When Steve Hackett left Genesis in the summer of 1977 after an amazing three-night performance they did at Earls Court Arena at the time they were promoting their eighth album, Wind and Wuthering he knew he wanted to move on and see what he will do next as a solo artist. He always wanted to push forward with the release of his debut album, Voyage of the Acolyte released in 1975.
His next album in which was his third after the release of Please Don’t Touch was Spectral Mornings. It’s considered one of his best albums that he released in the late ‘70s. The album was recorded in the winter of discontent in the Netherlands in a studio called Phonogram Studios. He and his band mates worked day and night recording the album and you can imagine the intensity making this whilst not getting much sleep.
Even though the work was hard and difficult, Steve knew something special had happened with Spectral Mornings. Originally released on the Charisma label and reissued in a 2-CD/DVD release that features the new stereo mix done by Steven Wilson that gives it a clearer sound from the original mix, it was part of the 10-CD/4-DVD release of his years with the Charisma label from 1975 to 1983 entitled Premonitions released last year, it shows not just his playing, but it was the way that he knew where he wanted to go.
You can the sense of humor with the dosage of the Music Hall with a bluesy harmonica roar done by Hackett himself along with vocals and walking into the streets of Brazil with a bossa-nova and having a blast on his comedic timing throughout The Ballad of the Decomposing Man. Taking inspiration from the memoirs of Lord Dowding who was the commander in chief of the battle of Britain, goes into deep dark territories as Hackett channels his inner Crimson ideas as Nick Magnus uses the synths for the war background noises and turned into a mini-operatic feel about one day returning after the war is over one day with Tigermoth.
Not only it’s a progressive album, but it shows Steve’s opening to the doors of world music. On The Virgin and the Gypsy, it’s not only a beautiful track with folky melodies, but walking through the Asian landscape and you can close your eyes and visiting the country and witnessing historical landscapes thanks to his brother using the Chinese bamboo models of the Flute. Steve would use the Koto and with help from Nick of the Novotron bring an ambient atmosphere on The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere.
The ticking sounds from Hackett’s guitar and Nick’s keyboards as John Shearer’s drums comes bursting through where Genesis could have gone, is a walk through this clockwork-like mansion with a puzzling tunnel by knowing where the right location is to be free from this maze on Clocks – The Angel of Mons. The three bonus tracks on CD 1 contains single versions of Every Day which to me is Steve’s homage to Kansas, Clocks – The Angel of Mons, and The Caretaker was a humoristic joke from the mind of Peter Hicks.
In the bonus track, he is complaining along with some nasty coughs in the way, the loud noise and the mess that the band did while working on the album. It’s funny and again Steve has an amazing sense of humor when it comes to music. The 2-CD/DVD set contains a foreword note by Steve himself along with an interview with him about the making of the album from the 20-page booklet by Mark Powell. It contains photos of him, single releases, and in the package, promo tours, and posters for his tour promoting his third album.
If you love the original 5-piece era of Genesis, then this is something that needs to be in your shelf, big time of where the band could have gone to before going ‘80s pop. Spectral Mornings is for me in my opinion one of my favorite albums from Hackett himself and it’s a crowning gem.