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Steve Hackett

Spectral Mornings

Review by Steve Alspach

Two years after Steve Hackett's departure from Genesis, he released Spectral Mornings. For this album he organized a band that played full-time with him on tour and on this album. The result is an album that may be more cohesive than its predecessor, Please Don't Touch, but still exhibits Hackett's penchant for exploring a wide palette of musical styles.

The personnel on this album is: Steve Hackett, guitars, koto, harmonica, and vocals; Pete Hicks, vocals; Dik Cadbury, bass, violin, and vocals; Nick Magnus, keyboards; and John Hackett, flutes.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Every Day
A great opening rocker, Hackett displays an all-too-rare penchant for opening up and soloing freely over a four-chord progression, but he does everything from melodic soloing to swooping note bending to short, quick blasts.
The Virgin and the Gypsy
Hicks and Hackett combine for some gorgeous melodies on this tune. The song veers towards a distinct oriental flavor at times, emphasized by the flutes.
The Red Flower of Taichi Blooms Everywhere
This is a short instrumental that, as the title surmises, is very much based in Far Eastern music. Steve uses the koto here to fulfill the oriental mood.
Clocks - The Angels of Mons
Most all of Hackett's "rock" albums have one menacing instrumental piece, and this is it. As clocks tick away in the background, a dooming five-note theme emerges. Shearer's drums cascade into an all-out band attack on the chorus.
The Ballad of the Decomposing Man (Featuring the Office Party)
Showing his sense of humor, this is perhaps the funniest piece that Hackett has ever done. His workplace observations are a bit Monty Pythonesque and predate "Dilbert" by several years (and are funnier, to tell the truth). Steve gets to play the harmonica here during the breaks between verses. The "Office Party" is a calypso-based piece that shows Cadbury's skill on violin
Lost Time in Cordoba
This is an extremely beautiful piece that features Steve on nylon string guitar and John Hackett on flute. The second part of the song has an oboe-like lead instrument over Hackett's acoustic arpeggios.
Dealing with a World War II pilot who meets an unfortunate fate, this song has a lengthy instrumental opening with Shearer's drums keeping a military march beat. And never before (and never since, if you ask me) has a guitar simulated an airplane crash so well. The song then goes into a 6/8 mode with Hicks and Hackett again combining their vocals wonderfully. The coda, with its celeste and acoustic guitar, is a nice finish to the song.
Spectral Mornings
This grand title cut finishes the album on an emphatic note. From a dreamy opening with keyboards and vocorder, the song then goes into a powerful 4/4 mode. The melody is simple, yet most powerful, and Hackett plays high on the neck to offset Magnus' rich keyboards. Hackett's balance of romanticism and rock is displayed wonderfully here.
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