Steve Hackett's last release for Charisma Records in Britain is one of his strongest efforts. Hackett once again handles all the lead vocals, but sounds more assured in the role than he did on Cured. This album spawned Hackett's one and only solo hit single, "Cell 151," which charted in Britain. (An extended version of "Cell 151" was released as a 12" single, and was later included on CD versions of Highly Strung.) With its heavily gated drum sound (an effect pioneered by Hackett's onetime bandmate Phil Collins), "Cell 151" had a hard-hitting, modern sound. This production style ran through the whole album, but complemented Hackett's songs to great effect. Strong up-tempo numbers like "Walking Through Walls" (which espoused the virtues of pushing your boundaries via a daily morning jog) alternated with ballads like "India Rubber Man," on which the guitarist returned to his first instrument, the harmonica. Highly Strung is a fine example of Hackett's skills as an instrumentalist and composer. ~ Robin Platts
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