“Superbly-executed powerful songs with enjoyable instrumental showboating… it’s a shame they never toured”: Squackett’s A Life Within A Day reissue

The 2012 prog titans’ collab re-emerges with 5.1 Blu-ray surround mix included

Squackett
(Image: © Esoteric)

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It’s 12 years since prog luminaries Steve Hackett and Chris Squire released what was then a much-anticipated collaboration. Well-received in 2012, appreciation of this reissued version may well be heightened due to the enduring strength of the material; and because the death of Squire in 2015 means a follow-up can never be made.

The omnipresence of Hackett collaborator Roger King – on keyboards, in the producer’s chair and as co-writer on every single track – tilts the balance towards the feel of the former Genesis guitarist’s solo oeuvre, rather than the output of his four-stringed compatriot. This manifests as a stately, spooky grandiosity.

But Squire still marks his presence throughout with some signature trebly, knotty bass work, and also via the inclusion of a few lighter, more playful themes and some distinctly Yes-like melodies and shifts of gear.

There’s also an unexpected heaviness and relentlessness to the drums on certain tracks, with sometime King Crimson man Jeremy Stacey bringing a Kashmir thump to proceedings at key junctures.

The fusing of Hackett, Squire and King quite often creates a relaxed, lustrous Floydian ambience

Opening the album, the title track lives up to its name, sweeping through a series of moods including brooding Eastern orchestrations reminiscent of the aforementioned Zep classic, and a breakneck jazzy sprint recalling beloved Squire solo cut Silently Falling, augmented by searing Hackett fret runs.

Elsewhere the fusing of Hackett, Squire and King – while retaining echoes of their illustrious track record – quite often creates a relaxed, lustrous Floydian ambience, not least on the Squire-led tracks Can’t Stop The Rain and Aliens. The latter features the none-more-prog theme of our extra terrestrials revealed as human tourists from the future, popping back for a gawp at their race’s ancient history.

The Summer Backwards combines the foreboding feel of Hackett-era Genesis highlight Entangled with ELO at their most luscious. Sea Of Smiles is the closest the album comes to declamatory Yes harmonies, married neatly to Gabriel-esque acoustic percussion and throwing in a fiery Hackett electric break.

A Life Within A Day is a superbly-executed album with uniformly powerful songs, topped with much enjoyable instrumental showboating from both principals. It’s a shame they never had the opportunity to do some live dates – perhaps augmented by Hackett vocalist Nad Sylvan and/or Yes’ Jon Davison to help realise the richness of the recorded version.

But let’s nevertheless be thankful that we have this excellent set, one that more than lived up to its promise as a combination of two masters of the prog genre.

A Life Within A Day is on sale now via Esoteric.