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Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

4.14 | 852 ratings

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5 stars Before I turned into a bird, I had a record player and a CD player, and owned copies of all the early Steve Hackett albums from Voyage Of the Acolyte through Highly Strung, minus Defector. So maybe I would like Defector more, especially going by the songs I have heard from it, but for now I'm going to say that Spectral Mornings is my favorite Steve Hackett album. Logically, the first two are just as good or even better/more consistant, but what really lifts this one above the others is the solos. These are just some of the most character defining, expressive, and endlessly enthralling solos he's ever put down, even rivaling the ones he recorded for Genesis. I'm thinking in particular of the extremely melodic whole main theme for the song "Spectral Mornings", and the ones in "Every Day". What is it about that the first solo in "Every Day" that makes it so fun to listen to? It does bear close resemblance to early classical, but it's played in a very electric rock tone, with a decidedly rock band backing him, and the tone he uses is just very personally him, which is also kind of a rock thing. It's powerful rock music that reaches to higher spiritual places. The song overall has a really good sound, too, with true prog organ lead, and very confident and clear 3-part singing. The following song, "The Virgin and the Gypsy" is a very transporting change of environment, with more of those clear vocal harmonies, (Steve's singing has grown with this album, and blends very well with Pete Hicks and Dik Cadbury's voices) wonderfully beautiful layered wind parts from John Hackett, and a Taurus pedal- wrapped atmosphere that complements the emotionally rich melody perfectly. Afterwards, we get just what a listener would want to hear after such a piece, an even more exotic atmosphere in "The Red Flower of Taichai Blooms Everywhere." "Clocks" may not have anything new on tracks like "A Tower Struck Down" and "Please Don't Touch!" (besides that virtuoso drum break, of course), but again, it's the solos and leads that really take these songs to a new level. Steve has perfected his vibrato and timing expression here, and any fan of his playing will appreciate this piece as well. "The Ballad of the Decomposing Man" may not be as interesting as the rest of the album, and "Lost Time In Cordoba" may even be one of his lesser acoustic tracks, but the former is humourous and eclectic, Steve's singing does fit these types of songs, and it's a needed diversion for the continuity of the album that I can't imagine not being there. And "Lost Time in Cordoba" is certainly some impressive playing, with production that gives it a very "cold" feel, which adds depth to the overall sound of the album. "Tigermoth" - again, very good soloing, and a very unexpected shift to the major key section of the song that may sound overly happy at first given the subject matter, but if you let the melody get inside you, it's actually very meloncholy and fitting. And oh, those harmonies. The last song, the one called "Spectral Mornings" is unfogettably one of Hackett's best, an all instrumental based around one of the best guitar lead melodies known to man. His expression on this piece is indescibable, especially in those sustained high notes. The band puts exactly the right parts in (complete with 32-note hi-hat), and I especially love the keyboard breaks right before Steve brings the lead crashing back in. If you're a fan of symponic prog, old Genesis, or Steve Hackett in general, you can't go wrong with Spectral Mornings.
7headedchicken | 5/5 |


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