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Steve Hackett - Voyage Of The Acolyte CD (album) cover

VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

4.21 | 877 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars Until 1975 STEVE HACKETT was probably the most obscure Genesis member, of course everybody knew he was a virtuoso guitar player, but he was only the bearded man who almost hided himself behind his instrument and the newbie who had replaced Anthony Phillips (a long time friend of Peter, Tony and Mike) without having the charisma of the other newbie Phil Collins.

The release of "The Return of the Acolyte" changed this perspective, this amazing album (the first solo project by a Genesis member) that proved not only his band mates but also the whole world he was a very talented musician and composer.

Some people see "The Return of the Acolyte" as the lost Genesis album because Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins were part of the band formed by Steve, but that's really unfair, it's a 99% Hackett album, with his very characteristic sound and style fully developed and at the same time an advice that he was decided to continue faithful to his beloved progressive rock and creating even more complex and adventurous music than he ever did with Genesis instead of taking the safer and easier commercial path.

But this album also brought him some problems with the rest of the band; they believed he should dedicate 100% of his effort to Genesis instead of pursuing a solo career even when they weren't ready to allow him to take the lead compositional role.

Steve accepted the conditions and didn't released another album until he left Genesis, but his compositionscontinued being ignored by the band, it's true that his contribution to Wind & Wuthering was his biggest as a Genesis member, but that wasn't enough for him, so Steve finally knew what he was able to do and the path he wanted to take.

The album begins with "Ace of Wands", a breathtaking track with the most violent entrance where the extremely complex guitar is the seal, of course greatly supported by Phil Collins with an amazing drum work and his brother John playing the flute in a much more aggressive style than Peter ever did. Radical changes, bells, strong bass and incredible guitar passages are just part of this notable song, the first one of a long and solid career that was about to start in 1975 and still going on in the XXI Century (hope for long).

"Hands of the Priestess Part I" is a beautiful flute (more in Gabriel's style) and guitar track with that mysterious and haunting sound he developed during his career in Genesis but with a totally new approach, simply delightful.

"A Tower Struck Down" is another aggressive and almost violent song where Mike Rutherford makes an absolutely powerful bass structure supported by Percy Jones extra bass, and again Steve's incredible guitars mixed with crowd shouts (not sure if they say Sieg Heil or Steve Hackett), explosions and other sounds announce the final section where a Genesis like mellotron prepares for the end of the song.

"Hands of the Priestess Part II" is even softer than part one, keyboards help to give a bit of light in the melancholic and dark mood of the album but without loosing the mystery and sadness, only 1:34 minutes long but enough to close and complement the song that started two tracks before. A special mention to John Hackett who again plays his flute with singular skills.

"The Hermit" is another soft and melancholic tune, but this time with pretty decent vocals by Steve and his incredible guitar, this track reminds me of the sound that would be preeminent in "A Trick of the Tail" and the atmosphere of sad fairy tales. "Star of Sirius" is probably the "piece of resistance" a very complex track where Phil Collins vocals sound better than ever, probably because he was sounding as himself and not trying to copy Peter Gabriel's style. Starts soft and gentle but suddenly John Acock's keyboard announces a total change into a Jazzy and violent section where the guitar background is simply perfect but about the middle the track changes again to a soft style where keyboards and flute are again perfect and lead to another complex passage plethoric of drums, mellotron, keyboards and Steve's electric guitar played in acoustic style without leaving behind his atmospheric trade mark. This is what the word progressive rock should mean.

"The Lovers" is a short acoustic track that gives some relief after all the complex music played before and to prepare for the closing track.

"Shadow of the Hierophant" an 11:44 minutes epic starts with the characteristic Sally Oldfield clear and well educated vocals (Even when sometimes reaches very high ranges) that makes the listener believe he will be in front of another soft and complex track. A dramatic passage reminiscent of earlier Genesis interrupts Sally's voice for a few seconds announcing that this one would not be another calmed song and then again the soft voice but this time she goes in crescendo as to prepare for an ultra complex instrumental section with an incredible guitar skills demonstration by Steve introducing the listener for the full band section, from this moment to the final it's a sequence of changes and different atmospheres that complement each other and the exquisite and incredibly dramatic finale provided again by Steve playing in his unique style supported by the mellotron, church (or cemetery) bells and the rest of the band. Wonderful way of closing a wonderful album.

I'm usually very careful rating debut albums and prefer to investigate the further career of the artist, but "The Return of the Acolyte" is an extraordinary album, probably one of the higher points in Steve's Hackett amazing catalogue and surely one of the top releases of the middle/late 70's.

While the star of Genesis was slowly starting to fade, Steve Hackett appeared in the firmament as most solid follower of the original Genesis approach to music.

Five stars for a wonderful album.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 5/5 |

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