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Steve Hackett - Highly Strung CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

2.95 | 295 ratings

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A Crimson Mellotron
2 stars 'Highly Strung' is the sixth solo studio album by guitar extraordinaire Steve Hackett, released in April of 1983. It also happens to be his last one on the label Charisma, which hints at the fact that the times around the creation of this recording were a bit harsh, with Hackett being pressurized and the label interfering into his creation process, also disagreeing on some of the decisions he had taken. Interestingly, this is the album on which Ian Mosley plays, who would join Marillion a year later for the release of 'Fugazi', a completely different album from this Hackett one.

Being released in 1983, 'Highly Strung' carries strongly what I consider the typical (and probably stereotypical) sound of an 80s art pop/progressive pop mediocre recording - the pathetic synth sounds, the arena-flavored drum beats, the boring songwriting, the predictable song structures, and all these little details that just make an album less and less interesting. In spite of all these flaws, it has to be noted that the guitar playing is, as it could be expected, truly delicious. Steve Hackett, despite trying to write a prog pop album that would eventually hit the charts and make him an international star, still preserves his right to play some fantastic and enjoyable guitars - absolutely the best aspect of this album.

However, the songwriting is weak, the songs are generally generic, and the few ones that would eventually have to stand out are the instrumentals, these being 'Always Somewhere Else' and 'Group Therapy' (maybe hinting at the good old Genesis days?); I would also say the opening track 'Camino Royale' is pleasant to hear a couple of times. Alongside Steve Hackett and Ian Mosley, this record also features another prominent member of the group, the keyboard player and producer Nick Magnus.

Going back to Genesis, one could come to the conclusion that there is a bit of a competition between Hackett and his old band, which by the way, were not doing at the time too inspiring music either, but were certainly more successful; Hence, this poppier direction. However, in my humble opinion, this style does not fit the majestic guitarist that Hackett is, but after achieving everything musically in the 70s, it should come as no surprise that the quality of the music goes gradually down.

A Crimson Mellotron | 2/5 |


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