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Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings CD (album) cover

SPECTRAL MORNINGS

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

4.17 | 556 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars With his first two (uneven) albums as reference points, Steve Hackett set out to form his own group (although it will never be really stable in terms of line-up) and recorded his third album Spectral Mornings, which remains his best (and certainly my fave) even some three decades later. It is no coincidence that a good deal of today's shows is from this album, and a few more from the albums surrounding it. Graced with one of his wife's drawing of him (and similar to the next album's artwork, which causes many fans to link the two albums), this is one of Hackett's most even/consistent of his long solo career. Where the previous PDT was a very unfocused affair with plenty of all star guests (like the usual solo albums are generally), this album has a group feel even if there are glaring weaknesses like the lack of a good singer and maybe a second writer to help him out. But I am nitpicking here.

So from the opening lines of Every Day (obviously lifted from Beethoven's Ninth and the part of Hymn to the joy) to the last lines of the title track, this album is a pure joy, and a sort of revenge for Genesis fans that were completely distraught by their first album without him and good ol'Steve taunts the fans with some melodies that he had previously used with his former group (this is evident in the opener once more). I think that Steve was partly out to prove something to his former mates, the fans and also to himself. But as mentioned above, the vocals are the main weak point of the album: both the first tracks are hindered by this especially Virgin (which like its succeeding track Red Flower are both Far East-influenced), but the next few tracks are instrumentals. And once the album plunges into the formidable Clocks (Angel Of Mons), the listener is definitely won over. Clocks is probably Hackett's best track ever written and often still pops up in concert. This track is certainly worthy of W&W; although I am sure Collins would've handled the drum interlude a bit more subtly.

The second side starts with the very strange Decomposing Man, which takes us back to previous weirdies like Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging lunacy, although lacking the pure genius of that track. In this song, we get one of the first Brazilian music influences (see the Cured album) and subtitled The Office Party. Lost Time is mainly an acoustic guitar affair. And then out comes of another of Hackett's mythical number, the excellent (and longuest) Tigermoth, and the signing here reminds me of Klaatu's Hope album (out the same year) and Spectral Mornings close the album in the finest of mellotronic fashion.

So as much as I'd wish to be a total fan of this album (and therefore getting a revenge from ATTWT) , honesty forces me to say that apart from the vocals, a second writer to help make his excellent ideas become outstanding ones. Even if most of his sidemen do not compare with his former bandmates, the band manages fine, with Magnus and Steve's brother being long time collab for the future. Steve's best album (but it does take its time - Clocks - before really getting started ;-), but I have a hard time calling this essential prog music (essential Hackett certainly), because it is a flawed album (like all of them, honestly), but it has many endearing qualities and a few (4) excellent tracks. So I will round it up to the upper star, making it four, as well.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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