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GTR

Prog Related • United Kingdom


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GTR biography
GTR was one of those 80´s "super groups"; band was formed around two very well know prog guitarists, Steve HACKETT (Genesis) and Steve HOWE (Yes, Asia), but GTR sound was completely different to the born bands of this two guitarists. GTR sound was oriented to FM radio, a commercial pop-rock of quality, but completely apart of prog sounds. GTR self title debut was published in may of 1986, and it sold more than 500.000 copies!!! so went into gold album. The album includes several potential hit singles and two Steve´s solo performances, but the hit single and most know song was "When The Heart Rules The Mind". Besides two Steve´s, the band was completed with Max Bacon (ex-NIGHTWING) on vocals, Jonathan Mover (ex-MARILLION), on drums and Phil Spalding (ex-MIKE OLFIELD BAND) on bass. As a curiosity a few months after album release a 60 min video was published, with the making-off of the album and "When The Heart Rules The Mind" promo-video.

One year after the release of GTR debut and the following tour, the band starts to write for his second album, but the musical differences between two Steve´s made band splited and GTR project disappear, but an independent label (Elements Of Crime) release a few years ago a bootleg cd with the demos on that album, that includes six songs with Max Bacon on vocals and other six with Robert Berr (Intended to be the singer on second GTR album), this album was called "Nerotrend". Also in 1996, 10 years after the publishing of self titled debut the "King Biscuit Flower Hour Live Series" publish an excellent quality live show of the band at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, on July 19, 1986; being this three releases the only GTR musical legacy.

- Javier Ros Mellado, SPAIN

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GTRGTR
Arista/Sony BMG 1990
Audio CD$125.90
$21.99 (used)
GtrGtr
Import
Jvc Japan 2012
Audio CD$27.21
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King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents GTRKing Biscuit Flower Hour Presents GTR
King Biscuit Flower Hour Records/Sony BMG 1997
Audio CD$30.99
$16.41 (used)
Greatest Hits LiveGreatest Hits Live
Remastered
King Biscuit 2003
Audio CD$125.57
$34.99 (used)
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GTR discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

GTR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.30 | 95 ratings
GTR
1986

GTR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.91 | 15 ratings
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents GTR
1997

GTR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

GTR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GTR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Hunter
1986
0.00 | 0 ratings
When The Heart Rules The Mind
1986

GTR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents GTR by GTR album cover Live, 1997
2.91 | 15 ratings

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GTR Prog Related

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This live album, released in 1997, presents GTR sounding better playing in concert than in their self- titled studio album from 1986. Recorded in Los Angeles in July of 1986, and with the addition of a keyboard player (Matt Clifford) to the line-up because apparently the guitar synths technology from those years was still not very reliable. The main "stars " in the band obviously were Steve Hackett and Steve Howe, but the other musicians of the band played very well, particularly drummer Jonathan Mover, whose drum kit sounds more at the front of the mixing than in the studio album. The playing of all the musicians is more "raw" and clear than in the studio album. But having only one studio album from the band forced them to play all the songs from the album (but "Toe the Line" was the only song from their album which was not included in this live album or was not played at that concert, but it appears in other live recordings from the band), so Hackett and Howe played some songs as soloists, with or without the band, even playing "I Know What I Like" and some excerpts from other songs by Genesis ("After the Ordeal" and "In that quiet earth"), and "Roundabout" from Yes, plus a song called "Prizefighters" which was not included in their studio album. The style of the band still is very Pop Rock in most songs, like in their studio album, but maybe the most Prog Rock moments are from the songs "Imagining", "Hackett to Bits", "Pennants", and "Spectral Mornings". GTR, like Asia, was a so-called super-group from the eighties, put together with some very good Prog Rock musicians but with the main aim to play Pop Rock music to satisfy the new audiences from that decade plus the money making ambitions of managers and record labels. Apparently, GTR lasted for about two years, but like in the case of a super-group from the late sixties called Blind Faith (not Prog Rock), it really showed that despite some musical success it could not last for very long, leaving their members not very happy. So, Hackett left the band after the tour was finished, unhappy with the way the band was managed and the Pop style of most of their music. So, GTR remains as a memory from that decade on which Prog Rock music lost some popularity and some of the Prog Rock musicians had to adjust their music and looks to the "new tastes" of the record labels, managers, producers and the "new" audiences. Anyway, this is a good live album from GTR. Still very Pop Rock in style, but good anyway.

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 GTR by GTR album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.30 | 95 ratings

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Review by mneil1968

1 stars What a strange paradox are my feelings about this album. It was the 80's, and as is widely known, a paltry, sad, dark decade for prog. I had only just discovered Yes (from 90125, then worked back and discovered everything else), and yearned for ANY new music that would feature any of my heroes, specifically Howe. Asia was, well, Asia, but then Steve had left and they released the truly abysmal Astra. When I heard "When the Heart Rules the Mind" on the radio, I had no idea who these folks were, but I recognized Steve Howe's guitar. This was also before the internet, and I had no idea how to keep up with what anyone was doing, so I had no idea that Steve had been up to anything. I loved the album at first, but now realize that it was just because I was starving. A saltine cracker will taste like filet mignon if you're starving. Now, listening to this, I'm struck by it's awfulness. There's absolutely no depth to the sound. The lyrics are worse than banal. The singer is really annoying. It just sucks. It's a saltine cracker that's stale and doesn't have enough salt. Nonetheless, I still like "When the Heart..." only because I remember the excitement I felt at that time.

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 GTR by GTR album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.30 | 95 ratings

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Review by tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer

1 stars In retrospect, this album never had a chance. While there certainly have been some exceptions, supergroups are generally the kind of idea that seems really great in theory but quickly becomes unbearable, like deciding to eat an entire pizza yourself. So it was with GTR, the short-lived collaboration between Steve Howe and Steve Hackett (with the rest of the group filled out by various anonymous players, including vocalist Max Bacon, who is an embodiment of all of my least favorite stereotypes of vocalists from the 80s). The story behind the group actually had its roots in another supergroup; while Howe was perfectly content with the kind of slightly artsy arena rock being made by Asia, he wasn't happy with the relatively minor position of his guitar in relation to the keyboards, and this helped to fuel his departure from the band. Howe had three main principles in mind for his new project: (1) the music style would be arena rock, (2) there would be no keyboards, and instead any synth-like parts would be handled by guitar synthesizer pickups attached to the guitars, and (3) he wanted Steve Hackett on board as the other guitarist. Hackett was willing to do the project, but he didn't have the same enthusiasm as Howe did; where Howe viewed this as a potential long-term project, Hackett viewed this as a short-term collaboration, and (on the surface at least) it really seems like the main driver for his participation in this project was that his last couple of albums (Bay of Kings and Till We Have Faces) hadn't sold very well.

Very predictably, this setup didn't work out so well. Howe and Hackett never really got on the same page creatively, and anybody hoping for any quality interplay between two of the giants of 70s prog guitar will be extremely disappointed. The guitar playing on this album (rather predictably) isn't so much interplay as it is the two sides taking turns, with one guitarist at any point either dropping from the mix or acting as a synthesizer mimic. Furthermore, while there are some stretches where it's clear which guitarist is currently playing a given part, there are long stretches where both Howe and Hackett disappear behind the wall of generic arena rock they've put up for themselves. Furthermore, even when the parts clearly belong to one or the other, the effect is to call up a nostalgia for when the technique on display was used in a better song. It should also be noted that any parts clearly recognizable as Hackett basically discard all of the advances and experimentation from Faces; it's pretty clear to me that Hackett didn't put a tremendous amount of himself into this project.

The album's big hit was the opening "When the Heart Rules the Mind," but aside from the mildly promising opening (with a nice part clearly from Howe), the track is mostly generic mid-tempo 80s arena rock of the worst kind, and it's only notable for somebody interested in collecting every spare Howe and Hackett lick ever recorded. Much better is the following track, "The Hunter," written by producer Geoff Downes (an aside; if Howe's main drive for leaving Asia was that he didn't like the ratio of keyboards to guitars, then why would he invite Asia's keyboardist to produce this album? Of all the peripheral details of this album, this one still confuses me the most); aside from a pretty decent and compact verse melody, as well as a nice build into the various climaxes ("...only the hunter ... only the hunter ... SURVIVES!!!"), it also has the album's most blatant bit of nostalgia thanks to Howe breaking out his "Your Move" guitar approach in the verses. The song isn't anywhere near great, but it's mildly decent, and that makes for a relative highlight.

The best tracks on here sound the least like the typical material of the album. "Sketches in the Sun" is a solo piece from Howe, with him playing a duet with himself on electric guitar, and it's a delightful use of 2:33 that would have sounded great on one of his solo albums. Of the various "regular" songs, "Toe the Line" is easily the best; the song is a model of restraint in its morph from an acoustic ballad into a slightly louder number, and Howe's brief snippet of slide parts in the last minute is quite lovely. I'm not really sure what role Hackett plays in the song, but whatever.

The other six tracks are absolutely atrocious. The Hackett match to "Sketches in the Sun," entitled "Hackett to Bits" (yup, he's even reusing puns from previous song titles), is a vile bastardization of "Please Don't Touch," but it's still probably the best of the remaining material. The sung tracks might all have different melodies, but they're all built around the same basic formula; mid-tempo arena rock built around disappointingly generic guitar (with occasional bits of individual personality coming through), goofy guitar synths, plodding drumming, and those awful vocals. Oh, those awful vocals. With a better vocalist, some of this material might have been salvagable, but there is no better vocalist to be found.

Anyway, this band wasn't long for the world, and it's just as well. Try and find the best two or three tracks, but stay far away from the rest of this. This isn't the worst project Steve Howe was ever a part of (at the least, it's a lot shorter than Union, and Howe's involvement in that album is much less than his involvement here), but it is probably the worst project Steve Hackett was ever a part of, and that says something.

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 GTR by GTR album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.30 | 95 ratings

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Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Like a lot of 'supergroups', GTR has widely been regarded as a disappointment and a wasted opportunity by progressive rock fans. Also like a lot of supergroups, some of the flak it receives is deserved, but a fair amount of it is the result of unfair expectations. Anybody expecting a grandiose symphonic prog masterpiece in the vein of Close to the Edge or Foxtrot from this 1986 collaboration between Steve Howe and Steve Hackett is probably looking in the wrong place, and though their disappointment is likely to be monumental, folks that set more realistic expectations may be likely to find some enjoyment from this decent eighties' rock album. GTR feels rather unadventurous and disappointing considering the stellar lineup, but the end result is still an average effort that is substantially better than anything Yes or Genesis were doing at the time.

In many ways, the music found on GTR's sole album is what we'd expect from progressive rock's 'dinosaurs' during the mid eighties' - commercial oriented and melodic tunes with catchy choruses and approachable lyrics. Fortunately, GTR is a notch above what one may initially anticipate as most of the songs here are not too shabby at all. "When the Heart Rules the Mind" is a decent little pop tune, "Imagining" and "The Hunter" are pretty good rock tracks, and "Sketches In the Sun" and "Hackett to Bits" are nice instrumental pieces that let us know that we are dealing with two legendary guitarists. Lead vocalist Max Bacon has a powerful set of pipes that suits this style of music perfectly, and this combined with the hard rocking AOR compositions should definitely bring Journey and other American rock groups to mind. This 'American' style, however, sacrifices everything that made Hackett's pastoral tones and Howe's frantic fretwork so unique in the first place; the lack of personality is probably GTR's greatest setback, and although it is mightily disappointing to see two progressive rock giants make an AOR album, their failure to leave a unique stamp on the material is what impacts my enjoyment of the music most.

That being said, the material here is still not bad as far as I'm concerned. Does it sound like it was produced through a tin can? Yes. Does it fail to highlight what makes Hackett and Howe such excellent guitarists? Yes. Is it a relatively mediocre AOR album when all is said and done? Also yes. Still, no matter how much I should hate GTR, I find myself singing along to a few of the choruses and enjoying the hell out of the crisp riffs and melodic vocals every time I give it a spin. GTR is a supergroup with a massive amount of missed potential, but for what it is, they put out a decent observation before disappearing for good.

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 GTR by GTR album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.30 | 95 ratings

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GTR
GTR Prog Related

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Just realized that I have not put my words about this legendary album by collaboration of two guitar maestros of the 70's: Steve Howe (of YES fame) and Steve Hackett (of Genesis fame). When I heard about this collaboration it's was natural that I expected something spectacular which in reality did not happen. Well it's probably over expectation as those two gentlemen were coming from prog powerhouse. It's similar with what I expected with Asia in the early 80s. But if I forget who the people behind this debut album, this is actually not a bad album at all even though I do not here something prog related to the work of of Howe or Hackett. Well, it's probably they formed this GTR to do things differently from the bands they were coming from.

The masterpiece is of course the opening track co-written by two Steves 'When The Heart Rules The Mind' which was successful as the track reached number 14 in the Billboard Top 100 and spent a couple of months on the chart. This was of course an achievement by prog musician who could chart their work on Billboard. Composition-wise this is something that you would expect from straight rock or pop rock band. However, as we all know the style of the two guitarist therefore there are pieces filled with their unique guitar style - that what makes this track differs from any music from straight rock band.

The Hinter was the one written by Geoff Downes (Asia) and represents a slower or mellow track of this album. There are good tracks like Reach Out - especially I like the energy of the song and the guitar solo work. Also Imagining, Here I wait, Sketches In The Sun and Hackett to Bits. Sketches In The Sun is an acoustic number was performed with Asia. The "Asia Live In Asia" home video has a recorded version of the song taken from the gig on December 1983. Steve Howe has a number of versions available of this track including a demo on the original Homebrew demo.

Overall, it's a good album with minimum prog elements but still deliver god music overall. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 GTR by GTR album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.30 | 95 ratings

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GTR Prog Related

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars GTR is one of the hated bands here on PA, only few proggers tried and succeded to have some nice words around this band since it was introduce to data base years ago. Well I will be one of the proggers who like this one, not better not worst then any Asia album , because the comparation in inevitable, musicaly speaking. Releasewd in may 1986, become almost instantly gold in sale numebers, something realy intristing for today standards, if we look at the line up we see some big names in prog world, the contrast between the names and what they play here is huge. Hackett and Howe are for sure the main actors here, the rest of the musicians even are ok and great contribute to the overall sound they are not so well known, at least to me. Anyway the album sounds like AOR with some typical thet special rock of the period, with some good moments, some Yes moments, vague but are, some pop elements added and here we have selftitled GTR. Sketches In The Sun who is a pice wrote by Howe, can be recognizeble his style instantly, beautiful pice, Hackett To Bits is of course a Hackett one, very dark and very progressive, this piece easely is similar with any piece from Defector, same attitude and moody dark atmosphere, very good, the rest of the pieces are ok for me, nothing realy special but ok, each musician did a good job. So, to me is a 3 star album, nothing more nothing less, enjoyble but not very often to be puted to spin.

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 GTR by GTR album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.30 | 95 ratings

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GTR Prog Related

Review by 1967/ 1976

2 stars Interesting AOR project by Mr. Steve Hackett (Genesis) and Steve Howe (Yes, Asia). Without a second album, GTR present a sort of POP AOR without mordantv but with excellent AOR tracks in: "When The Heart Rules The Mind" and "The Hunter". For the rest interesting music, no Prog or similar (Asia was more Proggy in those years). Good for writing the songs have also good arrangements but mot hard sound: too easy, also due to sound production.

GTR was a great band for AOR and for the presence of two genious of guitar, Hackett and Howe. For the rest typical 80's POP AOR band with a normal POP AOR album.

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 GTR by GTR album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.30 | 95 ratings

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GTR Prog Related

Review by darkprinceofjazz

3 stars Since I have a guilty pleasure for 80's hair metal, I wasn't surprise when actually liked this for what it is, The singer sounds like the guy from stryper, maybe the guy from europe, journey, you get the picture, 80's mtv formula pure and simple, but if you listen closely, Only a band like this, could come up with an atmosphere as complex yet deceptively simple, I would have been much happier if rick wakeman would have joined in and played the vocal parts. I paid 1.98 for a vinyl copy of this, I must admit, I doubt i ever listen again. so ultimately 3 stars is all i can do. Its not as bad as you think.

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 King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents GTR by GTR album cover Live, 1997
2.91 | 15 ratings

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King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents GTR
GTR Prog Related

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I had to give GTR another shot, I guess. I saw this album on the record shelf for months and took me all this time to finally listen to it. Well, I knew this live recording could never be worse then their only studio album recorded in the 80´s. But I must admit that I was not expecting it to be that good. Well, not brilliant, but very good. Incredibly, on stage GTR really sounds like a ´real´ group, not just like a project built around the two guitar heroes nor an Asia´s formula exploitation. And without the restrainings of studio time and a bad producer Steve Hackett and Steve Howe have room to show their amazing skills.

I think that if it was not for the not so good stuff from the original album, this could have been a great moment and a fine group after all. And even if the songwriting was originally one of their many issues, all the tunes sound better here than on their debut. Much better! The inclusion of such cover versions fo classics like I Know What I Like and Roundabout was quite risky. However, the results - taking in consideration it was the 80´s, the uncoolest time to do such thing - are very good and respectful to the originals. They play a complete, note perfect version of Roundabout! I loved the version of Hackett´s Spectral Mornings (actually only part of that song linked with Genesis instrumental After The Ordeal. Great!).

The CD also brings up a new song (Prizefighters intended for their second album) and Howe´s Pennants (form his sophmore solo release The Steve Howe Album). The production is simply excellent, with all instruments ande voices very well balanced. All the songs are performed with enthisiasm and conviction. This record is everythign their debut was not.

Ok, I would love to give this CD a higher rating, but since most of their stuff is really AOR/80´s pop with a little prog thrown in, I can´t say it is an excellent addtion to any prog rock music collection. However, if you like melodic rock done by brilliant musicians, you should check this out. So I´ll be giving it a 3.5 stars rating.

A very nice surprise from a band that seemed doomed from the very start.

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 King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents GTR by GTR album cover Live, 1997
2.91 | 15 ratings

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King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents GTR
GTR Prog Related

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

2 stars Most of the 80s flavour of the GTR debut has been cleanud up. It's a live and Max Bacon had probably decided to take few risks by singing on a pitch not so high as in the studio versions.

"Jekyll and Hyde" is a bit slower and the sound of Hackett's guitar is cleaner. Howe play the synth guitar and the bass is more in evidence. Also the drums have lost the 80s electronic plastic sound. The result is a totally different song respect to the studio version. Of course the song itself is not a masterpiece, but at least it's not disturbing.

"Here I Wait" was probably the best track (if "best" is a word that can be used) of the debut album. Without the 80s flavour it's quite a Yes song. Also here the tempo is a bit slower and all the song is improved by this slowing down.

"Prizefighters" is a previously unreleased song. Opened by "violins and pizzicato" reminds me to Procol Harum. Not a masterpiece, probably too mellow, but always better than everything that can be found on the studio album. The interlude is a typical Hackett instrumental for the tempo, enhanceded by Howe's synth guitar. Let me say that "Improved" and "enhanced" are words easy to use respect to the absolutely awful debut.

"Imagining" was the studio album's closer. The classical guitar intro is a bit longer and some passages have been added. It's a pity that it doesn't continue in this way until the end. Even if the bass introduces the "real song" in crescendo, as it was Squire playing, the song is poor. The first sung part is accompanied by drums. This contributes to clean it up, but this is still a song good for Big Generator or for the Duran's sountrack of James Bond. The Spanish guitar coda is not that bad.

"Hackett to Bits" has the advantage of being instrumental and not featuring a Max Bacon, but it's not very different from the original version and the original was nothing special.

"Spectral Mornings" is another new track. Probably one of the few really co-written by the two Steves. It's a melodic instrumental on which the lead guitar sounds like Mike Oldfield's, and the drums are a bit too invasive.

Finally a Genesis cover heavily re-arranged with a bass line that's kept directly from Camel's Liggin' ar Louis and a guitar that would have been better played by Latimer for the first two minutes. It takes over 3 minutes to be recognizable enough. "I know what I like"...I like the Camelesque intro, but it's not functional to the song. It's just a scenic interlude. not that is badly played, of course. I'd never thought that I have preferred Phil Collins to anybody else, but it's the case. Also Fish's version on Suites is better than this in terms of singing.

"Sketches In The Sun" was the other highlight of the studio album. Open chords for Hackett and mandolin like playing by Howe. One of the few good things in both the albums.

Another song not present on the first GTR: "Pennant" is not very different from what listened up to now...quite boring, too. It's followed by "Roundabout". probably the only good reason to purchase this album/DVD. Unfortunately Max Bacon is NOT Jon Anderson and his pitch on this song is one octave lower than Jon's. Stll a great track, anyway.

After this good interlude we are back to the poor songwriting of GTR studio: musically speaking "The Hunter" could have been used as soundtrack for the Teletubbies, and the only time when Max Bacon tries to get the high pitch as in the studio album, he fails.

"You Can Still Get Through" sounds very Yes as in the original version, but less 80s. On this pitch Bacon is not bad and the variation on the chorus makes it less trivial. This is a track that can be saved.

"Reach Out" is on the same line. Very few to say about it, apart of the central instrumental part that has been improved and hosts a couple of guitar solos, so it's really better than the original.

Unfortunately the live session is closed by the worst poppy song: "When the Heart Rules The Mind". It reached the top40 in the 80s. And it should have been left there, at Top of the Pops.

This album is an anhancement respect to the very poor studio, but of course a live played by skilled musicians like the two Steves can't be totally bad. Unfortunately the songs are almost the same of the debut. It can have two stars instead of one, but it's just pop.

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