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Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings CD (album) cover

SPECTRAL MORNINGS

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

4.16 | 578 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars It's time for me to review one of the best albums by STEVE HACKETT, probably the most underrated guitar player in Progressive Rock history. During his career in GENESIS he was limited by the musical requirements of the band, there was no place for a virtuoso performer that could play many solos, but for a man who could create with Tony Banks a solid and dark atmosphere, a job that STEVE HACKETT did perfectly, even when this implied he had to sacrifice his individuality for the band's sake.

GENESIS was able to survive the loss of Peter Gabriel, the frontman, vocalist and lyricist, something very hard for any band, but the day that the until that point obscure Hackett left GENESIS, the last trace of originality left by the same door.

But it was the real change for Steve Hackett's career, the guy that had to be limited by the requirements of GENESIS could freely express everything he had inside, he could make solos, play acoustic songs and flashy electric guitar sections whenever he wanted, and he was able to create the really complex and elaborated music that he was not allowed to release with GENESIS.

"Spectral Mornings" is Steve's third album, the second after he left GENESIS and the first one that must be credited exclusively to him. Some people argue that in Voyage of the Acolyte he had the valuable help of Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford and that on "Please Don't Touch" great musicians as Ritchie Havens, Phil Ehart, Steve Walsh and Chester Thompson supported him, so still they could argue that good old Steve was not capable of doing anything by himself.

But Spectral Mornings served to shut all those voices; this album is done almost exclusively by him and his personal band with his brother John and a group of solid but almost unknown musicians. And to be honest I believe it's much more solid than Please Don't Touch and in the same level of V.O.T.A.

All the tracks are perfectly balanced, not a single filler or weak song, the sounds goes from complex Progressive Rock as in Every Day or Spectral Mornings to Japanese inspired tracks like The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere and extremely beautiful acoustic tracks as Lost Time in Cordova.

This variety of sounds, atmospheres and styles prove that Steve Hackett is by far the most versatile musician of Prog' Rock and the one that made the most solid career from all the members of the iconic bands of the 70's, a guy that really discovered his greatness when he left the parameters of the excellent GENESIS.

Now, lets go to the higher points (even when it's hard to find any weaker one):

"Every Day" opens the album more or less in the vein of Voyage of the acolyte, strong, complex, with radical changes, probably is the song where he sounds closer to his days in GENESIS because he places special emphasis in the atmospheres blending his guitar with Nick Magnus Keyboards who sounds somehow similar to Tony Banks. Excellent track where everything is perfect.

"The Virgin and the Gypsy" is a vocal track where STEVE plays very beautiful acoustic sections, flows gently from start to end and still is a favorite that he usually plays in his concerts.

The next track is the unusual "The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere" where Steve plays the Koto (Japanese string instrument which a very characteristic sound. A traditional KOTO has 13 strings, being arched tautly across 13 movable bridges along the length of the instrument that is about 1 Mt. 80 Cms) that Hackett plays as a master, the Japanese atmosphere is perfectly recreated but still with the peculiar Steve sound in the background, short enough to sound original and not reach the point where it could bore anybody, another excellent track.

"Clocks (The Angel Of Mons)" is another song that could have been taken from Voyage of the Acolyte, strong, atmospheric and absolutely dark, besides the excellent guitar work is necessary to mention the solid work of John Shearer in the drums, until this point, not a single weak track.

Some people don't like "The Ballad of the Decomposing Man" but I find it interesting, starts similar to something recorded in the first two decades of the Twentieth Century with a strong touch of Vaudeville, but it's important to remember that fantasies like this are not strange, bands as Queen (Seaside Rendezvous) or even ELP (Jeremy Bender and The Sheriff) made songs that sounded a bit out of place and maybe as comedy relief, but in this case Steve adds some very pleasant Ragtime and early Jazz touches but that's not all, suddenly before the end he surprises us with a Caribbean sound, pretty interesting blending of sounds, styles and influences very peculiar but still good.

Now it's time for Steve to prove his abilities as classical/acoustic guitar player, and "Lost Time in Cordoba" is the perfect chance, extremely beautiful and the evidence that Mr. Hackett is by far one of he best (if not the best) acoustic guitar performers of Prog Rock.

"Tigermoth" is another dark and atmospheric track that could easily could have been taken from "Voyage of the Acolyte", even when it's a bit depressing or more precisely nostalgic.

The album ends with "Spectral Mornings", surely the closer he could get to what he did with GENESIS, all the band almost recreates the work done during the four men era albums, Nick Magnus again very similar to Tony Banks, Dick Cadbury as Mike Rutherford a bit obscure but always precise, but the drumming similarities between John Shearer and Phil Collins are impressive, almost a tribute to his years with GENESIS, the perfect closer for a wonderful album.

The rating is no trouble at all, if I gave Spectral Mornings less than 5 stars I would be dishonest.

The only thing I can add is that no Progressive Rock collection is complete without Spectral Mornings and there's no excuse for not having it, doesn't matter if you're a Yes or Genesis fan (The comparison between Hackett and Howe is inevitable but unnecessary because at that level it's impossible to say who's better), great music is created to be listened and it's a sin not to own this album.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 5/5 |

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