by Steve's brother John Hackett. The vocals return and towards the very end it turns into a fast Jazz-Rock/Fusion workout again. A very eclectic piece, that really sums this album up.

The album ends with Turn Back Time which is a slow, emotional ballad with a strong vocal performance. Not too interesting though.

As I said, there are some Pop songs here, if you cannot stand any of that, then stay away! Personally, I have something of a soft spot for this album. For me it is very listenable. I have actually listened to it three times today while writing this review - it is somehow addictive stuff for me. The eclectic Overnight Sleeper, the instrumental fusion of Air Conditioned Nightmare and the vocally strong and melodious Hope I Don't Wake should not be missed by hard core Hackett fans.

Cured is not at all as bad as some people say! Still, there are no real classic songs on this album like Every Day from Spectral Mornings or Camino Royale from Highly Strung. There should not have been drum machines here. And the cover art work is just horrid!

So, this is certainly not the best place to start if you want to discover Steve Hackett's solo career. Quite the contrary, actually. But it is still a good album with some great moments. His next album Highly Strung is in many respects much better and that album has most of the good aspects of this one, but fewer of the negative ones.

Good, but not essential.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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