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DEFECTOR

Steve Hackett

Eclectic Prog


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Steve Hackett Defector album cover
3.64 | 308 ratings | 35 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing

Side 1
1. The Steppes (6:04)
2. Time To Get Out (4:11)
3. Slogans (3:42)
4. Leaving (3:18)
5. Two Vamps As Guests (1:58)
Side 2
6. Jacuzzi (4:35)
7. Hammer In The Sand (3:09)
8. The Toast (3:41)
9. The Show (3:40)
10. Sentimental Institution (2:32)

Total Time: 36:50

bonus tracks on 2005 remaster
11. Hercules Unchained (2:44)
12. Sentimental Institution (live) (3:02)
13. The Steppes (live) (6:33)
14. Slogans (live) (4:19)
15. Clocks - The Angel Of Mons (live) (5:54)

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Hackett / guitar, vocal, optigan, Roland GR 500
- Nick Magnus / keyboards
- John Hackett / concert and alto flute
- Pete Hicks / vocal
- John Shearer / drums & percussion
- Dik Cadbury / bass, vocal

Releases information

Lps-Charisma-CA-1-2214-Canada

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Snow Dog for the last updates
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STEVE HACKETT Defector ratings distribution


3.64
(308 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
17%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
41%
Good, but non-essential (34%)
34%
Collectors/fans only (8%)
8%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

STEVE HACKETT Defector reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars Not quite as good as the predecessor and the last of his good album for quite a while. I may seem severe on him but a lot of the stuff is expandable on this one especially on side 2. If it weren't for the opening The Steppes, this would be rather weak. There are too many weird/silly tracks (especially on side 2) that make this album a relatively difficult album to listen to.

This gets another half-star because of my respect for Hackett, but beware of the general overly enthusiast opinions of over-appreciative fans that have a tendency to look at this album with its excellent processor.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#26140) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Review by Hibou
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Here is the CD I like to call the forgotten HACKETT album. It's not his best but without it, you'd be missing out on some essential HACKETT. The opening track "The Steppes", is a very dark piece with a heavy bass line and ominous guitar passages that truly convey images of frigid winds sweeping over the lonely Siberian steppes. "Time to Get Out" is very similar to "Carry On Up the Vicarage" whereas "Slogans" is a nice little jazzy tune. "Leaving" is a delicate, moody ballad (the introductory guitar notes sound like MIKE RUTHERFORD's 12-strings). "Two Vamps as Guests" is a short acoustic, classical guitar piece that would have fitted well on his "Momentum" album. "Jaccuzzi" is a dazzling, whirling instrumental as only Hackett can concoct them whereas "Hammer in the Sand" (one of my all-time HACKETT favourites) is a beautifully haunting instrumental with a moving melody. "The Toast" is a slow, slurry waltz that conveys the floating state during the last stages of inebriation (which, for me, is about 2 glasses of wine!). "The Show" is a tongue-in-cheek rocker, a crowd-pleaser on concert nights. The album closes with "Sentimental Institution", a spoof on 1930's ballads, complete with old 78 rpm scratchy sounds, nasal vocals and foxtrot flavour (not to be confused with the big G's famous album title!).

As I said, not HACKETT's best and if you're a fan, you already know this. But you wouldn't trade it away, right?

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Send comments to Hibou (BETA) | Report this review (#26141) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 02, 2004

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Underrated...' The Steppes' arguably Hackett's finest song released and the rest of the album is not bad either. Yes he was making that leap to more commercial music but ' Defector' was still in the transitory stage of doing that.' Time to get out' is also a nicely smoke filled hazey song about getting stoned , and genrally the mood is optimistic and loaded with some great riffs and bass lines. If you have not heard 'The Steppes' do so ASAP.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#26142) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I consider this album to be the most sentimental one from Steve Hackett, and it is also among his best ones. It has some similitudes with the previous one "Spectral mornings", but I find the sound of "Defector" more mature, more refined. The "Steppes" track, in the beginning, is a bit long and repetitive, but the combination of the floating keyboards and the extremely sustained guitar notes at the end, like on the "Spectral Mornings" and "Every day" tracks, produces a very rich, powerful, intense and moving soundscape. Like the on "Spectral mornings" album, "Defector" contains some ordinary moments, like the "Please don't touch-esque" "Time to get out" and the insipid "Slogans". Fortunately, there are more good tracks than bad ones, and Hackett goes into sentimental moods here, like on the peaceful "Leaving".

The side 2 is much better: the first track, "Jacuzzi", is a cute rhythmic & romantic track with pleasant guitars and flute parts. You have to uninterruptedly listen to the 2 next tracks "Hammer in the sand" and "The Toast" in order to notice how romantic Hackett can be. "Hammer in the sand" is a WONDERFUL New Age track, full of moving floating keyboards and nostalgic piano. "The toast" is a relaxing & magic track, having a slow rhythm and securing vocals; it is very moving and romantic, as reveals the flute-symphonic keyboards combination, especially during the second part. Those 2 tracks are among the best Hackett's tracks, no doubt. Actually, I must admit that those 2 tracks make me feel like if I was in love, especially the second part of "The toast". "The show" is a more conventional track full of vocals. The last track, "Sentimental institution", is a dullish & badly recorded sentimental retro song full of clarinet.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#26144) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars At album level, "Defector" represented a major drop from critically acclaimed "Spectral Morning" previously released by Steve Hackett. Through this album Steve wanted to demonstrate more role of keyboards in his compositions by maintaining his guitar style. At track level there are excellent track that worth listening specifically the Steve Hackett's unique guitar sounds.

"The Steppes" is an excellent album opener with simple structure with a music theme that revolves around great harmony between keyboards and guitars aided by Taurus bass pedals. No major challenge is given to drummer as it functions as beat keeper. "Time To Get Out" is not something attractive to have a listen but it represents one of Hackett's pop music characteristics - straight forward bass line, mediocre vocals, simple structure. "Slogans" is a great track that demonstrates a great combination of keyboard and guitar works. It has excellent and relatively complex riffs performed beautifully in an upbeat style. It has become one of Steve' legendary songs, and usually performed live in concert. "Leaving" is a good mellow track in classical outfit exploring keyboard, guitar fills and vocals. It continues seamlessly to fully acoustic guitar in classical music style under "Two Vamps as Guests" with a bit of melody from "The Steppes".

"Jacuzzi" is one of the high light songs. It's an instrumental song that combines energetic and explorative keyboard with guitar works in an uplifting mood and upbeat style. The interlude part with keyboard improvisation and excellent drumming is really good. This is a great song and has become one of key features in some Steve's performance on stage. "Hammer In The Sand" is a short and nice piano outfit combined with keyboard; good melody. "The Toast" is a link track that connects to a happy mood track that has become my favorite: "The Show". It's actually a simple and straight forward track but it's a nice one to enjoy. I like the keyboard work aided with a good drum beats and inventive bass lines. It's the kind of track that you would want to play early in the morning to cheer up the start of the day. It's really good! The concluding track "Sentimental Institution" was co-written with Peter Hicks. It's a kind of oldie pop song with jazzy style and distant vocal style. It's an entraining one to enjoy - provided the right mood.

It's not a good album to start with but overall it's a good album. Keep on proggin' .!

Progressively yours, GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#37691) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, June 25, 2005

Review by chessman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I recently purchased the remastered version of this, and I am doing this review based on that. This is, in some ways, the logical descendant to the classic Spectral Mornings, even down to the similar cover. The first track, 'The Steppes', is another classic Hackett offering, a superbly melodic instrumental, with trademark flowing guitar solo. A wonderful way to start. 'Time To Get Out' is a more standard rock song, with nice harmonies, displaying Steve's enormous gift for composition. Nice touches of guitar on this too. 'Slogans' is, or was, a live favourite, showing that his playing is technically better than some critics think. He has never been a fast player, as he said himself, it wasn't his style, but this track does show his competence when in faster mode. 'Leaving' is one of those haunting ballads with beautiful harmonies, another trademark of Hackett's. 'Two Vamps' is an nice acoustic piece, again, haunting. He does this type of track remarkably well. 'Jacuzzi' was the opener on side two of the original record. A fast paced, bright and cheerful instrumental, with nice flute from brother John, this is a wonderfully melodic tune. 'Hammer In The Sand' is another melodic highlight, with superb piano from Nick Magnus, a slow, melancholic tune, wonderful! 'The Toast' is somewhat reminiscent of 'Leaving', another slowy with nice harmonies. 'The Show' is not my favourite track on here, but is decent enough, more uptempo and more in the straight rock vein. Finally, 'Sentimental Instituiton' is another of Steve's famous pastiches. An old, big band type of song, sung really well by Pete Hicks, with humorous lyrics. I love this type of song. The bonus tracks, five of them, are all decent, but none essential. They include an old B side, 'Hercules Unchained' possibly the most un-Hackett like song he has ever written. Almost punkish in its ferocity. Nothing spectacular. Good live versions of 'Sentimental Institution', 'The Steppes', 'Slogans' & 'Clocks - The Angel Of Mons' follow. All are interesting but add nothing to the album itself. The quality of the remaster, however, is superb - loud, crisp and clear. After this album, he was to change his style dramatically, and, some would say, controversially. This is a must have for Hackett fans.

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Send comments to chessman (BETA) | Report this review (#53969) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, October 30, 2005

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hackett's first album of the 80s shows him in transition from his past to newer, more mainstream influenced music. You can hear the seeds planted for his future two albums Cured and Highly Strung in this album, but this album totally surpasses those two albums. There are some wonderful instrumentals on this album, but you can also find some interesting AOR based songs and songs that could have fit on his following two albums. Overall, though, there is a lot of merit in this album and it should in my opinion be more highly regarded among Hackett fans.

The album opens with one of the strongest Hackett instrumentals ever in The Steppes. A sparse flute introduces the main theme of the song, which is then joined by a steady drum beat and a droning taurus pedal note. The song itself has a very Egyptian feel musically and it really evolves quite nicely with some great soloing from Hackett. Time to Get Out, as the other reviewers of this album mentioned, is a more straightforward rock composition with some nice vocal harmonies and a great offering on the guitar from Steve Hackett. Certainly not prog, but not a bad piece of music at all. Slogans is the second best song on this album after The Steppes, in my opinion. A forboding keyboard tone in 5/8 introduces this song, and it really hits home with some great tapping work from Hackett and some brilliant keyboard work from Nick Magnus.

Leaving and Two Vamps as a Guest are musically linked tracks, with the first being a great harmony based flute/keyboard song and the second being the same motif from the first, but this time with an acoustic edge. Jacuzzi is another wonderful instrumental with some great swirling flute and guitar melodies that shift seamlessly between sections of 7/8 and 5/4. It's the third best song on the album right behind The Steppes and Slogans. Hammer in the Sand is another instrumental that is led by some wonderful piano work from Nick Magnus. Another truly outstanding song on this album. The Toast is a pretty commercial sounding track that has no real invention or even any little complexities from Hackett what so ever, it seems like a flagrant excuse for a hit single in my eyes. The Show carrys on the same vein of Time to Get Out, it's not the best song on the album, but a strong piece in the end. Sentimental Institution ends the album on a humorous note in the vein of Are You Ready Eddy? on ELP's Tarkus album. It's a bit of a comic number with some definite references to that 40s Jazz pop style and really ends the album on an uneven note.

In the end, Hackett's fourth studio album is seen in most fans eyes as a weak one, but I truly love this record. Granted it's not as good as Voyage of the Acolyte or Darktown, but it's certainly an achievement for Hackett. I'd rate it the same as Spectral Mornings, which is another fantastic record from the guitarist who seems to be all over the place stylistically. 4/5.

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#84237) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, July 20, 2006

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "I can thrill her with Glenn Miller"

Steve Hackett's albums are so diverse in content, that you never know what to expect when approaching them. One album can be completely acoustic, the next a heavy, lead guitar driven selection.

"Defector" is nearer to the latter than the former. The opening bars of "The Steppes" with their plodding, deliberate back-beat, and soaring lead guitar indicate straight away that this is a "Voyage of the Acolyte" type album. the track is a striking instrumental with feedback on the guitar and a "Firth of fifth" type sound. This is one of several instrumentals of a similar style on the album, "Slogans", which seems to be a reworking of "Clocks" is another. "Jacuzzi", which opens side two is more upbeat, and slightly lighter, but of the same mould.

"Two vamps as guests" is not the spooky nightmare the title might suggest, but a gentle acoustic piece very similar to the intro to Genesis "Blood of the rooftops". "Hammer in the sand" is another strangely titled instrumental, the dominant piano featuring in a gentle, almost new age type arrangement.

In terms of the vocal tracks, the overt pop rock of "Time to get out" disguises some very cynical lyrics such as "23 and one half billion joints were smoked by Thursday.. Place your bets which side lives longer, time to get out while you can". "Leaving" sounds remarkably like a track by Camel, the reflective melody complementing the slightly off-key harmonics in the singing. "The toast" is a warm, slightly inebriated, slurring song which paints a picture of sitting by an open fire after a raucous evening.

"The show" strays dangerously close to the territory Genesis moved into after Hackett left, thus retaining his credibility. This and the closing "Sentimental institution", a cod war time song, are by far the weakest tracks on the album.

None of the tracks here is particularly long or indeed intricate. The album as a whole is not overtly prog, despite the presence of a number of instrumentals. As a whole, the songs are easily accessible and in their own way pleasant. Hence, while I enjoy the album when I hear it, I cannot in all honesty say it is one I listen to often. Good but unremarkable is probably the best description.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#115708) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Review by Matti
COLLABORATOR Neo-Prog Team
4 stars Hibou shares my thoughts about Defector: "It's not his best but without it, you'd be missing out on some essential HACKETT." On the whole this shortish album is not as great as the three earlier ones, but it has some very beautiful music on which the romantic and melancholic side of Hackett comes into perfection. You could call it the "Wind & Wuthering" atmosphere you get glimpses of from the Genesis album, the last one featuring Hackett. Out of ten tracks five is with vocals and even two of them, 'Leaving' and 'The Toast', are slow-tempo beauties with emphasis on that wuthering soundscape. Album's weakest spots to me are the faster songs 'Time to Get Out' and 'The Show', especially the latter. 'Sentimental Institution' sung by Pete Hicks is a humorous pastiche of really old entertainment song, probably a bore to an average progger but I feel sympathy for it.

On the instrumental side this is pure Hackett quality all the way. The powerful 'The Steppes' has became a concert classic. 'Two Vamps as Guests' is a nice acoustic guitar ballad. 'Jacuzzi' is a fast tune sounding like certain soli from Spectral Mornings. 'Hammer in the Sand' is a lovely moody piano-centred piece. If you dig Hackett enough to get more than a couple of his best albums, this is warmly recommended to get its place on the shelf next to Voyage of Acolyte and Spectral Mornings.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#126385) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It is always illadvised to think the loss of an individual isn't felt in a band, or that the deficit will be easily filled and unnoticed in the material. The reverse is also true; to assume a single musician's own work, reaching out with a more internal vision, will be less accomplished is frequently proven wrong. Often liberating, these solo projects can be a much more personal and intimate expression of an artist and for Defector, Steve Hackett demonstrates this with the same quiet expertise he brought to Genesis. The album suffers at times from an early 80s techno-box quality that cheapens the sound (including a few flirtations with outright disco), but mostly this is one of Hackett's better albums and it fixes a hole where the rain gets in.

Steve Hackett had been making solo records since 1975, so regardless of his tenure with his 'other' band, it was nothing new. And though both Voyage of the Acolyte and Spectral Mornings are first-rate sessions, this one is a touch more clear-headed and concise in its vision, and no less ambitious. 'The Steppes' opens on a soothing flute, rumbling awake with Dik Cadbury's bass and a most pleasing melody of layered guitars from our host, expanding over a grand landscape. 'Time to Get Out' tastes of later Genesis with springy arpeggios, bright pop appeal and a countrified solo, abruptly pushed aside by the militant 'Slogans' which features a hornet's nest of guitar pyrotechnics and Hackett's sense of restraint and musicality. Highly prog and full of movement, it seamlessly transitions to the sweet-sounding 'Leaving', a reflective vocal harmonic. The master's nylon-strings are showcased in the delicate 'Two Vamps as Guests', and 'Jacuzzi' is prime Hackett, handling the synths as well as guitars for some great symphonic rock that could easily be mistaken for Genesis circa 1973. 'Hammer in the Sand' is a tearful lament on piano, 'The Toast' is slow, drunken sentiment which becomes a salute to Erik Satie and refreshes the soul with its simple beauty. 'The Show' curbs this even flow with a cold dance beat and funky bass sounding like a play for radio appeal, and the hilarious 'Sentimental Institution' creaks with 1930s Americana, Victrola atmosphere and early jazz crooning.

Though bumpy at times and giving a sense of a work unfinished , Defector was one of the best prog offerings of 1980 and proves why Hackett's absence in his former band was deeply felt. Very nice.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#130875) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The last album of Hackett's first era as a solo artist. He would go in a different direction after this one.This album represents one of the last truly great old school prog albums in my opinion. From here on , Hackett's work became more diverse and less 'prog' based than his previous albums. In the same vein with Spectral mornigs, but with a little darker aproach in some pieces, like on The Steppes, Hackett proves is one of the true guitar heroes of his time. So the best tracks are: The Steppes, Time to get Out and Jacuzzi. The members are all great here, the voice of Steve shines here. Although often not considered a great vocalist, he seems to do very well on this album. All in all a great album In Hackett style but non essential i think, 3 stars for this one, good no doubt but less enjoyble than previous ones.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#147752) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, October 28, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Steve's albums are not really consistent : brilliant, average, excellent. This is my opinion about his first three albums till "Defector".

This one holds several good tracks but the awful "Time To Get Out" is rather disappointing. If ever he left "Genesis" for their new commercial approach, I wonder where is the difference with such a poor track.

At this time of his career, I guess that Steve was looking for some directions and wasn't maybe aware of the best one to follow. "Jacuzzi" sounds as an Oldfield piece of music (but features some pleasant mellotron). If you would except the poor intro, it is not bad after all.

"Two Vamps As Guests" brings us back in the old days ("Horizons") and is a subtle piece. I guess that we have to thank him for this delicate moment. There are some fine melodies as well available on "Defector". "Hammer In The Sand" for instance. A mix of an almost classical piece with some enjoyable and aerial keyboards. Very emotional.

This album holds no true great songs. No masterpiece, for sure. Even if "The Steppes" and "Slogans" are good tracks, they don't reach the level of the great "Star Of Sirius", "Shadow Of The Hierophant" from "Voyage" or "Clocks" and "Spectral Mornings".

Instead, another poor one with "The Show" (really unbearable). On par with some poor "Genesis" production from the eighties (yes, that poor). Synthetic, repetitive. Press next to avoid this nightmare!

All songs are short formatted. As the album. Three stars is really the maximum I can rate this work but five out of ten is probably closer to my feelings. The closing "Sentimental Institution" is another very weak song.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#159756) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, January 25, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars "Perfector"

Even if I consider myself a major fan of Steve Hackett, I have been relatively critical of his early solo albums, especially Please Don't Touch and Voyage Of An Acolyte. Even though these albums had several Hackett classics, they were, in my opinion, severely inconsistent and uneven. One problem with them was due to utilizing too many different vocalists, some of which were totally wrong for Hackett's music, and also displaying too many different musical styles, only some of which really fitted with the rest of Hackett's music. All these factors gave the impression of an artist not knowing in which direction he wanted to go. On his third album, Spectral Mornings, Hackett finally began to better find his own musical identity and that album certainly constituted an improvement over the first two. However, Spectral Mornings still suffered from some of the same problems and despite some excellent tracks, that album as a whole did not reach excellent status in my book.

Defector is a bit more consistent and in that sense it was Hackett's best album up till that point! Almost everything on Defector is excellent, but perhaps not quite matching the very best couple of tracks from Spectral Mornings. The dark, mystical, Far Eastern-flavoured instrumental The Steppes is great, and has been in Steve's live set many times up till the present day. The Pop/Rock songs Time To get Out and The Show are in many ways forerunners to what Steve would do on his next album, Cured (not at all as bad as some people say!). Leaving and The Toast are vocal-based numbers that reminds me of more recent Hackett material such as Serpentine Song and In Memoriam (from To Watch The Storms and Darktown respectively).

Jacuzzi is a great Jazz-Rock/Fusion type work-out in typical Hackett fashion while Hammer In The Sand is a very beautiful, mellow piano-based composition. Not too common on Hackett albums. Two Vamps As Guests is a very typical Hackett Classical guitar piece that interestingly starts with a reprise of the melody from The Steppes - beautiful but hardly his best piece in this style. However, it does contribute to the very appealing diversity of this album. Like The Steppes, also Slogans, Jacuzzi and Hammer In The Sand from this album have made it into Steve's recent live sets.

The only real low point of the album is the closing number, Sentimental Institution. This 30's/40's style song is a throwaway and occupies the same role on this album as The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man did on Spectral Mornings. The vocals on this one is done by Steve himself (while the other vocals on this album still was by Pete Hicks) and I get the feeling that up till and including this album Steve often needed humour to make him feel comfortable as a singer. On the next album, Cured, Steve would gain a complete new confidence in the vocal department and do all the vocals himself for the first time. Maybe the title of that album refers to being cured from his previous vocal inhibitions? But since this song comes at the end, it doesn't disrupt the flow of the album.

Overall, Defector is a great album that very well represents Steve Hackett's early career; it sums up very well what he had been doing on his previous albums but leaves out most of those albums deficiencies. The primary influences are Jazz, Folk and Classical and perhaps you could say that the sound here is closer to those influences than on many other Hackett albums. The mood is a bit darker and the music a bit more mellow here and Steve's brother John Hackett's wonderful flutes are heavily featured.

Defector is one of Steve's best ever albums and it is an excellent addition to any Prog collection

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#185595) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With this fourth studio effort, Steve Hackett bid his farewell to the 70s, and his musica lstrategy was mostly going headlong for a continuation of the sound and moods that had made his previous release "Spectral Mornings" such an accomplished progressive opus. This time, "Defector" didn't match tha tsort of greatness, but still deserves to be justly labelled as a Hackett classic. All in all, this album exposes an emphasis on the rockier side of Maestro Hackett, which in places spins a turn into the pop side of things, which directly affects the width of the room given to his pastoral/acoustic side. So, let's go for the tracklist itself, shall we? 'The Steppes' opens up the album with an eerie mood that may somehow remind us of the preceding album's title track but, in comparison, 'The Steppes' delivers a punchier vibe based on the melodic motif's exotic ambience, while 'Spectral Mornings' was a demonstration of sheer eerieness. The majestic beginning is followed by a more easy-going piece, 'Time to Get Out', which kind of reminds me of the sort of prog- pop tunes that Camel usually came up with increasingly since the end of the Bardens-era. Good stuff, indeed, not lost in the standard frivolity of pop but properly ornamented with tastefully constructed solos and an ordained rhythmic structure. Later on, the also poppish (even poppier) 'The Show' handles this scheme more directly, which means that it doesn't enjoy the same level of musical inventiveness: it is a pity, since this joyful song might as well have used a more expanded arrangement. But let's recover our procedure and go for 'Slogans', a superb gem from this album: this piece is a daughter of 'The Towers' and a niece of 'Tigermoth', an exhibition of psychedelic progressive architecture with ample room for guitar tapping, providing an overall sinister mood. The piece is firmly constructed but it doesn't deter it from becoming authentically muscular. The adequate contrast comes in with the segued acoustic ballad 'Leaving', which sets things on mysterious ground while remaining warm. The coda 'Two Vampires As Guests' is a lovely classica lguitar solo piece, a delightful coda for the album's first half. The second half starts with another highlight - 'Jacuzzi'. This delightful composition is yet another perfect example of typical Hackett progressive voice: inspired melodies, stylish developments and a clever use of sundry adornments in pure symphonic style. This is a hard trick to follow, but then come 'Hammer in the Sand' and 'The Toast', two slow pieces that keep the majestic ambience going: the former features a piano basis and a marriage of guitar-synth and mellotron layers, the latter being more akin to acoustic Genesis (12-string guitar and all). The closer 'Sentimental Institution' is a funny old-style jazz song that sounds like a very old vinyl single: it's all about the Optigan, a pet keyboard of hackett himself. Well, here we have yet another fine musical work by Hackett, the last one of what many call his classic era.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#239403) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars What a pleasant surprise! Considering that most people consider Spectral Mornings to be Steve Hackett's best album, they seem to have forgotten to mention that Defector equally great!

Well, I would say that it's debatable whether Spectral Mornings is all what the fans give it credit for. But the thing I don't understand is why this particular release is rated so poorly in comparison. It's just as much of a mixed bag as it's predecessor and, although some of the lesser material, both of the albums manage to come up on top in the end. What's not to like when the album kicks off by a great opener The Steppes and continues on with a nice mix of instrumentals and vocal-driven ballads. Hackett may not cover any new ground but I'm satisfied as long as the song writing is at a decent level.

Slogans might be just another composition in the same style as pieces like Please Don't Touch and Clocks (The Angel Of Mons) but I welcome this type of material any day over the quirky works like Sentimental Institution or The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man. I never really appreciated Hackett's fascination with contemporary pieces from the '30s and '40s although the bonus track live performance on this album does make it sound a whole lot genuine in a live setting.

Defector is the second in line Hackett-album that manages to get away with a weak excellent rating which considering Steve Hackett's work in the '80s is still quite a solid achievement indeed.

***** star songs: Slogans (3:42) Jacuzzi (4:35)

**** star songs: The Steppes (6:04) Time To Get Out (4:11) Leaving (3:18) Two Vamps As Guests (1:58) Hammer In The Sand (3:09) The Show (3:40)

*** star songs: The Toast (3:41) Sentimental Institution (2:32)

Total rating: 4,06

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Posted Monday, December 07, 2009

Review by kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Having scored some commercial and critical success with "Spectral Mornings", STEVE HACKETT more or less maintained the formula with "Defector", which was relatively easy to accomplish given the continuing presence of a dedicated backing band. It was the dawn of the 80s, and the fat synths of that decade were starting to creep in, and the tendency to arrange electronically rather than acoustically was in vogue, but quality songs and instrumentals with an abundance of progressive character remain the norm.

"The Steppes" is a superb opening piece in which Hackett seems to borrow rhythmically from his old GENESIS buddies, particularly MIke Rutherford, and tosses in some icy cold and sinister eastern European licks on guitar. Part of the melody rivals Ravel, and this one seems to accomplish what the title cut to "Spectral Mornings" could not, in less time. The other star instrumental is "Jacuzzi", a much cheerier and swifter piece but equally well arranged. "Slogans" might have been in the same league if it wasn't so aligned with "Clocks" off its antecendent. "Hammer in the Sand" and "Two Vamps as Guests" round out the full complement of Hackett styles, be they atmospheric "Wind and Wuthering" oriented interludes or classical guitar centered delectables.

Then there are the vocal tracks, from the quirky hard pop of "Time to Get Out", which starts oddly like "Lamb Lies Down", to the reflective and spacey ballads "Leaving" and "The Toast", which include substantial unsung parts. The weaker moments occur on "Sentimental Institution" where again he resorts to novelty song to mask lead singer anxiety, and the unctuous pop of "The Show", which would be better developed on the subsequent "Cured".

If you are a fan of late 70s GENESIS or HACKETT but have avoided his 80s work on principle or because die-hards insist it isn't worth the effort, it's time you defect to our camp and enjoy the amenities.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#258964) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, January 02, 2010

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
2 stars Hackett's preceding albums had clearly shown that he didn't have a strong grip on his song writing deficiencies. Also this Defector wobbles between great instrumental tracks and awful pop songs with vocals.

The Steps kicks off strongly with a solemn and dramatic guitar piece. It's a bit over the top orchestral but that suits the track rather well. Also Slogans is a fascinating instrumental, very dark and menacing, a vibe similar to A Tower Struck Down from his solo debut. Leaving is one of the few interesting sung tracks, very soothing and mellow, and just a hunch of sweet melancholy. It is followed by the mandatory classical guitar study, amazing really how Hackett can build this atmosphere with just an acoustic guitar and a bit of eerie reverb.

The contrast with the pedestrian instrumental Jacuzzi or with badly written commercial songs like Time to Get Out and The Show couldn't be bigger. Hackett suffers from a creative standstill, resorting too much to sounds and melodies he had visited before. Hammer In The Sand and The Toast aren't bad new age pieces but can hardly be called a thrilling listening experience.

On the whole, this is slightly better then Please Don't Touch, but not very much. 2.5 stars.

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Posted Saturday, January 16, 2010

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Slightly inferior to the previous Spectral Mornings, but still a very fine prog album by one of the most influential guitarrists ever. Thatīs the concluion I get after several days listening to this CD. Muy remastered version has a very clean sound and five bonus tracks, mostly live versions of tracks from Defector plus Clocks from Spectral Mornings. They donīt really add much, but nice anyway. Defector is one of Hackettīs works that is better appreciated when heard as a whole instead of a track by track analisis. Ok, it is, like anything Hackett released, quite varied and with ups (many) and downs (few). But to me only the last tune, Sentimental Institution (a spoof on 1930īs style music complete with scratching sounds) sounds out of place here.

It wonīt grab you like Spectral Mornings, it takes longer to really sink in, but once it does, you cannot help but enjoy this record very much (at least for a symphonic prog fan like me). The instrumental parts are specially tasteful and very well done. The vocal parts are a bit more on the commercial side, but not much (see Time To Get Out). But letīs remember that this kind of music was completely out of fashion in 1980 and Iīm quite surprised it was realeased at all! So I guess S H was trying to adapt somehow. The 80īs synth sound was beginning to creep in. Yet, Defector is pretty much a symphonic prog album of high caliber. His band was in top form and his trademark guitar sound still intact.

Conclusion: one of SHīs top albums, no less. Not the better one, but excellent anyway. It stood very well the test of time, even if in 1980 it surely must have sounded too 70īs for most people. 4 strong stars.

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Posted Friday, October 01, 2010

Review by colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Every time I listen to Defector, I always end up concluding that this album isn't as good as Steve Hackett's previous releases. Along with Spectral Mornings, this album suffers from the plastic '80s sound. The composition and guitar playing is just fine, if not great. But unlike Spectral Mornings, absolutely nothing stands out to me. When I listen to this album, I'm hearing all of the bells-and-whistles symphonic progressive rock sounds, but I frequently get bored in between the few passages where Steve Hackett really lets his playing fly high. If you enjoyed Spectral Mornings a lot, I'd at least give a listen. Otherwise, Voyage of the Acolyte is probably the best Hackett album.

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Posted Monday, April 11, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A wonderful refinement and polishing of the approach Hackett took on Spectral Mornings, Defector finds the guitarist in fine form, playing in styles ranging from the soaring progressive rock of the opening track to the New Wave-influenced The Show. Sentimental Institution is the novelty track this time around - and unlike The Ballad of the Decomposing Man from the previous album, it doesn't outstay its welcome (being just over two minutes long) and is pleasant to listen to. On balance, then, this has all the finer qualities of its predecessor without being marred by a seriously substandard song in the middle of the running order, making it an ideal companion piece to that album.

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Posted Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The most striking thing about this album to me is how clearly it was made in the 80s, despite being made only a year after Spectral Mornings (which sounds like it could have been made at any time in the second half of the 70s). There's a shiny gloss on everything that wasn't even hinted at previously, and while some of the tracks would have sounded perfectly at home on previous albums (albeit if with different production), some of the tracks betray their contemporary influences too much to be imagined in a previous era. Steve's usual pattern of going about 50/50 with instrumental and non-instrumental material remains, but there are definitely significant shifts to be found.

The non-instrumental tracks are fairly sparse in the first 70% of the album (five of the first seven tracks are instrumental), though the album ends with three pieces with vocals to compensate. Neither "Time to Get Out" nor "Leaving" is especially strong in terms of melody or other standard measures of song quality, but they're both very pleasant and make me glad that I'm listening to them when they're on. "Time to Get Out," for seemingly like a pretty chill song on the surface, has a lot of hustle-bustle in the details (becoming most apparent in the little nagging synth riff in the breaks that feels like it's going twice as fast as it really is), and I really like the simple guitar additions in the last 30 seconds or so. "Leaving" never jumps out in any particular moment, but it's a combination of pretty and sad that I like a lot, and there are some haunting atmospherics in some of the vocal and synth parts that definitely don't sound like anything Hackett had done to this point. Among the ending group, "The Toast" is a moderately go-nowhere ballad, and the album doesn't gain much from its inclusion (its best part is a tender flute part, but it's not one of the more moving flute parts on a Hackett album so far), but "The Show" is a great disco-influenced pop song with a marvelous synth riff (if this is a guilty pleasure, then lock me up), and the closing "Sentimental Institution" is a retro (as in, from the 20s or 30s) jazzy ballad, made to sound as authentic and old-timey as possible. No, these don't make for the same kind of rousing conclusion as Steve managed on the last album, but I kinda like that Steve switched things up so much.

Among the instrumentals, one is great and four are good. The opening "The Steppes" makes Steve's guitar the star right away, but in a vastly different way from "Spectral Mornings." The best comparison for the track, I think, is one I never see mentioned by anybody; unless I'm completely delusional, the track bears the strong influence of Bowie's "Warszawa," coming within a hair of quoting it repeatedly. Where Bowie took its mournful theme and built a half-ambient piece around it (though eventually sticking in some wordless vocals in the second half), though, Steve sticks to this track's own theme (a dark, heavy guitar lick with a serious Eastern tinge) for about half of the track before allowing the second half to alternate between the main theme and various expansive solos based around the theme. No, it's not as good as "Spectral Mornings," but it makes for a hell of an opener.

A couple of tracks later comes "Slogans," which is just dark goofy fun. Beyond the main riff (which opens the piece and then appears after an incomprehensible distorted voice in the middle that I've decided is saying "Beware the mighty Megatron!"), which I suppose is supposed to be ominous but ends up being a little silly, the song is ultimately a giant guitar/synth noodle, but in the hands of Steve there's enough in the way of restraint and interesting tricks to keep it enjoyable. The side-closing "Two Vamps as Guests" isn't an amazing acoustic instrumental on its own, but I like the way it works in quotes from "The Steppes" and "Leaving" without drawing too much attention to them, and I enjoy it plenty in context. "Jacuzzi," which opens side two, is the necessarily happy and uplifting balance to "The Steppes," and while Steve's guitar parts have nice moments, the star of the piece is definitely John's flute, especially when it's featured on top of the keyboards. I guess a lot of it (especially in the second half) could be dismissed as a bit too close to late 70s Jethro Tull, but that wouldn't knock it down too far in my eyes. And finally, "Hammer in the Sand" is a (mostly) keyboard piece that sounds a lot like solo Rick Wakeman at its most tasteful, and Steve's guitar contributions come in the form of atmospheric texture in the second half. I like it!

No, this isn't an amazing album, but it's a really good one, and it shows that, just as with his former bandmates, he could have a relatively smooth transition into the new decade. Granted, things got a little rocky later on, and a lot of the open-armed embracing of contemporary technology will seem a little jarring to somebody more oriented to the sounds of earlier years, but other than the relative shortage of essential classics (even "Jacuzzi," as much as I like it, isn't quite a classic, and neither is "Slogans" or, as much as I'd like to tell myself it is, "The Show"), I can't think of much in the way of bad things to say about this album. There are better Hackett albums for sure, but not that many.

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Send comments to tarkus1980 (BETA) | Report this review (#897816) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Neo Prog Team
3 stars Surprisingly for a deeply artistic work, ''Spectral mornings'' would reach No.9 in the UK album charts and even had a decent praise in the United States, climbing to No.138.Good thing for Hackett was that the new line-up he established was dedicated to his works, so he could eventually tour with comfort and in August 1979 he even played at the famous Reading Festival.The result was that by the recordings of his fourth album no line-up changes had occured, the only change being the studio (Wessex Sound Studios, London).Another product of the Charisma label, ''Defector'' would see the light of day in June 1980.

The 80's virus could not pass by Steve Hackett's works, so ''Defector'' opens a new era for the great British guitarist/composer.His new album has this dreamy, smooth approach of many British acts of the early-80's, somewhat abandoning any powerful, symphonic orchestrations and increasing its Pop sensibilities.The result was an album, consisting of short tracks with balanced work on guitars and keyboards, instrumental and vocal moments, intricate and accesible material.At times it sounds like a combination of IQ early offerings with a slight GENESIS vibe in the more symphonic-inclined material and ALAN PARSON'S PROJECT around the same time with plenty of poppy vocals and flexible melodies.Of course the album remains highly professional, flirting always with Hackett's prog roots, offering lots of dramatic instrumental parts with some marvelous guitar work and bombastic keyboards.But the overall result is very close to Neo Prog, having a less emphatic symphonic mood and a greater sense of melody.The flutes of John Hackett and the classical guitar of Steve retain some of the folky underlines as heard in his previous work, especially during the pair of mellow instrumental pieces at the second half of the album.It is just that the listener was not actually used to such strong use of synths and poppy vocal tunes by Hackett.

Not exactly an uneven album.In fact ''Defector'' sounds pretty balanced overall, but it is a work with a discreet 80's feeling compared to Hackett's previous albums.Even so, the good material is sufficient enough to recommend it to all fans of Progressive Rock.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#1173711) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 11, 2014

Latest members reviews

4 stars For the longest time, I simply viewed Defector as an inferior sequel to the spectacular Spectral Mornings. However, in hindsight, this was a very unfair opinion about the album. While this album can be viewed as a sequel to Spectral Mornings, it is a very fine album in it's own right. It is al ... (read more)

Report this review (#888421) | Posted by SpectralHorizons | Saturday, January 05, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Steve Hacketts is my favourite solo artist not just in prog but in all genres, he offers diversity on all his albums that really does deliver something for everyone, voyage of the acolyte through to spectral mornings his music kept getting better and better and in this album Defector we see anot ... (read more)

Report this review (#305219) | Posted by topographicbroadways | Monday, October 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is the 2nd Hackett solo project with this lineup. This is also decidedly more of a Hackett project than a band project. "The Steppes" is a good example of what I am referring to. It is a good song, but like "Spectral mornings" it doesn't have that much going on, which makes it too long of ... (read more)

Report this review (#276072) | Posted by Keetian | Saturday, April 03, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I really like "Defectror"...cover is incredible and also the music is on the top notch!...I was haunted since the flute intro of "The Steppes"..and then many beatiful melodies and voices tottaly catch my imagination... I would describe the mood of record as "vampyric", so this album is unique ... (read more)

Report this review (#244657) | Posted by Rashly | Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album starts brilliantly, and ends......well, not so brilliantly. The Steppes is a great Hackett instrumental, displaying much of the style and substance of the title track of the previous album. The rest of the album, however, doesn't do as much for me. Once again, Pete Hicks takes the ... (read more)

Report this review (#171732) | Posted by infandous | Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The first three albums of Steve Hackett's solo career had shown to the listening public what a diverse and and accomplished artist he was. His first three classic albums were followed by a fourth, Defector, in which most of the first half of the album was themed around the cold war and the imagi ... (read more)

Report this review (#156665) | Posted by Leonardo | Wednesday, December 26, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In my opinion, Hackett's best album. I'll get right into it. The Steppes: Eerie flute intro brings us into this heavy, pounding instrumental. the guitar and flute share the main melody, while the drums steadily move forward and the deep synth tones add sinisterness. there is a point where the sy ... (read more)

Report this review (#155247) | Posted by The Ace Face | Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Yes, Rock Music Should be Free, but it's Worth Less and Less..." Great album this, I think. I actually prefer it to Spectral Mornings (yes, yes, heresy I know...). It certainly lives up to Steve's normal diversity within his albums from outright prog (The Steppes) to near disco-ish p ... (read more)

Report this review (#147132) | Posted by Gog/Magog | Friday, October 26, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The last album of Hackett's first era as a solo artist. He would go in a different direction after this and would change labels in a few years due to disagreement over his direction.Hackett comes back again with the same lineup. It is not as good as its predecessor and has some weaker tracks, ... (read more)

Report this review (#146800) | Posted by White Shadow | Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars point of inflexion for Mr. hackett. from now on heīs definitely leaving behind genesis and its last traces (steppes?). but in front of us we have a superb album, full of intimate feels and insight, as hackett use to. times a changing, heavy rock is in the scene and steve cant let its fingers st ... (read more)

Report this review (#127493) | Posted by luisman | Wednesday, July 04, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Probably my favorite of Steve's early albums. I think he really found his footing here with the rest of his band. It's a shame this lineup didn't record more albums. Vocally, Steve shines here. Although often not considered a great vocalist, he seems to do very well on this album. All the ... (read more)

Report this review (#93288) | Posted by Gianthogweed | Wednesday, October 04, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Allright progheads, Today I put in DEFECTOR by STEVE HACKETT, leant myself back, closed my eyes and listened to the music and what I heard sounded dreamy, beautiful and diversified. I heard some pretty good guitar work and sometimes very beautiful flutes and the two last tracks right at the end ... (read more)

Report this review (#85247) | Posted by Badabec | Monday, July 31, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The fourth work announced in 1980 "Defector". It is an exoticism and an album of a dark content. "Slogans" is wonderful in the tune such as initial GENESIS and KING CRIMSON. "Jacuzzi" is a tune as if CAMEL collaborated to Steve Hackett. The produce of the album is John Acock and Steve Hackett. ... (read more)

Report this review (#47011) | Posted by braindamage | Saturday, September 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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