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Squackett - A Life Within A Day CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.25 | 140 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars I'm sure I'm not the only Proghead to approach this album with low expectations. Despite their combined pedigrees, neither Steve Hackett nor Chris Squire has been entirely consistent in their solo careers. And the hybrid name of their joint endeavor is just plain silly.

The new collaboration isn't anywhere near as coyote awful as Hackett's career nadir in GTR, or Squire's bottom-of-the-prog-barrel efforts alongside Trevor Rabin, Billy Sherwood, or Benoit David (etymological aside: a 'coyote awful' album is something you'd rather chew your own leg off before hearing again). And yet the project is still commercial tripe, with a few stray creative grace notes scattered thinly on top.

As in Hackett's recent solo work, the Arena Rock production (again, by Roger King) is a major hurdle. The title track opens the new album with one of Hackett's signature guitar runs, just before the pile-driver "Kashmir" riffing kicks in. And it happens again in "Tall Ships", beginning with an all-too brief moment of ghostly acoustic guitar before all the sledgehammer drum thudding spoils the mood, here and elsewhere drowning out even the distinctive meaty punch of Squire's bass guitar.

A little more delicacy could have worked wonders. But even quieter songs like the otherwise lush "Aliens" or the largely acoustic "The Summer Backwards" are smothered under a thick glaze of the same studio lacquer. And there are moments ("Divided Self"; "Can't Stop the Rain") that rival the worst prog-pop of "Love Beach" era ELP, updated with the 21st century curse of auto-tuned vocals and phony multi-tracked harmonies.

Even the CD booklet reinforces what it euphemistically calls "a strongly melodic approach" to the songwriting, as opposed to the usual Progressive bugaboos of (quoting verbatim) "impenetrable time signatures" and "conspicuous virtuosity". Yes, it's more of the same old reactionary misconceptions about the very stuff that makes Prog roll and rock, somewhat astonishing in an effort from two of the movement's founding fathers.

It seems to me the entire impetus of the album was misguided from the start. Who else but an ardent Proghead with fond memories of classic GENESIS and YES would respond to the marquee value of an extended Steve Hackett / Chris Squire duet? So why doesn't the writing play to their considerable instrumental strengths, rather than the uninspired lowest common denominator fluff collected here?

Enough carping. But I'll happily round up my rating to two stars, in acknowledgement of the pair's unquestionable skills, here mostly wasted.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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