(All Album Reviews by Chuck AzEee!)
A year after leaving Genesis, Steve Hackett already with two albums under his belt wanted to take his music on the road. For that he assembled his most endearing band of: Peter Hicks on Vocals, his brother John on flute, rhythm guitar (live only), bass bedals, long time collaborator Nick Magnus on keyboards, Dik Cadbury on bass and vocals and John Shearer on drums.
This lineup went on to record two albums worth of material, but only eight songs were selected for Spectral Mornings. And although Hackett's overtones to his former band are prevalent on this album, Spectral Mornings has Steve writing more songs that were more in consideration of his talents than for the constraints of writing for the three egos he left behind.
Spectral Mornings starts of with the lovely anti-drug anthem "Everyday" and shows the promise of this lineup, with its great three part vocal harmony (like Crosby, Stills and Nash), haunting keyboards by Nick, then the rhythm section cooks at the end as Steve's solo soars. Great song.
Things quiet down on the next track "The Virgin And the Gypsy", showcasing Peter Hicks lovely voice and the fluttering of John's beautiful flute.
Now things begin to act up again, as Hackett's oriental-ed themed instrumental "The Red Flower Of Taichai" features Steve playing a first, the koto (amongst an assortment of other guitars) which then segues into the metal-like "Clocks" which drummer John Shearer kicks behind with a powerful drum solo which ends the song.
Next up is Hackett's humourous take on a political issue of the time, "The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man", which is like his answer to his former band's hit "I Know What I Like".
Side two or track five of this album, the hauntingly cerebral "Lost Time in Cordoba", has Hackett counting at the end of the song (using the vocoder) which flows right into "Tigermoth". Like Hendrix on "Machine Gun", Hackett utilizes his guitar on full effects which fits in thematically with the song, which is about an English war plane which is on its death mission. At its calmest, is sung in fine fashion again by Peter.
The ending of the album is one of the most heart felt songs that Hackett has ever written, and his guitar tour-de-force, the instrumental "Spectral Mornings".
Hackett's song writing was not appreciated by his former band members, but yet on his previous two albums it appeared that his songs were meant for his former band. On Spectral Mornings, Hackett's songwriting finally caught up to his guitar playing and this album proved that he truly was a great overall musician.
Album Rating: Five Stars.
(All Album Reviews by def)
This review is for the 2005 re-master bonus tracks only.
9. Everyday (Alternate Mix)
10. The Virgin And The Gypsy (Alternate Mix)
11. Tigermoth (Alternate Mix)
12. The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man (Alternate Mix)
13. Clocks - The Angel Of Mons (Single Version)
14. Live Acoustic Set (Medley:Etude In A Minor/Blood On The Rooftops/Horizons/Kim)
15. Tigermoth (Live)
16. Caretaker (uncredited)
“Everyday” has a slower ending; all right, but not better than the original.
“The Virgin And The Gypsy” has higher levels for the harmonica. I hadn’t realised that the original had harmonica at all. Much better than the original.
“Tigermoth”`s backing vocals are louder, again not better than the original.
“The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man” is about the same, except the annoying background vocals in the Calypso part of the song are even more annoying.
“Clocks - The Angel Of Mons” has a slightly shorter drum solo. Not as good as the original. This is from the 12" Clocks EP.
“The Acoustic Set” is not recorded in Paris as stated, but is the same as on the Live Archive 70s CD. (you can even hear Britdude yell out "HACKETT" at the 48 second mark during “Blood On The Rooftops”). Also from the 12" Clocks EP.
“Tigermoth” was also previously released on the Live Archive 70s CD. Again, from the 12" Clocks EP.
“Caretaker” is not really a track, but "as if" the caretaker came into the recording studio after everybody’s left, but the tape left on. It’s generally a short rant about what he thinks about musicians. A waste of time, really. On the whole, not much for the casual fan.
Completists can rest now that the elusive 12" Clocks EP tracks are included on this CD. The booklet has 4 new pictures of Steve, lyrics and 2 pages of additional dialogue.