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Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings CD (album) cover

SPECTRAL MORNINGS

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

4.17 | 556 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars With his third album Mr. Hackett assembles a permanent (for awhile) band to back him up, including a singer whose voice I don't really care for but is nonetheless a better singer than Steve himself is. There is a variety of different instruments used on this album including newer gadgets like the vocoder and guitar synth along with more exotic things like the East Asian koto. The list of keyboards used is impressive. Some music from 1979 sounds more '80s' than '70s' but Spectral Mornings sounds like classic 1970s progressive rock. This is a step up from the previous album that was mostly interesting for the guests who appeared on it. The highs here don't reach the heights of Voyage's best songs but overall Spectral Mornings is probably more consistent overall. Steve's wife did the album cover.

By listening to Hackett's solo albums you get an idea of how important he was to the sound of Genesis. After he left the band a sense of mystery and danger left with him, but you could still hear it on his solo albums. Genesis themselves at this time were already moving into the more accessible and poppy sounds they would become known for. I guess you could include Hackett in the list of people who later influenced 'world music' with two songs here bringing exotic influences to a wider audience: one an Oriental/Far Eastern piece and another featuring a Caribbean flavour with steel drums. Although the music can be 'serious' there is some room for some humour as well.

First track is "Everyday" which is very upbeat and 'borrows' a little bit from Beethoven. Almost Genesis-sounding, but then current Genesis, not the band Steve was in. Closest thing to a single on the album with some great three-part harmonies. Steve does a great solo in this song. Things change about halfway with the last half being instrumental with a slightly darker vibe than the first half. "The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere" is the East Asian influenced instrumental for which Steve created a beautiful melody for. This is a fantastic instrumental, it gives you a false sense of security before the next song, "Clocks," comes to scare the hell out of you. "Clocks - The Angel Of Mons" is one of the best things Steve ever did, with or without Genesis. Outstanding instrumental.

It opens segued from the last track by ticking clocks. Features a great menacing riff on synth and some creepy Mellotron. I love Steve's main guitar melody here. An intense pounding drum solo after 3 minutes. Everyone here is great and they work well to create such a dark atmosphere. "The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man" has Steve on vocals. A comedy/novelty song almost but musically this is great. Has an old time music hall type of vibe including a harmonica part I swear I've heard sampled somewhere. Nice effective use of vocoder. The song changes halfway; first to an atmospheric ambient section and then into some Caribbean island music.

"Tigermoth" is a highlight but only for the instrumental first half. This starts off menacing and scary with the synths, Steve's guitar and the slow 'blast-beats' on drums. Just atmospheric yet dark keyboards for awhile, the vibe slowly becomes less dark and more ambient. The beginning part gets faded back in. Later the main song comes in, a song about fighter pilots in WWI. I don't like this part; it sounds like Disney music to me. I don't like the vocals here either. The title track is a mid-paced symphonic rocker and one of Steve's best solo instrumentals. I love the fast hi-hat work here, it makes the song more exciting than its otherwise plodding beat would suggest. Steve's guitar playing is fantastic as he plays great soaring lines into the heavens.

Spectral Mornings has great writing, playing and sound. A solid release at a time when a lot of mainstream 'prog' was getting very diluted. The next album Defector will be in a similar vein due to the art, personnel and sound. After that Steve decided that he too must water down his sound and attempt to write something that could get played on the radio. Anyway, I will give this a 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |

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