Something Else! sneak peek: Squackett, "Sea of Smiles"/"Perfect Love Song" (2012)

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Issued today as a special single to commemorate Record Store Day 2012, these two songs give us an early glimpse into one of the more interesting collaborations in memory between legacy prog-rockers.

Guitarist Steve Hackett, a member of Genesis from 1970-77, and Yes’ bass-playing cofounder Chris Squire first worked together three years ago, and the idea for the forthcoming A Life Within A Day project was born. After countless stops and starts, the pair settled on a band name the combines their own — Squackett! How funny is that? — and confirmed the long-awaited issue date for the album of Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, through Cherry Red Records.

Winking monikers aside, “Sea of Smiles” and “Perfect Love Song” give us plenty to chew on between then and now — starting with the seven-inch single’s stand-out A-side. “Sea of Smiles” is, quite simply, a tour-de-force — this brilliantly collaborative narrative that underscores everything fans of both Yes and Genesis have been hoping for from the Squackett project. As Squire’s thwacking bass moves to the fore, the song unfolds with a compact, episodic swiftness. Hackett and Squire’s voices, and then their instruments, tangle and untangle through a series of tempo and atmospheric changes — opening up a stirring vista of discoveries on repeated listenings.

If “Sea of Smiles” finds Squackett fully combining the signature elements of both men’s legacies, “Perfect Love Song” has the feel, at times, of a throwback to the MTV epoch — when both men buffed out the edges on their own convoluted prog tendencies, and found Top 40 success with hits like “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “When The Heart Rules the Mind.”

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett talks about collaborating with Chris Squire, the deep impact of Bach and a lasting passion for his old band.]

The B-side proceeds again in a fashion that is completely identifiable neither as Genesis nor Yes, exactly. Rather, “Perfect Love Song” combines familiar elements of both — the fizzy compositional twists and lofty backing vocals of Squire’s most recognizable tunes, Hackett’s acclaimed fleet-fingered solos and penchant for whipsaw orchestral accompaniment. As it all builds into a cloud-bursting crescendo, the only complaint to be made is that the sleek production and air-tight pop hook has little in common with the pair’s own myth-making 1970s sound. Then again, maybe that’s no complaint at all, since this single manages to reanimate the best of both worlds.

Here’s hoping Squackett’s full-length A Life Within A Day is just as challenging, and just as rewarding.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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