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Steve Hackett - Defector CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

3.64 | 433 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars "Perfector"

Even if I consider myself a major fan of Steve Hackett, I have been relatively critical of his early solo albums, especially Please Don't Touch and Voyage Of An Acolyte. Even though these albums had several Hackett classics, they were, in my opinion, severely inconsistent and uneven. One problem with them was due to utilizing too many different vocalists, some of which were totally wrong for Hackett's music, and also displaying too many different musical styles, only some of which really fitted with the rest of Hackett's music. All these factors gave the impression of an artist not knowing in which direction he wanted to go. On his third album, Spectral Mornings, Hackett finally began to better find his own musical identity and that album certainly constituted an improvement over the first two. However, Spectral Mornings still suffered from some of the same problems and despite some excellent tracks, that album as a whole did not reach excellent status in my book.

Defector is a bit more consistent and in that sense it was Hackett's best album up till that point! Almost everything on Defector is excellent, but perhaps not quite matching the very best couple of tracks from Spectral Mornings. The dark, mystical, Far Eastern-flavoured instrumental The Steppes is great, and has been in Steve's live set many times up till the present day. The Pop/Rock songs Time To get Out and The Show are in many ways forerunners to what Steve would do on his next album, Cured (not at all as bad as some people say!). Leaving and The Toast are vocal-based numbers that reminds me of more recent Hackett material such as Serpentine Song and In Memoriam (from To Watch The Storms and Darktown respectively).

Jacuzzi is a great Jazz-Rock/Fusion type work-out in typical Hackett fashion while Hammer In The Sand is a very beautiful, mellow piano-based composition. Not too common on Hackett albums. Two Vamps As Guests is a very typical Hackett Classical guitar piece that interestingly starts with a reprise of the melody from The Steppes - beautiful but hardly his best piece in this style. However, it does contribute to the very appealing diversity of this album. Like The Steppes, also Slogans, Jacuzzi and Hammer In The Sand from this album have made it into Steve's recent live sets.

The only real low point of the album is the closing number, Sentimental Institution. This 30's/40's style song is a throwaway and occupies the same role on this album as The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man did on Spectral Mornings. The vocals on this one is done by Steve himself (while the other vocals on this album still was by Pete Hicks) and I get the feeling that up till and including this album Steve often needed humour to make him feel comfortable as a singer. On the next album, Cured, Steve would gain a complete new confidence in the vocal department and do all the vocals himself for the first time. Maybe the title of that album refers to being cured from his previous vocal inhibitions? But since this song comes at the end, it doesn't disrupt the flow of the album.

Overall, Defector is a great album that very well represents Steve Hackett's early career; it sums up very well what he had been doing on his previous albums but leaves out most of those albums deficiencies. The primary influences are Jazz, Folk and Classical and perhaps you could say that the sound here is closer to those influences than on many other Hackett albums. The mood is a bit darker and the music a bit more mellow here and Steve's brother John Hackett's wonderful flutes are heavily featured.

Defector is one of Steve's best ever albums and it is an excellent addition to any Prog collection

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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