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Steve Hackett - Feedback 86 CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

2.56 | 161 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars If this album doesn't scream out "CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION" I don't know what album could. I don't really know what the target audience was for a collection of previously unreleased tracks from 1986 ("Stadiums of the Damned" and "The Gulf," the latter of which has a slightly extended introduction, had been included in the reissue of Till We Have Faces, but I don't think that album was in print when this was released); anybody who was a Hackett fan in 2000 probably would have been the kind of fan who loved the 70s stuff and liked his mild 90s "comeback" but liked to ignore the 80s stuff. I guess there was some impetus to release these songs given that some of them had made it to bootlegs, and I suppose there's mild historical interest in "Prizefighters" (which was originally intended for the 2nd GTR album), but this is a very underwhelming collection of music.

Half of the album (four tracks) is actually pretty listenable all things considered, but since two of the tracks were already on Faces, I don't really consider them in my overall assessment. The opening "Cassandra" initially feels like 80s arena rock hell, with Brian May (yup, of Queen) guesting on guitar and Chris Thompson (of Manfred Mann's Earth Band) guesting on (really overdone) vocals, but it's based around a solid looping guitar riff that owes a lot to "Layla" without being a ripoff (actually, the same can be said about the lyrics, the vocal melody and the solo), and the song ends up coming out pretty decently. There's also a perfectly acceptable acoustic number in "Notre Dame Les Fleurs," which would have just blended into Bay of Kings or Momentum, but here seems amazing; the loveliness of this track in this context only reinforces my belief that it was somewhat of a mistake for Steve to release so many of his acoustic tracks together rather than spreading them out better.

The other four tracks are hideous if you're not already addicted to what most people of good taste would consider the worst aspects of the 80s (including the simple programmed percussion which the album credits have the gall to refer to as "virtual drums"). Chris Thompson sings on all of them, and he's definitely no better in this context than Max Bacon was on GTR, so that's a major negative. And the songs, oh dear, they're dreadful. "Prizefighters," featuring a guest performance from Bonnie Tyler on vocals, as well as from The Phil Henderson Orchestra, is schlock of the worst kind, and I don't get how somebody could praise this and put down, say, Invisible Touch (where not even "In Too Deep" came within miles of these depths). "Slot Machine" starts and ends with samples of a woman speaking as if she were at a snooty ball of some kind, but the bulk is metallic synth pop with one of the worst choruses imaginable, and I look forward to never hearing it again. "Don't Fall" starts off with some promise, with Steve bringing in his harmonica, but it quickly becomes an awkward funk-rocker-turned-hair-metal-extravaganza, and all that promise is wasted. "Oh How I Love You" makes a stab at making a tender ballad that's not overloaded with arena rock elements, but the vocals just don't do the song any favors, and it's just as tacky as anything else on the album.

Yup, this was a rough time for Steve Hackett. I like this album a smidge more than I like GTR (again, if I ignore that "Stadiums of the Damned" and "The Gulf" were originally elsewhere, they make for nice relief from the other material, and the other two tracks mentioned are fine), but this is still torture on the whole. There are too many good albums in the world to waste time and money on this, even if it's worth hearing the good tracks.

tarkus1980 | 2/5 |


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