In case you don’t know, Squackett is Chris Squire of Yes, and Steve Hackett of Genesis (and a solid body of solo work, including some awesome Classical works).  When I first heard about this, my head swam with the possibilities of this being, at long last, something I could really get excited about with Chris Squire.  Recent Yes has been, to these ears at least, enjoyable but didn’t really grab me.  After all, works such as Fragile, The Yes Album, Close to the Edge and Relayer are classics of the Progressive genre and some of the finest Rock albums ever made.

Squire’s Fish Out of Water (1975) is a masterpiece and must be heard!  Steve Hackett’s guitar from his Genesis days still amazes.  His solo work, particularly Spectral Mornings, are also classics of Progressive Rock and, dare I say it again, must be heard!

So now that I have given you my reasons for my high expectations, let’s get down to business.  If you were expecting early Genesis or Yes or any permutations of those two great bands there are definitely some entries, but that is not what this entire LP is all about.  “A Life Within a Day” can sit squarely in the ranks of FM radio songs.  Proggy at times, heavy occasionally, but all in all, this is a listen that is smooth, careful, and technically brilliant commercial songwriting front and centre.  I couldn’t help thinking of the more adventurous outings of Alan Parsons actually.

If you like a couple of seasoned guys taking some risks and writing and playing what they want then you might really dig this.  Most of the songs feature great harmony vocals in the vein of Crosby Stills and Nash, Pilot, or Hollies.  And all of the songs feature some great guitar, both acoustic and electric, and of course, awesome bass lines.  Keyboards are handled by producer Roger King and drums by Jeremy Stacey.  Backing vocals are provided by Amanda Lehmann.  On to the songs:

  • A Life Within a Day – with a heavy riff right out of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, this title track allows the boys to do some fun playing with that pounding back beat.
  • Tall Ships – changes course (pun intended) here with a funky rhythm that has World Music elements.
  • Divided Self – a Hollies-sounding song with Brian Wilson/Beach Boys elements.
  • Aliens – could have been on Pilot’s Morin Heights album – a bit quirky and clever.
  • Sea of Smiles – The first real Steve Hackett-sounding track – definitely belongs on his solo albums, very open and spacious.
  • The Summer Backwards – The first truly Yes-sounding track, perhaps The Yes Album period, with an interesting acoustic melody part that reminded me of The Beatles’ I Want You (She’s So Heavy).
  • Stormchaser – back to heavier riffing, this belongs with the Trevor Rabin- era Yes to start, but then gets into King Crimson Starless territory; an interesting blend of styles. Probably the heaviest guitar solo of the LP can be found here.
  • Can’t Stop the Rain – A ballad that would fit into Chicago V with Steely Dan-style riffing.
  • Perfect Love Song – attached to the previous song, this ends the album with more amazing guitar.

Even the heavier parts are controlled, if you know what I mean.  So nothing is really going to bite your head off or make you play air guitar (okay, maybe in a couple of places).  But the changes from song to song, the great vocals, the sometimes-quirky lyrics (see Aliens) – all have their charm and make this a real winner.  I admire that they did an album like this; a nice change for them and a way for us to hear something, in part at least, different from their previous work.  The album is about 48 minutes – making it a perfect length for the kind of LP they created here.

My CD came with a DVD in 5.1 surround, mixed by Roger King.  The sound is awesome, in your face, giving the album a lift.  I prefer my music in stereo, but I have to admit I think this really is a job well done.  Either way, you can’t go wrong with the recording.  I do recommend this LP with a caution – it ain’t early Yes or Genesis.  I would strongly advise hearing samples before taking the plunge.


Release Date: June 4, 2012

–Bob Metcalf

By MARowe