Monday, June 01, 2009

Steve Hackett - Highly Strung (1983) (mp3, vbr)

I usually try not to post something that can readily be obtained through other means. I'll probably earn myself a cease and desist letter for this one. But it was definitely time for some pure prog after all that Wayne Shorter. Not because they're so different, but because they're (also) so similar. The painstaking compositional aspect of those Wayne records from the 80's depends on every note being in the right place. That's just like lots of prog rock! How Wayne was able to do that in a predominantly improvisational format (i.e. Jazz) is beyond me and a testament to his substantial genius.

But back to Mr. Hackett. I'm not saying this particular prog rock masterpiece embodies all those strange and wonderful qualities. On the contrary, Highly Strung is a bit of a romp. Hackett flexes his substantial guitar muscles on the first three tracks, all of which feature his beautiful, harmonic soloing. He then lays it on even thicker with 'Group Therapy' and the aptly titled 'Hackett to Pieces'.

Two things come to mind with this collection of music, especially after listening to all that Wayne Shorter. The first is that Hackett is producing with a much smaller budget. The overall musical impression of the record is just a little more chintzy. I don't know how else to say it. With Wayne's solo records, I feel like there is a beautiful and shimmering quality to the production. As with the composition, everything is just right, and cost is no object.

The second difference, for me at least, is that this music does not seem to be influenced by the popular music of the day, or by any context. Talk about no compromise! It's something that's always been one of Hackett's most admirable qualities. He simply plays what he hears in his head. No one knows where it comes from. Take, for example, the bonus track 'Guitar Boogie'. Ladies and gentleman, this is not blues. I don't care how much the artist tries to tell you different. Calling that song blues is like calling Keith Richards a classical musician. It's just wrong. But that's how Hackett hears it, and, god knows, he can play the shit out of that guitar, so why not?

  1. "Camino Royale" (Hackett, Magnus) – 5:28
  2. "Cell 151" (Hackett) – 6:26
  3. "Always Somewhere Else" (Hackett) – 4:02
  4. "Walking Through Walls" (Hackett) – 3:48
  5. "Give It Away" (Hackett) – 4:08
  6. "Weightless" (Hackett) – 3:31
  7. "Group Therapy" (Hackett) – 5:47
  8. "India Rubber Man" (Hackett) – 2:31
  9. "Hackett to Pieces" (Hackett, Magnus) – 2:40

2007 Remaster Bonus Tracks
10. "Guitar Boogie" - 2:12 11. "Walking Through Walls (Single Edit)" - 5:55 12. "Time Lapse at Milton Keynes" - 3:52

  • John Acock – keyboards
  • Steve Hackett - guitars, vocals
  • Chris Lawrence – contrabass
  • Nick Magnus - keyboards, devices
  • Ian Mosley – drums
  • Nigel Warren-Green – cello
The link is in the comments.

1 comment:

MPomy said...