Steve Hackett

Feedback '86

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Recorded mostly during and shortly after the dissemination of the short-lived but commercially successful group GTR, Feedback '86 sounds very much a product of its era. Though being touted as the lost second GTR album, Steve Howe, the co-leader of the group with Hackett, is only represented by a co-writing credit on "Prizefighters." Though originally unreleased because of contractual and legal problems, the songs have been available in bootleg form for a number of years. This finally released version improves greatly on the bootleg sound quality, as is to be expected. Unfortunately, it doesn't hold together as an album well at all. It's more a haphazard collection of songs, many already released in various forms elsewhere. "The Gulf" and "Stadiums of the Damned" appeared on the re-released Till We Have Faces, and another version of "Cassandra" was a bonus track on the U.S. and Israeli versions of Guitar Noir. In addition, you can hear echoes of "Don't Fall" in his later song "Solid Ground," while "Prizefighters" appeared on the live GTR King Biscuit Flower Hour album. To make matters worse, the rock tracks ("Cassandra," "Prizefighters," "Slot Machine") sound like very dated 1980s arena rock. The guest musicians -- Brian May of Queen, Bonnie Tyler, members of Marillion, and Chris Thompson of Manfred Mann's band -- are nice, if unremarkable additions. The "virtual drums" that appear on most of the cuts are, however, not a welcome guest and just reinforce the corporate rock sound. The most successful track is "Notre Dame des Fleurs," a graceful nylon string guitar instrumental, unburdened by the plastic sound of the rest of the album. It would have fit well on Bay of Kings or Momentum. All in all, the album sounds like a halfway realized collection of outtakes, which has a few decent moments here and there, but would have been better left unearthed.

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