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Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

4.14 | 857 ratings

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

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

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

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

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

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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