Review Summary: Even if earlier proggers are moving up the casual pop-orientated hill, Steve Hackett maintains some prog grains scattered throughout the album.
From late 1970 to 1977, Hackett was a member of legendary prog band Genesis. Some people believe he was one of the most important members of the band, and brought that special spark to their discography, which was almost extinguished with their ninth studio album And Then There Were Three...
because he was absent. The special Genesis sound could also be found elsewhere, specifically in Hackett's first solo album Voyage of the Acolyte
. Having released four studio albums already, Steve already knows what he's doing, and what people are looking for.
Unfortunately, he does not know what the Hackett fans of the future are looking for. It's definitely not pop. Traces of pop can be found in most of the songs, especially the opener "Hope I don't wake in the morning" with an extremely awkward harmonising choir. However, the album still has songs entirely dedicated to prog. "The Air-Conditioned Nightmare" is an instrumental where most of the 80s sound is laid behind to create the album highlight. Intriguing and mystical, the song does wonder in making up for the fairly decent other tunes on side one.
Although the pop is strong with Cured
, don't let it frighten or scare you away. The second track is quite enjoyable with a surprising calm and smooth nature, with a nice blend of prog and pop. "Can't Let Go" is another album highlight, with a spooky, atmospheric intro and catchy main chorus with occasional solos delivered excellently by Steve. Last, but not least, the gorgeous "Turn Back Time" serving as a strong album closer with quite melancholic singing and chord progressions.
On the other hand, you have songs not quite as good as others mentioned. The acoustically focused "A Cradle of Swans" is merely an interlude, similar to Hackett's other acoustic songs from previous album such as "The Lovers" from his debut or "Lost Time in Cordoba" from Spectral Mornings
. These songs serve no purpose, and are not very enjoyable nor interesting. "Funny Feeling" is also a strange song. It sounds like background music to a car chase from Magnum P.I.. It's almost like Hackett thinks it's getting too poppy at times, and changes the happy, heroic mood to a very odd placed, dark bridge.
So what makes Cured
a weaker offering than earlier albums such as Spectral Mornings
" The main problem lies with its time era. The 80s were dark ages for prog giants (except Rush), especially for those who had success early, like Yes or Jethro Tull. Prog as the genre we know it became tabu. It was a forbidden talking theme. It was completely out, and people wanted more accessible tunes, and Hackett delivers. But Mr. Hackett doesn't know how to write good pop, he only knows the life of prog writing. Another problem is the lack of musicians. Only Nick Magnus and the two Hackett brothers remain. The trio isn't large enough to fill all spaces, and sadly, drums are left behind. Therefore, a cheap drum machine recplaces authenic drums. Not that that drags everything down with it, but the complexity is filed down and some of the good old soul disappears.
But don't fret, hope isn't gone here. This album is still worth buying unless you're a die hard 70s prog fan, with no heart space for the 80s sound.
Can't Let Go
The Air-Conditioned Nightmare
Turn Back Time