GTR – GTR [2-CD Deluxe Expanded Remastered Edition]
Esoteric Recordings / Cherry Red Records finally did it: the official release of a 2xCD Deluxe Expanded Remastered Edition of “GTR“, the self-titled 1986 album by Steve Hackett and Steve Howe’s band GTR.
Apart from the much needed remastering, there are also 3 bonus tracks taken from promotional 12-inch singles of ‘When the Heart Rules the Mind’ & ‘The Hunter’ (two of which appear on CD for the first time), plus a bonus CD featuring a terrific GTR live show recorded in Los Angeles in July 1986.
Having recently departed the smash hitting Asia, Steve Howe (also ex- Yes) was looking for a new project and his manager Brian Lane also knew that his other client, namely Hackett (ex- Genesis), was dangling at a loose end. That both had continued the success of their previous bands was beyond doubt, whether popular or critical.
However to see two of the most mercurial talents of the prog scene strutting their stuff together in the MTV era was something of a shock – as was the classy AOR / rock&pop sheen the music possessed.
Bringing excellent Nightwing / Bronz frontman Max Bacon on board was an inspired move, as was the addition of Toyah / Mike Oldfield bassist Phil Spalding and fantastic drummer Jonathan Mover, who had already flirted with Marillion, Mike Oldfield, Howe and later in Joe Satriani’s band.
Amazingly GTR exploded onto the scene through the single ‘When The Heart Rules The Mind’, a melodic rock masterpiece which reached number 14 in the US Hot 100.
‘The Hunter’ followed, also ranking pretty well, and unbelievably the bubble was burst, a slippery slope greased by the friction that having two separately successful guitarists on stage and vying for top billing could only guarantee.
In truth the band’s financial situation was a wreck, and had a follow up with Howe and Hackett been attempted it may well have ruined the pair, making it no surprise that the end was inevitable.
The one album left as a legacy however was top notch, a mixture of classy AOR, hard hit of progressive instrumentals and some reasonably simple, if effective, melodic rock, proving even now an almost irresistible combination. Both Hackett and Howe are on stunning form, as ‘Imagining’ allows them to trade acoustic picking, keen clear passages and pulsating riffs with a clear and expertly realised vision.
Add in the rather beautiful melodious “Toe The Line”, the Asia guitar strikes of “Reach Out (Never Say No)” and bright, flashy melodic rock of “Jekyll And Hyde”, “The Hunter” and of course, “When The Heart Rules The Mind” and GTR is an underrated melodic (hard) rock classic of an era which seemed to provide an album of that description every few minutes… and maybe that was the problem.
This “GTR 2CD Deluxe Expanded Remastered Edition” is pure gold.
The album always suffered of a ‘strange’ mastering / mix, very criticized at the moment of its release. There was a previous remastering attempt some years ago, but the result was terrible.
The Esoteric Recordings / Cherry Red remastering job is really good, bringing more clarity than never and you can hear each instrument with precision. Additionally, you have 3 bonus tracks – two previously unavailable on CD – and the remix of ‘The Hunter (Special GTR Mix) which sounds really different than the original.
But I have to mention the bonus CD; ‘GTR Live in Los Angeles 1986’, which is simply AWESOME.
The recording was done by the broadcast radio company ‘King Biscuit Flower Hour’ (which documented some unbelievable concerts back in the day), and appeared on a limited edition CD in 1997. I have it, but this 2015 remastering is stunning. In fact, the overall sound is better than the original studio recording!
The band feels more natural and powerful playing the album’s songs live, there’s more emotional solos and the vocals soar.
Additionally, we have the new song ‘PrizeFighters’ composed after the release of the album, and it’s a must have. It’s a strong track balanced between mellower proggy stuff and harder rocking, and pretty anthemic.
Plus we have Yes’ classic ‘Roundabout’ and Genesis’ mainstay ‘I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)’, both that I am sure never were performed in such ‘melodic hard rock way’ ever.
“GTR” is an album thoroughly deserving of this long overdue reappraisal and coming as an excellently remastered edition with all the bonuses + a stupendous live recording, this is the way to experience it.
Sold at the price of a single CD, this is no-brainer purchase.
A Must Have
You’ve seen it first here, at 0dayrox
GTR REMASTERED 2015
01 – When The Heart Rules The Mind
02 – The Hunter
03 – Here I Wait
04 – Sketches In The Sun
05 – Jekkyl And Hyde
06 – You Can Still Get Through
07 – Reach Out (Never Say No)
08 – Toe The Line
09 – Hackett To Bits
10 – Imagining
11 – The Hunter (Special GTR Mix)
12 – When The Heart Rules The Mind
13 – The Hunter (Single Version)
GTR: LIVE IN LOS ANGELES IN JULY 1986
01 – Jekyll and Hyde
02 – Here I Wait
03 – PrizeFighters *
04 – Imagining
05 – Hackett to Bits
06 – Spectral Mornings
07 – I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)
08 – Sketches in the Sun
09 – Pennants
10 – Roundabout
11 – The Hunter
12 – You Can Still Get Through
13 – Reach Out (Never Say No)
14 – When the Heart Rules the Mind
Max Bacon – vocals
Steve Hackett – guitars, vocals, guitar synthesizer, bass
Steve Howe – guitars, guitar synthesizer, vocals
Phil Spalding – bass guitar, vocals
Jonathan Mover – drums, percussion