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GTR - King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents GTR CD (album) cover




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2.93 | 22 ratings

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2 stars Most of the 80s flavour of the GTR debut has been cleanud up. It's a live and Max Bacon had probably decided to take few risks by singing on a pitch not so high as in the studio versions.

"Jekyll and Hyde" is a bit slower and the sound of Hackett's guitar is cleaner. Howe play the synth guitar and the bass is more in evidence. Also the drums have lost the 80s electronic plastic sound. The result is a totally different song respect to the studio version. Of course the song itself is not a masterpiece, but at least it's not disturbing.

"Here I Wait" was probably the best track (if "best" is a word that can be used) of the debut album. Without the 80s flavour it's quite a Yes song. Also here the tempo is a bit slower and all the song is improved by this slowing down.

"Prizefighters" is a previously unreleased song. Opened by "violins and pizzicato" reminds me to Procol Harum. Not a masterpiece, probably too mellow, but always better than everything that can be found on the studio album. The interlude is a typical Hackett instrumental for the tempo, enhanceded by Howe's synth guitar. Let me say that "Improved" and "enhanced" are words easy to use respect to the absolutely awful debut.

"Imagining" was the studio album's closer. The classical guitar intro is a bit longer and some passages have been added. It's a pity that it doesn't continue in this way until the end. Even if the bass introduces the "real song" in crescendo, as it was Squire playing, the song is poor. The first sung part is accompanied by drums. This contributes to clean it up, but this is still a song good for Big Generator or for the Duran's sountrack of James Bond. The Spanish guitar coda is not that bad.

"Hackett to Bits" has the advantage of being instrumental and not featuring a Max Bacon, but it's not very different from the original version and the original was nothing special.

"Spectral Mornings" is another new track. Probably one of the few really co-written by the two Steves. It's a melodic instrumental on which the lead guitar sounds like Mike Oldfield's, and the drums are a bit too invasive.

Finally a Genesis cover heavily re-arranged with a bass line that's kept directly from Camel's Liggin' ar Louis and a guitar that would have been better played by Latimer for the first two minutes. It takes over 3 minutes to be recognizable enough. "I know what I like"...I like the Camelesque intro, but it's not functional to the song. It's just a scenic interlude. not that is badly played, of course. I'd never thought that I have preferred Phil Collins to anybody else, but it's the case. Also Fish's version on Suites is better than this in terms of singing.

"Sketches In The Sun" was the other highlight of the studio album. Open chords for Hackett and mandolin like playing by Howe. One of the few good things in both the albums.

Another song not present on the first GTR: "Pennant" is not very different from what listened up to now...quite boring, too. It's followed by "Roundabout". probably the only good reason to purchase this album/DVD. Unfortunately Max Bacon is NOT Jon Anderson and his pitch on this song is one octave lower than Jon's. Stll a great track, anyway.

After this good interlude we are back to the poor songwriting of GTR studio: musically speaking "The Hunter" could have been used as soundtrack for the Teletubbies, and the only time when Max Bacon tries to get the high pitch as in the studio album, he fails.

"You Can Still Get Through" sounds very Yes as in the original version, but less 80s. On this pitch Bacon is not bad and the variation on the chorus makes it less trivial. This is a track that can be saved.

"Reach Out" is on the same line. Very few to say about it, apart of the central instrumental part that has been improved and hosts a couple of guitar solos, so it's really better than the original.

Unfortunately the live session is closed by the worst poppy song: "When the Heart Rules The Mind". It reached the top40 in the 80s. And it should have been left there, at Top of the Pops.

This album is an anhancement respect to the very poor studio, but of course a live played by skilled musicians like the two Steves can't be totally bad. Unfortunately the songs are almost the same of the debut. It can have two stars instead of one, but it's just pop.

octopus-4 | 2/5 |


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