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Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

4.14 | 903 ratings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

rogerthat | 4/5 |


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