Remember GTR, the band that saw Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett and Yes guitarist Steve Howe team up and produce the Top 20 single "When The Heart Rules The Mind"? Well, their one and only self-titled album has been reissued as a double CD digipack that comes with the remastered 1986 album, plus bonus tracks and a whole other CD with a live performance from Los Angeles in July 1986. The enclosed booklet has liner notes that tell the story of the band's formation and features lots of photos. It's a lush set of what many believed was a band with tons of promise, but it sputtered out way too soon.
The remastered 14 original tracks sound spectacular, maybe a bit light for those who knew Howe and Hackett from their 70s progressive rock days. Still, it is a testament to how the two penned catchy, radio-friendly tunes for an album that was produced by present Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes. Highlights include "When The Heart Rules The Mind," the very prog sounding and layered "Imagining," and the kinetic "Jekyll And Hyde" — each featuring, alongside Hackett and Howe, the high pipes of Max Bacon, drumming of Jonathan Mover and bass playing from Phil Spalding.
The second, live CD really rocks. We hear the spiky guitar work on opener "Jekyll And Hyde," plucky keys and staccato beat from Mover on "Here I Wait," and a stretched "Imagining" with lots of acoustic noodling and soaring single-note electric guitar. The fast "Hackett To Bits" and blistering "Spectral Mornings" go into a brief, but equally as fast "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)." Howe's acoustic solo spot on "Sketches In the Sun" is a lesson in precise trilling and strumming from the master.
There's also a poppy instrumental of soaring single-note leads and volume pedal swells from Howe with Hackett floating in the background. "Pennants," from The Steve Howe Album, sounds especially loose, rockin' and free, and it segues right into the biggest audience pleaser of the night, "Roundabout." The live set ends with "When The Heart Rules The Mind." For anyone with even a passing interest in the one project that featured two of the most important guitarists in progressive rock, this reissue of GTR, which is actually the abbreviation for "guitar" in case you were wondering, is something to add to your collection.
~ Ralph Greco