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Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

4.14 | 862 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Steve Hackett's third studio album saw him treading into experimental territory. Although it wasn't as experimental as his previous studio album Please Don't Touch, it has some of Hackett's best and most memorable tracks and really stands the tests of time even today. Was this the last truly great album of the classic prog era? It might be, but in my opinion it's not a masterpiece, although it is damn close to one. Comprised of half instrumental tunes and half vocal led tunes, Spectral Mornings remains a testament of Hackett's creativity and his undying spirit in the music of today, and can be held up against the great progressive rock albums of the era. His farewell album to the 70s remains to be one of his best overall works in the end, as well.

Opening with a rollicking number titled Every Day, from the get go this album is high octane and high energy rock and roll with some incredible guitar work from Hackett, who utlizes all the tricks in his repetoir on this track during the solos. It opens the album on a high note, and it doesn't really end there, in my opinion. The Virgin & the Gypsy is a delicate song with gentle 12 string guitars and multi-harmony vocals. The flute led instrumental interlude also adds more to the somber and quiet edge of the track, making it a nice balance to the onslaught of Every Day. The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere is a very oriental sounding piece, with ripping Koto work from Hackett and majestic and spiritual mellotron work from Magnus. It has a supreme sense of mystery and atmosphere, and it's one of my favorite pieces on the album. Clocks- The Angel of Mons is the third instrumental piece of the album, and it begins with ticking percussion and droning bass synthesizer notes (as well as some underlying mellotron), until it breaks into an incredible guitar based instrumental. John Shearer's drum solo here is also earth shattering (the band called this section Elephants because Shearer had the ability to make his drum set sound like a stampede of raging elephants), and Hackett's guitar work is incredible.

The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man (Featuring - The Office Party) is a piece in the vein of Carry Up on the Vicarage and The Voice of Necam from the previous album. It has an infectious caribbean feeling mainly because of the percussion and a fun vocal line from Pete Hicks. The Office Party section has some zany steel drum and guitar parts that really add to the whole lighthearted atmosphere of the album. Lost Time in Cordoba is an energetic acoustic piece with some (as always with Hackett's acoustic pieces) dynamic and high energy guitar work and some floaty and very well composed flute lines from John Hackett. It also sets up at the ends as an intro to Tigermoth. Tigermoth is half instrumental and half vocal led, but it's all around one of the best on the album. It begins with a very heavy riff, with some anxious mellotron and some very dynamic work from the rhyhtm unit of Dik Cadbury and John Shearer. As always, Hackett is superb on guitar. Around the fourth minute, the vocals enter and invoke feelings of a father going off to war and not coming back. The track ends with a very different feeling than the intro. Where the intro was very forbidding an unwelcome, the ending is very gentle and very lighthearted. Spectral Mornings ends the album with a fantastic instrumental piece that has a great Steve Hackett solo and incredible keyboard work from Nick Magnus.

In the end, Spectral Mornings is on par with some of Hackett's best albums. It's not a masterpiece, though, but it's very close to being one. It's an excellent addition to anyone's collection, almost essential, and I don't think anyone can really be upset by this release. It's high energy, it's high quality, and on top of all that, it's incredibly fun to listen to. 4.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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