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Squackett A Life Within a Day album cover
3.27 | 147 ratings | 16 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Life Within a Day (6:36)
2. Tall Ships (6:18)
3. Divided Self (4:06)
4. Aliens (5:32)
5. Sea of Smiles (5:25)
6. The Summer Backwards (3:01)
7. Stormchaser (5:27)
8. Can't Stop the Rain (5:48)
9. Perfect Love Song (4:04)

Total Time 46:17

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Hackett / guitar, harmonica, vocals
- Chris Squire / bass, vocals

- Roger King / keyboards, programming, producer
- Richard Stewart / cello (1)
- Christine Townsend / violin & viola (1)
- Dick Driver / double bass (1)
- Jeremy Stacey / drums
- Amanda Lehmann / backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Phil Smee with Xu Bing (lettering)

LP Esoteric Antenna ‎- EANTLP 1002 (2012, UK)

CD Esoteric Antenna ‎- EANTCD 1002 (2012, Europe)
CD + DVD Esoteric Antenna ‎- EANTCD 21002 (2012, Europe) Bonus DVD w/ album Surround 5.1 mix

Thanks to sean trane for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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SQUACKETT A Life Within a Day ratings distribution

(147 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

SQUACKETT A Life Within a Day reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by stefro
4 stars After what seems like almost a decade worth of gossip, hear-say and near misses, the long-awaited union between two of progressive rocks original titans - ex-Genesis and GTR guitarist Steve Hackett and Yes bassist Chris Squire - finally comes to fruition. A lengthy gestation period has, inevitably, led to serious levels of hype, though happily this highly melodic album doesn't disappoint, the bulk of 'A Life Within A Day' finding a careful middle-ground between both creators' individual styles whilst also incorporating a slick contemporary edge. Of course, anyone who has spent time mulling over the many prog press column inches dedicated to the release of 'A Life Within A Day' will have noted that both Hackett and Squire have talked a great deal about how this isn't a straight-ahead progressive rock record, the duo instead focusing their energies on producing a glossy, streamlined and, at times, rather ethereal song-based album that for the most eschews the long-running prog epics and intricate instrumental flourishes found in the duo's group work with Genesis and Yes in favour of carefully-crafted individual pieces. Yet, conversely, neither is this a simple cross-breeding exercise. Instead, 'A Life Within A Day' finds both artists mining the full scope of their many influences into what can be best described as pop-prog album wrapped in a low-key classic rock coating. The powerful title-track opens the album in style, blending booming, Zeppelin-sized drums and Squire's trademark bass runs into an impressively anthemic rocker, though it is the following 'Tall Ships' that proves the real highlight. A catchy, head-nodding extravaganza, 'Tall Ships' is a magnificent track, featuring a decidedly funky turn from Squire underpinning Hackett's simple-but-effective guitar twitches and hauntingly orchestral, CSNY-style vocal harmonies. Follow-up 'Divided Self' opts for a slightly more sentimental, pop-glazed direction, yet it's a brief lapse in an otherwise thoroughly satisfying opening half. The album's second-side doesn't feature any 'Tall Ships'-sized moments, yet the gently-lilting 'The Summer Backwards' and the melancholy closer 'Perfect Love Song' more than illustrate the duo's strong songwriting skills, a stylistic facet that dominates the album and is bravely chosen over material designed to showcase their consummate instrumental abilities. We do get a brief taste of Yes-style histrionics in the brazen mid-section of the pulsating 'Storm Chaser', yet 'A Life Within A Day's strongest moments are usually its simplest. An attractive and melodic album, the long-awaited appearance of Squackett has shown the (very) long wait to be more then worthwhile. Those expecting a full-on progressive rock assault may come back disappointed, yet this is not Genesis-and-Yes, it's Hackett-and-Squire, and the mature approach of the album reflects both individuals strengths in almost perfect harmony, neither overshadowing the other. Hopefully we'll get another Squackett record in the near future, though hopefully it won't take the best part of a decade to appear. Tagged as the major 2012 prog-rock record, Squackett happily lives up to all the hype. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Review by lor68
3 stars Well, sometimes such a different music project works so well, by means of this strange collaboration between a lively and "fertile" musician like Chris Squire from Yes and the legendary guitarist.

Recently Steve has been a guest star in a "Christmas" album by Chris feeling for this Duo is growing after a repeated listening and moreover some good tunes such as "Perfect Love Song", "Divided Self" or "The Summer Backwards" are not bad, being indicated by someone as a good compromise; but for me- probably- the title track better represents the experiment by this super Duo: helped by the Roger King's keyboards, following the progression of the rythmical pattern and enriching the guitar lines in the best manner, Steve and Chris are perfectly fitted into this new music project!! Think of the easy harmony by the orchestrations, supporting the same rythmical section even in the simple structure in 4/4 : well it's a good idea and nevermind if the vocal parts are not remarkable, in spite of the interesting melodies. Anyway I confirm the effectiveness of their lyrics and at the end the old fans but also the new listeners can appreciate the intelligent effort by these famous British musicians!! Ok generally it's a "shrewd" partnership, sometimes a little bit resembling the "mainstream" rock of a kind nowadays, but it's quite personal and original too after all.

Even though please forget the prog epics here: for example I think that the track "Tall Ships", the second one, despite of reducing the pathos and resembling the Zeppeling mood too much, is original in the effects and harmony by Steve, well supported by the rhytmical bass pattern by Chris, quite "funky" (what a good idea!!), but I cannot regard it as a "prog" tune...Anyway a mature ensemble They are, able to create something different in comparison to their typical quality standard that you can recognize inside their solo music projects. Unfortunately it's difficult to "label" this music as "progressive music", also regarding of the homogeneous nine tracks from the beginning to the end...but nevermind, my evaluation is "three stars and an half" and the whole album is quite recommended as well, after all!

Review by lazland
4 stars Well, after a fair old while of gossip, half news, and promises, the official collaboration between two of progressive rock's titans is upon us. Whilst Steve Hackett guested on the rather enjoyable Chris Squire Christmas album a couple of years ago, this, it is safe to say, is the first "real" co-written and performed project, and I, for one, sincerely hope it will not be the last.

Of course, there will be more than a few out there expecting something akin to Selling England on an Island next to Topographic Oceans, i.e. a symphonic paradise, taking us all back to the glory days of yore.

I am actually mighty glad that this is not what we get. For a start, those days are now 40 years behind us. Both of these supreme musicians have released a wealth of material since then, most of which bears hardly any resemblance to such albums.

Instead, what we get here is a meeting that reflects the written and musical skills in 2012, and I have to say that some comments I have seen that Squire is underwhelming in terms of contribution, effectively guesting on a Steve Hackett solo album, are rather wide of the mark. Oh, for sure, there is much of a feel of Hackett's recent work in a few tracks, certainly the excellent opener, the title track. However, plastered all over this work are the trademark melodic bass sequences of Squire (still the supreme master of making a bass guitar sound just like a lead instrument), and also his vocals, so often understated or relegated to a harmonic role with Yes. Indeed, one of my favourite recent Yes tracks was the marvellous Can You Imagine, itself a hangover from the aborted XYZ project with Jimmy Page, and so witness here his excellent vocals on Tall Ships especially, a track which has the feel of much of the second part of Fly From Here, but, in my opinion, benefiting strongly from Hackett's input. In addition, the duo sound exceptionally strong vocally on Aliens.

My personal favourite is actually the shortest track here, The Summer Backwards, which, on first listen, sounds almost exactly like such recent Hackett tracks such as Rebecca. It is only when you listen more, hear that lilting Squire bass and his unique vocal harmonies backing Hackett's gentle lead that you realise that Squire really has brought so much more to this project.

We should also mention the strong input, again, from Roger King, Hackett's keyboard player and co writer. It really is hard to imagine a Hackett project without King now, and his work here is utterly solid.

There is a bit of everything here. Some harder moments, some familiar Hackett moments, some Zeppelin & Beatles influenced moments, some nods to glories past, and Yes style signatures, but, most of all, this is the sound of two legends utterly comfortable in each others company, and more than content to release an album which also plays to some strong commercial sensibilities. For no better examples, hear the enjoyable Divided Self, and the exceptional closer, Perfect Love Song, which positively exudes emotion. It is somewhat hard to imagine them writing such a track in 1973, and the world, in my opinion, is all the better for the fact that they do so in 2012.

Lyrically, both are also on top form. I especially love the lyrics to Aliens, which explores the concept that "little green men" are, in fact, visitors to Earth from our own future.

So, a triumph. No, it is not a masterpiece, but it is an excellent album which should grace the collection of any self respecting prog fan. Let's hope for a commercial success which, we are promised, might lead to a tour and further future collaborations.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Good, but good is not enough for Hackett and Squire

When GTR was released some years ago, it was like a dream come true, but after listening the album, the dream turned into a nightmare, that's why I didn't get too carried by the expectation around SQUACKETT'S debut. As anybody who has read my reviews knows, I'm a huge Steve Hackett fan and always respected Chris Squire as one of the top bass players in Prog history and one of the main elements of YES success, but I had a feeling that this joint venture would not be as amazing as anybody expected, but still was one of the first fans to get the album and wasn't disappointed.

A Life Within a Day is a very good album, closer to what I would expect from Steve than from Chris, but to be honest some of the magic that this two extraordinaire musicians have given to us for decades is lost, as if they had to work too hard in adapting two different styles sacrificing their individuality, but I believe they will give us much more if continue working together.

The album starts with the fantastic A Life Within a Day, pretty much in the vein of Bay of Kings, with that mysterious oriental sound of Steve's albums enhanced by the solid bass. We all know the amazing talent of Steve in the guitar, but any reasonable person would expect Chris in the lead voice; incredibly Hackett takes the lead and does an outstanding job, being obvious he has improved a lot in this field. To summarize, a solid start for the famous musicians.

The second track Tall Ships begins with a beautiful guitar intro and a powerful bass, but the problems start after this, seems like the guys are looking for a more commercial formula, not that this is wrong per se, but all the previous works of both artists demonstrates they are more prepared for Prog than for AOR. Not bad, not good either.

Divided Self is an improvement from the second song, still not in the same level of the opener, but good enough, in this case the combines vocal work is impressive and reminds me of albums like Spectral Mornings with a touch of post Big Generator YES, things get better.

Sadly it's the time for Aliens, one of the most boring ballads I ever heard by a couple of Prog musicians, absolutely repetitive and predictable, no matter how good are the guitar and bass oriented passages are, the song never captures my interest.

Sea of Smiles disconcerts me, by moments seems like taken from Spectral Mornings but then turns too light and AOR oriented. But despite this small problem, is one of the best tracks due to Steve's excellent solo, Chris bass and Roger King who does a solid work in the keyboards.

The Summer Backwards: Now this is a song that sounds more like what CHRIS SQUIRE, very melodic with a nice Mellotron by Roger King, nice but not great, a clear contrast with the heavy Storm Chaser which sounds like taken from To Watch the Storms, here the whole band is amazing and around the middle a passage that reminded me of KING CRIMSON, one of the higher points in the album.

As usual after a great track comes an inferior one, and Can't Stop the Rain is not the exception, because is one of the most AOR oriented songs, even when the vocals are very good, it's so repetitive and plain that reminds me of what I felt when I listening GTR.

A Life Within a Day is closed by Perfect Love Song, another outstanding song, strong and faster with nice changes, excellent vocals and Steve demonstrating he's as good with the electric guitar as with the acoustic, again the guys include one great song after a boring one, along with A Life Within a Day the best material of the album, seems as they planned to open and close the album with their best tracks.

To summarize, A Life Within a Day is a good album but incredibly uneven, sadly when it seems we are before a great release, the inferior material takes the album down, so I believe that three stars is a fair rating. We all know that these guys are capable of much more so I wish that if they decide to keep SQUACKETT alive, they prove it releasing an album without so many ups and downs.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars 90% Hackett and 10% Squire

Chris Squire and Steve Hackett hardly need an introduction on this site. Both of them are giants of progressive Rock with musical histories going back to the classic periods of two of the most well-known and well-respected progressive Rock bands; Yes and Genesis. Both men are also personal heroes of mine and of course I had to check out this collaboration between them. I did not have high expectations though, but even with low expectations this album is somewhat disappointing. It starts out well enough, but whatever initial excitement they manage to build on the first couple of songs quickly fades as the album continues.

I was surprised to hear how low-key Squire was on this album, most of the time his presence can hardly be felt. The sound of Squackett is not 50% Squire and 50% Hackett as would naturally be expected (and of course not 50% Yes and 50% Genesis!), but rather about 90% Hackett and 10% Squire. Besides, the backing band is basically Hackett's, including Roger King on keyboards who played on Hackett's many recent studio and live albums. The most natural reference point is therefore the recent solo albums by Hackett (one to which Squire contributed). Squackett's A Life Within A Day is similar in style to Hackett solo albums like last year's Beyond The Shrouded Horizon, 2009's Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth, 2006's Wild Orchids, and 2003's To Watch The Storms, but all of those albums are superior to the present one in quality. Can it be that A Life Within A Day consists of leftovers from Hackett's recent solo sessions? That's what it sounds like!

Squire's recent track record too sets a bar too high for A Life Within A Day to meet. I have not heard his Christmas album on which Hackett plays (I generally avoid Christmas albums), but Squire's recent work with Yes, Conspiracy, and The Syn, though different in style, is also superior to the present album. Many people have compared Squackett to GTR, a musical project that included Hackett and another Yes-man in Steve Howe which resulted in a studio album in 1986 as well as a tour and live album. While most Prog fans seem to despise GTR, I personally think it was quite excellent! Sound-wise, however, there is no similarity between Squackett and GTR beyond Hackett's distinctive guitar sound.

Recommended for fans

Review by VanVanVan
3 stars If I was asked to describe Squackett's debut album in two words, I wouldn't choose "Progressive Masterpeice." That said, I certainly wouldn't choose "absolutely dreadful" or "horribly disappointing" either. Squackett is the second "supergroup" of the year to feature reknowned and virtuosic progressive rock musicians coming together to make a poppier kind of progressive rock (the first being Flying Colors), and though it may not be the progressive masterpiece some were hoping for, the album definitely works.

"A Life Within A Day" wastes no time in getting started, featuring a very brief keyboard fill before a bombastic guitar part bursts forth. It's an energetic and dynamic opening to an album that I'm sure many were afraid would be dull or overdone, but Messrs. Squire and Hackett prove immediately that they aren't just navel-gazing or dwelling on the past with a pulsing vocal part that seems fairly fresh and new compared to the sound for which they are each respectively known. There is some instrumental noodling that perhaps keeps the track from being as tight as it could have been, but there's nothing wrong with two virtuoso musicians wanting to show off their chops as long as it doesn't seem overblown or intrusive, and it certainly doesn't here. Hackett in particular turns in some truly exceptional guitar work and the general orchestration of the track suits the playing of the two front-men very well.

If the first track was Hackett's time to shine, though, "Tall Ships" is firmly Squire's. Beginning with a pastoral intro that drops into an absolutely killer bass groove, the track has a very dreamy, floaty feel aided by very restrained, tasteful playing from the supporting musicians and excellent vocal harmonies. Additionally, though it's Squire's bass that's placed firmly at the front of the track, Hackett's presence is far from absent, and in a time when music is often dominated by musicians "overplaying' their instruments it's nice to be reminded how effective restrained playing can be in the right context.

"Divided Self" largely forsakes the more modern sounding, atmospheric composition of the first two tracks for a sound that could have come straight off of a Beatles or ELO album. With musical themes and vocals harmonies so cheery they sound almost sugary providing an interesting contrast to some... less than happy lyrics, the track is a great throwback to a different era of music that manages to avoid sounding overly trite or clone-y. There is, however, a strangely placed outtro that modulates the main theme into a minor key and puts it against a backtrack that sounds like a classical orchestra playing circus music. It's kind of a strange thing to tack on the end of what is essentially a pop song, and in my opinion it doesn't really add much to the track.

"Aliens" begins with a very pretty piano intro before delving into another very cool, dreamy piece that again makes excellent use of vocal harmony as well as the playing of both men. Despite the more modern sound it manages to maintain a rather vintage vibe through its lyrics and vocal delivery; for example, the line "the day we'll come/we'll have passports to the sun" seems straight out of the 70s, and the delivery is pure Pink Floyd. This definitely gives the song a great sense of fun, but it also sounds a bit hokey at times. "Aliens are only us/are only us from the future" sounds much more like something written by a couple of teenagers than by two such well established musicians, but if you can take off the deadly- serious prog hat and just enjoy the copious side helping of cheese, "Aliens" is a very fun song.

"Sea of Smiles" is perhaps the most reminiscent of Genesis and/or Yes; despite a very poppy (and very catchy) chorus, the arrangement and interplay between instruments feels very proggy, even if the composition isn't necessarily. There's a very good guitar solo as well, and the percussion really has some chances to shine as well.

"The Summer Backwards" lets vocals take the lead over relatively spare guitar background, and to be quite frank, the biggest thing that sticks out about the track is that it is dead-on for Moon Safari. Whether that shows a kind of circular influence or merely reinforces these two men's influence throughout years of Prog rock is a debate for another time and place, but the fact is if you've heard Moon Safari you have a pretty good idea for what this track is going to sound like. That's certainly not a bad thing, though, as "The Summer Backwards" pulls off all the gorgeous vocal harmonies and winsome (if comparatively simple) playing that makes the other band so fun to listen to. If nothing else, let it never be said that Chris Squire and Steve Hackett don't know how to put a tune together.

"Stormchaser," on the other hand, opts for a much heavier, more rhythmic sound with lots of pounding bass and percussion. Of course, heavy is a relative term, and "Stormchaser" still contains all manner of extremely singable melodies and dreamy harmonies. Steve Hackett manages to wrench some very cool sounds and effects out of his guitar as well, emulating howling winds but still staying within the tonality of the track. It's a neat track, though far from the most notable of the 10 on the album.

"Can't Stop the Rain" is another exceedingly charming track, featuring a very languid, pulsing bass line and of course the same floaty vocal harmonies that have been all over this album. There's some incredibly nuanced playing from Steve Hackett as well, mixing delicate fingerpicking with smooth electric lines to create an incredibly hypnotic atmosphere that's certainly aided by Squire's low rumblings. Overall, it's simply a very relaxing track and a great piece to lighten the mood between "Stormchaser" and the decidedly intense finale.

"Perfect Love Song" is that finale, closing out the album on a note that is decidedly Neal Morse-ian. You can debate the correctness of comparing Squire and Hackett to a man who they so obviously inspired, but "Perfect Love Songs" sounds to me like it could much more easily have come off a Spock's Beard album than a Yes or Genesis release. It's a great closer, though; despite its somewhat AOR-esque title (and frankly, lyrics) it's loaded with searing guitar solos and insistent bass lines as well as excellent support from percussion. It's a great song that feels like it was meant to be an album closer, and because of that feel it gives a great sense of finality to the album.

Thus, if I had to describe this album in two words, I think "good pop" would just about sum it up (or perhaps "vocal harmonies"). There's nothing mindblowing or super-experimental here, just two incredible musicians who have known each other a long time enjoying playing together and making fun, accessible music. Enjoy it for what it is and A Life Within A Day should prove a satisfying, engaging, and most importantly, fun album.


Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I knew that wasn't supposed to be an album of Prog Rock, they told about that before the release. But this is too much CONSPIRACY to me.

I was expecting a bit more from STEVE HACKETT but to my ears this is more of a CHRIS SQUIRE continuation of the already mentioned band that he had with BILLY SHEERWOOD. Same kind of music/sounds/line up/ideas.

And once again in a recent release, the drums. What they want to achiev with a mid 90's drum sound doing the music they are doing? I'll never understand.

The good moments lay when they decided to do what they do best, Progressive Rock. Like in 'A Life Within A Day'.

'Tall Ships' shows Squire's great bass lines back on track. but there are too few moments like that.

But all in all, not really memorable. And specially, not memorable at all for 2 GREAT names on Progressve Rock.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review by progaeopteryx
3 stars I was just as excited as the next prog rock fan when I read the news that Chris Squire and Steve Hackett were getting together to make an album. In fact, I believe I read about it in an issue of Prog, that brilliantly illustrated, high-quality magazine published in England by the same group that produces magazines for classic rock fans. Like most magazine articles, especially in the case of Prog, criticism seems to be on the light side. There's nothing wrong with a good dose of positivity, particularly for progressive rock music, but I have to imagine those that were taken in by all the positive press found themselves rather disappointed in this release.

This album really isn't all that different from anything else Chris Squire has performed on since the 1990s reincarnation of the classic Yes lineup. As such, works that he performs on tend to combine a respectable amount of accessibility; like combining that 1980s Yes pop rock formula with prog tendencies borrowed from the 1970s. Squackett's debut release is very much in the same vein, though the similarities with each member's foundational bands (Genesis and Yes) are weak links. What is most interesting about this release is that Squire seems to play a more subdued role. I, like many others, expected Squire to perform most of the vocals since he seems reasonably to be the better vocalist of the two. Hackett actually sings a lot more, and he does a much better job than I expected. Strangely enough, this album seems more like Hackett's take on that accessible 1990s Yes sound. Indeed, his performance (probably from some of the tonal qualities) seems more skewed in places towards Steve Howe's style than his own.

If you get into this album with some sense of not expecting anything grand, you'll leave with the feeling that the album is quite good. It has a couple memorable songs, and a few that in due time you'll likely skip over on a more and more regular basis. All of the songs have a very accessible feel to them and the production is of high quality. If you were expecting some sort of prog rock masterpiece that harkens back to the great albums of the 1970s, you'll likely be disappointed. One lesson I have learned in the last 15 years is to never expect something like that when Squire has a major part in the album. Squire is not interested in that kind of music anymore. It's evident in everything he has done since Yes' 90125 album back in 1983.

Instead of an expensive three-course meal at a five star restaurant, expect a meatball sub, a soda, and a bag of chips. Still, it's a good meatball sub.

Review by tarkus1980
4 stars Once it was announced that Steve Hackett and Chris Squire were going to collaborate on an album under the name "Squackett," it was inevitable that a flood of GTR sequel jokes and barbs would come out. Honestly, comparisons to GTR in this situation are just lazy; where GTR was a case of trying to mesh clashing skill-sets in an attempt to make mainstream- oriented rock for a mainstream that no longer had a use for Howe or Hackett, Squackett was a case of rather complimentary skill-sets coming together to make music they wanted to make anyway, with a sense that the music would sell however much it sold. Plus, Squire had made a number of appearances on Hackett albums in the previous few years, and the results had been quite positive on the whole, so the two of them officially collaborating wasn't a big leap.

This basically sounds like a Hackett solo album, with a good dose of Squire's vocals (both in lead and in harmonies) and Squire's rumbling bass (which is prominent in the same way it had been since The Ladder or so), as well as some bits of recognizable non- Buggles elements from Fly From Here. It's definitely a clear step down from Out of the Tunnel's Mouth and Beyond the Shrouded Horizon (it's a low **** rather than a high ****), but it's also a notch above Fly From Here, and somebody coming into this album with appropriate expectations should find plenty to enjoy. Squire's voice (which had been starting to show visible cracks on stage in recent years) is mostly in good form, and while I'm sure he got some "help" from the various production efforts in all parts where he sings, the only glaringly (and embarrassingly) obvious use of Auto-tune comes in "Can't Stop the Rain," an otherwise playful and lovely ballad Squire had written a few years previously. Steve's voice continues to sound fine (in its own low-key way), creating some nice harmonies with Chris in spots, and while his guitar playing doesn't really show much that hasn't been heard in other albums, it still produces some typically interesting stretches.

That said, while I'm quite fond of the album as a whole, I still don't really love the first few tracks, which, in my first couple of listens, really gave me the sense of a couple of old farts trying a little too hard. The opening title track, in particular, strikes me as having some nice moments (especially the first prominent guitar line) stuck in a rather flawed framework. The track is basically a "Kashmir" knockoff (In 2012? Really?), but it also has some ugly guitar tones and an instrumental passage that's seemingly only there because they decided it would be a waste to have a whole album with Squire and Hackett without having any fast "woo prog" passages. I like the vocals and the more majestic moments, but the opening track doesn't really do the album justice.

The next two tracks are better, but each has a feature that makes me raise an eyebrow. "Tall Ships" may have a nice bass riff driving it forward, but the music in the verses is still basically a kind of quasi-funk (with Chris on lead vocals) that sounds silly coming from an old white guy. Everything else about the track, though, is just fine, especially in the parts with the majestic rising "Tall ships, bright stars ..." chorus. "Divided Self" is a fine pop song based around cheery guitar lines, with well-placed vocal effects and a good build into each iteration of the chorus, but it ends in an awfully awkward manner, dissolving the main melody into a discordant version of itself surrounding by ugly sounds. I guess this matches with the "division" of the title, but it doesn't seem at all like a logical conclusion to what had come before it, and I always wish the track was a minute shorter.

This should seem like a lot of complaining for an album that gets this high of a grade, but the good news is that the rest of the album, aside from the distracting Auto-tune in "Can't Stop the Rain," is full of songs that leave a positive impression without any negative residue. "Aliens" was originally a Yes song (with the full name "Aliens (Are Only Us From The Future)"), played during the early stages of the 2008 In The Present tour, and when it didn't make the cut for Fly From Here I was disappointed that this rather pleasant song (a slow ballad with goofy lyrics and some great subtle bits of guitar for texture) that I'd enjoyed hearing would never re-enter my life. Well, it sounds much more at home here than it would have on Fly From Here, and I'm glad Chris was able to persuade Steve to let it be part of the album.

"Sea of Smiles" is a delightfully varied number, centered around a mantra-like chorus (which gets stuck in my head all the time), but which splits itself carefully between a moody "Take These Pearls"-like melody and more upbeat and anthemic parts without there being clear seams between the two contrasting ideas. "The Summer Backwards" sounds like pure solo Hackett, a gentle guitar-based ballad (with great slow winding guitar bits near the end) that can't help but make me think of lying on the side of a green hill on a pleasant summer's day. "Stormchaser," then, is the album's best number, a slow pounding bass- heavy rocker with great processed vocals in the verses, a great atmosphere whenever the title is sung, and great instrumental breaks that make much better use of the combined talents of Hackett and Squire than the title track does. And finally, after "Can't Stop the Rain," the album concludes with "Perfect Love Song," which is a gazillion times more atmospheric and interesting than a song with this title should be.

This isn't an important or great album by any means, but it is a delightful one, and it's a solid inclusion to the roll that Hackett had been on for over a dozen years by this point. If you don't have an aversion to old-fart dinosaur semi-prog, and don't mind a couple of oddly bad ideas here and there, you'll enjoy it.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nš 223

"A Life Within A Day" is the debut studio album of Squackett and was released in 2012. "Squackett" and "A Life Within A Day" are the result of the collaboration between Chris Squire the bassist of Yes and Steve Howe the ex- Genesis' guitarist. Hackett had previously worked with Squire's band mate Steve Howe, the guitarist of Yes, in the project GTR.

The musical coupling of two of the most famous progressive legends has been delivered five years after its original inception when Squire invited Hackett to provide the guitar playing on his "Chris Squire's Swiss Choir" studio album. Squire reciprocated by laying down some bass lines for Hackett's studio album "Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth". Squackett is the side project which took on a separate life of its own. The project name has been suggested as a joke with the names of both musicians, as a hybrid name. Perhaps it's a silly name but this is a name I happen to like.

The line up of the album is Steve Hackett (vocals, guitars and harmonica), Chris Squire (vocals and bass), Roger King (keyboards), Jeremy Stacey (drums), Amanda Lehman (backing vocals), Dick Driver (double bass), Richard Stewart (cello) and Christine Townsend (viola and violin).

"A Life Within A Day" has nine tracks. The first track is the title track "A Life Within A Day" and was written by Hackett, Squire and King. It's a great song to open the album building from a "Kashmir" of Led Zeppelin stomp with Hackett's guitar pulling out all the stops. Squire plays his bass hardly and supplies good backing vocals that ably supports Hackett's lead vocals. This is clearly the best track on the album. The second track "Tall Ships" written by Hackett, Squire and King manages to keep up the high standard of the album with a funky style. It opens with a brief classical guitar intro from Steve. Squire's bass fills sit nicely alongside the funky guitar work. This is a track with multi-textures and orchestral tones. The third track "Divided Self" written by Hackett, Squire, King and Clabburn is a song that reminds me The Birds with the twelve string guitar and sweet vocals that adds a lighter touch to the album. This is probably a song that had the marks of both musicians revisiting their past youth. The fourth track "Aliens" written by Hackett, Squire, King and Healy is a catchy song. This is an acoustically driven song with orchestral background that emits a really dreamy quality. However, it isn't for sure one of their best musical moments on the album. The fifth track "Sea Of Smiles" written by Hackett, Squire and King represents another return to the past, to the 60's. It's a nicely song with a rich vocal treatment. The final touch comes from Hackett solo breaks. This is a song with sweetest harmonies and with a hippie feeling. The sixth track "The Summer Backwards" written by Hackett, Squire and King is another nice song with lush vocal harmonies and a catchy melody that sticks long in our memory. It has also some strong harmonies, a lovely melody and a choral backdrop giving it a psychedelic feel. The seventh track "Stormchaser" written by Hackett, Squire and King is a track with crashing guitars and a heavy bass line, which grooves along in a metal haze with some interesting programming effects. This is a very heavy song that reminds me Led Zeppelin especially due to the drumming in the John Bonham's style. The eighth track "Can't Stop The Rain" written by Hackett, Squire, King, Johnson and Sessler is another pretty song nicely sung by Squire, although with a strange and a almost synthetic tone of his voice. This is perhaps the most beautiful and ambiguous track on the album despite its commercial appeal. The ninth track "Perfect Love Song" written by Hackett, Squire, King and Johnson is another track where the melody line is very emotional and once more the voices blend perfectly well. Hackett delivers yet another great guitar work that shows his great musical power as a self musician. This is a great ending that closes the album with a very high musical note.

Conclusion: Curiously "A Life In A Day" was also released precisely in the same year of "Storm Corrosion". As many of us know, Storm Corrosion was a music project formed by Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree and Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth. So, in the same year we could see four of the greatest progressive musicians working together. They're simply two of the best musicians of the classic progressive period of the 70's and two of the best progressive musicians of our times. However, we are in presence of two very distinctive proposals. To everyone who has spent few days in a darkened room listening "Storm Corrosion", like me, I can only say that pull back the curtains and open the windows, because summer in the land of prog has arrived through the release of "A Life Within A Day". I'm not saying that "A Life Within A Day" is a better album than "Storm Corrosion". On the contrary, I think "Storm Corrosion" is probably better. What I'm saying is that "A Life Within A Day" is a fresh and simple album which must have given much pleasure to both musicians. Of course it isn't Genesis or Yes from the 70's, as happened with Storm Corrosion which wasn't Porcupine Tree or Opeth, too. But if you are only interested in that, you are, for sure, missing the point and missing a great album.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars What a combination! One of the absolute best bassists and guitarists on the planet merge their worlds together and create some music. Being a huge Genesis (1970-1977) fan with Steve being such an important part of the music; his departure really adversely affected the sound of the band. Mike Rut ... (read more)

Report this review (#3026287) | Posted by Sidscrat | Thursday, February 29, 2024 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I sort of left this one in the dreaded "pile", a box full of what I call "maybes and misses", but after being surprised by Steve Hackett on tour(in terms of how much I enjoyed it, although it is always a surprise to have a great show in Gatineau of all places) I decided to give everything of ... (read more)

Report this review (#1712613) | Posted by Corcoranw687 | Thursday, April 20, 2017 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I had low expectations after hearing a few samples before it was to be released. But when finally hearing it I was surprised to find some inspired moments in it. It becomes largely unexciting after a few listens though. I guess the album lands on between two and three stars. The sound is the sam ... (read more)

Report this review (#960353) | Posted by wilmon91 | Thursday, May 16, 2013 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Normally, I am inclined to be charitable towards albums I don't really like. I can usually finds some aspect or musical section where I am willing to offer the benefit of the doubt. I just can't do that in this case. I hate Squackett and It's Hackett and Squires own faults. This album falls impre ... (read more)

Report this review (#845555) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Friday, October 26, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An excellent album from start to finish. I am impressed with Chris Squires "rehabilitation" as of late, with the Syn, the new Yes album and now this. It is like he is trying again. Hackett does what he does best, which is add nuances to all the corners of the track that are not dominated by other ... (read more)

Report this review (#765755) | Posted by boe_a | Wednesday, June 6, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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