Squackett — A Life within a Day
(Esoteric Antenna EANTCD 1002, 2012, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2013-10-25Here is one of the most anticipated releases of 2012, bringing together prog titans Steve Hackett of Genesis and Chris Squire of Yes (in case the groan-worthy moniker didn’t tip you off). The album was an outgrowth of collaborations begun with Hackett’s last two releases, and if you liked those songs then you should enjoy this collection as well. The lead-off title track establishes the pattern for what is to come, setting Hackett’s vocal against bombastic orchestrations that are balanced by bass and guitar pyrotechnics. The songwriting leans more toward Hackett than Squire, though the big guy never fails to make his presence known, whether on backing vocal harmonies or with his signature bass sound and playing. Long time Hackett partner Roger King is the critical third leg in the arrangement with his sophisticated orchestrations, keyboards and production mastery cementing everything together. Hackett fans are well acquainted with his work but it’s great to hear Squire in such a rich tableau. The few relatively lightweight songs (“Divided Self,” “Aliens”) may not win many fans among hardcore progheads, but that’s not what this collaboration was about to begin with, since what bonded Squire and Hackett was their mutual love for melodic vocal acts like The Hollies and CSN. This shows up in gems like “The Summer Backwards” or “Can’t Stop the Rain” (which also features some uncharacteristically jazzy guitar from Hackett). Squire’s excellent “Perfect Love Song” finishes things off in style, leaving me hoping for more. Recommended.
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more