Great Rock Albums of 1986: GTR

220px-GTR_(GTR_album_-_cover_art)

Who would have thought that in 1986, good 1970s sounding progressive rock could still be appreciated? One of the answers came in the form of the band GTR. Founded by ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett and ex- Yes/Asia guitarist Steve Howe, they combined with others to produce a really cool album which made my summer listening that much more pleasant in this year.

The best known song on the album is the single, “When the Heart Rules the Mind.” This song definitely turned my attention to the album and the two guitar powerhouses in the band might have helped as well. What I like about this track is how it starts with a great early Genesis or Yes type vibe before a cool guitar solo kicks in. It is plain from this song that GTR were committed to making some good music.

While the two Steves were the focus of the band, the one member who should get his full dues is lead singer, Max Bacon. I hadn’t heard of him until this album and I must say that his vocal talents were noteworthy. Reading a little bio about the man, I’m rather surprised and disappointed that he didn’t go further in the music world. He did sing in other bands such as Burning Sky, Moby Dick, Bronz and Nightwing and if his vocals were as good as they were on this album, then it’s a shame he didn’t go farther.

Obviously, there rest of the album  is just as good. In fact, I think the reason why “When the Heart Rules the Mind” was released as a single was down to being the least hardest song on the album. Except for possibly the instrumental, “Sketches in the Sun,” which to my mind was the best use of guitar synthesizers to date. Many of the other songs have a lot of progressive melody in them but are backed up by more power chords and Yes sounding backing vocals. Even though there are hints of 80s synth in the track, “Jekyll and Hyde,” it is overshadowed by power chords and some interesting guitar work and probably the best base line on the album compliments of Phil Spalding. The guitar solos on the song rock too. Okay, it gets my vote for hidden gem.

“You Can Still Get Through” and “Reach Out (Never Say No)” remind me of what I liked about both early Genesis and Yes a decade earlier. Both songs would not have been out of place back then. One song I have always had a small problem with was “Toe the Line.” The music in the song is top notch but I can’t help thinking that the lyrics are all about conforming and anti-rebellion. Being the rebel I was in the mid-1980s, those lyrics did give me that impression and still do today. Saying that, it has a cool acoustic guitar intro and musically, it’s a rather cool power ballad. The album does end very well with another instrumental, “Hackett to Bits,” which is an interesting listen and the closer, “Imagining.”

Track Listing:

  1. When the Heart Rules the Mind
  2. The Hunter
  3. Here I Wait
  4. Sketches in the Sun
  5. Jekyll and Hyde
  6. You Can Still Get Through
  7. Reach Out (Never Say No)
  8. Toe the Line
  9. Hackett to Bits
  10. Imagining

GTR_promo

GTR

Steve Hackett- guitar, guitar synthesizer, backing vocals

Steve Howe- guitar, guitar synthesizer, backing vocals

Max Bacon- bass, backing vocals

Jonathan Mover- drums, percussion

 

Unfortunately for the music world, GTR would be one album wonders. They discovered that guitar synthesizers sound great in the studio but didn’t sound so good live. Furthermore, disagreements developed between the two Steves and it was only a matter of time as to which Steve would leave first. It was Hackett who would call time on the group. So, they might have been one album wonders but what a great album it was!

Next post: Emerson, Lake and Powell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1986: GTR”

  1. Love this album. I hated we never got another one, but this one is worth a few spins. I put in on at least once a year.

    Liked by 1 person

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