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Steve Hackett - Voyage of the Acolyte CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

4.25 | 1579 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Hackett's first solo outing reached the charts very quickly in 1975 which was proof that he delivered more than just a decent album. In fact, this masterpiece was the start of a solo career spawning the next three decades. Shortly after Peter Gabriel announced his departure from Genesis there was a uncertainty of the future. This was the first time several group members were involved in various projects outside the group. Hackett did a solo album and the quality of "Voyage." proves this was the right decision.

By looking at the magnificent cover art you'll get an idea of what's the music like. It breaths mystery. The tracks have been named to tarot cards. The music seems to be the perfect soundtrack for this kind of main theme. Some people call this album "the lost Genesis album" but I couldn't possibly agree. Although there are certain links to Genesis, a track like "Ace of wands" is a typical product of a guitar hero. Unlike Genesis, the melody lines and moods rapidly succeed one another. It get driven by acoustic and electric guitars but the keyboards add much colour to the sound.

"Hands of the priestess" is a dreamy soundscape due to the wonderful melodies provided from the flute of brother John. "A tower struck down" is an intriguing example of Hackett's longings for music of a more experimental nature. Its dark, yet rhythmic atmosphere was something that was never heard before and till today it keeps on sounding unique.

"The Hermit" suffers from Hackett's lack of confidence in his own singing. Fortunately there's some excellent melodies in the arrangements which makes this another great track with a rather sad feel to it.

On this albums Hackett gets assistance from his Genesis mates Rutherford and Collins on bass and drums. Next year they would contribute on the solo debut of the formal Genesis guitar player Anthony Phillips. "Star of Sirus" also holds Collins vocals and may let people think of a replacement of Gabriel for the next Genesis album. Although this isn't exactly my favourite tune on this album, the Genesis references in vocals and composition are obvious. The vocal line isn't highly melodic which is contrary to the excellent melody lines on the other tracks. The superb arrangements saves it.

I always listen to "The lovers" as it was an intro for the next song. Its delicate acoustic nature suits this purpose perfectly. "Shadow of a hierophant" is without any doubt the most important gem on Voyage. I notice two very different sounding parts in this piece of extraordinaire music. The first part has the classical trained voice of Sally Oldfield who does a tremendous job in reaching high notes with her angelic voice.The instrumental chorus of this track is characteristic for Hackett's work. This consists of a sleepy guitar solo on top of some splendid mellotron sounds. The second part of the track has an Oldfield feel. One stunning melody is repeated a dozen times, growing louder and more majestic by gradually adding different instruments to it. In the end you'll get a full blown orchestral sound. What an incredible way to end an album ! The new remaster includes an enlarged version as an extra but it doesn't sound very different from the original. The other bonus track is a live performance of "ace of wands". I always wondered how on earth Hackett did manage to bring this splendid track live, knowing there's a lot of guitar playing going on at the same time. But this version is excellent ! Most surprising is the different acoustic ending which is comparable to the ending of "Moonlit knight" from Genesis.

There's a magical feel to this album, it almost sounds like a fairy tale. Throughout the album the mellotron is used a lot and maybe this is the reason why the album still sounds timeless after all those years. It aged a lot better than other Hackett efforts. Moreover the sound of the album benefits quite a bit from the remastering process. Half of the album has a rhythm section the rest doesn't need one as the excellent melodies are shining through a lot better without. The melodies throughout this album are outstanding.

If you're unfamiliar to the work of Hackett I would like to make a recommendation to start with this prog classic of the seventies.

Fishy | 4/5 |


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