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Steve Hackett - Defector CD (album) cover

DEFECTOR

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

3.64 | 319 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SpectralHorizons
4 stars For the longest time, I simply viewed Defector as an inferior sequel to the spectacular Spectral Mornings. However, in hindsight, this was a very unfair opinion about the album. While this album can be viewed as a sequel to Spectral Mornings, it is a very fine album in it's own right. It is also a gem because this album was made at the very beginning of the eighties. While many prog contemporaries were moving to pop, we still see Hackett holding on to his roots, despite some of the "pop-rock" songs. Just like his previous three albums, Defector contains many tracks that are easily classics in Hackett's repertoire.

The album kicks open with The Steppes. A solemn flute opens the piece before the pounding drums come in. While the title of the song would have listeners think otherwise, the song sounds as if one was going on a difficult journey through the mountains. Hackett's guitar work is fantastic as usual. He has always seemed to be the most comfortable when he is writing instrumentals. The song then segues (slightly) into Time to Get Out, a humorous baroque-pop piece. While many might say this song (and others on this album) are sowing the seeds of what would soon be Hackett's experimentation with pop, it is an enjoyable and well done piece.

Slogans is this album's Clocks (The Angel of Mons). While Clocks was more mysterious and ethereal, Slogans is more energetic and rambunctious. The song is filled with many sinister and anxious keyboards/guitar passages. The song then segues into the quiet Leaving, which one would think was a lost Camel song if it were not for the vocals. Though both songs are enjoyable themselves, it is better to listen to them together. It is like watching a raging battle and then seeing the tragic aftermath of that battle.

Two Vamps as Guests, despite the title, is a calm classical guitar piece in vein of Horizons. Jacuzzi and Hammer in the Sand are probably two of Hackett's most underrated instrumentals. The former combines rock, jazz, pop, and classical to give the listener a feeling that they actually are sitting in a jacuzzi witnessing the sunset at the beach. The latter is a beautiful classical (almost new-age) piano driven piece filled with calming strings and Hackett's violin-esque guitar playing.

At first, I did not like The Toast, thinking it was far too ambient for me. Eventually, the more I listened to it, the more I grew to enjoy it. The song is soft in the vein of Leaving, but has a more uplifting feel in contrast to the melancholy of Leaving. The Show is another enjoyable pop-rock piece. While the same criticism is given to this song as TTGO, Hackett is able to do these songs very well. The powerful bass and synths give the song an upbeat "celebratory" feel.

Unfortunately, the album ends on a low note with Sentimental Institution. The song is this album's Ballad of a Decomposing Man. However, the song fails to achieve either the macabre and sarcastic nature of the lyrics or the quirky vintage sound of the 20's in the music (it is there, but very very boring).

I want to give this album five stars, due to fantastic pieces such as The Steppes, Jacuzzi, and Hammer in the Sand. However, the weakness of the closing song forces me to lower the rating down to 4 stars. But I will bump the album score up a little bit since it is just one (short) piece that it brings down the rating.

4.5 stars total. Essential for Hackett fans and 70's progressive rock fans.

SpectralHorizons | 4/5 |

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