GTR: Max Bacon (vocals); Steve Hackett, Steve Howe (guitar, keyboards); Phil Spalding (bass); Jonathan Mover (drums, percussion).
Recorded at Townhouse Studios, London, England. Includes liner notes by Stephen Thomas Erlewine.
Audio Remasterer: Ben Wiseman.
Liner Note Author: Malcolm Dome.
Recording information: The Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles (07/19/1986); Townhouse Studios, London (07/19/1986).
Photographer: Mike Russell.
Most supergroups don't last long, and GTR was no exception to the rule. Steve Hackett and Steve Howe -- lead guitarists for the prime periods of Genesis and Yes, respectively -- formed the band in 1986, not with the intention of reviving classic prog rock, but with the idea of making a stadium-shaking hard rock band. It was two veterans with very clear musical identities of their own, teamed with a trio of supporting musicians eager for a big break. Not the ideal formula for a perfect rock album, since the scales were already tipped toward one side as the recording began. And, GTR's lone eponymous album didn't deliver the fireworks that Howe and Hackett fans desired. Part of the problem is that the two guitarists crowd each other out; it rarely sounds like they're trading licks, but rather like they're stepping forward for solos at their pre-scheduled times. Despite the largely cool reaction of Hackett and Howe's dedicated fan base, GTR wound up being a respectable hit in America, thanks to the terrific leadoff track, "When the Heart Rules the Mind." The one track where the group's go-for-broke arena rock formula paid off huge dividends, this is anthemic, professional stadium rock at its best, with a great hook on the chorus, a fine performance by Max Bacon, and some nice, tightly controlled soloing. There are other moments that work pretty well on the record but, on the whole, the record feels a bit like a missed opportunity. There are glimmers of what might have been -- what GTR could have done if they dropped their crossover ambitions -- but as it stands, GTR marks the point in time when both Howe and Hackett took one last stab at commercially oriented rock, before turning toward more ambitious solo projects. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine