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Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett

Eclectic Prog

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars SPECTRAL MORNINGS is another fine five-star album from former Genesis axesmith Steve Hackett.

After the amazing solo debut that was VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE, I had found its successor, PLEASE DON'T TOUCH, to be good, but slightly uneven -- it seemed to me that Hackett was trying to go in too many musical directions at once. SPECTRAL MORNINGS, however, is an altogether more satisfying return to form. It sounds less like a classic Genesis album than V.O.T.A. does, but more "Hackett-like" than P.D.T. At least part of the reason for this lies in the fact that while P.D.T. featured some pretty diverse guest singers and musicians, on SPECTRAL MORNINGS Hackett had put together an actual working band (the lineup would remain the same for 1980's excellent DEFECTOR) who helped to impart a more unified and "progressive" sound to the proceedings.

All of the tracks are good, but particular standouts include the rousing, up-tempo opener "Every Day" (which conveys an anti-drug message), "Clocks" (a schizoid instrumental that alternates mellow, soothing passages with forceful, near-terrifying sections in which Hackett sounds like he's playing a fifty-foot guitar through a mile-high amp), and "The Ballad of the Decomposing Man," which is a dry and darkly humourous look at the soul-killing, stultifying sameness of factory work. The album's real masterpieces, however, are the final two numbers: "Tigermoth" is a nostalgic ode to the downed (and now ghostly) flyers of the First and Second World Wars, who were "proud to serve Kaiser or King," and the closing title track is an instrumental of immense power and majesty that begs to be played loud and often. It is absolutely essential listening for fans of Hackett's Genesis-era work.

Overall, SPECTRAL MORNINGS is a superb disc from one of the genre's all-time greatest guitarists. Very highly recommended indeed!

Report this review (#26115)
Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A morning when I awaked I feel the sound of this record in the flowers of my house when I was 6 years old. I asked to me ..Where does this beautiful sounds come from?, I answer from TV... ten years later I knew who made that work. His name Steve Hackett. Exceptional.
Report this review (#26120)
Posted Sunday, March 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Years ago I first listened to "Spectral Mornings" and can distinctly remember being totally absorbed into this album. Many years later I look back on this album with kind ears and still consider this to be one of his greatest moments in the recording studio. "Spectral Mornings" is a very fitting title for this gem with music very suiting to the concept. HACKETT gives us a little taste of everything from the progressive roots of "Everyday" and "Spectral Mornings" to the acoustic ditty "Lost Time In Cordoba" and the Japanese samurai sounds of "The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere" and an entertaining British ragtime piece, "The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man". HACKETT is helped out by Pete Hicks on vocals, Dick Cadbury on bass, brother John Hackett on flute (as on the two previous solo LP's), John Shearer on drums, and excellent keyboard work throughout by Nick Magnus. Overall a superbly crafted album of the highest order and I would call this a desert island contender. Essential...!
Report this review (#26121)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars With his first two (uneven) albums as reference points, Steve Hackett set out to form his own group (although it will never be really stable in terms of line-up) and recorded his third album Spectral Mornings, which remains his best (and certainly my fave) even some three decades later. It is no coincidence that a good deal of today's shows is from this album, and a few more from the albums surrounding it. Graced with one of his wife's drawing of him (and similar to the next album's artwork, which causes many fans to link the two albums), this is one of Hackett's most even/consistent of his long solo career. Where the previous PDT was a very unfocused affair with plenty of all star guests (like the usual solo albums are generally), this album has a group feel even if there are glaring weaknesses like the lack of a good singer and maybe a second writer to help him out. But I am nitpicking here.

So from the opening lines of Every Day (obviously lifted from Beethoven's Ninth and the part of Hymn to the joy) to the last lines of the title track, this album is a pure joy, and a sort of revenge for Genesis fans that were completely distraught by their first album without him and good ol'Steve taunts the fans with some melodies that he had previously used with his former group (this is evident in the opener once more). I think that Steve was partly out to prove something to his former mates, the fans and also to himself. But as mentioned above, the vocals are the main weak point of the album: both the first tracks are hindered by this especially Virgin (which like its succeeding track Red Flower are both Far East-influenced), but the next few tracks are instrumentals. And once the album plunges into the formidable Clocks (Angel Of Mons), the listener is definitely won over. Clocks is probably Hackett's best track ever written and often still pops up in concert. This track is certainly worthy of W&W; although I am sure Collins would've handled the drum interlude a bit more subtly.

The second side starts with the very strange Decomposing Man, which takes us back to previous weirdies like Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging lunacy, although lacking the pure genius of that track. In this song, we get one of the first Brazilian music influences (see the Cured album) and subtitled The Office Party. Lost Time is mainly an acoustic guitar affair. And then out comes of another of Hackett's mythical number, the excellent (and longuest) Tigermoth, and the signing here reminds me of Klaatu's Hope album (out the same year) and Spectral Mornings close the album in the finest of mellotronic fashion.

So as much as I'd wish to be a total fan of this album (and therefore getting a revenge from ATTWT) , honesty forces me to say that apart from the vocals, a second writer to help make his excellent ideas become outstanding ones. Even if most of his sidemen do not compare with his former bandmates, the band manages fine, with Magnus and Steve's brother being long time collab for the future. Steve's best album (but it does take its time - Clocks - before really getting started ;-), but I have a hard time calling this essential prog music (essential Hackett certainly), because it is a flawed album (like all of them, honestly), but it has many endearing qualities and a few (4) excellent tracks. So I will round it up to the upper star, making it four, as well.

Report this review (#26122)
Posted Wednesday, March 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well the title track, "Clocks the Angel.." or "Tigermoth", are important classics. He's one of the best guitarists of all time, considering the progressive scene and not only ... "Spectral Mornings" is his "trademark", this track being one of his best tracks ever and almost equal (talking about its impact) to his guitar solo in "Firth of Fifth" and "Horizon" as well, rightly to mention something famous among his several gems !! Nevertheless you find something special also in the "AOR songs" like "Everyday", another classic one and so much appreciated during his performances live on stage. Instead "LostTtime in Cordoba" is another underrated song, this being quite original !!
Report this review (#26123)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is definitely Hackett's second best album, no contest. The album is almost as good as ' Voyage of the Acolyte'. It is well structured and the songs are perfectly positioned to cement this fine prog offering.Highlights are ' Everyday' ' The virgin and the Gypsy' ' The redflower of Tachai...' ( this is equisite with fine oriental meloncholy), ' Lost in Cordoba' and ' Tigermoth'. I guess that is almost the whole album! Four and a half stars.
Report this review (#26124)
Posted Tuesday, August 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Overll, an excellent album by HACKETT, probably his 2nd best behind Voyage of the Acolyte. This album has 2 of HACKETT'S best songs on it, Everyday and Spectral Mornings. The extended guitar solo on Everyday may be my all time favorite, and Spectral Mornings is just an incredibly bequtiful instrumental number with HACKETT'S guitar as the centerpiece. The rest of the album is also very good, but only these 2 songs approach the level of masterpieces. While STEVE HACKETT is one of my favorite musicians, I find it true of most of his studio releases that a few great songs are joined with a number of good songs, and this album fits right into that mode. Still, highly recommended.
Report this review (#26126)
Posted Friday, November 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I fell in love with this album on first hearing and proceeded to play it to death. Every track is a gem. The perfromances by Steve and his band are superb all round, and the production is brilliant. This is Hacketts third album. For most artists the third is said to be the most difficult, but the challenge doesn't seem to have phased the ex Genesis guitarist at all. The opener 'Every Day' is alittle dissappointing as a song, in that it's quite 'poppy', but it builds up to a guitar solo which epitomises the Hackett style and sound. It's how a prog rock guitar solo should be; melodic and emotional. 'The virgin and the gypsy' has a simplistic acoustic beauty and is one of my favourite tracks on this album. What follows is a taste of how Genesis may have sounded an album on from 'WAW' had Hackett remained a member of the band. 'Clocks (The Angel of Mons)' is a prog rock classic, including a thounderous drum break, reminiscent of Collins and Thompson dueling away prior to Los Endos when performed live. I'm sure Hackett was trying to recapture some of that old magic and excitement on this piece. It worked! There are a few token lighter numbers on the album, 'The Ballard of the decomposing man' starts by sounding almost like George Formby through a vocoder. Its a light hearted song about your average working Joe and is not to be taken too seriously.

The title track speeks for itself. Classic Hackett, rich in melody and dripping with melancholy, as is the whole album. Cant think of anything I dont like about it. 'Spectral Mornings' easily deserves four stars.

Report this review (#26128)
Posted Tuesday, March 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Tony Fisher
4 stars This album is somewhat inconsistent in the quality of the material, but the execution is magnificent. Hackett always seemed to have more to offer than Genesis generally allowed him; solos such as that on Firth of Fifth gave hints of his genius. There are 2 problems with this album. Firstly, the vocals could be stronger at times though fortunately much of the album is instrumental. Secondly, Hackett seems to love experimenting with styles and doesn't always please all tastes. The George Formby style Ballad of the Disappearing Man leaves me cringing and Tigermoth and The Red Flower etc do very little for me. That said, the rest of the album is pure, unadulterated heaven. Spectral Mornings, Clocks and Lost Time in Cordoba are classics and the Virgin and the Gypsy a pleasant, gentle song but the highlight is Every Day, where Hackett puts on a display of guitar pyrotechnics to put the heavy metal shredders in their place without ever losing control of the melodic structure. His backing band are excellent musicians and complement him well. Buy the album for Every Day alone, a track which would make any "best of prog rock" album that could be issued.
Report this review (#26129)
Posted Monday, March 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, this is one of the best albums of all time. Master Hackett experiments here very very succesful, not 1 boring second. By the way this is real Genesis, forget Duke & Abacab and the rest. Wonderful harmonies, ultra elegant guitar playing, intriguing arrangements & a nice shot exotics. This is a (literally) wonderful album.

***** , hands down.

Thank you meastro professore Hackett, domo arigato.

Report this review (#26131)
Posted Thursday, April 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is one of the best albums from Steve Hackett. Unlike "Voyage of the acolyte", the guitars and keyboards here take the very modern, loud, sustained, echoed & clean attributes. If you think Hackett's best guitar sound and solos are on "Selling England by the pound", then probably you will change your mind while hearing the stuff here. I've rarely heard guitar solos louder, cleaner, more present, echoed and sustained than here! That's incredible! The loud & floating keyboards just enhance the extreme guitars effects involved. Hackett puts so much sustain and echo to each guitar note, especially on "Spectral mornings" and "Every day", that, loudly played, you cannot even hear the cymbals patterns, nevertheless very present too!

I think that those guitar solos are among the all-time best ones in terms of sound and presence. It even surpasses the OUTSTANDING Marillion's "She Cameleon" guitar solo, given the same guitar involved: the Gibson Les Paul model.

Regarding a global appreciation, I must however admit that the tracks are unequal: indeed there are more ordinary moments like "Clocks - The Angel Of Mons", where the guitar is not as present as on "Spectral mornings" and "Every day"; "The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man" is the worst track: Latin rhythmic & insignificant, it decreases the value of the album. "Lost time in Cordoba" is very good, with its beautiful acoustic guitar and wind instruments. The bizarre "Tigermoth" track has a pretty present, echoed, clean & loud guitar sound, despite the keyboards sound rather dark, imposing and odd. Fortunately "Tigermoth" has a happy ending, full of excellent vocals, acoustic guitars and flute. Even "Every day" has a conventional & average first half part with decent vocals, before the OUTSTANDING guitar solo and floating keyboards enter.

But, please, when you are at the final track "Spectral Mornings", just turn off the lights, turn up the volume, and open your romantic side: you'll live an unforgettable sentimental experience of more than 8 minutes: 8 minutes of total ecstasy, thinking about how love can be wonderful! Have a great feeling!

Report this review (#26132)
Posted Wednesday, May 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Masterpiece Classic Prog Rock

By this time, our guitar master has confirmed his strong standing as solo musician. His departure from Genesis two years before had really paid-off especially after the success of second album "Please Don't Touch!". In one year time, he released "Spectral Morning" which I consider as masterpiece. It offers different style of music and combines in its best possible sounds that he even would not make it possible if he was still with Genesis. A good example is track 5 "The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man (Featuring - The Office Party)" that I don't think would fit into Genesis format (at that time). And I think this album is much better than Genesis' "..And Then There Were Three". From this perspective, it can be concluded easily that Steve Hackett is better as solo musician than being a member of Genesis. And now you can compare: he himself can overrule the sum of three gentlemen from Genesis! So, who actually ruled Genesis??? It's a fallacy if people compare the music of Genesis between Gabriel and Collins era. The right question is: with or without Hackett? Because without Gabriel but still with Hackett Genesis released two excellent albums "Wind and Wuthering" and "A Trick of The Tail".

Also, the music of "Spectral Morning" is much more mature compared to its two predecessor albums. It progressed in a very positive direction. Bravo, Mr. Hackett! My best memorable track that has become an all-time favorite is the album opener "Everyday". At first spin, I was disappointed where it had a poppy and straight forward beats. But when Hackett finishes with all lyrical verses and the music brings me to instrumental part at the long ending part, it BLEW me away! I love the solo guitaring - so marvelous! When I could not afford to buy a CD, I had only a cassette version and I kept rewinding this long ending many times without any feeling of getting bored at all. Even, when I watched the live version in laser disc format under "Time Lapse" album this track was the only one that I repeated viewing. Top notch! The album continues with acoustic-guitar-based song "The Virgin and the Gypsy" - very interesting track.

The classic and legendary "The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere" is another song worthy for enjoyment. It's something that Steve would not possible composing it under Genesis umbrella, I think. It's a traditional-based music with eastern / chinese influence. It's really a great track to enjoy. This track cannot be separated with the next one "Clocks (The Angel Of Mons)". It's a hard driving track with Genesis music style. "Lost Time In Cordoba" is a song with a heavy influence of classical music, exploring acoustic guitar and flute. This track has inspired, in certain way, Arena' "Cry for Help" series in Songs from Lions Cage album. The album is concluded with two wonderfully crafted tracks: "Tigermoth" and "Spectral Mornings".

In summary, I can tolerate you for missing the first two albums from Steve Hackett. But for this third one? Oh no ., you MUST have it! It's terrific. Keep on proggin' .! JRENG!

Progressively yours, GW

"Can you light a fire in Winter's face? Or say why a life has gone to waste? Pleasure Island was on overcrowded place." - "Everyday" by Steve Hackett.

Report this review (#37426)
Posted Friday, June 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hackett is one of the most amazing guitar players that I ever heard. This album reminds me the golden age of Genesis, but with the Hackett touch: many spanish influences, great athmospheres, clean sounds and beutiful prog compositons. "Clock", "Tigermoth" and "Spectral Mornings" are a great example of what Hackett can do with his talent. Very prog, I think is a classic but it has some low points... Anyway, Hackett is a great musician and this album is a necessary piece in any prog collection.

PS: But I still convinced that Anthony Phillips' solo carrer is much better...

Report this review (#39933)
Posted Thursday, July 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The third work announced in 1979 "Spectral Mornings". It is an estheticism and a mysterious masterpiece album. Work that can listen to peculiar guitar play of Steve Hackett deliberately. It is an album that can be recommended for the fan of GENESIS, Mike Oldfield's fan, and the fan of Anthony Philips.
Report this review (#47010)
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I bought the record (CD) this spring. I was going to by Voyage of the Acolyte but the store didn't have that. A good thing though, now I can pre-order the new remaster of voyage with Steve's autograph. The bad thing is that I already own this gem, without autograph and bonus tracks.

The record is just a collection of songs and instrumentals, no real concept - just a rock album. Beautiful pieces like The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere shares the space of the record with the funny The Ballad of the Decomposing Man.

The album starts of with its best track, Every Day. It contains fine guitars, with a solo on the whole second part, and good lyrics. Paradise Island may be overcrowded but I stay in at my place, listening to this, instead. 4.5/5

The Second track is The Virgin and the Gypsy. It's a softer song, quite beautiful but not so good in my opinion, neither bad. I like the flute part. 3/5

Another beautiful "song", is The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere. This is a china-inspired instrumental and a quite good one too. 4/5

The next track starts of with a tick tock sound. At first it reminds me of Time by Pink Floyd but there the similarities ends. This is an instrumental, a dark one, quite atmospheric but not much melody. I can't put my finger on why I don't like it that mush, it has many elements I usually like in songs. (Instrumentals) 3/5

In the middle of all this suddenly comes a song very different from the others. The Ballad of the Decomposing Man sounds most like a funny calypso. It's not a bad song but I can't see how it would fit in with the rest of the songs on this album. 3.5/5

Lost Time in Cordoba is, I suppose from the name, some kind of a Spanish sounding instrumental. It's not as good as the china inspired track 3 but still it's ok. 3.5/5

Tigermoth is again a song of a darker mood. The first instrumental part reminds me a bit of track 4. Then before the second part starts of there is sounds of machine guns and aeroplanes. This is a song about war and the soldiers who dies in them. The second part is a sadder sounding one with lyrics about a soldier who dies and meets up with his already dead comrades. This is a good song, with the bridge between the parts as a highlight. It tells you better than the lyrics that this is about the horrible thing called war. 3.5/5

The last one is the title track. An instrumental again but Hackett is clearly better at them than the songs, Spectral Mornings being the best one of this album with the same name. It contains both atmosphere and melody (wish I like). If you want a good start of the day, listen to this! 4/5

This is maybe no masterpiece but still quite good. It's the only Steve Hackett album I own (Until I get the others of his first albums any day now.) so I can't compare it to anything else he has done.

Report this review (#47436)
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Imagine the scenario. You are granted one very special MUSICAL wish. You can play note perfect ONE guitar track. Which do you choose? Don't even think about it. The clue is that its on this album. 'Every Day' is well worth buying this album for on its own. It has a guitar solo to die for. My mother used to have a sewing machine which had a pedal to operate something on the machine. That pedal and my trusty badminton racket were the only props I needed whenever I played this song. Crank up the volume and enjoy. 'Clocks' is also another standout track,epic in fact. The album features other nice,subtle,twiddly,fiddly guitar-led tracks. Those are not the reason to buy this. Get the badminton racket looked out NOW.Exhillirating.
Report this review (#54673)
Posted Friday, November 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This review of Spectral Mornings is based on the new remastered version, complete with bonus tracks. This is, of course, considered by many to be one of, if not the best of Hackett's solo works. And it certainly ranks up in his top five, although I cannot say it is his best as his music is so diverse it depends on the listener's mood which album grabs him, or her. 'Every Day' opens the album in fine style. An up tempo song, it is one of my favourite all time Hackett tracks. For those who haven't heard it, the first half of the song, the verse and chorus, in no way indictates the beautiful guitar work which dominates the second half. I can listen to this song again and again. Stunningly melodic, it is a classic Hackett track. 'The Virgin And The Gypsy', the song which follows, is another of my faves. A very gentle, haunting ballad, with gorgeous harmonies, a strength of Hackett's which he was to use again and again on following albums. Really lovely this one, with beautiful flute work from famous brother John. 'The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere' is an instrumental track, with strong Oriental flavour to it. Very relaxing and pleasant, it fits in nicely with the previous track's ambience. 'Clocks' is, or was, a concert favourite. Powerful guitar work dominates this instrumental. 'The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man' is another of my favourites. It is absolutely hilarious, with Steve, every the southerner, impersonating the archtype northerner, George Formby, to great effect. Like his old band, he is a master at creating humorous songs. This is a scream. 'Lost Time In Cordoba', which was the first track on side two of the old vinyl, is a beautiful acoustic piece, the type Hackett is a master of. 'Tigermoth' is another classic. Superb guitar at the beginning, when he makes his instrument impersonate a falling aircraft, amidst the aak akk and flack, it brings shivers to me. Not an original concept, as guitars have done this sort of thing before,as well as impersonating birds. But there is something about this one... the song then settles into an old fashioned war song, nicely sung by long dead chums. And the simple but effective guitar that fades out the song is satisfyingly atmospheric as well. And finally...the rather well known title track 'Spectral Mornings' ends the album proper. One of the great instrumentals, I will say no more, except to say everyone should hear it. A truly beautiful piece. There are seven bonus tracks on here, and they are all decent. The live acoustic set, which I had originally on the 12" single of 'Clocks' is stunningly played. Also, the alternate version of 'Every Day', which has the guitar mixed in slightly differently, is important, as it lasts a little longer, and has a different ending, one where the whole track slows down and mellows out as it fades. Excellent. The other alternate versions are closer to the originals, but with subtle differences, mainly in the vocal department. The best of these is probably 'Ballad Of The Decomposing Man', where the 'Office Party' section has more things going on than the original. This album is a must-have for all Hackett, Genesis, and prog fans in general. Oh yes, and the remastered version has tremendous sound quality; louder, crisper and clearer than the original. A worthy addition, probably a masterpiece. If you don't possess it, why?
Report this review (#54943)
Posted Sunday, November 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Spectral Mornings

A track by track assessment:-

Every day: A great start to the album a nice catchy prog song about having too much of a good thing, in this case his beautiful wife Kim and here voracious appetite for erm carnal pleasure shall we say, poor old Steve having to perform for her everday (and we're not talking guitar virtuosity here).

Virgin and the Gypsy: probably one of my favourite Hackett tracks, seems slight at first, but on repeated listenings bears much fruit. The song itself is a nod towards Shakespears "A Midsummer Nights Dream" which of course he returned to much later on for a full album.

The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere: an unusual oriental flavoured instrumental, makes me want to nip to the local chinese takeaway, i'd say this is inspired by Tianenman Square as Steve is known for his Human Rights beliefs.

Clocks (The Angel Of Mons): another instrumental set to a ticking rhythm initially, but soon breaks into Steves trademark prog licks, ticking away time wondering where youth disappeared to seems to be the prevailing sense of this tune.

The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man (Featuring - The Office Party): A humourous song which at first doesn't seem to fit into the context of this album, but again a few repeated listenings, reveals a darker side about Steves early days playing northern English working mens clubs for a pittance having to play cover versions to appease the factory workers of the time.

Lost Time In Cordoba: A beautiful acoustic guitar instrumental seems to be reflecting on the death of somebody close (or maybe he just lost his watch in a car).

Tiger Moth: An anti war demonstration? Seems to follow on great guitar work in this a strong ending to the album is in sight

Spectral Mornings: Ah the title track indeed is a phenomenal ending to this album, 6 mins of Steves handiwork, seems to loop to the beginning of the album about his wifes ...demands about the mysteries of morning arousal.

So all in all a good album not my favourite Hackett album, about 3rd or 4th I'd say, but well worth investing in.

Report this review (#71003)
Posted Friday, March 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars It's time for me to review one of the best albums by STEVE HACKETT, probably the most underrated guitar player in Progressive Rock history. During his career in GENESIS he was limited by the musical requirements of the band, there was no place for a virtuoso performer that could play many solos, but for a man who could create with Tony Banks a solid and dark atmosphere, a job that STEVE HACKETT did perfectly, even when this implied he had to sacrifice his individuality for the band's sake.

GENESIS was able to survive the loss of Peter Gabriel, the frontman, vocalist and lyricist, something very hard for any band, but the day that the until that point obscure Hackett left GENESIS, the last trace of originality left by the same door.

But it was the real change for Steve Hackett's career, the guy that had to be limited by the requirements of GENESIS could freely express everything he had inside, he could make solos, play acoustic songs and flashy electric guitar sections whenever he wanted, and he was able to create the really complex and elaborated music that he was not allowed to release with GENESIS.

"Spectral Mornings" is Steve's third album, the second after he left GENESIS and the first one that must be credited exclusively to him. Some people argue that in Voyage of the Acolyte he had the valuable help of Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford and that on "Please Don't Touch" great musicians as Ritchie Havens, Phil Ehart, Steve Walsh and Chester Thompson supported him, so still they could argue that good old Steve was not capable of doing anything by himself.

But Spectral Mornings served to shut all those voices; this album is done almost exclusively by him and his personal band with his brother John and a group of solid but almost unknown musicians. And to be honest I believe it's much more solid than Please Don't Touch and in the same level of V.O.T.A.

All the tracks are perfectly balanced, not a single filler or weak song, the sounds goes from complex Progressive Rock as in Every Day or Spectral Mornings to Japanese inspired tracks like The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere and extremely beautiful acoustic tracks as Lost Time in Cordova.

This variety of sounds, atmospheres and styles prove that Steve Hackett is by far the most versatile musician of Prog' Rock and the one that made the most solid career from all the members of the iconic bands of the 70's, a guy that really discovered his greatness when he left the parameters of the excellent GENESIS.

Now, lets go to the higher points (even when it's hard to find any weaker one):

"Every Day" opens the album more or less in the vein of Voyage of the acolyte, strong, complex, with radical changes, probably is the song where he sounds closer to his days in GENESIS because he places special emphasis in the atmospheres blending his guitar with Nick Magnus Keyboards who sounds somehow similar to Tony Banks. Excellent track where everything is perfect.

"The Virgin and the Gypsy" is a vocal track where STEVE plays very beautiful acoustic sections, flows gently from start to end and still is a favorite that he usually plays in his concerts.

The next track is the unusual "The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere" where Steve plays the Koto (Japanese string instrument which a very characteristic sound. A traditional KOTO has 13 strings, being arched tautly across 13 movable bridges along the length of the instrument that is about 1 Mt. 80 Cms) that Hackett plays as a master, the Japanese atmosphere is perfectly recreated but still with the peculiar Steve sound in the background, short enough to sound original and not reach the point where it could bore anybody, another excellent track.

"Clocks (The Angel Of Mons)" is another song that could have been taken from Voyage of the Acolyte, strong, atmospheric and absolutely dark, besides the excellent guitar work is necessary to mention the solid work of John Shearer in the drums, until this point, not a single weak track.

Some people don't like "The Ballad of the Decomposing Man" but I find it interesting, starts similar to something recorded in the first two decades of the Twentieth Century with a strong touch of Vaudeville, but it's important to remember that fantasies like this are not strange, bands as Queen (Seaside Rendezvous) or even ELP (Jeremy Bender and The Sheriff) made songs that sounded a bit out of place and maybe as comedy relief, but in this case Steve adds some very pleasant Ragtime and early Jazz touches but that's not all, suddenly before the end he surprises us with a Caribbean sound, pretty interesting blending of sounds, styles and influences very peculiar but still good.

Now it's time for Steve to prove his abilities as classical/acoustic guitar player, and "Lost Time in Cordoba" is the perfect chance, extremely beautiful and the evidence that Mr. Hackett is by far one of he best (if not the best) acoustic guitar performers of Prog Rock.

"Tigermoth" is another dark and atmospheric track that could easily could have been taken from "Voyage of the Acolyte", even when it's a bit depressing or more precisely nostalgic.

The album ends with "Spectral Mornings", surely the closer he could get to what he did with GENESIS, all the band almost recreates the work done during the four men era albums, Nick Magnus again very similar to Tony Banks, Dick Cadbury as Mike Rutherford a bit obscure but always precise, but the drumming similarities between John Shearer and Phil Collins are impressive, almost a tribute to his years with GENESIS, the perfect closer for a wonderful album.

The rating is no trouble at all, if I gave Spectral Mornings less than 5 stars I would be dishonest.

The only thing I can add is that no Progressive Rock collection is complete without Spectral Mornings and there's no excuse for not having it, doesn't matter if you're a Yes or Genesis fan (The comparison between Hackett and Howe is inevitable but unnecessary because at that level it's impossible to say who's better), great music is created to be listened and it's a sin not to own this album.

Report this review (#72166)
Posted Friday, March 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars When Genesis split in 1977 Steve Hackett took the imagination , creativity , artistic integrity,atmospherics , variegatedness and his incredible but subtle guitar playing talents leaving the remainder as guys with a background in prog and a huge appetite for commercial success.This album then has the elements that are sorely missing from And Then There Were Three and Duke. This is essential just from the viewpoint of the variety of styles Hackett throws out. There are some weak spots rather than tracks but the last track is a mindblower.
Report this review (#79470)
Posted Friday, May 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Yadu and others are right: this is a great album; IMO this is Hackett's best solo album. Even though he put out Don't Touch on the heels of his exit from Genesis, it is with this album that he establishes the sound and direction that Genesis was unwilling to let him explore; hence, his departure. While a bit pop-ish, "Every Day" is a great cut showing off some of Hackett's signature guitar work. Also on side A (if you still have vinyl), "Red Flower" is a wonderful indication of how expert Hackett is on the Japanese lute. "Clocks" is similarly a cryptic, amazing instrumental featuring Hackett's genius of guitar and musical artistry. Side B starts with "Lost in Cordoba," one of Hackett's best acoustic numbers. "Tigermoth" is eerie and surreal in its presentation, making for an interesting listen. The last track, the title cut, is one of Hackett's best electric guitar instrumentals, in which he proves that it takes more than chops to be great in (prog) rock; it takes emotion and soul too.
Report this review (#79491)
Posted Saturday, May 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Is this the last masterpiece of the Classic-Prog period (in the strict meaning of the term)? Probably it is.

Here we get the most likely example of what Genesis' music would've been if Hackett would've stayed with the band. Even so, we should face the facts, and not mourn his leaving of Genesis. Here he delivers us a masterpiece of prog which should erase all the wounds Genesis (and other classic prog bands) were making at that time.

About the music, this album covers a great range of styles: straight-forward rock, acoustic-classic, metal (listen to the first part of Tigermoth), rag-time, classic prog and oriental. All of these styles are developed quite well, and not superficially or in a mocking way. I even find the caribbean-tropical feeling of "The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man" quite interesting. This song even has some interesting lyics. It's a parody of a workaholic.

Masterpiece - essential.

Edit: down one star, because it's lost most of it's appeal. I haven't listened to it in ages. Final rating 4 stars

Report this review (#80186)
Posted Friday, June 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
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.

Report this review (#84336)
Posted Thursday, July 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Steve is starting to find his sound vocally here, with the help of Hicks and Cadberry. Some very good harmonies are made, and Steve can be a great vocalist when he wants to be. This album is very good, and quite progressive. But I didn't like the sound of some of it, I think he made some poor keyboard sounding choices here. Nevertheless, it is very progressive and consitently good.
Report this review (#93287)
Posted Wednesday, October 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars With his third effort "Spectral Mornings", Steve Hackett achieved unquestionable maturity as a prog persona in his own terms. While his amazing debut "Voyage of the Acolyte" found him exploring his Genesian side and "Please Don't Touch" found him playing tentative roles at a set diversity of musical sources, "Spectral Mornings" first establishes the very essence of Hackett's aesthetic vision. Of course, you can tell some stylish resources akin to vintage Genesis, but those are simply pieces of Hackett's mind now exclusively portrayed on his solo input. The dynamic and catchy 'Every Day' opens up the album in a very colorful way: with its lyrics presenting a pessimistic portrait of drug addiction with a deceitfully joyful mood, this track shows how one can address a serious issue with an inventive sense of fun in a rock context. The finale's long guitar solo is one of the most captivating ones ever written by Hackett; it would be fair to point out that the rhythm section's fortitude helps to provide an extra dose of energetic vibe to the closing section. 'The Virgin and the Gypsy" is a Renaissance- inspired acoustic ballad based on acoustic guitar and harpsichord. The addition of mellotron and guitar-synth layers, as well as incredible flute flourishes by Steve's brother John, provide this rack an enhanced sense of magic. 'The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere' is yet another bucolic number, this time set on a Far East spirit. The dialogues between the koto and the flute are properly mediated by mellotron washes and floating percussions. This piece is segued to 'Clocks - Angel of Mons', one of the most ballsy Hackett pieces ever. The alternation between the clock-like effects and the main motif (which sounds like a rocker reconstruction of one of the most popular melodies from "Carmina Buranna") finds the perfect climax with that explosive tribal drumming portion at the end: John Shearer rules! 'The Ballad of the Decomposing Man' is another ironic track, this time less gentle and less majestic than the opener 'Every Day' and a bit more drastic. This tale of low safety for electric plant workers finds an unlikely counterpart in the instrumentation, which starts with Charleston and ends up with a tropical rumba flavored with calypso touches. Weird, extravagant, even silly, yet genius in its unique way. Hackett's solemn side reveals itself in a very pure form in 'Lost Time in Cordoba', a melancholic classical guitar piece that wanders across various moods: the brief passages in which the flute joins in are simply captivating beyond words. Then comes the mini-suite 'Tigermoth', an exercise on sonic variations that starts with a mood of massive psychedelic rock, ornamented with an interlude of mellotron layers and synthesizer effects. The second part is an acoustic ballad in which the acoustic guitars and the vocals are playfully interfered by weird keyboard adornments, mostly emulating carnival sounds. The namesake instrumental is a majestic gem, one of the most beautiful instrumentals ever in the history of symphonic prog. The melodic basis is simple, yet effectively delivered through the use of guitar textures and augmented by the mellotron orchestrations: the final result is very hypnotic, with a noticeable touch of mystery that creates an unreal, foggy mood, very much in the vein of the ambience mentioned in the title. This is my favorite Hackett album for the 70s, and what's more, it is to me a real masterpiece of prog. "Spectral Mornings" comprises perfectly the best of Hackett's prototypical vision and a sense of surprise disseminated in strategic places.
Report this review (#94900)
Posted Wednesday, October 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Repetitive riffs and abuse of atmospherics are the faults of this album... and what brings it down 0.5 stars for me, but it's still rounded to a 5.

One of the most diverse recordings of the 70's and probably the swan song of classic progressive music, Spectral Mornings rely heavily on emotions and experimentations with eastern, southern and latin cultures. The tasteful implementation of the koto works great on "The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere", and the blues-calypso opus called "Ballad Of The Decomposing Man" is arguably one of his funniest ditties, with a symphonic spark. "Every Day" is a catchy FM-friendly song with some cheesy effects, but with extended climax taken by guitar shreddings and other effects. "The Virgin and the Gypsy" has great interplay of flutes and guitar in the bridge, reprised in the coda of the song; the verses and chorus are very romantic. The rest is pretty much Hackett's symphonic prog trademark from Voyage Of The Acolyte. "Clocks" and "Tigermoth" are the heaviest tracks of the album, with the former being an instrumental with bombastic riff and a ticking clock setting the rhythm; while the latter is drenched in keyboard effects and amazing vocal harmonies that evokes the Phantasia theme somehow. "Lost Time In Cordoba" is the obbligatory classical piece with the flute setting the melody and the classical guitar showcase; a simple but beautiful piece of work. "Spectral Mornings" is the great closer of the album, which loops the main theme in just about the right amount (maybe one unnecesary loop, but it's not irritating and the theme really merits it).

This is one of Hackett's most accomplished progressive works, as opposed to his equally amazing classical works.

Report this review (#98978)
Posted Wednesday, November 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Spectral Mornings sees Steve Hackett take another big step as a solo artist and especially as a solo composer. He put together a band to record and tour with, rather than using a plethora of guest and studio musicians. This makes for a much more cohesive album than its predecessor, "Please Don't Touch!", which seems disjointed at times. "Spectral Mornings" is still rich with different styles of music but the compositions flow much better, both within themselves and from song to song.

Final Analysis: Hackett continues to develop his always excellent guitar skills (both electric and accoustic/classical), while at the same time delivering well executed compositions full of melody, feeling, and a bit of humor.

Highlights: "Lost Time in Cordoba", "Spectral Mornings"

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Report this review (#99142)
Posted Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars The third release from Steve Hackett finds him recording with an actual touring band, instead of using guest musicians like on the first two. His brother John plays flute and Nick Magnus plays keyboards (formally with THE ENID). This record is very diverse with different musical styles.

I thought of GENESIS right away as I heard the keyboard sound early on the first song "Every Day". The highlight though is the inspiring guitar solo from Hackett that lasts about 3 minutes, and as someone else said this is probably the best solo he's done since on "Firth Of Fifth". "The Virgin And The Gypsy" is a beautiful ballad with harmonies and flute. "The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Eveywhere" is an oriental sounding song with mellotron.

"Clocks-The Angel Of Mons" contrasts the ticking clocks with mellotron that is dark, with the upbeat melody that is light. There is also some crazy drum playing as well. We have the silly song next, followed by "Lost Time In Cordoba" that features flute and classical guitar. "Tigermoth" shows me a side of Hackett's guitar playing I don't think i've heard before. I like the dark beginning and ending of this tune that features mellotron, but the 2 minutes of silliness in between i could do without.The final song "Spectral Mornings" is the best song I have ever heard from Hackett, the guitar playing is amazing throughout, in fact the guitar melodies are some of the best i've ever heard ! The keyboards provide a nice contrast when the guitar playing stops.

Obviously an excellent release that I highly recommend.

Report this review (#99143)
Posted Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great great record, this made up for genesis splitting up in my opinion. Here Steve produces his best albums and what a great record it is. Every Day starts side one and sets the stage for some great action. "The Virgin and the Gypsy" another great track , that more than hints at the glory days of the Gabriel era genesis. " The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere " Possible this one is not as strong but it has a real exotic feel. "Clocks (The Angel Of Mons)" Oh my this track is awesome, what a great feel, really excellent and powerful by far the best number on this excellent Set. "The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man (Featuring - The Office Party) " This numbers title is almost as long as the track but again this is corking stuff "Lost Time In Cordoba " Some nice acoustic guitar to gets side two off to a good start."Tigermoth " the other classic on this record is followed by the stunning "Spectral Mornings", great ending to a near perfect record. For this record Steve has assembled a band and this may well account for why it is so strong. There is a real sense of direction here and Steve is not scared to pull out the stops. This is my favorite post Gabriel era Genesis record by any of the band, and it remains a classic of prog rock. The great thing about Hackett is that he released at least Three great records, so if you like this one there are still others to follow it up with.

Report this review (#99889)
Posted Wednesday, November 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album just doesn't do the job for me. It's a set of different ideas piled together: average ideas with average implementation, but the idea itself to put all this together is far from good. The album is not so bad, but it's inconsistent. Maybe that was meant to be the modus vivendi of the album, but even if it was, it's done inconsistently. Hackett missed the point showing diversity of styles. How on earth that could be wrong? Well, this is a colourful palette, but tones and hues are wrong.

There are some nice tracks, such are "Spectral Mornings" and "Tigermoth" and "Lost Time In Cordoba" to some extent, but the majority of the tracks are just dreadful. "Every Day" is a jolly tune, but it's radio-friendly (which is not necessarily bad), not challenging at all, and it sounds extremely dated. "The Virgin And The Gypsy" is really nice tune, with sweet chorus. Perhaps a bit too sweet: it sounds like a mixture of late 70's QUEEN and Christmas Carols. "The Red Flower Of Tachai..." is not spoiled by some heavy guitar/synth/whatever orchestration, actually it sounds very authentic. OK, but considering the fact that the album is a mixed bag, it makes the song just pointless effort.

The next two tracks ("Clocks" and "The Ballad Of Decomposing Man") are just weak: "Clocks" remind me of PINK FLOYD's "Time" way too much. Not to mention absolutely useless drumming. A nice MiniMoog work, though. The "Ballad..." is not worth mentioning, it's just a bad idea. It's not very funny neither.

"Spectral Mornings" is not THAT bad. I do respect Mr. Hackett's work. He's not an ego-maniac doing overblown guitar-oriented albums. There are some good ideas here and there, but they are unable to crack the album's crust and reach a listener. Emotions are present but they are drowned under bad implementations or scattered because of pointless diversity. Two and a half stars is just fair enough. However, you should give it a try, it seems that majority of prog fans like it.

Report this review (#99895)
Posted Wednesday, November 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Spectral mornings is my favourite hackett album, althought it's his third album, it continues the line of 'voyage of the acolyte'. The album is diverse and sounds complete, it blends rocky tracks, quiet wonderful songs, and some more calm ethereal tunes, but this is not it, he steps in other territories as well, like 'The ballad of the decomposing man' showing his humoristic side blending some ragtime in the mix, this will not be to everyone likings though. The difference between the songs compliments each other perfectly, the balance between them is fantastic.

Like before hackett shows his wonderful writing skills and not only his amazing guitar playing. All songs contain beautiful melodies, with great mood, very easy to get into. He really surrounded himself with great musicians, to good mention is john shearer drumming absolutely amazing driving stuff, especially noted on 'clocks'. Although known for his intricate guitar playing, hackett hardly solos, 'every day' is a strong proof for his ability to do so, he goes on soloing for 3 minutes until the song is faded away. Beautiful solo, one of my favourite parts on the album.

So if you like symphonic, eclectic prog with a lot of diversity this is definitely for you. Just over 4 stars.

Report this review (#113200)
Posted Thursday, February 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Brothers in arms

By the time of this his third album, Steve Hackett had the confidence to put his Genesis pedigree firmly behind him, and make an album which represented his own musical influences and preferences. While Steve writes all the songs here, he is supported by a fine band line up including Pete Hicks who provides most of the lead vocals and Hackett's brother John on flute and sundry instruments. In his sleeve notes, Steve says ". I was looking for some musicians to play my existing music live, I am proud to say they have become my band."

The opening "Every day" sets the scene perfectly with one of Steve's great lead guitar solos. This really is a firm statement of intent for the album. "The virgin and the gypsy" is an acoustic folk influenced piece with wispy lyrics such as "Passing milk thistle by, fox on the run, old ragged robin flies, virtue undone". While the words may be abstract, the picture is clear. Side one also includes a couple of instrumental tracks, ranging from the oriental beauty of "The red flower.", to the striking "Clocks" with its wonderful cascading chorus. Only the cod North Country ditty "The ballad of the decomposing man" is superfluous.

John Hackett's flute work is delightful throughout the album, but comes to the fore for his acoustic duet with his brother on "Lost time on Cordoba". "Tigermoth" appears to be an instrumental, with fairly literal sound effects of a dog-fight, until the softer vocal section appears midway through. An old fashioned voice effect is used to tell a tale later updated by 10CC with "I'm Mandy fly me".

The closing track gives the album its title. This lengthy guitar dominated instrumental is simultaneously uplifting and frustrating. The frustration though stems only from the fact that Steve did not record many more such pieces.

For me, this is one of Steve's finest albums. While "Voyage of the Acolyte" was a wonderful debut, it found him to be very much still in Genesis mode. "Spectral mornings" finds him creating his own brand.


Report this review (#116656)
Posted Thursday, March 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I own several Hackett recordings from his prodigious output, and it's about time I paid homage to the best of them. Hackett's third solo record sees him getting out from some of the weight of symphonic Genesis stylings and going for a leaner sound, which pays dividends in spades.

Much like Camel after they gave up jazzier rock and focussed on soft, melodic songs on Moonmadness and subsequent recordings, this album is packed with unabashed beauty. Opener Every Day leaps from its classical melody opening into joyous vocals and ends with a truly classic emotionally-charged solo. The Virgin and the Gypsy is an incredible pastoral ballad redolant of the English countryside, with wonderful harmonies, flute and delicate synths (guitar synth?). The Red Flower uses Oriental scales to great effect and heightens the pastoral atmosphere. Things get more aggressive on Clocks/The Angel of Mons, a dramatic, charging instrumental appropriate to its wartime theme. After a slight misstep in the attempt at humour that is The Ballad of the Decomposing Man (not bad but sticks out like a sore thumb from all this lushness), Hackett returns to graceful, melodic themes on Lost in Cordoba and the ominous Tigermoth, finishing with another extended piece of ecstatic melody and chiming guitar in Spectral Mornings.

The songs on this record were thoughtfully put together and driven by great playing and artistic focus. Though Hackett has done much good work since, to me this is a timeless classic and easily one of the greatest records of the late 70s.

Report this review (#119731)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the brilliant but somewhat irregular "Please don't touch" Steve Hackett released an album which turned out to be considered as one of his top works to this day.

A much more balanced, consistent and elaborated album, "Spectral Mornings" showcased the talens of Steve Hackett both as a guitarist and as a composer.

The record opens with "Everyday", which starts with upbeat vocal harmonies and finishes with spectacular and elegant guitar textures, showcasing Steve's special ability with tapping. "The Virgin and the Gipsy" is a beautiful song heavily influenced with folk and it is obvious that John Hackett achieves one of his greatest performances here."The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere " is an interesting addition with eastern melodies included, showing Steve's special interest in expertimentation. "The Ballad of the descomposing man" is the weirdest and probably weakest track we can found, although the vocal textures (quite characteristic in Genesis early records and throughout Steve's career ad well) and the rhytmic section at the end are still pretty interesting. "Lost Time in Cordoba" is another proof of Steve's fascination with classical pieces, being a quite relaxing and elegant song. And finally, the last two tracks are for me (along with "Every Day") the strongest section of the album. "Tigermoth" is an echanting, dark and strong piece which tells the story of some World War fighters. And the closing ant title track, "Spectral Mornings" is an atmospheric and melodic instrumental piece in which Steve shows again his elegant and personal way of performing guitar solos.

So, Steve Hackett ended the decade reaching a creative climax which he would have difficulties in maintining in subsequent efforts. "Spectral Mornings" is indeed an essential piece for any follower of this brilliant guitarist and composer, and of progressive rock in general. Five stars all around.

Report this review (#123706)
Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The third album of ex Genesis axeman Steve Hackett - Spectral mornings leave no much to complain. After all this is his best album better structured then the first and second with much variety on songs. With some influences from east Asia music on The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere, shows that Steve Hackett is opened for many sounds not only dark atmosphere that is on some pieces, specialy Clocks. Another stunning piece is the opening track called Every day - super well played, in fact the best track on the album along with the title track Spectral mornings, the rest are clear good. In the end a 4 star album, i can't give five stars because some tracks are not bad but are less enjoyble like The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man and Tigermoth. Recommended among the best albums of the '70.
Report this review (#132493)
Posted Friday, August 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars 1979. "Spectral Mornings". Steve Hackett's third album and second after leaving Genesis in 1977. IMO this is the album that gave him the confidence that he could survive on his own. I never had a doubt. Musically, I feel it is his best record to date. Instrumentals such as Spectral Mornings, Lost Time In Cordoba, and the power prog driven and fan favorite " Clocks" dispalys how is playing and writing skills would be sorely on later Genesis records. Vocally I have always felt that he was underrated and underappreciated. My favorite track on the album is "Tigermoth". His guitar playing and textures created can send the listener soaring through the atomsphere. Thank You Steve, I love your style. It so original and atomsphereic........5 Stars.......
Report this review (#142082)
Posted Thursday, October 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is Steve's Masterpiece, a classic album with classic tracks that would grace the very best albums of any artist, let alone progressive artists.

By the time Steve was ready to record this album, he had formed a closely knitted team of talented artists that were to be his band over the next few years. Their ability to translate Steve's ideas to music and lend them the emotion and dynamism Steve had intended, only enhances this recording further.

The opening track "Every Day" starts the album off well, a lively rock number with good vocals and an extended play out that allows Steve to exercise his flair on the electric guitar.

The next track, "The Virgin & the Gypsy" was inspired by a book called "A Victorian Book of Flowers", and is an absolute gem of a ballad. The piece is built up from guitar synth with multi-tracked harpsichord and 12-string guitar, and becomes magic when backed with the harmonies of Pete Hicks & Dick Cadbury. The icing on the cake however is the double tracked flutes played randomly by Steve's brother John that lend the song a hauntingly wild and beautiful Celtic airs.

The next piece - "The Red flower of Tachai..." sees Steve performing what would nowadays be called "World Music" - a Cantonese Koto being the main instrument played in this track. This has been used more than once as a backdrop to TV documentaries about Japan, so you can say that Steve captured feeling of that country very well in this number.

The last track slips neatly into the next - "Clocks - the Angel of Mons" which was released as a single at the time. This is another one of Steve's heavy rock classics that starts with the ticking of clocks, and builds up into a frenzy of swooping guitar swings as Steve slides up and down every fret on the neck of his guitar. The finale is the best rock drum solo I have ever heard from any group or artist!

Steve often includes a humorous piece on his albums, and the next track "The ballad of the decomposing man" based round gossip at an office party and is probably the best of his humorous works, changing tempo halfway through into a latin/samba style affair.

The last three tracks on the original album is really what made this release so accomplished.

"Lost Time in Cordoba" is a classical guitar piece with a haunting background accompaniment that lends both a dream like and ghostly element to the proceedings. This sets the scene neatly into a towering piece called "Tigermoth chances" a tale of a first world war fighter pilot meeting an untimely end. This piece starts off at a dramatic and epic pace, with an arial march thundering out from organs and John Shearer's drums (you really have to listen to this on earphones). Steve's guitar in parts mimics the sound of machine gun fire, ghostly voices and falling planes before the whole piece mellows down into an acoustic middle section with Pete Hicks providing the perfect vocals for the ensuing tale. The last third of this piece fades out with a beautiful waltz style ending on acoustic guitar. This is one of Steve's finest "epic" songs.

The last track on the original album is utterly sublime. An composition for electric guitar and synth, this to my mind is Steve's finest composition, in which he produced a majestic, ethereal and incredibly moving piece of classical rock, unlike anything I have ever heard of before, using subdued symbols and percussion other than drums to highlight its atmosphere. The whole piece raises the hairs on the back of your neck. The remastered version comes with a bumper collection of bonus tracks (7 in all!), although most are alternate (and not wildly different) versions of the originals.

Overall, I cannot think of a better album to recommend to Steve Hackett novices, or indeed to anyone else who is new to prog rock.

Report this review (#147476)
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A great step up from Please Don't Touch, an overcluttered album with many celebrity appearances that tended to cramp Hackett's style, this album is where he found his sound. A great album, to be followed by a masterpiece: Defector. Here We go:

Everyday: Starting with some poppy upbeat keyboards, it seems Hackett has sold out, but it keeps the attention of the listener with some dreamy vocals from Hackett and nice guitar work underlying them. The chorus seems even poppier, but the short bridge is positively gorgeous, with the guitar and keyboards keying in a sad melody. The guitar then blasts into the chorus again. Soon we reach the masterful guitar solo, starting with some nice runs and fast playing during the pop keyboard motif, but soon the sad minibridge is reprised and the guitar really takes over. The mellotron provides great background for what may be one of Hackett's best solos ever. He uses some interesting sounds, and the drums keep the steady, quick heartbeat underneath. Overall, one of Hackett's best, and a great way to start the album.

The Virgin and The Gypsy: A nice acoustic track with some great vocal harmonies in a sort of call-answer form, with some nice bubbly percussion. the keyboards create a gorgeous atmosphere for this track to reside in. The middle synth solo followed by some AMAZING flute from Brother John is gorgeous again. A nice relax after the blasting opener.

The Red Flower: Great, atmospheric track using the Koto, a Japanese keyboard like instrument. This track really shows the wide range of influences Hackett has to draw from. Instead of being a solely classical or solely blues based guitarist, he plays EVERYTHING.

Clocks: A famous instrumental of Hackett's, as complex and layered as most prog instrumentals, without massive amounts of overdubs. Very interesting percussion work, and some dark, heavy riffing from Hackett. The bass is also heavy here, being heard more than anywhere else on the album. And of course, the primal, heavy drum break courtesy of John Shearer.

The Ballad of the Decomposing Man: A bouncy, silly sounding song making good use of some weird keyboards and harmonicas. the vocals are also a little odd, but I like it. The harmonica solo is cool, something you never hear on Hackett albums. the second half of the song seems to move to the Caribbean in its melody and percussion. the vocals are the same, I'm not sure who it is singing on here, but they do a good job.

Lost Time in Cordoba: Great instrumental with lots of classical guitar and flute, and the keyboard is added a little later. this is another example of Hackett's wide variety of influences.

Tigermoth: a great shifting song, with the first section being very heavy on the drums and double bass, and there is some soaring guitar leads, and the mellotron sounds evil. then theres a bit of a mellotron solo, changing chords with some interesting synth effects falling. it slowly starts to sound sad, but after a bit kicks up again with the opening theme. this dies down there are some sinister sound effects accompanied by very low register synth notes to emphasize it. then the acoustic guitar comes in with some soaring flute. the lyrics come in telling us about a war hero and his son who wants to follow in his footsteps. the militaristic drums underneath set a good mood for the song. the ending section is a classical guitar solo that gets overdubbed by a second solo after a little bit.

Spectral Mornings: An atmospheric mellotron intro leads us into the instrumental close of this great album. the guitar comes in, and the drums pick up as the main theme is introduced. there is a section with harpsichord that fits very well with Hackett's inspired leads. the soloing continues, alternately being accompanied by either mellotron or organ. about halfway through, it slows down and the mellotron takes a more central role again, creating some of the most beautiful soundscapes imaginable. then the guitar and drums come back in to take us to the end of this relaxing, omniescent instrumental.

Overall, Hackett found his sound and would embellish it on his next album, the mesmerizing Defector.

Report this review (#155245)
Posted Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Rather good 1979 entry from Mr. Hackett, continuing to move bravely past Genesis and on with his music. First cut 'Every Day' sparkles with Hackett's energy and love of his instrument, and twee folkie 'The Virgin and the Gypsy' is a nice tune with a light midsection of strings and wood flutes. About half the material comprising the eight cuts is non-vocal which makes for a well-balanced album. 'The Ballad of the Decomposing Man' is a huge neo-classicism layered like an onion with a surprise taiko-style drum sortie and features obligatory Hackett comic relief 'The Office Party'. Quiet introspection 'Lost Time in Cordoba' is us alone with Hackett's nylon strings for a rare peek inside the private feelings of this maestro, and sci-fi soundscape 'Tigermoth' descends darkly, ready to take over the world and ends with an odd tale about the fate of German pilots in WW II. And the title is excellent-- confident and proud, as if Hackett was saying once and for all "I'm still on my feet". Indeed.

Report this review (#157419)
Posted Wednesday, January 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Steve comes back with a more "Genesis" oriented album than its average predecessor ("Please Don't Touch!").

The opening number is an ode to "Wind & Wuthering". His great debut album was premonitory of things to come and this song is just a reminder that Steve was not off-line with the musical direction that "Genesis" did take with this great album ("Wind", I mean).

Lots of good songs on this album. Another voyage in the catalogue of my preferred band. "The Virgin & The Gypsy" being a long trip back into "Trespass". Sublime and delicate flute playing. This is a wonderful and sweet track. Could have been all instrumental since vocals here are not truly performing.

This has been taken care of during "Clocks". A great and symphonic track which, again, should drawn your "Genesis" attention. My favourite from this album and really impressive. Dark to scary mood to start, it has some "Carmina Burana" connotations (it's the second time that some references to classical music is made in this album). This relatively short song is a four part track which evolves to fine guitar work (but this is a Hackett album, right?) before the finale which is 100 percent "Los Endos" oriented. What else can I say after such a trip?

Tigermoth is also based on a scary intro and features a great and spacey mellotron. Fully atmospheric for a while, this composition is again a complex story. Several theme changes, but all of them are interesting. Another highlight of this very good work. Well done Steve!

The closing and title track is another symphonic jewel. Fully instrumental (which is better IMHHO). These mellotron lines are again superb. But when mellotron enters the scene-as when flute does-, I am quite biased. That's for sure, I damned like this gorgeous instrument. The combination with the lush guitar solo is another highlight of this album.

It is not my fave from him (this will remain "Voyage Of The Acolyte"). But definitely one of his best. I can only agree with Hughes and Tony while describing the vocal parts. Not on par with the music. Still, four stars.

Report this review (#159023)
Posted Saturday, January 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Im a huge genesis fan and was very eager to venture down the valley of steve hackett's solo material. Only having heard a few tracks off Please dont touch, i was not very impressed as the quality and songs were quite poor. But simply WOW, this album is a masterpiece and in my opinion his greatest album to date. The vocal harmonies, the guitar solo and even the keyboard's sounds in the opening track everyday are superb. A great opener for a great album. Another highlight in this album has to be The virgin and the Gypsy, again the acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies blew me away. John Hackett's flute solo is something else, its quite simply beautiful. These two tracks along with spectral mornings and tigermoth is enough to make me give this album a 5 star rating.
Report this review (#159626)
Posted Thursday, January 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
5 stars Review 25, Spectral Mornings, Steve Hackett, 1978


Four years after his promising debut solo album Voyage Of The Acolyte, the legendary Steve Hackett seems to have really found his own style and variation on the very English feel of Gabriel/Hackett-era Genesis. The ties to Genesis are much reduced from Voyage, and the incredibly English, folky vocals may make some of it less accessible to many listeners, but with a little patience and tolerance, the quality of the varied material should shine through. Any musician who can manage normal guitar soloing, haunting atmospheres and acoustics so adeptly deserves all the praise he gets.

The catchy punchy bass of Everyday kicks off this superb album, supported by tapping percussion and some weird guitar that reminds me of The Hermit. The lyrics and vocals, typically weird, slot in to provide . A couple of short instrumental breaks mark the first part of the song. After the final verse, Hackett provides an extended rocking solo, striking a balance between fast, soulful and optimistic playing. Dik Cadbury's bass and John Shearer's percussion shine throughout, both moving around a bit and providing a neat launching point for the stellar guitar solo. Vital for anyone who loves Hackett's Genesis solos, and a great introduction for the great album.

The Virgin And The Gypsy is the first of the acoustic songs on the album, and, though the eery Lost In Time In Cordoba is much more to my taste, it's excellent. The cleverly harmonised vocals and folky acoustic guitar combine very nicely with the lush organ and flowing electrics. The small problem with this one is that the tapping maracas (or whatever) don't really add anything. John Hackett provides us with a couple of delightful flute solos. Great stuff. My sort of prog folk.

The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere is an almost-stereotypically oriental piece, with Hackett's koto and some swirling synths dominating the piece. Very listenable, and showing brazenly the world influences that will permeate the later Silk Road and Rise Again. Short and sweet.

The brilliantly titled [instrumental] Clocks/The Angel Of Mons flows in with a slowly increasing ticking sound (not unlike Time, but with much less awkward chimes), and humming, almost-reverent synths. A searing guitar part bursts in suddenly and viciously, while John Shearer brings out rolling drums and clashing percussion. We get a scintillating Moog solo, followed by a suitably elephantine drum solo before the track slowly swells up to its climax. Absolutely stunning track. One of my all-time favourites.

The sarcastic Ballad Of The Decomposing Man is a complete contrast, with its mixture of bass-driven chachacha rhythms and steel drumming, general quirkiness and hilarious lyrics and vocals, but with a darker edge. Steve throws a couple of superb harmonica solos in our direction. We get Steve's funniest guitar solo since Counting Out Time. The inclusion of a couple of slightly more serious moments to provide contrast is great, and the fade (I often have issues with fades) isn't bad at all. I love it.

Lost In Time In Cordoba is an acoustic-driven oddity (which I compartmentalise [this is just me] into three 'themes' and two brief 'interludes'), with a nostalgic Spanish feel from the Hackett brothers (on flute and acoustics) on the 'first movement' moving to a more curious, spectral 'interlude' from Steve alone, moving to the decadent 'second theme', which features a subdued synth (I think). A 'second interlude' from Steve leads to the much darker 'Third Theme', which feels like the unraveling of all that's gone before. As a whole, I consider this the excellent prelude to Tigermoth. Very interesting.

Tigermoth begins with 'One-Two-Three-Four' in a heavily distorted voice, and then kicks off with its haunting keyboards/bass and a chaotic guitar solo, before the main guitar/drum/bass riff bursts in. A lengthy dark, yet almost-sarcastic keyboard solo takes over for while. The main theme leads in again, with John Shearer providing some interesting percussion. Another long synth part with wailing siren-like guitars and atmospheric hidden vocals leads to a combination of whirling flute, mock accordion, synths, tapping drums and some acoustics or koto accompanying the main vocal part, with Pete Hicks' unusual English-folk style and harmonies, detailing a series of WWI encounters. Various sarcy pianos (or perhaps the clavinet) bring the song to its conclusion. Absolutely brilliant, with a perfect mix of eclecticism and atmosphere.

Spectral Mornings is basically a long augmented guitar solo, with what I assume is the 'novotron' (sounds like a Mellotron), some interesting spitting percussion and a fairly simple-sounding bass part providing the background for it. After an illusory almost-conclusion, the guitar solo is revived from a keyboard solo. The piece has two small highlights for me: the harpsichord and vocal-percussion-guitar fade. Good, even if I'm not the greatest fan of huge guitar solos, and definitely morning music.

A melting pot of excellent material, and a superb album throughout, as well as a massive development from Voyage Of The Acolyte. It should also be noted, that, though Hackett's lyrics are probably not on a level with the Genesis lyrics contributed by Banks and Gabriel, they work very well throughout this album and mesh nicely with the music. I'm giving it a glowing five stars, mainly for the constantly interesting compositions, atmosphere and diversity. I recommend this very highly to any fairly open-minded/diversely interested prog listener, regardless of whether they like Genesis or not. A masterpiece in its own right.

Rating: Five Stars

Favourite Track: Clocks/The Angel Of Mons, though the Lost In Time In Cordoba/Tigermoth pairing gives it some competition

Disclaimer: not sure whether that's a synth or a flute on the second theme of Lost In Time, and I'm not certain about some of the other instrumentation on the album. Don't trust me!

Report this review (#169856)
Posted Sunday, May 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is Hackett's masterpiece, and only 2 years after leaving Genesis. It's this album that makes me think he made the right decision.

Every Day is a great upbeat opener. I've never been crazy about Hackett's lyrics, but they are decent if not great. The vocals for this album are handled Pete Hicks very ably, with Hackett taking a couple of tunes. What this does is make the album feel far more cohesive than the previous one by relying primarily on one vocalist. It works well I think. The next 3 tracks are brilliant, tough Clocks works better live than here, but still a great song. Brother John's flute on Red Flower... is sublime. I could live without The Ballad Of the Decomposing Man, but it is a nice lighthearted break in the album, if a bit unnecessary in my view. Lost Time is a decent track, though probably my 2nd least favorite on here. The final two tracks, however, are some of Hackett's finest. Tigermoth is a two part song, the instrumental parts being my favorites, but the whole thing works brilliantly. The title track may be my favorite Hackett instrumental ever, echoing the best of his work in the post Gabriel Genesis (though having that more menacing feel that Hackett solo material has, in contrast to Genesis' somewhat softer and less sinister approach).

Basically, this is my favorite solo Hackett, though I haven't heard many of his albums to date (just the first 4 and To Watch The Storms). But I can't give this any less than 5 stars and would say this is a great place to start with his solo work.

Report this review (#171731)
Posted Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars If there is one Hackett album you should own, it's Spectral Mornings. And EVERYBODY should own at least one Hackett album. So that makes this a five star masterpiece, with a quality that goes far above and beyond the average.

It took me forever to listen to this whole album when I first got it, because I kept replaying two tracks! (Spectral Mornings and The Virgin and the Gypsy.) It's a shame because the whole album is just as good.

Anyhow track by track....

Everyday (4.5/5) -- Starting an album with the most likeable and accessible track is good business. The song is good, the long guitar solo that ends it is great! So 4.5 stars for the opener.

The Virgin and the Gypsy (5/5) -- A truly lovely song with gorgeous vocals, poetic lyrics, and a grand symphonic sound. Steve's acoustic guitar complements some nice work by John (the OTHER Hackett, and one of the best flute players in progdom.)

The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere (4/5) -- An evocative instrumental piece with an Asian, but modern sound. A fine experiment.

Clocks (The Angel Of Mons) (5/5) -- Possibly the most progressive track on this album (although it has to compete with Tigermoth.) And we aren't talking Genesis style prog here, either. It has the darkness of King Crimson, a symphonic sound that would do Yes proud, and Steve's particular style of guitar. A great track.

The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man (Featuring - The Office Party) (2.5/5) -- Steve just can't stay away from these weird novelty tracks, can he? This one is in the vein of Carry On Up the Vicarage off of Please Don't Touch!, but it isn't as good.

Lost Time In Cordoba (4/5) -- Once again the Hackett brothers combine their talents to prove how talented they are.

Tigermoth (5/5) -- The track that competes with Clocks for the most progressive track. The description of Clocks is good for this one as well, but add in that it has quirky and amusing lyrics.

Spectral Mornings (5/5) -- Steve's best guitar solo!!! Imagine the Firth of Fifth guitar solo and then raise the quality of it by the power of two. An amazing piece of music.

Anyhow, this easily Steve's best work and if you have never heard it, it should jump to the top of your acquisition list.

5 stars. Heck, I wish I could give it 6!

Report this review (#175555)
Posted Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very good album by former Genesis' guitarist Steve Hackett,indeed!If you look at the album you may see two fundamental things.The first one is the importance of Steve Hackett for Genesis.He is the power of the band,that cannot be replaced easily.But on the other hand I believe that without strong individuals for bandmates the work cannot become a masterpiece.And maybe that it the case with Spectral Morning.This genius musician - Steve Hackett is made really very good album,but there is something that lack for the restrictions of 5 stars.And I think these are the genius bandmates from Genesis.I really believe that session musicians cannot fulfil thier roles as whole.This is the reason for the premacy of the bands,istead of sole artists for me.In the band you are with genius friends like you,but as sole artist you have to work with session musicians...Big success for Steve Hackett and really better Spectral Mornings than Gthe same time Genesis' album - ...And Then There Were Three...!
Report this review (#184279)
Posted Wednesday, October 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars A band new morning

Spectral Mornings was a major step forward for Steve Hackett after two quite disappointing albums. His debut album, Voyage Of An Acolyte, is far from being the masterpiece it is often said to be and the title of his second album, "Please Don't Touch", should be taken as a warning not to touch it (despite a few good moments)! Spectral Mornings fares much better by comparison. In my opinion it was with this third album that Steve Hackett really started to find his own identity as a solo artist. As a guitarist he had, of course, found his own distinctive style several years earlier with Genesis, but it was first with Spectral Mornings that he began to find his identity as a writer, singer and band leader. In that sense Spectral Mornings was the first true Hackett album. However, despite some really excellent moments, this album too fails to be as strong as people say it is and, in my opinion, Steve would make better albums later on. Including his next one, Defector.

The opener here, Every Day, and the closing title track are clearly the best two songs here and they stand out above all the rest. Too bad not everything in between them is as good. Virgin And The Gypsy is good, but nothing that blows me away. It was with this album that Hackett began blending influences from World Music into his brand of Rock. The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere is a Japanese influenced piece played on a Koto, a traditional Japanese instrument. Very nice, but not particularly memorable.

Clocks (The Angel Of Mons) is a very experimental guitar piece with a very strong presence of percussion instruments. Hackett had not been so experimental before, at least not with the confidence he seems to have here. A very good track that became a live favourite.

Lost Time In Cordoba is a very typical Hackett classical guitar piece with some wind instrument also present. Not one of his better, but it seems that every one of his albums needs to have one or two of these (which I love!).

Hackett's previous (and several of his later) albums are inconsistent and disjointed. Having several different vocalists on different tracks, and not being able to fuse the many different styles of music together, into a coherent whole are some of the usual problems. As I have said, Spectral Mornings comes closer to a unified whole than his first two albums, but it is far from perfect. I don't understand why Steve always has to put songs like The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man on his albums, what is the point? Is it supposed to be humour? Also the vocal part of Tigermoth seems out of place and brings this album down a bit.

Steve Hackett would go on to make many further albums in the 80's, 90's and 00's, several of which are even better than this one. On his next album, Defector, Steve would perfect the style he explored with this album and thereby make an album that is a bit more consistent and works better as a whole despite the absence of such major classics as Every Day and Spectral Mornings.

Recommended, but not as essential as people say

Report this review (#184816)
Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars In the late 70s it seemed like every prog musician and his cousin was putting out a solo album. Nothing wrong with that at all except that I was a skinny, starving rock & roll musician at the time and just didn't have the lettuce to buy all those LPs so more than a few artists I admired fell to the wayside. Steve Hackett was one of those that I lost touch with. In recent years I've come to realize that he has quite a horde of fans in Progland so I decided to pick up one of his highest-rated reissues and see what I'd missed.

Within seconds I was pretty sure I'd found a missing Genesis track in the perky "Every Day" because it has that unmistakable aura that so characterized their sound. It's blatantly obvious that Steve's contributions to that revered band were an integral part of their most admired recordings and his absence led to them becoming more and more predictable down the road. They needed Hackett in a big way. Nick Magnus contributes a very Tony Banks-like keyboard tone but the tune has a kind of Beach Boys-ish, 3-part harmony chorale (instead of a lead vocal) that keeps it from coming off as an imitation of Steve's former group. Hackett displays plenty of his signature guitar licks as his studio band stretches out in a controlled jam at the end. "The Virgin and the Gypsy" follows and it's terrific. Lovely 12-string acoustic guitars ring joyfully, Pete Hicks' lead vocal is crystal clear, John Hackett's flutes, whistles and recorders are delightful and the track has a depth of field that keeps it from becoming too lightweight. "The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere" makes it three winners in a row as Steve's utilization of traditional Chinese instruments and melodies creates a refreshing, hypnotic mood. I love the variety of the music styles he presents.

But the charm of variety depends totally on quality and, unfortunately, at this juncture the album starts losing it. "Clocks - The Angel of Mons" sounds like a lab experiment that didn't coagulate. It has grand aspirations, for sure, but perhaps it would've worked better as a movie soundtrack for the saga of Hannibal's troops crossing the Alps on their elephants. Or something equally dramatic. I also get the feeling that Hackett ran out of ideas midstream and started throwing in distracting guitar-generated noises to stall for time before John Shearer's pachyderms-on-a-rampage, rumblin' & tumblin' drum solo ruins any chance the song had of going somewhere interesting. But the next cut defies logic. "The Ballad of the Decomposing Man" is some sort of vaudeville ditty that was probably intended to be clever but it falls flat on its face. And I mean flat. When it segues into a Caribbean calypso motif it ceases to be silly and becomes downright weird. I guess you had to be there. Not my cup o' tea.

Steve redeems himself to a large extent with the beautiful "Lost Time in Cordoba," a very soothing and well-performed instrumental featuring layered, subdued acoustic guitars. Perfect rainy-day music. Next up is the longest cut, "Tigermoth." It starts promisingly with ominous bass/synthesizer lines backed by a Mellotron chorale but quickly turns overly-maudlin. The dated cosmic sounds get old quickly and often it seems to be wandering without direction. Then all of sudden it evolves into a nostalgic Roaring 20s singing-through-a-megaphone deal that leaves me scratching my head. I mean, WTF? I don't get it. At least the final number ushers you out on a positive note. "Spectral Mornings" is the kind of stuff most proggers crave. Deep keyboards and a pleasing melody line augmented by an inventive arrangement and aggressive guitar work by Hackett make this one of the highlights of the album.

Five of the bonus tracks are no more than alternate (read: inferior) mixes of previously heard songs and not worth your while. The live acoustic set, however, is a treat. Steve plays a medley of familiar airs for an adoring audience and you can tell there was a lotta love in the room that night. The in- concert rendition of "Tigermoth" is an improvement over the studio version only because the ridiculous second half is excluded.

Half of this album shows why Genesis suffered a huge loss when Hackett left the band. The other half indicates that Steve's inspiration and creativity was limited without the helpful input of Phil, Mike and Tony. Compared to some of the other solo efforts of that era, this one ain't too shabby. Yet it doesn't rise above the rabble nearly enough. It's good but not great.

Report this review (#185521)
Posted Monday, October 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Steve Hackett's music has never blown me away immediately when I first hear it. His is something I find I must enjoy over time, and soon enough the melodies and progressions ingrain themselves into my memory. As with his first solo effort, I was initially unimpressed, but with additional listens, I grew to really delight in this album.

"Every Day" The upbeat opener could have been something from Genesis at the time just prior to Hackett's departure. The guitar work is simple, but inspired.

"The Virgin and the Gypsy" Hackett sits back with a twelve-string acoustic guitar in order to let the exceptional vocal melodies and the synthesizer shine. The guitar riff in the middle is vaguely reminiscent of part of "Supper's Ready," over which lovely wind instruments play.

"The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere" Hackett charms the hearer with an oriental-inspired piece on which his koto and the Mellotron play a large role. It's a short piece, but lovely for its brevity.

"Clocks- The Angel of Mons" With the sound of clocks, synthesizers and Mellotron, the most intense piece of music here begins. Hackett's leads are menacing, as is the rest of the instrumentation. A drum solo interrupts the flow of the music to give way to a final blast of sound.

"The Ballad of the Decomposing Man" In the vein of ELP, Hackett offers one silly song based on ridiculous honky-tonk piano and trivial lyrics. The second-half has some Caribbean style music, making this a really out-of-place song.

"Lost Time in Cordoba" Hackett treats listeners to a more classical piece, with a nylon-string guitar and woodwind instruments. The end of the piece has some incredibly odd fretwork.

"Tigermoth" The intensity and sinister nature of this song is second only to that of the fourth track. What sounds like some unobtrusive Vocoder business goes on just before the main theme returns. The vocals are flippant though, and don't do the ominous subject matter or prior music justice. The ending features delicate guitar work.

"Spectral Mornings" The title and final piece is a dazzling instrumental, full of washes of Mellotron and exquisite guitar work. My only complaint is that the main theme becomes repetitive after a time. It's a stellar way to end the album, even if it's not counted among my favorite instrumentals.

Report this review (#197384)
Posted Monday, January 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars It had been said that Genesis lost its brain when Peter Gabriel left, and its heart when Steve Hackett left. While the remaining 3 members cavorted towards Oz like the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, "Spectral Mornings" might be the musical heir apparent to "Wind and Wuthering". "Voyage of the Acolyte" and "Please Don't Touch" were more like solo projects that availed themselves of hired hands, but in this 1979 product, the Steve Hackett band debuts with both swagger and modesty.

The richly atmospheric keyboards of Nick Magnus, the chunky bass of Dik Cadbury, John Shearer's sympathetic drums and brother John Hackett's expressive flute all converge with some of Steve's most definitive guitar work. "Everyday" begins as an organ based soft rock number, but fission occurs when Hackett cuts loose for lhe last half, unleashing a solo that would form the blueprint for neo prog histrionics from MOSTLY AUTUMN to COLLAGE. The rich accompaniment is as important as the main player, even if he slips in a near impossible sequence around the 5 minute mark.

"The VIrgin and the Gypsy" immerses us in pastoral fantasy, and here it is John's flute that propels us skyward while Nick Magnus' harpsichord provides a bed of soft leaves for reentry. Dik Cadbury's vocal lead and the unison harmonies are sensitively arranged to the minutest degree. From here, "The Red Flower of Takai" is a decidedly Eastern sounding instrumental, thanks to the koto, the melody and the arrangements, and it leads seamlessly into the much moodier and at times violent "Clocks".

The groups attempts to recreate the spirit of the resplendent "Clocks" at several points, particularly "Tigermoth" and the title track, but with less success. Hence the rest of the album is good but simply not the equal of the first 4 pieces. Some of the honky tonk vocalizing in "The Ballad of the Decomposing Man" is ill advised, while the singing in "Tigermoth" is similarly limpid. The best of what remains is "Lost Time in Cordoba", a meandering neo flamenco meets classical arrangement that works for active enjoyment, study or meditation.

Thirty years on, "Spectral Mornings" has stood the test of time like no mere apparition, and is one of the most consistent works by a man with often incongruous tastes.

Report this review (#218740)
Posted Thursday, May 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I think this album, as great as it is, lacks the utter perfection of the first solo-work by Hackett, "Voyage of the Acolyte".

Hackett focuses more in "world-music" this time around, drawing influences from even more varied places than in his previous efforts. The GENESIS-sound is almost gone here (though it still can be felt in tracks like the first one, "Every Day"), and there is a reasons for that: on this album, Hackett finally has his own band, with no input from any member of his former group. He even does most of the singing here, though his vocals are hardly the contribution for the arts he will be remembered for.

The album travels a lot of different territories, going from the semi-instrumental opener track based upon one main theme, through the Chinese, koto-enhanced "The Red flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere", to the effective closer, the title track, an instrumental piece with the usual magnificent guitar work by the master.

Unlike the last Hackett album I reviewed, "Voyage of the Acolyte", "Spectral Mornings" is farther away from perfection. While songs like "The Virgin and The Gypsy", full of ornamental details with magical flutes and a dreamy voice make an impact, "The Ballad of the Decomposing Man" is quite useless, a little play-piece, a musical joke. "Clocks" doesn't lack interest, but seems a little bit rushed; the melancholic "Last Time in Cordoba" has all the atmosphere of Hackett's best works, though seems a bit short in melodic inspiration; "tigermoth" is uneven, starts promising, then wanders about with no purpose, then regains brightness with the final vocal section.

This uneven work still deserves 4 stars, as is an excellent addition to any music collection.

Report this review (#219943)
Posted Friday, June 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars I really liked Voyage of Accolyte so I had to try this one. Spectral mornings is the third solo album by Steve Hackett. Not like Voyage, it is very poppy in my opinion. Another difference is the total abscence of other Genesis members. You can hear the eighties approuching very well. The recording is modern, but a bit dated anyway. The eighties sound has a tendency to age very quickly, unlike most seventies recordings.

The first three popsongs aren't very interesting. The standerd procedure for songwriting is applied here and the melodies are catchy and a bit simple. It just doesn't sound devoding. Clocks should be the first progressive output here but even this track isn't very special compared with his Genesis work or his debut. It sounds like it had to be very acceptable for the common man, and this is wat is so disturbing here. The complete record plays on without getting my attention. So great symphonical track, no real progressive elements. I can not understand whay this record is rated so high.

Conclusion. Is this a record that is just not intended for it's former progressive rock fans? It sounds like a shift in directing, heading for safety for the coming eighties. I can't make any more then two stars of this. Briefly overrated.

Report this review (#227771)
Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars After hearing the live version of Clocks I decided to give this album a shot. At first I loved this release but eventually, after about 6-7 spins, found that compositions like Lost Time In Cordoba and Spectral Mornings lacked that compelling overall feel that only Hackett's masterworks can produce.

It feels like all the right elements for a masterpiece of an album are present on this release but once the material is actually chopped up into individual pieces the original cracks become even more apparent. Although Steve Hackett's third studio album is a definite improvement over the sophomore release Please Don't Touch! I actually consider it to be on the lower end of the excellent release-rating. It's a mixed bag of an album that, in the end, comes out on top thanks to its highlights like the essential album opener Every Day which might seem more cheerful than what the lyrics would suggest and who can forget Clocks (The Angel Of Mons)?

In conclusion Spectral Mornings might be one of the most praised Hackett-releases to date, but I wouldn't go as far as calling this his best.

***** star songs: Every Day (6:14) Clocks (The Angel Of Mons) (4:16)

**** star songs: The Virgin And The Gypsy (4:28) The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere (2:05) Tigermoth (7:35) Spectral Mornings (6:32)

*** star songs: The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man (3:48) Lost Time In Cordoba (4:03)

Total rating: 4,07

Report this review (#254712)
Posted Monday, December 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Just like its predecessor, Spectral Mornings suffers from inadequate song writing. There is not one sung part here that doesn't make me cringe. Luckily, it is mainly instrumental.

Every Day starts with a 3 minute pop tune that tries hard to be as shabby and dated as anything on the previous album. Just when you might expect the worse, Hackett launches into a breathtaking guitar solo that would be copied infinitely by later neo-prog bands. The Virgin and The Gypsy is as woolly and stuffy as your granny's attic, still it has some vague charm, but compared to the Eastern instrumental The Red Flower it's colourless.

Clocks is a great dark instrumental piece, with a heavy moog sound and a great solo. After a bit of filler, Hackett goes all pastoral on Lost Time in Cordoba, very mellow, just acoustic guitar and flute basically. Hackett would create entire albums filled with similar pieces, which is a bit too much of it really. But here, it sits entirely at easy. Tigermoth adds more dramatic electric guitar soloing. It has a peculiar vocal track in the second half. Maybe that's just to make the contrast with the stellar album closer even greater. Spectral Mornings is guitar beauty like only Hackett and Latimer are able to produce. Breathtaking.

The strength of the prevailing instrumental music on this album make it too good to be just a 3 star, but there's no way around the AOR vocals.

Report this review (#261059)
Posted Saturday, January 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the first band album Steve did and it is very well done. This one is superior to his previous stuff, with one exception.

You are sucked right in with "Every Day." I just loved it to no end. Good guitar work and the vocals are very pleasing, being handled aptly by Pete, no not Gabtriel, but Hicks. Steve made some good choices, as far as band members go.

One of my favorite songs on the album is the 2nd one, entitled "The Moth and the Gypsy." It is absolutely breathtaking to hear! So moody and mysterious. Wonderful ear candy!

"The Red Flower" transports the listener to Japan. You would think Steve is Japanese by the song content. It is excellent!

"Clocks'' is another killer tune. The drummer, John Shearer is a real stanout on this.

I have to say that I also liked "The Ballad of the Decomposing Man"a lot. Steve does a vocal cameo and his singing is good. It seems like Steve finally got material that suited his voice.

"Lost Time in Cordoba" and "Tigermoth" are connected. Steve does some pretty cool stuff on "Lost."

"Spectral Mornings" is a great piece of music, except Steve seems like he is somewhat stagnant as far as musical ideas are concerned. I was disappointed that he wasn't putting more into this semi epic tune. It was about three minutes too long for me. Other than that, Steve Hackett has a killer record that many fans,and those that aren't familar with him,will enjoy. I can only give it 4 stars because of "Spectral Mornings."

Report this review (#275973)
Posted Friday, April 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Steve Hackett's third album is another strong album, but this is all starting to feel familiar, that 'big' sound, the gothic aura, the acoustic songs with flutes and a darker, more rocking number thrown in. 'The Angel of Mons' is this albums 'A tower struck down' and 'Virgin and the gypsy' is this albums 'Hands of the Priestess'.

However, the first four songs are pretty much vintage Genesis/solo and the vocals aren't bad. The second side starts with 'Ballad of the decomposing man' which is interesting though not particularly strong, 'Lost time in Corodoba' is another acoustic guitar ballad. Tigermoth is a prog epic, actually one of his best, and hey I can understand the singing easily. The last minute of music is the best, with that beautiful glockenspiel arrangement, so lovely! The title track is a nice way to finish, with a sea of mellotrons, it's as if he knew how to recreate Tony Banks!

Get Hackett's first three solo albums, you won't regret it, if you are a prog fan or a fan of interesting, good music.

Report this review (#278679)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars I have a hard time judging Steve Hackett´s albums. He is one of my fave guitarrists around and Genesis owns a lot to him to make up their wonderful and unique style in the early 70´s. However, in terms of solo work, he never seems to find the right formula to make them as remarkable as what he has done when he was in a group. Possibly, that´s the reason why he did try to put a group together when he decided to record his third (and probably best) solo efford. So there are no star guest of any kind here. And he was clearly in his best form. And still he managed to spoil the overall effect with some strange, whimsy tunes. Fortunatly those moments are more then compensate with other electrifying ones.

Side a of the old vinyl is really excellent: Every day and The Virgin And The Gypsy are among his best songs ever. The former is truly´Genesis´ like tune that reminds me a lot of Wind & Wuthering. The latter is a fine acoustic song with a strong chorus. The short instrumental The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere sounds very japanese and it is a nice break before the next track, Clocks (The Angel Of Mons), another instrumental one that is good, but I never really would label as one of his greatest ones as so many other reviewers did (Phil Collins could have done wonders with the drums here). On the other side, The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man is simply bad. Its humor fails to arouse me. One reviewer claims it is his ´brazilian influence`, but this mistaken song is really a calypso (a caribbean rhythm, not brazilian), complete with steel drum solo and has nothing to do with the rest of the album. A real dud.

Lost Time In Cordoba is a nice acoustic piece for guitar and flute that has its moments, but in the end it´s not very outstanding. Firefly is another weak song, with the same old twisted humor that lacks any depth or musical background to boot. It starts quite promising but that´s really all. Side b is ultimately saved by the title song, a real fine symphonic opus that I love very much. My remastered CD version has several bonus tracks: most of them are alternate mixes of the original albums (which I find them quite useless, since they all sound pretty equal to the original ones). Only the acoustic medley Live Acoustic Set is really a worth addition to the album, while The Caretaker is nothing but a track with sounds that may be an inside joke (which I didn´t get it. Did anyone?).

Conclusion: with all its faults I still find Spectral Mornings to be Hackett´s best solo album thus far. The good stuff is simply brilliant and enough to warrant this album 4 stars. An excellent addition to any prog rock music colletion.

Report this review (#292333)
Posted Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Spectral Mornings"is the third album by Steve Hackett and his most beloved, along with "Voyage of Acolyte". This album got me the first time who i listen this.To exception of "The Ballad of decomposing man" (as bad music!and ps: this song does not have any Brazilian rhythms,but Caribbean rhythms yes!), all other tracks are excellents.I have a special appreciation for the following tracks: the great opening track "Every Day" (Hackett's solo is fantastic) , the beautiful "The Virgin and the gipsy," Tigermoth "(though a little vocal section decrease the brightness of it; I think this man's voice resembles that of Roger Waters) and the masterful title track that closes the album.
Report this review (#338359)
Posted Monday, November 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A Steve Hackett album full of songs of quite a wide diversity of styles, sounds, and moods--typical of a lot of Hackett albums. This one, however, has Hackett hitting on all cylinders; as some have stated, there's not a bad song on the album and there are, in fact, many outstanding songs--including the title song, "Every Day," "Tigermoth," "Virgin and the Gypsy," "Clocks, " and "Lost Time in Cordoba." Some of Steve's all-time greatest solos, singing, and composing. In terms of progressive rock history, I have to give this one 5 stars for it has truly stood the test of time very well and was an immediate favorite, start to finish, at the time of its release.
Report this review (#406693)
Posted Wednesday, February 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Spectral Mornings is a solo album by Steve Hackett that I generally don't enjoy so much of. There are a few good tracks here and there, and are definitely great guitar showcases. I find this album suffering from the sounds of the '80s, which has always been a hinderer in the progressive rock world. Still, this music is far better and much more interesting and well composed than the music that Genesis would go on to make. Unfortunately, the only track on this album that really stuck out is the wonderful "Tigermoth" which is a classic and aggressive Hackett track, with some odd progressive touches.

Symphonic progressive rock fans and fans of Steve Hackett's electric works should find this to be a fantastic listen. I personally prefer his classical oriented albums.

Report this review (#431198)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 5 Stars no doubt!!!

I love this album from start to finish. Picking a favorite song is hard to do, but I will choose the title track just to make a choice. I love Tigermoth, if I close my eyes I can see the planes flying, then getting shot down and so forth.

Clocks is what I consider the Steve Hackett version of Los Endos, it may not sound like it, but I get the same feeling when I hear it.

I love the ballad of the decomposing man, to me it reminds me a little bit of Monty Python, and British humor.

Not a bad song on the entire album.

Report this review (#503061)
Posted Sunday, August 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Before I turned into a bird, I had a record player and a CD player, and owned copies of all the early Steve Hackett albums from Voyage Of the Acolyte through Highly Strung, minus Defector. So maybe I would like Defector more, especially going by the songs I have heard from it, but for now I'm going to say that Spectral Mornings is my favorite Steve Hackett album. Logically, the first two are just as good or even better/more consistant, but what really lifts this one above the others is the solos. These are just some of the most character defining, expressive, and endlessly enthralling solos he's ever put down, even rivaling the ones he recorded for Genesis. I'm thinking in particular of the extremely melodic whole main theme for the song "Spectral Mornings", and the ones in "Every Day". What is it about that the first solo in "Every Day" that makes it so fun to listen to? It does bear close resemblance to early classical, but it's played in a very electric rock tone, with a decidedly rock band backing him, and the tone he uses is just very personally him, which is also kind of a rock thing. It's powerful rock music that reaches to higher spiritual places. The song overall has a really good sound, too, with true prog organ lead, and very confident and clear 3-part singing. The following song, "The Virgin and the Gypsy" is a very transporting change of environment, with more of those clear vocal harmonies, (Steve's singing has grown with this album, and blends very well with Pete Hicks and Dik Cadbury's voices) wonderfully beautiful layered wind parts from John Hackett, and a Taurus pedal- wrapped atmosphere that complements the emotionally rich melody perfectly. Afterwards, we get just what a listener would want to hear after such a piece, an even more exotic atmosphere in "The Red Flower of Taichai Blooms Everywhere." "Clocks" may not have anything new on tracks like "A Tower Struck Down" and "Please Don't Touch!" (besides that virtuoso drum break, of course), but again, it's the solos and leads that really take these songs to a new level. Steve has perfected his vibrato and timing expression here, and any fan of his playing will appreciate this piece as well. "The Ballad of the Decomposing Man" may not be as interesting as the rest of the album, and "Lost Time In Cordoba" may even be one of his lesser acoustic tracks, but the former is humourous and eclectic, Steve's singing does fit these types of songs, and it's a needed diversion for the continuity of the album that I can't imagine not being there. And "Lost Time in Cordoba" is certainly some impressive playing, with production that gives it a very "cold" feel, which adds depth to the overall sound of the album. "Tigermoth" - again, very good soloing, and a very unexpected shift to the major key section of the song that may sound overly happy at first given the subject matter, but if you let the melody get inside you, it's actually very meloncholy and fitting. And oh, those harmonies. The last song, the one called "Spectral Mornings" is unfogettably one of Hackett's best, an all instrumental based around one of the best guitar lead melodies known to man. His expression on this piece is indescibable, especially in those sustained high notes. The band puts exactly the right parts in (complete with 32-note hi-hat), and I especially love the keyboard breaks right before Steve brings the lead crashing back in. If you're a fan of symponic prog, old Genesis, or Steve Hackett in general, you can't go wrong with Spectral Mornings.
Report this review (#528854)
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Significantly less muddled and unfocused than Please Don't Touch, Hackett's second post- Genesis solo album sees Hackett pioneering a progressive style focusing around shorter songs structured to give his guitar skills centre stage. It is by no means perfect - the opening of the first song, Every Day, is pretty lousy pop, but the song soon transforms into a soaring guitar piece, and The Ballad of the Decomposing Man is just bad from beginning to end - an unpleasant and unnecessary dig at the working class on the part of a grammar school boy, not exactly tasteful or respectful.

But the rest of the album is a sheer delight. Hackett's solos here are surely a great influence on the neo-prog bands that would follow in its wake - I think I can hear its influence in early work by Jadis, IQ and The Lens in particular. With styles ranging from classic rock to classical guitar to world music, this album manages to combine the diversity which Please Don't Touch possessed with the focus and confidence of Voyage of the Acolyte.

Report this review (#561689)
Posted Thursday, November 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After a disappointing "Please Don't Touch", I had to re-listen Hackett's follow-up album which, according to the PA reviews, is a highly praised effort.

It is really much more consistent album, and apart from a filler "The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man" containing some really unnecessary samba/circus nonsense, "Spectral Morning" is a fine, melodic, pleasant and nicely performed work done in a "symphonic" style and sometimes, like in the opener "Every Day", evokes classic YES or GENESIS feel. Steve's guitar is of course the main star here, but all the backing band provides a strong performance.

My favorites are a fine acoustic, slow tempo work of "The Virgin and the Gypsy" and the following instrumental "The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere" where Hackett demonstrates his koto skills, along with dark and furious heavy riffs of "Tigermoth" and the closing excellent title track.

Still, the overall sensation is slightly too soft and pedestrian for my taste. I usually demand more challenging and aggressive/experimental attitudes, besides nice melodies and fine arrangements. Therefore, despite all of its qualities, I cannot assign maximum number of stars to this album.

Report this review (#574190)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Steve Hackett could learn a thing or two from his early classic albums. First: get a complete set of musicians, including persons who sing better than yourself. This is one of those classics that have the things just right (except for one awful track: 'Ballad of The Decomposing Man' sung terribly by Steve. IMHO one of his ugliest songs ever!) But for the rest, this is a gorgeous album and a must for all friends of Steve Hackett. The main vocalist is Pete Hicks who fits to the music perfectly, and many songs have fine vocal harmonies.

'Every Day' is a nice mixture of straightforward song and progness. It ends with a long spectacular electric guitar solo, one of his finest. 'The Virgin And the Gypsy' (inspired by a D.H. Lawrence short story of the same name?) is a charming song with great harmonies. 'Tigermoth' reminds a bit of 'Every Day' as a song but its starts with an instrumental section - and ends with acoustic guitar.

Four of the eight tracks are instrumentals (a very nice amount for a Hackett album). 'Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere' is a short Japanese-sounding beauty featuring koto. 'Clocks' is dramatic in a very proggy way. Acoustic 'Lost Time in Cordoba' has - you guessed it - a Spanish flavour. And the title track ends the album in a majestic way. Besides Hackett's trademark electric guitar sound, you can enjoy the full band sound, especially the bass.

Simply, this vey enjoyable album wonderfully shows his many-sided strengths. This kind of (instrumentally oriented) music is where he's at his best. But for one ugly song and the SONG- writing that COULD be better (some of the choruses or refrains are a bit dull), this is not quite a five-star masterpiece for me.

Report this review (#596622)
Posted Tuesday, December 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#768923)
Posted Sunday, June 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the album that made me a fan of Hackett way back in the 70s and I am still a big fan. Unlike the preceding album, Spectral Mornings has a consistent sound and quality all the way through. With this release, Hackett has reached a new plateau in his music, one that sets the bar for everything to come, not all of which will come up to par. Not only is his guitar playing better here than ever before, so is his songwriting. And despite the back cover photo, he is not always the lead singer. In fact, Steve had brought together a group of musicians he soon came to regard as his band, not as hired hands. Each member, Pete Hicks on lead and harmony vocals, Dik Cadbury on bass, Nick Magnus on keys, brother John Hackett on flutes and bass pedals, and John Shearer on drums, provide perfect support for Steve. Each one also is given the chance to shine out, especially John Hackett and Nick Magnus.

The album opens with a bona-fide Hackett classic, Every Day, a song intriguing in its lyrics (I think it is about how great events are just like every day events on a daily basis) and catchy in its melodies. The Virgin and the Gypsy follows, where Hackett and company out pastorals the pastoral qualities of Genesis, who had pretty much abandoned such sounds by this time. This song also has the same title as a D. H. Lawrence novel, which was probably its inspiration. Brother John's flute really shines here. After this comes the beautiful The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere. I think it should read 'Tai Chi.' Steve plays koto on this one as well as guitar. Now we get another great classic, and certainly one of the highlights of the album, Clocks ' The Angel of Mons. This song is powerful and dynamic. If you do not know the story, it refers to a group of giant angels who appeared above a group of British soldiers during WWI as they were attacked by a larger German force. The Germans were routed. The sounds Steve creates here are as eerie and formidable as their subject. Side one (yes, I am reviewing from my vinyl version bought many years ago) ends with the most controversial song on the album. Many people, myself included, have asked just what in Sam Hill was he thinking when he did Ballad of the Decomposing Man. This is a silly song, memorable in its absurdity, and is almost totally out of place here. In fact, I use the title to describe any other song by Hackett which has a similar characteristic, and almost all of his albums in fact do have one of these. Musically, it is not bad at all. Still, there is an underside of tragedy in the lyrics which the ridiculousness of it all belies.

Side two starts with the acoustic Lost Time in Cordoba, a piece that precedes the classical style Hackett would start to explore extensively in later years. Evocative. The longest song comes next, Tigermoth, which I regard as a lost Hackett classic. Here we get the story of a ghost fro WWII. The wall of noise that represents the falling plane is intense. The album closes with the title track, and Hackett has saved the best for last. This is an emotional piece where its climaxes are augmented by its soft sections. Note that I use the plural there. The melody of this song is a climax in itself. The fact that it is repeated, usually with increasing volume and intensity, takes nothing away. I have one live version of this song, and it is nowhere near as good. It lacks the feeling, the soul that Steve puts into it here.

One of the best qualities of this album is that it is not merely a showpiece for its star. Hackett had worked carefully with his band, as they worked with him, and everything comes through as a whole. Of course there are lead lines and solos, but even those work closely with the rest of the music. It is this cohesiveness that raises the album so high. Along with the great songs, too. Spectral Mornings is an important album in the development of Steve Hackett the auteur and one I think every Prog fan should have.

Report this review (#769936)
Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Spectral Morning's is Steve Hackett's third solo record, and is more honest to his solo sound than the Genesis-sounding Voyage of the Acoylte. With that said, I still think VotA is a much stronger album. It's not that the melodies and atmospheric moments are missing on this album, it's just that they're not as good.

The album starts off with 'Every Day' (8/10) which is an upbeat and cheery, but rather simple number. The main melody is great, and the ending guitar solo is Hackett at his best.

'Virgin and the Gypsy'(5/10) is pretty decent and I especially like the parts with the Mellotron and flute. But the vocals really hamper this one, as they do in a lot of these songs.

'The Red Flower of Tachi Blooms Everywhere' (5/10) is a serene instrumental with a strong Eastern feel, but otherwise is uninteresting.

'Clocks ? The Angel of Mons' (7/10) is based around a strong harmonic riff between bass and guitar. The drums are also pounding here to give the song a heavier sound than a lot of Steve's other songs.

If it weren't for the vocals, 'The Ballad of the Decomposing Man,' (4/10) might have been a decent song, though I do like the complete change in style and sound that occurs halfway.

'Lost Time In Cordoba' (5/10) is a nice instrumental, but really doesn't go anywhere.

'Tigermoth' (8/10) alternates between some heavier riffs and some rather atmospheric parts with keyboards. The last minute or so of buildup at the end is ethereal.

The title track' Spectral Mornings' (7/10) closes the album with some of Steve's most magnificent guitar work.

This is not a terrible album from Steve Hackett, but it definitely doesn't have the same feel as Acolyte. I really miss some of the instruments that were used on that one, especially the oboe. I also believe much of the vocals in this album don't add anything to the songs. Nonetheless, Spectral Mornings is a decent release from one of the most innovative guitar players of all time.


Report this review (#875197)
Posted Wednesday, December 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars It seems a little odd to me that, in a career packed with albums full of weird twists and turns, the best Hackett solo album would be a fairly conservative one, but I don't really mind. Truth be told, this is still a moderately diverse album (this is much closer to Touch than to the pure prog rock of Voyage), but the biggest thing this album has that Touch didn't is coherence, and this goes a long way in making this an enjoyable listen. The album is bookended by tracks that showcase Hackett's strengths as a guitarist; each side has a slow, peaceful instrumental with a strong Asian flavor; each side features a lengthy, guitar-heavy instrumental filled with menace. Add in that a lot of the material can be considered among the best work that Hackett ever did (and that became staples of his live shows), and the case for calling this his best album really isn't that hard to make.

The opening "Every Day" is definitely one of my five or so favorite Hackett tracks, which is made all the more interesting by the fact that I'm not all that wild about the whole first half of it. It's not bad, just kinda pedestrian, though I guess the "Every day! Every day! Every day! ..." bit is notable. But once the vocals disappear for good, holy cow. The guitar dances along to the main song portion, as if getting in some warmup laps, and once the guitar completely takes over, it's pure heaven. Every serious Hackett fan knows the guitar part in the last three minutes practically by heart, but if you're a Genesis fan who hasn't gotten around to Hackett solo yet, let me stress this: the guitar part in the second half of "Every Day" obliterates every great guitar part Hackett had recorded to that point, including the "Firth of Fifth" solo. It's memorable, it's cathartic, it's full of ecstatic climaxes, it's carefully constructed and minimalistic, and in short it consolidates and expands on every positive aspect that Hackett had yet demonstrated. Go hear this track now if you haven't heard it yet.

And yet, for all that, it still pales to the greatness that is the closing title track. Whereas the guitar part in "Every Day" had some elements of speedy exhiliration to it, the exhiliration created by this track comes from a small set of perfectly written guitar lines, played slowly and over and over, working with a great supporting keyboard part (with a breakdown in the middle where the slow keyboard chordings dominate and Steve's guitar parts both carry the melody and almost turn into ambient music). It's on the short list of the most beautiful pieces in my collection of rock music, and it's a piece I can listen to over and over again without getting remotely bored with it. It's also my favorite piece to use to close out mix CDs; I've made only a few mixes in my life, but "Spectral Mornings" has closed out three of them, and it always seems like an appropriate ending.

The rest of the album is really good, too. The first side's Asian-flavored instrumental, "The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere," instantly makes me feel like I'm in a Japanese garden, and it's a really lovely use of two minutes, especially because of Steve's use of a koto. "Lost Time in Cordoba," as suggested by its title, is quite Spanish-tinged, but it has a similar atmosphere (if a little more mournful) to and is every bit as enjoyable as its counterpart (I quite like the way the Spanish guitar parts mix in with the bits of flute). Among the two menacing instrumental parts, one of them technically isn't a pure instrumental; "Tigermoth" starts off with four minutes of hell (in a good way), with great guitar tones and big keyboard sounds and textures that sound an awful lot like some of the things Andy Summers would pull out with The Police in the next couple of years, but then it inexplicably turns into a gentle ballad with a memorable vocal melody and silly lyrics. "Clocks - The Angel of Mons," however, doesn't let up its intensity; the "verses" are driven forward by a nagging clock rhythm under some ominous synths, while the "chorus" features an ominous and memorable riff played mainly by Steve. I'm not thrilled with the drum solo at the end, but at the same time it feels like the logical conclusion to the track, and it's really brief, so I don't especially mind it. Also, who had the goofy idea to release an edited version of this as a single? It was 1979!!!

The remaining two tracks do a nice job of rounding out the album. "The Virgin and the Gypsy" is kind of a callback to the more mystical aspects of Voyage (think "Hands of the Priestess"), but somehow warmer and more inviting. Peter Hicks gets in his best vocal performance of the album, with lovely backing harmonies from Hackett, and John Hackett's flute steals the show just as it did so often on the debut. And finally, "The Ballad of the Decomposing Man" is the album's brief excursion into goofy levity, smooshing jazzy bits in with vaguely Caribbean music and featuring Steve on his first instrument: the harmonica. Prog purists will, of course, feel irritated by having this track in an otherwise rather straightlaced stretch of music, but things like this are just par for the course with Steve, and I'm quite happy that it's here.

In the end, even if Steve slightly repeats himself (a cynic could see "Clocks" and "Tigermoth" as too similar, or "Red Flower" and "Cordoba" as too similar, though I wouldn't agree), this album is ultimately the best demonstration of Steve's strengths as a composer, as an arranger and as a guitarist, and thus I give it the highest mark among his albums. If you're interested in getting into solo Steve, start here.

Report this review (#897029)
Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In 1977 the journey of Steve Hackett with Genesis came to an end, when the British guitarist announced his departure.The reason reputedly was the lack of his freedom within the band with many of his compositions either being rejected or underestimated.In 1978 he released his second personal album ''Please Don't Touch'' on Charisma, a rather confusing effort despite the great line-up of this work with many different musical elements in an Art/Classic Rock affair still worth checking out.The next year Hackett returned with a third album on Charisma, ''Spectral Mornings'', with a more down-to-earth line-up, including his brother John Hackett on flutes/keys, Nick Magnus on keys, Dik Cadbury from Decameron on bass, Pete Hicks on vocals and John Shearer on drums.

''Spectral Mornings'' sees a return to the days and styles of ''Voyage of the Acolyte'' and most of its part sounds how GENESIS should be sounding around the time but never did.Basically this is a Symphonic Prog effort mixed with nice British Folk melodies with Hackett's guitar shining through and a pretty flexible and demanding style eventually offering great and memorable tracks.The opening and closing pieces are absolute masterpieces of late-70's Symphonic Prog with fantastic guitar melodies and solos and impressive synthesizers, very much in a Proto Neo-Prog vein, which recalls acts such as IQ or JADIS.The rest of the album is either consumed in beautiful acoustic crescendos with a strong British flavor or dark Prog instrumentals with a slight KING CRIMSON touch.The first ones create lovely soundscapes, based on the delicate flute work of John Hacett and Hicks' excellent vocal color.The later sound more experimental, mixing orchestral textures with dissonant guitars and even acoustic passages in a very conveincing approach.

Overall Hackett's third solo effort is more than simply solid.It is one of the best late-70's Progressive Rock albums with an evident GENESIS nostalgia but also with eyes open to the future.This is true music art and a highly recommended product.

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Posted Thursday, January 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Steve Hackett broke away from Genesis after Wind and Wuthering, feeling confined and unable to express all of his ideas within the collaborative set up of a band. There's often debate about such decisions on online forums (and presumably 'offline' as well). I firmly believe that it is the artist's decision to make and without being aware of all the factors that contributed to it, it's not for us to judge it. However, if you are looking for one album to 'justify' Hackett's departure from Genesis, Spectral Mornings is the one you need.

I confess I am not a big fan of the Wind and Wuthering album. I'd say Hackett's most memorable contributions on that album were on Blood on the Rooftops and Unquiet slumber. Well, his solo on Everyday alone is more memorable than everything he did on Wind and Wuthering.

Far from going all epic, Hackett favours shorter tracks on Spectral Mornings. Some of these are proggy, like the menacing instrumental Clocks while Everyday and Virgin Gypsy approach straight up pop/rock. As expected, the purpose is to demonstrate Hackett's skills as a guitarist but this is not done at the expense of musical coherence and substance. Hackett is also more interested in demonstrating different possibilities and moods with the guitar than in flat out shred.

But why should we suppose anything else? With Genesis, Hackett's work was attractive for aesthetic, musical and emotional reasons rather than technical difficulty alone. This continues to be the case on Spectral Mornings. The instrumental title track consists simply of Hackett playing a theme on loop. But what a beautiful theme and how gorgeous is his guitar on that one! If you loved Firth of the Fifth, this shouldn't disappoint you. Personally, I was transported and still am when I return to this track.

Everyday is another highlight. What starts out as vibrant, breezy melodic rock gives away to a dazzling guitar solo. Once again, Hackett doesn't seem to be interested in flying from North Pole to South and back in a matter of seconds. He reprises themes with a lot of conviction, knowing that he has a good idea on his hands and repetition doesn't get a bit boring in this context.

Barring Ballad of the Decomposing Man, I like all the other tracks. But only three to me, the above mentioned ones and Clocks, truly stand out. The quality of vocals doesn't help, with no contributions from the likes of Sally Olfield or Steve Walsh this time. But Hackett's enthusiasm to embrace adventure is refreshing and this forgives a lot. The exuberance of Everyday for instance is a sea change from the dreary mood of contemporaneous Genesis work.

Spectral Mornings rocks, not all the time, but a lot of the time. It is not an unbelievable album and it floats within established paradigms in terms of composition but with all that said, it is a very solid and satisfying effort. Four stars.

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Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Steve Hackett's third solo studio record "Spectral Mornings" is a totally astonishing recording which grabs you from the first moment to the last. I have listened to it several times and it only gets better all the time. To be honest it is one of my favourite prog records. It is filled with so much power and glory and here is many styles mixtured. The biggest highlight "Tigermoth" for example starts as an atmospheric symphonic piece and becomes a medieval sounding composition with lovely vocals by Pete Hicks.

Over the whole record the guitars of course are world class but every instrument is very good played. The cover isn't as amazing ad Voyage of the Acolyte but the content is so much better than that record. The record hits a perfect Genesis' class and it has a fantastic flow that stretches all the way to its goal. "Spectral mornings" is a lovely instrumental piece and "The Virgin and the Gypsy" is a song with both splendor and glory. It is also very enjoying to hear Steve sing himself in "The Ballad of tge Decomposing Man" which is funny and stands out by being different.

The joy this album brings me is beyong describing and and presume also the musicians were into some form of ecstasy. Steve Hackett composed everything and the other musicians were Pete Hicks: vocals, Dik Cadbury(bass, violin) Nick Magnus(keyboards, syhtnesizers and mellotrons etc), John Hackett (flutes) and John Shearer(drums and percussion). I also want to praise the bonus tracks whicks includes a wonderful work called "Live Acoustic Set" which gives you some of the finest tunes you can think of.

Very well done by Steve an d his five comrades and every track here is totally worth five of five stars and of course I consider it all a masterpiece. It is unusual to feel in this way of a record and Steve Hackett has here produced the best solo Genesis' record and if this was a Genesis record it would have been among the three best. I recommend "Spectral mornings" deeply to everyone who loves music! A masterpiece!

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Posted Thursday, April 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was my first Hackett album and to this day is my favorite of his offerings. I find often that Hackett's largest problem is varying quality of songs in his albums, I find that often I love some of his output and find other songs virtually unlistenable (or at the least certainly not enjoyable). On this album however we have quality music in various styles from start to finish. This is a more reserved and accessible album than Voyage of the Acolyte, it is frequently poppy but regularly beautiful with far more of an emphasis on songwriting than on musicianship. Nevertheless there can still be found some wonderful solo's from Hackett (Spectral Mornings, Every Day).

What this album has however, that I feel no other Hackett album can hold claim to is a sense o coherency, a sense of flow and direction from start to finish that makes this album one magical ride with some absolutely wonderful songs. It may not be his most progressive offering but it is by far his best.

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Posted Monday, July 14, 2014 | Review Permalink

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