GTR
GTR


3.0
good

Review

by e210013 USER (119 Reviews)
February 18th, 2019 | 15 replies


Release Date: 1986 | Tracklist

Review Summary: GTR is a great testimony of the 80’s in prog. It isn’t a true prog album, but it still has some nice good moments.

“GTR” is the eponymous debut studio album of GTR and was released in 1986. The line up on the album is Steve Howe, Steve Hackett, Max Bacon, Phil Spalding and Jonathan Mover.


“GTR” is the sole official studio album released by the short lived super group GTR which was founded in 1985. The group was founded by the ex-Genesis’ guitarist Steve Hackett and then ex-Yes’ and ex-Asia’s guitarist Steve Howe. The group lasted for two years and made only this studio album and the live album “King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents GTR”. The group was disbanded in 1987. Curiously, Hackett has subsequently been strongly critical of this project.

The band’s name, anecdotally, comes from the marking on the studio mixing console that indicates the guitar volume control. In comparison to the two leaders with earlier works within progressive rock, GTR’s work followed on an album with a more oriented rock format. One of the central ideas for GTR, as a project, was an attempt to create a fully fleshed contemporary band sound without the use of keyboards and synthesizers. Instead, Hackett and Howe’s guitars were outfitted with Roland guitar synthesizers. Almost all synthesizer sounds on the album were created using this method.

The music on the album is what I call “typical 80’s classic, AOR and progressive rock”. And when I mean “typical” it isn’t necessarily in a bad way. If you love powerful rock ballads, sharp guitar solos and rock songs with a touch of prog, in the style of Foreigner or Mike + The Mechanics, then this an album you must have in your collection. Despite the digital remastering of my CD version, it still sounds all very to the 80’s to me. I’m not a great fan of gated drums and too much reverb in the style of the drumming work of the 80’s. Still, additional keyboards and synthesizers were provided by Hackett and Howe on the album. Basically, “GTR” appealed as an album essentially oriented to rock radio stations.

“GTR” is far from a perfect album. In fact it’s one of those albums that have its very good points that are immediately nullified by some negative situations. Despite the intentions of Hackett and Howe to move in a more guitar orientated direction, hence the name “GTR”, this album seems to be more a hybrid album of bands such as Asia and Foreigner. One of the plausible reasons for this is the use of Geoff Downes as producer, whose work with both Yes and Asia did little to promote the guitar theme. Furthermore the era in which this album was released was one which was set in the middle of a musical scenario with the massive use the synthesizer with little or no attention paid to virtuosity. Thus the album sounds too slick and, like the majority of the progressive music from the 80’s, doesn’t stand the test of time.

With “When The Heart Rules The Mind” you can immediately see that Bacon is a very good singer and the chorus is quite catchy. “The Hunter” has a good intro that makes way for a lighter “feel good” tune that contains some powerful guitar chords. “Here I Wait” is a powerful track where Max is really showing what he can do with his voice. “Sketches In The Sun” is, in contrast to “Here I Wait”, a very serene song. It’s a lovely short guitar piece played and written by Howe. “Jekyll And Hyde” is quite an up-tempo track. The drums are a bit too plain, they could have been played with more feel and theme changes, but the guitar solos are good. “You Can Still Get Through” is a feel good song that has a nice rhythm. It reminds me the music of Yes made in the 80’s. I think it’s mainly because of the vocal choirs in the chorus. “Reach Out (Never Say No)” contains some nice guitar bits and pieces and vivacious theme changes. “Toe The Line” starts with a sweet acoustic guitar intro. This song is a real ballad that also contains a short but powerful guitar solo. “Hackett To Bits” is very similar to the track “Please Don't Touch” from Hackett's second solo album. It has a different approach and intro, but it’s quite the same. I don’t mind because I also love the original track from Hackett’s album. “Imagining” is the lengthiest track on the album. It starts with a beautiful acoustic guitar intro but soon a heavy song fades in along with the powerful voice of Max. I like the Spanish guitar-like solos. Sadly it only lasts for half a minute.


Conclusion: One of my next reviews here on Sputnik will be “Squackett”, the other album with a partnership between Genesis and Yes. But when we compare both albums, “Squackett” is much better. Probably the worst thing of “GTR” was its release in the 80’s, those troubled times for progressive rock music. “GTR” can be described as a fairly decent AOR album. Basically, it has five tracks that save the album, “When The Hurt Rules The Mind”, “Sketches In The Sun”, “Toe The Line”, “Hackett To Bits” and “Imagining”. But, the main problem with it, is that it’s a truly disappointment for all progressive rock fans. The collaboration between Hackett and Howe, considered two of the best and most respected musicians in the progressive rock world, could lead to a classical 70’s progressive rock album. In fact these two guitar legends also succumbed, like so many others, to the whims of the music industry at the time. It was a real pity, indeed.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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user ratings (6)
2.8
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
February 18th 2019


2533 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

So, continuing with Howe, I chose GTR, his participation with Hackett, to conclude his participation on my prog journey in the Yes world. Curiously, according with the ratings on Sputnik, it seems that it passed unnoticed from almost everybody here.

Despite it isn't properly a masterpiece, I think it deserve to be known, at least, because it isn't a bad album, but above all, because we have Hackett and Howe on it. I really think that it needed a review, finally.

Your comments are always welcome.

Divaman
February 18th 2019


4126 Comments


Just put this on my list of older albums that I need to listen to the other day. Glad to see this review. Thanks, e.

Digging: Batushka - HOSPODI

e210013
February 18th 2019


2533 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks too, Diva.

Jethro42
February 19th 2019


15958 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

What these guys tried to do???



No, no, no way I'd laid back and listen to it all. I recognize the well known opener's chorus which sounds promising, but I prefer to try to think it wasn't an Hackett and Howe affair. It would fit more for a Duran Duran album or something. You hear one song, you heard it all. I can understand the reason you included it to your writings, but like you said in your review, most of the time, the music of the 80's made by proggers of the 70s don't stand the test of time very well. A reunion between Hackett and Howe would suppose to honor the music of the 70s, and not an attempt to sound new wave with no creativity, and sounding like some demos.



Good review, buddy.

e210013
February 19th 2019


2533 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Absolutely Jethro. This is a "great" testimony of many of the "prog" made in the 80's. Despite I'm not so radical as you are, we expected much more of both artists, and above all, something radicaly different, really. As I mentioned on my review, even Hackett was crtical of the album and he had much reluctance in add some new solo material written by him on the album. That's the reason why, in contrast to Howe who written “Sketches In The Sun” as his solo contribution, Hackett decided to use an old stuff from him, “Hackett To Bits”, which is nothing more than "Please Don't Touch” with a new outfit.

Thanks pal.

Jethro42
February 19th 2019


15958 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I don't have any pleasure to listen to that kind of music. As I said before, to satisfy my prog ear, the music I listened to the most in the 80's was jazz fusion and the likes, and creative bands of the 80's, such as Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds, Tears For Fears, The Cure, The Cars, Depeche Mode, Talking Heads etc...Marillion also came as a big surprise during that time.

''Please Don't Touch'' is too much of a beautiful track to include it on here, really. It's weird to hear that one here, among AOR music. I mean it's Hackett and Howe, isn't it...? Don't tell me they enjoyed themselves!... Album proved prog was over, and they have not reinvented themselves in an original, creative way.

bgillesp
February 19th 2019


7051 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like this one alright, but the mixing was really poor imo. Nice review again though

e210013
February 20th 2019


2533 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@ Jethro

About your first paragraph, I agree, as you know. The 80's were really bad times to prog, indeed.

About the non-prog bands mentioned by you, I even can add some other names, such as, The Stranglers, Dire Straits, Echo & The Bunnymen, Fischer-Z, Television, Joy Division, New Order, Mike & The Mechanics, The Police, R.E.M., Simple Minds, U2, Ultravox and The Waterboy's, for instance.

About the prog bands, besides Marillion, we have the British neo-prog bands, like Pendragon, IQ, Galahad, Pallas and Twelfth Night, for instance.

However, as you know, many other great prog albums were made in those times, like albums from Rush, King Crimson, Fates Warning, Solaris, Asia Minor, Eloy, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel (already mentioned by you), Los Jaivas and Peter Hammill, only to mention a few. So, the prog wasn't dead, really, in those days.

If there was any good thing to the music, in general, with the arise of the punk movement, was the arise of the new wave and the neo-prog.

About your second paragraph, I really don't know why they created this project. I think maybe they wanted to create something new and innovative, like the use of the Roland guitar synthesizers. Today it's easy to say the project somehow failed the objective and doesn't stood the test of time. But in those times certainly they didn't think that would happen, which is, not reinvented themselves in a new original and creative way.

e210013
February 20th 2019


2533 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@ bgillesp

I'm glad that some people don't dislike the album. It's always interesting to see another point of view. I can agree about the mixing.

Thanks, pal.

Jethro42
February 20th 2019


15958 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'm not a fan of neo-prog in general. Neo-prog tries too hard to imitate either Genesis, King Crimson, Yes or Pink Floyd music, instead of trying to have a proper identity. Those bands all sound pretty much the same. It seems they cannot evolve from an album to another. They keep on repeating the same formula. It is stagnant music for me, and I don't like their use of modern synthesizers and keyboards, and drums often sound like drum machines. At least they sometimes use mellotrons, but it's a disguised form of classic prog rock. At least they kept prog rock coming in the 80s, and helped to install the promising prog of the '90s.

I agree that in the 80s, prog was still active, but most of the classic bands disappeared, or drastically changed their music, trying miserably to adapt to the new market. That's why I focused on jazz during the 80s, and I was always late or uninterested about new prog music to come during these years. Rush, King Crimson and the likes were exceptions. Thanks to the 80's I was more and more opened to pop, punk and new wave music, but I never went deep into it, rather focusing on jazz and exceptionally skilled and creative musicians, like found on classic prog.

e210013
February 21st 2019


2533 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

About the neo-prog sub-genre, I can agree with some of your statements, that those bands try imitate the old classic prog bands, especially Genesis, and that in general they sound pretty much the same. I never liked the expression of neo-pro. I always sustained that their music is symphonic prog with a lighter, melodious, simple, and in a way, more commercial too. Besides, I know that many prog heads dislike that style of prog, as you.

However, I never agreed completelly with that kind of thought. Besides the importance in the 80's, to prog, the emergence of that style, headed by the bands mentioned by me on my last comment, they were able to create some great albums, really. For instance, the albums of Mariilion in Fish era, are simply amazing, despite their importance to prog music. Anyway, many of the albums made by many of those bands are really great. But maybe the most important is that their music brought to our prog world a new generation of prog fans and that somehow they're responsible to the continuation of prog in our days.

So, I take my hat off to the pioneers of that sub-genre of prog, really.

TheIntruder
February 21st 2019


422 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Nice to see a review of this here. As you said, it is not great but it is a true testimony of prog in the 80's. Nice review as always. Have a pos.

e210013
February 21st 2019


2533 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks Intruder. Despite I'm not a big fan of this project, I think it deserved to have a review to be more known.

Jethro42
February 22nd 2019


15958 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

@e21, I agree with your neo-prog description. Lighter, simple and more commercial symphonic prog, which means - to me - less profound, less natural and less pure than classic prog.

I agree with Fish era's Marillion. I happened to listen to them non-stop and never been tired of it, at the contrary. Band is exceptional, and they beat their contemporaries by a mile imo. i'd even say that most of the neo-prog bands were influenced by Marillion at some point.

I've just realized i've rated lots of IQ albums at a 4, and couples of Galahad as well, and maybe still more. They were not objective ratings from me, since I've listened to these albums only once each, and considered them pretty good in neo-prog standards, but I thought there had not really replay-value. I suspect that a second try to each of these albums would get a bump down from me, so I keep it that way.

But don't get me wrong, I usually listen to an album at least 3 times before rating it.

e210013
February 22nd 2019


2533 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Ok, my friend. It's always a pleasure to talk with you about prog. We don't have to have always the same opinion, isn't it true? We aren't properly two twin brothers of prog. Lol.

"But don't get me wrong, I usually listen to an album at least 3 times before rating it."

I don't get you wrong. I alredy knew that. That is perfectly evident on Friday's prog tourneys. It's the same with me. I never rate an album without, at least 4 listenings before.

Cheers, my friend.



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