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

VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE

Steve Hackett

Eclectic Prog


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Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This wonderful record (Hackett's first solo outing) is absolutely essential listening for fans of classic Genesis. In fact, then Genesis band mates Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford assist on the album, with Phil providing vocals for the standout "Star of Sirius" (the best Genesis song that Genesis never recorded).

The album is loosely organized around the theme of the Tarot (the awesome and frenetic opening track, "Ace of Wands," is named for a Tarot card, as are other tracks), one of Hackett's interests at the time.

The beautiful cover art -- which won an "album cover of the year" award -- also reflects the subjects of the songs, and was provided by Hackett's spouse, the immensely talented artist Kim Poor, who did many of Hackett's subsequent album covers. (It's a pity that the diminutive size of CD covers don't carry the impact of the old LP jackets!)

The songs vary in structure and overall sound much as those on early Genesis albums did, and are all excellent. As Genesis became increasingly commercial-sounding, many of us were heartened by the knowledge that we could always turn to Steve Hackett for complex, uncompromising, beautiful and powerful progressive rock. "Voyage of the Acolyte" is perhaps my favourite Hackett disc, although "Spectral Mornings" could give it a run for its money. Not to be missed!

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Send comments to Peter (BETA) | Report this review (#26067)
Posted Tuesday, January 06, 2004 | Review Permalink
bonzo1969@lib
4 stars An axcellent effort, possibly the best solo album from a band member in the prog scene. Here, again, Phil Collins showed how great he could be on drums. Everything he's done after, as a songwriter and as a drummer, makes me sad and depressed. It's outrageous that such a musician has decided to give up, producing almost 30 years of... [&*!#].

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#26068)
Posted Monday, January 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This record has been praised time and time again, but let me take my shot at it! Steve actually gets more progressive than GENESIS had at this point in their recording career. "Voyage of the Acolyte" is another superb release containing some absolutley incredible prog moments that will please all fans who like good music. Steve is joined by some of the members of GENESIS during the recording of the album (Collins and Rutherford) who bring a welcome, strong familiar sound into the recording session. This recording is essential in anyones collection and is best interpreted in a dark room lit by perhaps a lava lamp.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#26065)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
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Prog Folk
4 stars His best album but I think too much is made of it, as this is a good show that he was a good composer himself. The dithyrambic reviews of the best Genesis album never recorded are overdone. This is a fine album but I find many faults on it. Oh Well! Can't stop enthusiasm without sounding like a party pooper so I will stop here.

Clearly this first album has a lot of Genesis qualities (Phil and Mike help out too), but on the strict songwriting issue, Hackett is clearly lacking his bandmates. The ideas are certainly there, but they need the refining and the other's involvement, to achieve the quality of Genesis' tracks. Tower and Ace Of Wands are my two picks as highlights in a fairly even album.

Oh BTW, Mr. Bonzo?!?! The stuff Collins did with Brand X makes you sad? Also, if you listen to his first solo album there is some fine drumming but the many of the tracks on it are uninspiring to ... us, anyway.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#26066)
Posted Wednesday, March 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars With GENESIS on hiatus following the departure of PETER GABRIEL, guitarist STEVE HACKETT wasted little time in channeling his energy into an album of his own, "Voyage of the Acolyte". Even with a rhythm section of PHIL COLLINS and MIKE RUTHERFORD, few could have expected a progressive rock gem of this magnitude. Picking up his cue from KING CRIMSON's mellotron-led struggle between good and evil, HACKETT floors the listener within the first fifteen seconds and never releases his grip, flitting between the pastoral and the powerful with equal comfort and confidence.

The opening "Ace of Wands" is one of the most abrupt entrances I've ever heard, but it's fair warning that "Voyage of the Acolyte" has opened the floodgates of a very fertile imagination. This enthusiasm sometimes gets the better of good judgment: "Ace of Wands" is chocked full of good ideas, but it tries to pack ten minutes' worth of music into half that time. Like ROBERT FRIPP or PETER BANKS, HACKETT is no vocalist (despite various attempts to disguise his voice over the years), which gives him a certain freedom to set the mood with different singers. Sally OLDFIELD is an excellent choice for "Shadow of the Hierophant", an eleven-minute masterpiece that features the best arrangements on the album. PHIL COLLINS does passably well on "Star of Sirius", but he would get better with time; Steve's treated voice on "The Hermit" recalls the first King Crimson album, complete with strings and a lovely flute passage from John Hackett.

Although there are moments when Genesis is recalled -- the distinctive lead guitar on "Hands of the Priestess", a followup to "Foxtrot"'s "Horizons" on "The Lovers" -- Voyage of the Acolyte represents a new and different journey for the Genesis guitarist. Still, fans of "classic" Genesis will definitely want to check this out, as it's more likely to please prog rock fans than anything that band recorded after Hackett's departure.

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#26062)
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Proghead
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album came about because of material HACKETT wanted to record for GENESIS but the band didn't record them (in fact it was that very reason that caused him to leave the band two year later, in 1977). Despite that, Mike RUTHEFORD and Phil COLLINS appear here, as well as Sally Oldfield (Mike's sister) and John Hackett (I presume Steve's brother, who also appeared on Steve's following solo albums). The music varies from nice guitar-oriented numbers to the more sinister "A Tower Struck Down" (complete with what sounds like a crowd chanting "Sieg Heil" over and over, but if you listen more carefully, the crowd is actually chanting "Steve Hackett" over and over). There are also some more gentle acoustic numbers complete with Mellotron. One of my favorites, without a doubt is "Star of Sirius" in which Phil COLLINS handles the vocals. Unsurprisingly this is by far the most GENESIS-like, and it gave listeners a clue on how GENESIS would sound like after GABRIEL (since "Voyage of the Acolyte" was released in October, 1975, in which GABRIEL was no longer with GENESIS, and "A Trick of the Tail" was still four months away).

But I have always had a problem with the cut Sally Oldfield sings on. I might be a minority, but I find it really difficult dealing with her high-pitched singing. Many people call it the album's high point, but I just find it difficult listening. But, still, it's definately one of the best solo albums from a GENESIS member (which is ever more so when you hear the string of mediocre and downright horrible albums Tony BANKS gave us, not to mention Phil COLLINS solo career, which was basically corporate pop sold to the masses - and sold they did).

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Send comments to Proghead (BETA) | Report this review (#26063)
Posted Sunday, May 02, 2004 | Review Permalink
maurizio.font
5 stars I believe Steve Hackett has always been mistreated by Tony, Phil and Mike. Selecting the themes for 'The Lamb', 'Trick Of The Tail' and 'Wind & Wuthering' they left out a number of beautiful songs, riffs and melodies composed by the shy Steve - and Steve's first three albums were his revenge. First of them, 'Voyage Of The Acolyte' (his best) presents a series of majestic, delicate, dark, medieval, strange & unusual songs (check the monstruous 'Hierophant' theme, played by brother John Hackett - an incredible fluteman - on the Moog Taurus Bass Pedals, with the hands!) that could take the place of some craps (by the same Tony, Phil & Mike) as 'Your Own Special Way', 'Trick Of The Tail', , 'Squonk', 'It'. 'Hands Of The Priestess, Part 1' is on a level Genesis rarely reached! This is an essential album for every prog fan.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#26071)
Posted Tuesday, June 01, 2004 | Review Permalink
grinc@volny.c
5 stars Fantastic progressive-rock album. It sounds very much like the early 70s Genesis (Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins play on it after all). The difference is that the keyboards are not the dominating rhythmic instrument which was the tendency in Genesis in the mid 70s. Instead, Hackett and Rutherford offer great acoustic play and of course Steve's classical electric solos. Flute, cor anglais and violin are also heavily featured on this album. The sound is really majestic. Now the songs - there are wonderful mellow acoustic pieces: Hands Of The Priestess, Hermit, Lovers, and to certain extent Star Of Sirius, those are similar to Genesis stuff like Horizons, Entangled, It's Yourself or Blood On The Rooftops. Then there are two heavy and rocking almost fusion tracks - Ace Of Wands, which reminds me of Genesis track ...In That Quiet Earth, and A Tower Struck Down, which has the 9/8 or very similar structure of the Apocalypse In 9/8 part of Supper's Ready and is the most different track from the rest of the album. Two favourite tracks of mine are Star Of Sirius, which builds up from a dreamy mood to a powerful chorus sung wonderfully by Phil Collins with flashing guitar solos, and Shadow Of The Hierophant. This track is simply majestic and reminds me a lot of King Crimson, although I'd say it's even better than similar KC tracks like In The Wake Of Poseidon or Epitaph. It has wonderful vocals by Sally Oldfield, great guitar combined with mellotron strings. Really fantastic song I can imagine being performed in opera. I HIGHLY recommend this wonderful piece ofmusic.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#26072)
Posted Friday, June 04, 2004 | Review Permalink
Ivan_Melgar_M
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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.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#26073)
Posted Wednesday, July 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars People keep saying this was the one album Genesis never released. what a load of [&*!#]e!!! This was the first album released by Steve Hackett and while we all know he did not get enough creative ' airplay' in Genesis this is a ligitimate solo album by one of the most talented guitarists of our time. Do not forget Genesis were prolific at this time, personeel changes and all. Albums were relentlessley released to standing ovations. However Mr. Hackett started to exert his own individuality and what smacks from the first track is that he went head first into collabotating with his peers as well as other notable artists of that time to help create this genuine masterpiece. Never ever to be surpassed again apart from maybe ' Spectral Morning'. There is no point in mentioning each track laboriously showering praise all over them as each one is unique, continuous play and simly awesome. The mood and emotion is unique as is kim Poor's moving artwork. Star of Sirius though stands up there with the great prog rock creations of all time. Five stars is NOT overkill at all nor if there were is six either.....

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#26074)
Posted Sunday, August 01, 2004 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars An album to place between A Trick of the Tail and Wind and Wuthering. Not only chronologically, but also in quality; this album tops Trick of the Tail and flats out easily Wind and Wuthering. Steve was gone on his own way before it really ended. He brought with him a few pals, and I must admit that the fact of hearing Rutherford and Collins playing comfortated me. It's like a seal of satisfaction. Before listening to the record, I always thought that Hackett was more like John Entwistle or Ringo Starr. Lots of talent (and docility), but too few good ideas. Man was I wrong.....again. I'm getting used to being tricked by my prejudices. Just hearing Ace of Wands or Shadow fo the Hierophant and I got convinced that Hackett is far, far, far from being just there. He has more than guitar skills (which I don't find particulary stunning), but rather the ability to build a world of romantism and old fashioned fairy tales. The covers shows up the mood he wants. Obviously, the guy don't need anybody to back him up. He stands solid on his two legs even in the early work. Mature, confident and strong. Just like Harrison! Harrison and Hackett had talent that was growing and expanding has time went by. One day, the circle of friends is too tight and claustrophobia (musically and socially) sets in. Hackett shows here where he's going and...it's way more proggish than anything Genesis done after Peter. THIS is romantic progressive rock. No sissies admitted and leave your blanket at the door please.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#26075)
Posted Saturday, August 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars After being "left out a bit" of the songwriting of "The Lamb..." album (as Banks/Collins/Rutherford said in one interview in 1982) and after the long tour for that album, after Gabriel left, but before "A Trick of the Tail" was recorded by Genesis, Hackett recorded this excellent solo album, which I prefer more than "The Lamb" and even more than some of the solo albums by the other members/former members of Genesis (including Gabriel). Hackett showed with this album a lot of creativity in songwriting, arrangements, guitar sounds, production ideas, etc. He really could have been bored in Genesis by 1974- 75, and after the success this album had in England in 1975 (number 26 in the charts!) he really could have left Genesis in that year.I like all the songs of this album, but the best of all for me is "Shadow of the Hierophant ", a Hackett/Rutherford song, with very good use of mellotrons, guitar sounds, bells, drums. Sally Oldfield`s voice is very good in this song. All the songs have "fantasy" elements which are in the music. Some of the songs show some influence from King Crimson, but Hackett`s guitar style is "very personal". He really knows how to "make" very different sounds from his guitars, and he has a very distinctive "guitar technique". In the "Genesis-A History" video from 1990, Hackett said (more or less as I remember): "I recorded a very successful album in 1975, but the band perceived it as a threat, and they told me to give up my solo career to contribute more to the band`s albums. I say O.K., if every musician contributes equal parts to the songwriting.But I didn`t have the music they claimed from me for the band. It took me two more years to organize the way to leave the band". The band didn`t like many of Hackett`s music ideas and songs, so he finally left the band during the mixing sessions of the "Seconds Out" live album in 1977.But this "Voyage of the Acolyte" really shows Hackett`s influence and sound for the Genesis`s albums "A Trick of the Tail" and "Wind & Wuthering". I consider this first solo album as a "first sight" into the new music style of Genesis between 1975-1977. The cover art by Kim Poor (Hackett`s wife) is very good too. It really works with the sound of the album.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#26076)
Posted Saturday, October 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars After reading all the reviews I took back this CD in my player again, and I`m amazed again like the first time I ever listened to this LP in the late 70`s. For me it`s really the missing piece between Lamb & Trick. What direction Genesis might have been gone, if Hackett had been allowed to put in some more songs into Genesis? Voyage in some cases could have been Disc 3 of Lamb, especially Hierophant, a perfect match of Genesis meeting folk, the dark mood of the music within the brilliant clear voice of Sally Oldfield, it`s fantastic! One of the best Genesis tunes, Genesis never recorded. The only bad fact, I think, is the master tape which was used for this CD. It has some drop outes, i.e. on the start section of Hierophant. I hope, there will be released a remastered and fixed CD sometimes

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Send comments to Abominog (BETA) | Report this review (#26079)
Posted Thursday, January 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is Steve Hackett's first album. It is his most progressive one, having a bit the old Genesis sound and style: indeed, Phil Collins & Mike Rutherford play fantastic, fast & elaborated drums & bass, especially on the 2 tracks "Ace of wands" and "Star of Sirius". Collins' drums are comparable to his work on Genesis' "Trick of the tail". Steve's electric & acoustic guitars are more in the foreground than on the Genesis' albums, maybe because Tony Banks' awesome keyboards are not present. There are nevertheless excellent floating mellotron textures, and its combination with tubular bells + flutes on "Ace of wands" is delightful. The repetitive "Lovers" contains moving mellotron parts, delicate flute & acoustic guitars; it is a graceful track perfectly sung by Sally Oldfield. Phil Collins sings on a couples of tracks. The album is a bit melancholic and dramatic, as evoked by tracks like "Hands of the priestess part 1" and "Shadow of the Hierophant". I think the completely irrelevant and bizarre "A tower struck down" still has some influences from "The lamb lies down on Broadway" album. "Hands of the priestess part 2" sounds much more joyful than the first part: it has a delicate, ethereal and graceful mix of flute, acoustic guitars, mellotron and tender electric guitar: a GREAT moment on this record! Steve seems to sing on "The Hermit", a quiet track made of acoustic & electric guitars, peaceful flute and cello: the light pedal effect on the electric guitar in the end, combined with the excellent wind instruments is remarkable! There are some relaxing oboe/English cor parts which give a noble character to the whole.

Rating: 4.5 stars

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#26084)
Posted Sunday, March 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
dgiusti@ets.o
5 stars This another title I purchased solely because of this site! Thanks again guys! As soon as the album arrived, I recognized the cover as one I had seen so many times before in record bins, but never picked up because at first 1) I didn't know who Steve Hackett was, then later 2) not sure he could produce a good solo album. Boy, was I wrong on that front!!! This is a great album. Part Mike Oldfield, part Genesis, Steve combines elements of both and comes up with 100% STEVE HACKETT and 100% listening enjoyment. Phil Collins turns in an excellent performance (vox and drums). Steve put together a Prog album that hangs together well, has good ideas and wonderful musicianship. He did not give into the the temptation to make an album that serves only to highlight his guitar skills (I don't want to mention Eric Clapton by name!). Bravo Steve! It is also clear why he would soon part ways the other lads from Genesis. The Top 40, pop diddy direction they would soon explore would not have suited a Prog legend like Steve Hacket. A wonderful, meaningful record. A must in any music fans collection.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#26085)
Posted Monday, March 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
Trotsky
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars You'll have heard it all before ... that this is the "lost Genesis" album, the best solo album that any member of Genesis (or any major prog group, for that matter) ever recorded, a wonderous secret known to a select few ... well, I'm not one to disagree. Yes, it doesn't feature either the vocals of Peter Gabriel or the keyboards of Tony Banks, but Voyage Of The Acolyte does bear many of the hallmarks of the classic Genesis sound and certainly belongs in the collection of any self-respecting prog fan.

Along with the Genesis rhythm section of Michael Rutherford and Phil Collins, kid brother John (on flute and Arp synths) and keyboardist John Adcock, Steve crafts a fine album that isn't quite up to the standards of the Genesis albums that preceeded it, but is still pretty darn special.

One way of telling that is a classic album is the absolute lack of filler material ... every song has its moments. The biting Ace Of Wands is a delightful instrumental with punchy fusion guitar, some pastoral twelve string, another winning one with bells and mellotron. Hands Of The Priestess, Part I has a beautiful flute and acoustic guitar melody. A Tower Struck Down is anominous hard rocking prog tune with some great bubbling synth work from John Hackett and a crescendo that has crowds baying for blood. Hands Of The Priestess, Part II is a brief mournful instrumental, and the vibe is carried on by The Hermit, a haunting acoustic piece that Steve actually sings (well, he sort of talks his way through it actually, but it suits the piece).

One of the best pieces on the album is Star Of Sirius on which Phil Collins handles lead (and inadvertently presages the Genesis sound on the guitar-led songs that are on A Trick Of The Tail and Wind And Wuthering). Most of the song is gloriously pastoral and even when the whole band joins in, it's never really rocks. I love it and as Steve himself commented on Star of Sirius in 1992 ... "I suppose looking back on it the song was rather twee - not the sort of thing I would record today but ... I think of it as the best song on that album."

The Lovers is another of those brief guitar/mellotron instrumentals that serves as a fine precursor to the awesome Shadow Of The Hierophant, a monster prog piece featuring the ethereal vocals of Sally Oldfield. If you're looking for great solos and blistering interplay don't come here though ... Shadow Of The Hierophant is all about sweeping soundscapes and gentle acoustic guitar passages.

30 years on, there's a mesmerizing quality about this excellent album that goes beyond the sheer instrumental creativity and virtuosity that draws me to most other classic prog albums. ... 85% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#26086)
Posted Friday, April 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
bjornar90@onl
4 stars Recorded and released between "The Lamb" and "Trick of the tail", "Voyage" is more acoustic and even more "free" than any of the Genesis albums at that time. It's full of creativity and magical themes. Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford is featured on all songs and both does a great job here. My favorite songs are "Ace of Wands", with it's weird time signature (14/8 ?) and catchy riff, "Hands of the Priestess", "A Tower Struck Down", and "Shadow of the Hierophant". The rest is also good but lacks the fire of the songs i just mentioned. Overall; not perfect but still highly recommended! 4 stars.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#26087)
Posted Friday, April 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great album. Such beautiful music as only English musicians can create it..

One of my favorite albums. The opener Ace Of Wands is a masterpiece, although it should have been a little longer in my opinion.

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Send comments to Robin (BETA) | Report this review (#26088)
Posted Monday, May 02, 2005 | Review Permalink
Philrod
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Steve Hackett's first solo album ''voyage of the acolyte'' is all about progressive music. Hackett's style of guitar playing is used to the best of its capacities here and his mastery is inevitable. On electric and acoutic guitars, he lets us into his world of sorcerer and Tarot elements; everything is around magic and mysticism. Also, two of his old pals from Genesis come in and help him(Phil Collins on drums and lead vocals on Star of Sirius and Michael Rutherford on bass) to create this mystic aura around the album. Also, the usual progressive instruments and elements are present, wether its keyboards, moog, mellotron, 12 string guitars, flutes. What is great is that he uses them as building blocks to the sound and textures. A total of 3 singers are present, but really its Sally Oldfield's presence that is the best, on '' the shadow of the hierophant''. This song is absolutely wonderful, with some space rock passages that will let you a dreamy feeling. This album in a whole is a gem, buy it not only to complete your genesis collection but for its beauty. 4.5/5

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Send comments to Philrod (BETA) | Report this review (#26093)
Posted Saturday, May 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
sabbath2112@h
5 stars all i can say is that this album is amazing, it shows that this is well for me 100% prog rock its really good and i recomend to other prog fans to actualy by it its worth the money. this masterpiece the art the sounds the vocals is really just good i asked my dad if i can listen to it and i sleep with this music half the time its awesome i can listen to it min vol it has to be really uo max about u have to hear everypart of the songs

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#35326)
Posted Sunday, June 05, 2005 | Review Permalink
berke39@hotma
5 stars o yes this the first album of hacketts career. and yeah collins and rutterford are here too. And yeah again his brother john also played here so what we have here is a masterpiece of progressive music. from the first to the last song everything sounds amazing. the sweet voice of sally oldfield int "shadow of the hierophant" it has a very meolw side. and the end of this song sounds like suppers ready, (well not in that level but it get close) And waht can i say about hackets guitar it's always amazing and gere he sounds more acoustic, and that is just the begining of this you must listen to hackets fisrt ERA.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#35333)
Posted Sunday, June 05, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's hard to argue with this excellent debut album from the guitar maestro Mr. Stephen Hackett. When I reviewed his live archives album couple months ago, I did mention that for some of you, you might have known Steve only from his tenure with Genesis and probably still label him with something like "ex Genesis guitarist" and you might not know what his work after he left the band. Nothing wrong with that. That's the same case with me when I got the cassettes of his first two albums, I still considered Steve as Genesis guitarist instead of Steve as a solo artist and did not play the cassettes intensely. Until one time when a support band of Uriah Heep Live in Bandung, Indonesia sometime in 1980, there was a local band that played Steve Hackett's "Ace of Wands" excellently. It clicked me to replayed the cassette. That's the first love I got with Hackett music. I was hooked with "Voyage ..", "Please Don't Touch", "Spectral Morning" and "Defector". For me, Steve has produced many great prog tunes that I consider now as a classic, such as: "Every Day", "Star of Sirius", "Ace of Wands", "Narnia", "Clocks", "Shadow Of The Hierophant", and many more great tunes. "Ace Of Wands" is a great track - and has become my favorite track - started with a dazzling drum. The intertwining works of guitar, keyboard and flutes are really good. Oh man . this is a wonderful track and it's so uplifting.

Being a debut album, it's heavily influenced by early Genesis - not that two members of Genesis (Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins) contributed, but musically I can sense the flavors of "Supper's Ready" in "A Tower Struck Down" (track 3). You won't argue that the rhythm section is totally Foxtrot-ized. Nothing wrong with this. I especially like this track during the keyboard solo - it's stunning. Stand-alone, this third track is probably not an attractive one but as this track is positioned in between "Hands of the Priestess Part I (3:28) and Part II (1:31)" with mellow Genesis guitar style, it becomes interesting to enjoy. The Hermit (4:49) continues the same style and nuance with Hands of the Priestess with Hackett on vocal. Phil Collins takes a vocal role in the next track "Star of Sirius" (7:08) that starts mellow with good guitar fills and keyboards. The music turns into faster tempo with drums and other instruments.

The peak of this album, IMO, is "The Lovers" (1:50) - "Shadow of the Hierophant" (11:44) whereby the first part serves similar to Horizon of Genesis' "Supper's Ready": an acoustic guitar work augmented with mellow keyboard. The music continues seamlessly to "Shadow of the Hierophant" with a blues-based rhythm and nice quieter passage where fabulous voice of Sally Oldfield enters the music. Uh . it's really cool man .. In a way, it reminds me to Renaissance's music - not because the lead singer is female but it shares similar nuance. In fact, Sally and Annie Haslam have different timbre - so both cannot be compared. But the song is really great and I now remember that this song was featured in a compilation cassette of "Heavy Slow" sometime in the eighties. It's a great tune.

In summary, this is the kind of classic prog album that you don't want to miss. Excellent composition and musicianship. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' .!

Progressively yours, GW

"Lost in thought in search of vision. As the moon eclipsed the sun." - "Shadow of the Hierophant" by Steve Hackett.

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#37305)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hackett's first solo album begins with a bang, and ends with a bang as well. You'll find here a very Genesis-like affair, in fact Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford make appearances. Hackett's performances are the main foray of the album, from his acoustic passages, to his electric runs up and down the fret board, one cannot feel anything but awe as this virtuoso plays his soul out. Most of this album is instrumental, but the vocal passages are very welcome and add even more Genesis sounds to the atmosphere.

From the opening Irish feeling of Ace of Wands, to the ending jam in Shadow of Hierophant, there is one thing clear, Hackett is brilliant. Ace of Wands is a rocking instrumental, which has a Celtic/Irish feel at first, and soon becomes a mellotron/acoustic guitar led tune. Hackett's command over the rest of the musicians is key, for he has a much more involved role than he did in Genesis. Hands of a Priestess Part I begins with a very Firth of Fith sounding intro, the flute sounding very much like Gabriel. Star of Sirius is one of the three songs with vocal, and it features a catchy chorus, and some very calming acoustic passages in the beginning. Shadow of the Hierophant is one of the other vocal- laden songs. It has a very Starless type of feel, in that there is a long jam that proceeds after the vocals have finished. The music in this one is powerful, and ends the album on a high-note.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable album from a very enjoyable guitarist. However, the Genesis feeling is very large, and it would take another album or two for Hackett to stray somewhat away from that sound (he would come back to it occasionally). 4.5/5.

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#40030)
Posted Saturday, July 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Simply essential for a prog collection. An album that takes you somewhere else. The artwork starts the trip and then it's 'Ace of Wands' and you're flying. Part II of Hands of the Priestess is the best one-and-a -half minutes piece there is. 'Shadow' simply hypnotises you for 11 minutes. 5 stars and no doubt about it.

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Send comments to oldcrow (BETA) | Report this review (#44678)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars To be completely honest, before I purchased this album, I had some low expectations. The only song from it that I had heard prior to getting this was "Star of Sirius", and upon my first listen, I thought it was rather mediocre. However, it kind of grew on me over a good period of time, and I decided to give this one a spin--It blew me away.

"Ace of Wands" is a great opener; very abrupt and straight to the point. It really catches your attention within the first few seconds of the track. It's very dynamic--it ranges from powerful, fast tempo passages to being mellow and beautiful. The guitar work at the end is my favorite moment of the song.

"Hands of the Priestess Pt. I" is a mellow, acoustic song which serves more as an opener for the proceeding track. That doesn't make it any less wonderful.

"A Tower Struck Down" is probably the most unusual track on here, sporting a repetitive and dark style, but still very pleasant. The mellotron interlude in the middle is so haunting...it's wonderful!

"Hands of the Priestess Pt. II" begins with the same theme as the previous part, but you quickly come to notice it's majesty as soon as the Oboe comes in. It's absolutely beautiful.

"The Hermit" is a very pleasant song featuring Steve himself on the vocals. Steve Hackett has never really been much of a singer, or at least in an upper range, so it's nice to see him staying in a range he's comfortable with (Listen to "Cured" and you'll see what I mean--ugh!). This song displays a very haunting acoustic guitar melody throughout, and is a pleasure to listen to from beginning to end.

"Star of Sirius", like I said before, grew on me over time. One major highlight of this track is that it features Phil Collins on vocals, which only add to the wonderful musicianship. You'll notice that the theme from "Hands of the Priestess Pt. II" is recalled at parts.. This one is probably my favorite on the album...just give it a listen and you'll see what I mean.

"The Lovers" is a classic Hackett interlude song, being slightly reminiscent to "Horizon" from "Foxtrot".

"Shadow or the Hierophant" is a majestic closer, but I can't help but feel slightly underwhelmed by the song. Although the musicianship displayed here is at a peak, it's awfully repetitive. I get tired of hearing the same theme over and over again for nearly five minutes. As soon as the middle of the song comes in, there's a little more variety; however, the final few minutes of the song starts repeating itself all over again, but is slightly more enjoyable than the beginning of the song.

Overall, this album is worth a listen and is highly essential. (4/5)

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Send comments to UltimaPrime (BETA) | Report this review (#45085)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first work announced in 1975 "Voyage Of The Acolyte". Fantastic, romantic as be imagined by jacket work. There is a tune that looks like GENESIS directly, too. It is one side and there is a tune by his original style, too. How to use Merotoron looks like initial KING CRIMSON. The influences such as not only classics but also R&B are felt by me when listening to a rhythmical performance.

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Send comments to braindamage (BETA) | Report this review (#45338)
Posted Saturday, September 03, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Of course this is the progrock sound that Genesis should have played from the late Seventies, unfortunately Steve Hackett left in '77 and Genesis became a poppy prog act under the command of Mr. P. Collins. But, as our famous Dutch soccer player Johan Cruijff used to say, "every disadvantage has its advantage" so we could enjoy an inspired and very progrock sounding Steve Hackett solo from '77.

This wonderful album features a Hackett who still was a member from progrock top act Genesis but also lost his battle to maintain his marriage. Music is a perfect way to sublimate this kind of negative emotions and I think that Hackett has done this very well, supported by his new Brasilian girlfriend Kim Poor who designed the beautiful art work. On this album the music carries me away to Progheaven, what a wonderful, captivating and varied progrock sound featuring mindblowing guitarplay by Hackett (distinctive volume-pedal work and lots of sensitive electric guitar), amazing keyboard work by John Acock (what's in a name?!), a fine collaboration from Genesis members Collins and Rutherford, Sally Oldfield and Johnny Gustafson (ex Quatermass and Roxy Music) and, last but not least, a frequent appearance of the unsurpassed Mellotron, EXCELLENT AND ESSENTIAL!!

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#45949)
Posted Wednesday, September 07, 2005 | Review Permalink
Frott-hhyyque
5 stars A great album by ex-Genesis guitarist, THE GUITAR MASTER, Steve Hackett. It was recorded in 1975, while he was still in GENESIS, and has the participation of two other GENESIS members:Phil and Mike.Apart from the GENESIS mates, Hackett works with the help of John Acock,Robin Miller,Sally Oldfield, Nigel Warren-Green, Percy Jones, Johnny Gustafson, and John Hackett(Steve's brother). The opener is ACE OF WANDS, which is probably my fauvorite in this album. It starts with Phil's exellent drumming and steve's amazing guitar, as well as a very cool bass work by Mike.Then,there is a stoft part in which John Hackett does a wonderful flute solo(It's really KICK-ASS!!).The next one is Hands of the Priestess PT.1: A soft acustic song, with an amazing flute work by Steve's brother.A TOWER STRUCK DOWN is a very strange song, and one of my fauvorites on this album.It reminds me of Genesis' Supper's ready- Apocalypse in 9/8 section.It features a lot of coll synthessiser arrangements. HANDS OF THE PRIESTESS PT2 is quite similar to part 1, but the melody is" happier " than the other one.THE HERMIT is the first and only song in which Hackett sings.Hackett's voice is OK and the acustic guitar is very-well played.STAR OF SIRIUS is another of the highlights. PHIL does a wonderful vocal work as well as drumming.The keyboards by John Acock sound amazing in this song.THE LOVERS reminds me of WIND & WUTHERING, the acustic guitar is really "WINDNWUTHERINIZED".The last song is an amazing 11-minute piece, with vocals by Sally Oldfield.Her vocals fit very well on this song. When she finishes singing,there comes an amazing 7-minute instrumental part, featuring the best arrangements on this album.You can here the mellotron a lot in this song.You can also hear the sound of bells which blow your brains of!The guitar is AMAZING, the music gets louder and louder till one point in which your soul is taken away by this song. If you want to get one of HACKETT's amazing albums, this is one of the ones you should really get. Highly recomended to all Hackett's fans, or ANY 70's Genesis era fan. FIVE STARS!!!!!!!!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#46046)
Posted Thursday, September 08, 2005 | Review Permalink
Fishy
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.

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Send comments to Fishy (BETA) | Report this review (#49013)
Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
chessman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Not a lot I can say really that hasn't been said before about this excellent recording. The most Genesis-influenced of Steven's solo ventures, recorded when he was still with the band, it is a superbly constructed album. 'Ace of Wands' is a classic, with lovely guitar work, both 12 string and electric. 'Hands Of The Priestess', both parts 1 & 2, is a wonderfully peaceful and melodic tune, with brother John's instantly recognisable flute playing to the fore. 'A Tower Struck Down', which cuts the two 'Priestess' parts in half, is a louder, more bassy tune, but still effective. Mike Rutherford performs effortlessly throughout the album, as does his colleague Mr Collins. Steve obviously felt, with them driving the rhythm section seamlessly, he could get on with his own work, safe in the presence of his fellow band mates. 'The Hermit' is another slow, moody, melacholic piece, with Steve handling the vocals himself, and not doing a bad job either! 'Star Of Sirius' is Phil's vocal contribution to the record, and a good job he makes of it. Remember, this was recorded just after Peter Gabriel left Genesis, and Phil was not yet established as the band's singer. 'The Lovers' is a very short, acoustic guitar piece, which pre-dates his later classical leanings. And lovely it is, as well. Of course, to finish we have the magificent 'Shadow Of The Hierophant' with the unique, pure, high voice of Mike Oldfield's sister, Sally. I always loved this piece, especially the way it fades away to nothing after the last verse, then builds slowly back up to full volume, with instruments being added one at a time almost. This track also has some nice 12 string guitar on it. I have the remastered version now, which is why I have not reviewed this until today. There are two bonus tracks on it. A live version of 'Ace Of Wands', which is good, but not essential, as it is similar to the live versions on the boxed archive set already owned by many of us. The second track is the original version of 'Shadow Of The Heirophant', which lasts for over 17 minutes. This, likewise, is not essential, as it is basically the same song, until we reach the end, when the instruments start to build up. In this version, it just takes longer to reach the end. The quality on the remaster, however, is superb, far louder, brighter and clearer than the original, with nice packaging. New liner notes inside, whilst the cd itself now sports the original 'Famous Charisma Label' logo, the one the records used to use. It happens to be probably my favourite label of all! A nice touch. All this in a slip case as well. All Hackett fans need this!

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Send comments to chessman (BETA) | Report this review (#53870)
Posted Saturday, October 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm reviewing the re-mastered CD of this album, released September 2005, of which I have just purloined a freshly minted copy!

It's been a number of years since I had this album, having lost my vinyl copy in a domestic flood some years ago, but hearing it again is like encountering an old friend. Steve Hackett really is a master of melodies, and this his first solo album emphasises his contribution to Genesis' music during the '70's.

There are plenty of reviews that adequately describe the music, suffice to say that for me, the highlights are Ace of Wands, Hands of the Priestess (I & II), and Shadow of the Hierophant. I really want to give you the benefit(?!) of my views on the quality of the re-mastering, and of the bonus tracks.

Firstly, the quality of this CD is excellent. Ace of Wands in particular seems to benefit, kicking in crisp and clear. I have listened to the album both on headphones and in the car and the sound comes through strong and and punchy. It's a superb job. Sadly I can't compare it with the previous CD issue, but from my memory, it does seem to have an extra sparkle over the vinyl copy I once had.

Secondly, there are two bonus tracks, Ace of Wands live, and an extended version of Shadow of the Hierophant. I tend to get a bit cynical about bonus tracks as often "alternative version" = "second best" (e.g. Rhino Yes re-masters). A live version though is different; and here there is a very faithful recreation of the original "Ace of Wands", even down to the track timing - both live and original are 5,25!! The extended version of "Shadow" is simply that.....an extra 6 minutes of the closing sequence of the song which now runs to an epic 17+ minutes. If like me you like this track, the extra length of outro works just fine. However, if you already have the album then the bonus tracks may not be enough justification to rush out and buy this version.

All in all, a great album that has lasted well through the years, and full marks for the re-mastering here. A booklet includes full lyrics and the original artwork.

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Send comments to Phil (BETA) | Report this review (#57682)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
ffilipes@hotm
4 stars What a very good surprise this was! The Genesis album that never was, is very, very pleasant. Mellotron, moog and astonishing guitar skills. Good compositions, Phil Collins in some tracks, we are in the presence of a very relaxing record. But, still, is there something that misses, I don't know what exactly. But overall, this is a must have for Gabriel-era fans of Genesis.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#70650)
Posted Monday, February 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars If by listening to the records from Genesis in which he participated wasn't enough reason to think Steve Hackett is a truly authentic, masterful and virtuos guitartist, songwriter and composer, by starting listening to his solo records (this is the first one I listen to) I get my thoughts truly confirmed.

Putting appart the famous quote which claims this record is "the best one Genesis ever recorded", I think this album is simply and completely essential. The beauty, the textures and brilliant guitar work found here makes this a gem of music history.

"Ace of Wands" gives us a sample of all what I have just said. Elegant guitar riffs, both 12 strings and Spanish guitar, mellotron, bells and lots of orquestal elements make this song an amazing suite I have really liked. "Hands of the Priestess Part I" is a flute based composition with Steve's guitar on the background. It is one of those songs which leaves the listener speechless. Simply delicious. " A Tower Struck Down" is a dark, strong song which plays with a bit of psychedelia in an elegant manner. "Hands of the Priestess Part II" is a shorter extension for the first one, this time making the mellotron the companion of the flutes. "The Hermit" introduces Steve into vocals (he makes a pretty decent work in this department). It is another haunting flute based song, although probably a bit weaker than "Hands...". And then the best part of the record, "Star of Sirius". This song could be an astounding addition to any of the previous Genesis records (it would have been perfect for "Selling England by the pound", for example). Phil Collins makes his particular appearance here, doing also a good job. "The Luvers" is a short autoharp intro for the last piece of the record "Shadow of the Hierophant", which is in turn the epic of the album. In this also powerful song we find Sally Olfied's always beautiful voice for the service of our ears, all of this surrounded with the efficient work of the rest of the musicians, with Steve on the lead. An excellent way of finishing the record.

Then, this is another proof of why Steve's departure from Genesis was a grave thing, since we can find here a truly proficient composer, probably shadowed by Peter Gabriel and the other members during his stay in the band.

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Send comments to shyman (BETA) | Report this review (#71109)
Posted Saturday, March 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The waiting (to leave the band) room

Steve Hackett's first solo album is still held by many to be his best. It was in some ways an extension of his work with Genesis, even down to the "Trespass" like sleeve designed by his wife, Kim Poor. The album was recorded after Peter Gabriel had left Genesis, but prior to the release of "A trick of the tail". The other remaining Genesis members were reportedly uncomfortable with Hackett pursuing a solo project while still in the band, and consequently further solo releases by him were not forthcoming until after he left.

While "Voyage of the Acolyte" is very progressive, with many of the sounds which distinguished early Genesis albums, it is quite different in terms of composition. Indeed, if the opening track "Ace of wands" is anything to go by, the influences are more in the way of King Crimson or Yes. Indeed, track 2, "Hands of the Priestess Part I" is reminiscent of "I talk to the wind" from King Crimson's first album.

There is a diversity to this album which tends to be lacking on subsequent Hackett releases. While he has explored many different styles through the years, each album has tended to focus on a particular aspect, whereas here he throws many of them into the same pot.

The Genesis sounds start to come to the fore on "A tower struck down" which borrows strongly from the "Apocalypse" section of "Supper's ready" (or is it "Grendel"!). The track also has a "Waiting room" ("Lamb lies down..") flavour, a track which Hackett clearly favours, since he also included it in his "Genesis revisited" project.

Just when it seems the album is to be entirely instrumental, vocals appear for the first time on "The Hermit". This "Blood on the rooftops" like song is comparable with the work of Camel, accentuated by the fact that Hackett and Andy Latimer have a similar vocal style. Hackett is clearly aware of his own limitations in the vocal department, they are adequate but no more than that. A couple of guest vocalist therefore appear on side two of the album. Phil Collins, who at the time was about to take on the lead vocalist role for Genesis, sings on "Star of Sirius". His performance is more like the multi tracked style of "Harlequin" ("Nursery Cryme") than the "Track of the tail" onwards albums, and is thus a bit rough at the edges. The track is quite pop, but has some fine instrumental work.

The feature track is "Shadow of the Hierophant" which is preceded by the brief "The lovers". In the same way as "Horizons" precedes "Supper's ready", "The lovers" should have been incorporated into "Shadow.." as an integral part of the song. The guest vocalist here is Sally Oldfield, sister of Mike and an accomplished singer in her own right. There's an "Epitaph"/"Fountain of Salmacis" feel to the opening section, which is transformed by Oldfield's supreme performance. A "Ripples" like link leads to a lengthy closing section which features a repeating theme building from delicate xylophone to a bombastic, majestic conclusion and fade. The piece is quite typical, perhaps derivative, of other prog pieces of the time but is nonetheless a magnificent opus.

With his first solo album, Steve Hackett showed that he had much to offer. In retrospect, it is easy to understand how he became frustrated with the constraints of working within the Genesis framework. Had Tony Banks not also been in his most productive period, Hackett would clearly have been able to carry Genesis to greater heights himself. Whether these particular songs were ever actually offered to the band, is a matter for speculation.

This is a highly accomplished work, recommended to all who enjoy the core prog of the early to mid 70's.

The recently released re-mastered CD version has an additional live version of "Ace of wands" and an absolutely essential 17 minute extended studio version of "Shadow of the Hierophant".

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#71493)
Posted Thursday, March 09, 2006 | Review Permalink
mat_boettner@
4 stars Ok here we have the one Genesis man who really keeps his music progressive!!! His first album, Voyage of the Acolyte (for what I understand also his best) brings familiar sounds a la Genesis but also some new ones, specially in the instrumental pieces. Technically speaking Hackett plays a much bigger role than in Genesis here (well...doooh...) and his playing is also "better" so to say than in Genesis albums. Now...the songs

Ace of Wands : For me, along with Shadows of the Hierophant, the best song from the album. A guitar driven instrumental with numerous breaks, here Hackett is just fantastic, as well as Collins, excellent work from both!!!

Hands of the Priestess part I : This one of the many acoustic songs...nice, short, nothing spectacullar but it helps to bring a sort of acoustic mood to the album. Nice.

A Tower Struck down : This song (although its 30 years old) sounds quite futuristic heheheh... No really, its again an instruemntal, with an odd timing and some weird sounds. An other good one!!!

Hands of the Priestess part II : In the same line as the first part this one brings some mellotron passages.

The Hermit : First non instrumental song, Hacketts sings here. Well...he aint no Gabriel, but it doesnt ruin the song...again an acoustic piece.

Star of Sirius : I hate to say what others have said so many limes...but, I have to...this is th Genesis song Genesis never did...in a way, because the bass and drumms, as in all other songs, are played by band mates Rutherford and Collins...but here Collins also sings. It has a completly Genesis sound and feeling...but it´s Hackett alone...well, almoust...

The Lovers : Another mellow acoustic song...nice as all the others, but they dont really grap that much of atention...

Shadow of the Hierophant : Sad is beatifull...and few songs prove it so well...really, really beatifull song, with some nice female vocals...and mellotron parts!!! This kind of songs are the ones latter bands like Mostly Autumn would take as inspiration for thei work. One of the best colser ever!!!

All in all the album is great, really great...not quite a masterpiece, but it´s not that far away...

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#74802)
Posted Wednesday, April 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The missing Genesis album. Both Collins and Rutherford are present (2 fingers up either from Banks to Hackett or from Hackett to Banks) and their inclusion means that this is not only a must for any 70's Genesis fan but also for anyone into prog in general. The music is epic at it's peak and beautiful in it's moments of quiet.

Really, nothing else needs to be said. An essential purchase and, for me, a tie with Please don't touch for the accolade of the best solo Genesis album. If you needed convincing that Hackett leaving genesis was a really, really bad idea then a few listens to this should provide enough evidence.

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Send comments to DrWu (BETA) | Report this review (#74828)
Posted Thursday, April 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Steve Hackett's first solo album is outstanding! His solo career could easily be the best of all ex-Genesis members. The album kicks off with "Ace Of Wands", this song will give a excellent impression on Hackett's solo stuff I'm quite sure. Certainly one of his best pieces. "Hands Of The Priestess (Pt. 1)" is so gentle and softly filled with loads of emotion. One of my personal favorites. The following, "A Tower Struck Down" puts a violent end to the calmness of "Hands Of The Priestess (Pt. 1)". The heavy bass gives a nice strong feeling to the song. "Hands Of The Priestess (Pt. 2)" gets you back to where we were with in the other part of the song. Let's go to track 6, "Star Of Sirius", one of Steve Hackett's first successful song. Carry a feeling similar the the other emotional tracks but featuring a nice vocal performance from Phil Collins. Track 8, "Shadow Of The Hierophant" is an epic 11 minutes song with a perfect progression through all the song. A close listen of this masterpiece will certainly make you follow the path of the acolyte. Also an excellent ending to the album. I enjoyed to the album so much, I had to listen to more stuff from Hackett and I found out that this release wasn't all what you should hear from him! 1978's "Please Don't Touch" and 1979's "Spectral Mornings" are also two very good releases!

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Send comments to Dr4Wazo (BETA) | Report this review (#76299)
Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'Voyage of the Acolyte' is the missing link between 'Trick of the Tail' and 'Wind and Wuthering' by Genesis.

The album contains elements of Genesis which the band could have had during the period of 'Trick..' and 'Wind..' but lacked. I believe that Tony Banks, by all accounts the main songwriter in Genesis at the time, did not want the band to be progressive (judging by the presence of a couple of soppy ballads on 'Wind..') preferring instead a less experimental direction, which must have been cause for frustration for Hackett.

It's possible that some Genesis members appreciated Hackett's material, as both Collins and Rutherford lend a hand in the studio thus, not surprisingly, adding cohesion to the material.

It's clear from the music itself that 'Voyage of..' demonstrates that Hackett was not being given enough credit for his songwriting in Genesis but in this album his star of Syrius really shines!

All the tracks are, or deserve to be, classic examples of progressive rock; the material on the album varies from renaissance ballads, prog rock and even the occasional sound effect tape loops. Considering that 'Voyage..' was released in 1975, it has aged little if at all.

The album is a dream of progressive rock perfection

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Send comments to Minkia (BETA) | Report this review (#79133)
Posted Tuesday, May 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The chronology , as quoted from the pictiorial biography of Genesis, 'I Know What I Like,' is quite clear in stating that "Voyage..." came right after "Lamb..." and right before "Trick of the Tail." I have always wondered why Tony Banks was never asked to join Hackett's solo project, as Collins and Rutherford did. Could it be that Hackett left Genesis due to personality conflict issues along with the fact that the band did not want to play his music (actually, both causes need not be mutually exclusive). I will say no more since so many other reviewers' accolades are "right on" regarding the prog greatness of this album. 'Shadow of the Hierophant' is my personal favorite, though some might argue it is repetitive. Some great classical and jazz music is repetitive also, so to each his own. Anyway, add it to your collection of 1970s progressive classics.

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Send comments to prog4evr (BETA) | Report this review (#79145)
Posted Tuesday, May 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3 Stars

Note: I modified my rating system. I "grade" individual tracks as well now, located inside parenthesis.

It is always interesting to hear solo albums to see the musicians' musical expressions that would be limited when that artist is in a band and is not the leader. Here, it seems like Genesis has influenced him all over the album, unless Steve Hackett was a main composer in the band (I honestly don't know). The symphonic nature of Genesis is clearly heard here as well, especially when you notice that Rutherford (bass) and Phil Collins (vocals, Drums) are present. Also, Steve's trademark guitar sound is everywhere. Unlike many, I find this album very inconsistent in quality: Star of Sirius being unlistenable while Shadow of the Hierophant and the hands of the priestress interludes are beautiful. The rest of the songs are decent but quite disappointing considering it's supposed to be Steve Hackett's best album.

(C) Ace of Wands: A cheesy and frenzied solo introduces the song which is very dynamic and proggy. The song changes rhythms numerous times, though too much for my enjoyment. The result is a promising, yet slightly choppy piece with great parts and bad ones as well. However, I don't think anyone could call this dull.

(A-) Hands of the Priestess: this interlude; with its acoustic guitars, haunting electric guitar riffs, mellotron, beautiful flute melodies; melts me.

(D-) A Tower Struck Down: A somewhat aggressive and repetitive piece with bizarre guitars and synths. Unfortunately, it makes me wish that there was a melody present in the song. The last minute is musically pointless, and the whole song doesn't do anything for me.

(A-) Hands of the Priestess II: While the tone and style is similar to part 1, the song is not a regurgitation of the first part. It begins with a charming flute that is later accompained by a beautiful theme played on an electric guitar.

(C-) The Hermit: A nice acoustic ballad, but nothing special. Any ballad from Genesis in this period is superior to this one. The relaxing outro is pretty good though.

(F) Star of Sirius: The first two minutes are charming enough, but that doesn't stop me from giving an F to this song. The reason is simple: one of the most horrible choruses I've heard in my life, prog or not. I cannot believe that it is Phil Collins who is singing here because if that's him, he must have been having a major flu (his vocal performance is horribly subpar). Not only is the singing weak, but the ridiculous melody and vocal harmonies make my parents ask me to please put my headphones whenever the chorus comes up. Skippable song for sure.

(C) The Lovers: A nice interlude between the horrible song and the masterpiece.

(A+) Shadow of the Hierophant: You can't have an album as inconsistent as this one in terms of quality. After an unlistenable song with choruses that could be used for harsh interrogative tactics, here comes one of the highlights from the whole progressive rock movement of the 70s. It begins with a glorious and bombastic mellotron/guitar punch that is played a few times throughout the song, alternating with folk melodies sang by a talented woman. After that ends, the song leaves room for an impressive electric guitar solo that I consider one of his best guitar performances in his entire career. It is not technically impressive (excluding the lighting fast tapping that introduces it) but it is rich in melody and emotion. Just when I feel goosebumps all over my body, the best is yet to come: a crescendo that would make post rock bands like "Godspeed you Black Emperor" shake their heads in shame as this guitar player made one of my favourite crescendos in the whole music world. I won't spoil much, but I could say that it has one of the best Collins performances, a synthesis of guitar riffs,delicious mellotron, and other instrumentation. A perfect ending!

Shadow of the Hierophant is worth the album itself, but you won't find more of this quality except for the priestess interludes. The album is so inconsistent in quality that it severely mars my enjoyment whenever I spin this disc. Proceed with caution.

Highlights: Shadow of the Hierophant, Hands of the Priestress pt1+2

Let Downs: A Tower Struck Down, Star of Sirius.

My Grade : C

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#89135)
Posted Wednesday, September 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Steve Hackett's much heralded solo debut, "Voyage of the Acolyte" is likely his most well-known and popular work as a solo artist. It appeals most to Genesis fans, probably because everyone in the band except for Banks is present, making their mark on multiple tracks. Hackett's brother John is also heavily utilized throughout the album on flute and keyboards.

The strength in the album and its compositions lies in its ability to create moods and pictures, not through it's lyrics, but it's music. This is one time where you might be able to judge an album by its artwork as they seem to match so well. It actually might be more useful than the lyrics as one gets the feeling that Steve's visions have come to life through his wife's art. If the artwork doesn't strike you as intriguing, you might not like what you find for music.

Final Analysis: It is not too hard to find the many beautiful passages throughout Hackett's debut. This imagery is colored with nice layers of electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards and flute.

Highlights: "Hands of the Priestess", "The Hermit", "Star of Sirius"

Weaknesses: "A Tower Struck Down"

Rating: 4 stars for this highly inspired staple of Progressive Rock

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Send comments to White Shadow (BETA) | Report this review (#92821)
Posted Sunday, October 01, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars A great starting point for Genesis fans.

This album is definitely up their with the best of the Genesis albums, and also fits nicely as a transitional album in between The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and A Trick of the Tail. But, of course, this isn't a Genesis album at all, it's a Steve Hackett album, his first to be exact.

Hackett is the most underrated member of the classic five of Genesis. His sound was crucial to the progressive sound of the band, which explains why it sounds like a lot was lost after his departure.

This album was recorded immediately after Peter Gabriel left the band, and was actually the first solo album released by any member of Genesis. Steve Hackett had no intention of leaving Genesis for a solo career at this point, but instead had several ideas that never made it onto previous Genesis albums, so used this album as an outlet for those ideas, which is probably why it sounds so Genesisy. In addition, bandmates Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins make their appearances on this album. Collins plays drums and even makes his lead vocal debut on this album, although that credit is also shared by Sally Oldfield and Steve himself. Another notable addition is Steve's brother, John, who plays the flute in what one might be considered Peter Gabriel's place if this were considered a Genesis album. Of course, John would continue to play Flute for Steve on all his future albums, and would eventually embark on a solo career of his own.

The result is a phenomenal album from beginning to end. The first half is entirely instrumental, ranging from relaxing to frantic. It is progressive no doubt. The first vocal song, The Hermit, is sung by Steve. Hackett is by no means as strong a vocalist as Collins or Gabriel, but he can sing well, and on this song he sounds great. Phil's song is next, this song sounds like it could have been in A Trick of the Tail. It has a very relaxed yet playful atmosphere to it. After a brilliant classical guitar piece, the final song, which is the best part of the album commences. The vocal part, sung by Sally Oldfield, is beautiful and medieval sounding, with the perfect mix of mellotron and Steve's guitar playing dispersed in between just the way we like it. But the second half is a stunningly epic instrumental that builds in power and eventually takes over. This part was actually composed by Hackett and Rutherford during the Foxtrot sessions, and is very climactic in the same veign as the climax to Supper's Ready. For this song alone this album is worth getting. It's jut an added bonus that the rest of the album is also great.

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Send comments to Gianthogweed (BETA) | Report this review (#93204)
Posted Tuesday, October 03, 2006 | Review Permalink
Australian
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Steve Hackett's "Voyage of the Acolyte" is a shinning example of the mixture of band and orchestral instruments into one album. This is probably why Steve Hackett is classified as a symphonic artist. Also the inclusion of synthesizers gives it that final symphonic touch which tops off the album's sound. The album its self is a tremendous success in my eyes, it is an advancement on any Genesis album as it features, in my opinion a more interesting atmosphere. Whether it be the unique sound or just the greater focus on classic guitar I just can't say, but it's just an improvement.

The album contrasts greatly in sound and mood, take the opener "Ace of Wands" and the following track "Hands of the Priestess pt.1." "Ace of Wands" is a louder, more violent song while Hands of the Priestess pt.1." is a beautiful mixture of classical guitar, flute and mellotron with some percussion here and there. These contrasts pop-up throughout the entire album and become very obvious after a while. Steve Hackett's guitar styles on this album range from intricate classic fingering to experimental guitar synthesizers, very interesting guitar work.

The album opens with the fast-paced "Ace of Wands" which features a couple of themes which appear throughout the entire album, played on instruments ranging from guitar to harmonica in a mellower mood. The song its self is excellent and features some very powerful progressive elements including synthesizers, changes in meter and mixture of instruments.

The next song "Hands of the Priestess, Part 1" is a somewhat mellower song with a really great flute melody played by Steve Hackett's brother. The song is more down to earth than "Ace of Wands" but still features little snippets of oddity. The song is a buffer for the upcoming chaos.

"A Tower Struck Down" is a louder, more aggressive piece than its predecessors and it incorporates the use of odd synthesizer effects. The synthesizers and general sounds in the piece are quite monotonous, but this is a minor factor and will eventually be forgotten. The song also breaks the calm of "Hands of the Priestess, Part 1", and it's really does its part well.

"Hands of the Priestess, Part 2" is quite a short song and it echoes the first part of the song. At the beginning of the peice a new tune is introduced which is repeated later in the album. There is also another tune repeated on a harmonica which sounds very. hazy and good. It is a good revival after "A Tower Struck Down."

Next is "The Hermit", which features great acoustic guitar work from Hackett and also great string backing which adds to the mood of the song. The song excels at conjuring the image of a weather-worn hermit who is more that what meets the eye.

Then comes, the masterpiece of the album, "Star Of Sirius believe me this is one amazing song. The contrast of loud and soft parts, as well as the very melodic guitar work and woodwinds (cor angelis I think) is amazing. A few of the tunes are repeated during the climax of the song and blend with the total feel of the song like clockwork. Amazing stuff.

Up next is the short "intermission" song "The Lovers" which is basically just a winding, mellow acoustic solo from Hackett with minimal backing. It acts as a buffer before the climax.

Last is the fantastic "Shadow of the Hierophant" which is another highlight. The piece features the lovely voice of Sally Oldfield who really brings something anyone else could not. The song is very epic and there is a particular tune which is repeated numerous times throughout the song. "Shadow of the Hierophant" is a great way to end a truly unforgettable album.

1. Ace Of Wands (5/5) 2. Hands of the Priestess Part I (5/5) 3. A Tower Struck Down (3.5/5) 4. Hands of the Priestess Part II (4/5) 5. The Hermit (5/5) 6. Star of Sirius (5/5) 7. The Lovers (3.5/5) 8. Shadow of the Hierophant (5/5) Total = 36 divided by 8 = 4.5 = 5 stars!!

Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music

"Voyage of the Acolyte" is in my opinion better than any Genesis album, but really what has that got to do with anything? Anyway "Voyage of the Acolyte" really is an amazing album in all regards and it does what Genesis albums could not. I'd recommend this album to everyone, its great.

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Send comments to Australian (BETA) | Report this review (#93568)
Posted Friday, October 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Oh, where do you start? Lots of good criticism here on this strand, but I'd use one word; autumnal. I first heard this in the autumn, and Steve's odd use of chords (mostly 7ths, but I am not sure), the juxtaposition of mellotron, guitar and flute evoke a feeling of passing, sadness and loss, the recurrent nostalgic theme from the final section of AoW, the use of woodwind (a favourite English romantic-pastoral device). Woodsmoke, sunsets, mist and mellow fruitfulness (sorry, JK). Great, great album. Tower Struck Down works better live, but what the hell.

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Send comments to Paul Stump (BETA) | Report this review (#94654)
Posted Sunday, October 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chus
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Well, there are hardly ratings below the 4-star rating for this album. That shows something: anyone could easily get used to Steve Hackett; yes, the dorky shy guy with beard and lenses sitting lonely on a corner at Genesis' concerts (as a musician, of course, not to be confused with another roadie) now has broken loose, or well, just a little bit; he's still mostly drown in the mix of mellotron layers and synthetizers, like in the old Genesis' days; but he's in charge of the compositions now, and great compositions they are, taking you into a world of romantic fairy tales and stories of ancient religions.

Yes, it's still in the vein of Genesis (and it's not a complaint); however, he could slap Banks' face with this album, demonstrating that he could live without Genesis' pity.

There are two familiar names on the band's credits: Collins and Rutherford (of the same Genesis fame); though they are under Hackett's command this time.

So I'll get to the actual review: it starts on a fast beat with "Ace Of Wands"; with fantastic interludes and amazing ending, even though they're split together by an annoying and dated sound effect, a low point but it doesn't even last 2 seconds, so there's no point in skipping it. Then we get transported into the suite "Hands Of The Priestess Pt.1/A Tower Struck Down/Hands Of The Priestess Pt.2": the prelude is highly atmospheric with haunting chords of 4th's, 7th's and 2nd's, both in acoustic guitar and mellotron; the flute work is superb; "A Tower Struck Down" is more electric and bombastic, and you could hear chants and the tower being struck down at the end in a crashing sound, the mellotron laments again with strange chords and then, fading in, the epilogue reprises the prologue with good effect. The Hermit is based in a single guitar riff, but there's beauty in it's simplicity and the oboes bring a sense of nostalgia with emotive notes. "Star Of Sirius" is also acoustic-based but a bit lighter in mood and some up-beat moments (Collins fills the vocal spot in this one). I think the weakest song here is "Shadow Of The Hierophant"; it has a great melody and is beautifully crafted with Sally Oldfield's vocals, but it tends to be too repetitive and overlong for that matter.

In this album there's also the tendency to reprise a main melody in all of it's songs: the melody that is first found at the 2nd half of "Ace Of Wands"; evoking the idea of a concept in the same manner as Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon"; Gentle Giant's self-titled album and Jethro Tull's "Thick As A Brick".

It's a great addition to any collection of symphonic rock music, and I would recommend it highly to any Genesis' fan before Wind And Wuthering. 4 stars.

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Send comments to Chus (BETA) | Report this review (#95187)
Posted Thursday, October 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Wow I'm surprised how many of you like this record. I always thought it was a patchy album with some excellent material.

Ace of Wands starts things off well, a great track which prehaps could have been a band number (no wonder he was frustrated ).

Hands of the Priestess, is pretty and has a little oddness going on as well.

A Tower Struck down , again a decent number with some defiantly prog overtones.

Hands of the Priestess Pt. II well this is a patchy prog album...nothing special reprises the theme from part one.

The Hermit , the first big mistake the vocal sucks.

Star of Sirius, another tune that perhaps should have been done by the full band, excellent really.

The Lovers , this is the weaker side no doubt...wonderful no , pleasant yes.

Shadow or the Hierophant, weak ending to a weak side.

Overall its a little better than I had first thought when I put it on to remind me about it. Not a real classic though by any estimation but a worthy recording a must for genesis fans. I think he only scores higher on one record which is the stunning please don't touch. worth 3.5 stars really.

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Send comments to burgersoft777 (BETA) | Report this review (#95275)
Posted Friday, October 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
silvertree
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Well, a lot has been said about this album being the lost Genesis album... I don't quite agree with that suggestion. It definitely has a Genesis sound to it of course but knowing Hackett's other works, Voyage Of The Acolyte has Hackett's trademark written all over it. This means that his next couple of albums are as good if not better (in sound). Phil Collins' contribution on the vocals is not that good unfortunately but the drumming makes up for it ! The only setback is when Hackett sings on the Hermit. However the rest of the album is fantastic. My own favourite is Shadow of the Hierophant : what a great piece of progressive music. Attention Genesis fans : go and get this album if you don't already have it.

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Send comments to silvertree (BETA) | Report this review (#96219)
Posted Monday, October 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
NJprogfan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A very beautiful truly symphonic prog album by one of the most important guitarists in prog. It's the only album I have of his so far and I really can't see how he could have topped it. It starts off very aggressively, which took me by surprise, (I did have the original vinyl record years ago, but I toally forgot what it sounded like). "Ace Of Wands" is my favorite song for the simple reason that it doesn't sound like Genesis. It's a tad fusiony mixed with symph changing tempo often and at only 5.25 minutes long, it has enough melodies and themes for six songs! A classic! The next three songs tell a story and are haunting and dark with the third part acoustic and pretty. "Star of Sirius" is sung by Phil Collins and is the catchiest and very memorable. But hands down, the most symphonic song on the album is "Shadow of the Hierophant". With Sally Oldfield's precious vocals and Steve's wailingly sad guitar, it features super Melotron passages which sticks in your head for days. My copy is the re-mastered version with two bonus tracks, a killer live version of "Ace Of Hands" and an extended version of "Shadow of the Hierophant" which tends to get on your nerves after it surpasses the original version timewise. All in all, I'd guess this would be the best solo album symphonicaly by any member of Genesis and garners a 4.5 star rating from me. A must have for Genesis fans and symph fans in general.

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Send comments to NJprogfan (BETA) | Report this review (#104711)
Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Quite a colourful thrill ride. Lots of imagery in this music and the interesting lyrics. Steve Hackett's distinctive (acoustic and electric) guitar sound is throughout this album, yet it is clearly not a Genesis album. The album easily changes from soft, beautiful songs (Hands of the Priestess) to great prog rockers (A Tower Struck Down, Ace of Wands). The Last song of the album mercilessly beats out a haunting melody endlessly, and ends the album gorgeously. A very slick and imaginative album, overall. Any Genesis lover, Symphonic Prog lover, or Progressive Rock lover will most likely love this piece of fine music.

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Send comments to Shakespeare (BETA) | Report this review (#105208)
Posted Monday, January 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I don't know what it is about some of the albums I used to love when they first came out on vinyl, only to add them to my CD collection years later and think, "OK, maybe it's not that great after all". "Trick of the Tail", "Wind and Wuthering" and "Voyage of the Acolyte" are all in that category.

No need to dwell on the story of how and when this came out. Obviously there was some dissatisfaction from Steve about his input into Genesis so he felt the need to release some of his own music. A lot is made of this being the best album Genesis never made but to me it has its own sound, though undeniably related to Genesis (a sort of brother in law who visits occasionally perhaps). This is quite possibly because the lack of Tony Banks among the musicians, though Rutherford and Collins do feature.

All in all, without dissecting it track by track, it's a good album with some weak bits (Steve Hackett should NEVER be allowed to sing his own material- see "The Hermit"), some strong bits (personally I love the harmonies on the chorus of "Star of Sirius" though perhaps it's a little overdone).

All in all though it just doesn't excite me or move me like it once did. Maybe it's over- familiarity, maybe it's just my tastes changing, or maybe it's the chance to reflect more on its true quality. I guess it's probably a combination of both. Strange though that I still rate highly "Please Don't Touch", the album that followed this.

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Send comments to zedkatz (BETA) | Report this review (#105358)
Posted Wednesday, January 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Voyage" is the second Hackett album that I bought, the first being "Spectral Mornings". I was really impressed by Steve's compositions in SM so I decided to get his debut album right away, since it was supposedly his best.

"Voyage" begins with "Ace of Wands" - the highlight (IMO) of the album - featuring great playing by Steve and the rest of the band. The Genesis sound is very present in the music, not only on "Ace" but on the entire album (Collins and Rutherford also play on every track). "Hands of the Priestess", "The Hermit" & "The Lovers" are all acoustic, classical-oriented ballads, each one perfectly executed but neither very memorable. "A Tower Struck Down" has a nice rhythm - much like the one in Apocalypse in 9/8. "Star of Sirius" is my second favorite track with Phil Collins singing lead vocals and Steve's great electric guitar work. The closing track and the epic of the album - "Shadow of the Hierophant" - didn't really reach my expectations but is a good closer nonetheless.

This is an outstanding album considering it was Steve's first solo effort, but I wouldn't put it in the same level as the masterpieces he created with Genesis. An excellent addition for symphonic fans though.

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Send comments to Hans (BETA) | Report this review (#107593)
Posted Monday, January 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sagichim
COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Knowing genesis before i knew steve hackett ,deffinitely didn't prepare me for this album. Although i knew he was a good guitar player that sometimes was not fully noticed ,i didn't imagine he was such a wonderful songwriter and a progressive one too. I guess he was the main guy pushing the music to prog territories in genesis.

The album openes with a bang ,'ace of wands' is one of the most progressive 5 minutes song i have come to hear ,it changes about every 30 seconds from the main theme to a second theme and back ,then evolves some more having one of the most coolest breaks in history of breaks. Spectacular bass and some good drumming. One of the greatest tracks by hackett. But the album is not all crazy like the opener ,but presents a mellow side too with good acoustic guitars incorporating some flutes and keys ,creating some beautiful moods. Another thing i like about this album is how it demonstrates hackett's songwriting ability and not focusing only on his guitar playing ,that is noticed on 'a tower struck down' which is a prog song focusing on the keys, also great. The music on the album is eclectic symphonic with very good ideas, some are well done and some are less, like the closing track which clocking at above 11 minutes ,is nice but drags too long for minutes when nothing really changes.

This was a very promising debut by hackett ,and followed it a couple of more progressive albums. 4 stars

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Send comments to Sagichim (BETA) | Report this review (#113199)
Posted Thursday, February 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars first solista disc and sure better album of Steve Hackett!!! It is felt clearly from where many of the great present ideas in discs of the Genesis are dulled. The disc is opened and closed with parts complex and pulled ("Ace of wands" and "Shadow of the hierophant") while it dedicates the traces centers them to atmospheres soft, contornate from the wonderful acoustic guitars to 6 and 12 strings with the apparition of flute and moog. Large "Hands of the priestess", wonderful melodia of "The hermit" and the mastodontic "Shadow of the Hierophant" with a huge end in growing. Famous: Some you leave sung are due to the sister of Mike Olfield. IF you like Genesis you'll love this album

9.5

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Send comments to Planet_Gong (BETA) | Report this review (#114529)
Posted Thursday, March 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
5 stars No real point in annointing this immense talent and huge guitar innovator any further , I still remember rewiring my jaw (after picking it up off the concert floor) subsequent to Genesis' show in Montreal in 1974. "A flower?" blooming amazing guitar display that was. This debut album is still justly viewed as a glowing icon of melancholia-infused progressive rock. With most of his Genesis bandmates on board, Hackett is in obviously comfortable surroundings and hence, positively shines throughout the tracks , effusively flowing guitar forays searching for new tonal horizons , dazzling atmospheres wonderfully coloured by the ubiquitous mellotron cascades, rivers of liquid flute runs and an occasional stream of vibrant cello. The supporting cast does well to further enhance the fragile delicacy of the arrangements , namely the pulsating Rutherford Rickenbaker combining deftly with the marvelous Collins drumming (they were a very underrated rythm section ), a burping Percy Jones fretless bass cameo and the glimmering voice courtesy of Sally Oldfiled . The tracks have been already dissected by my esteemed colleagues, so I will reserve my comments to the closer, where the disc spirals effortlessly into the upper reaches of nirvana (no, not the band) , an unmitigated classic that easily rivals or even surpasses any prime Genesis tune, proving conclusively that Steve's departure was the final progressive moment in Genesis' existence. The next chapters of their history has only further confirmed the obvious. Tied with Spectral Mornings but a slightly more precious overall package (Beautiful cover to boot). 5 stars, with "no reply at all".

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#120858)
Posted Saturday, May 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Although a longtime fan of early Genesis, I was at first hesitant to pick up this album for fear it would be a letdown. Fortunately I was terribly wrong. It's an outstanding release from beginning to end. I was always curious what the extent of Hackett's input was into the songwriting of early Genesis - after hearing this album it's clear to see he was a dominant force. As others have pointed out, this record sounds like a classic Genesis album that was never made. Hackett is often overlooked in discussions of virtuoso guitarists, and what a shame. He is a brilliant player and gifted songwriter. No prog fan should be without this one.

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Send comments to Disconnect (BETA) | Report this review (#125892)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars With this solo album, his first, Steve Hackett set a pattern he would maintain throughout his career. Some tracks will annoy the listener, some leave him/her indifferent, some are so beautiful it hurts. To the first category belongs "A Tower Struck Down", to the second "The Hermit" and the much-vaunted instrumental climax of "Shadow of the Hierophant" (melodramatic, self-important film music which takes a lot of time getting you nowhere). With a bit of goodwill, we might conclude that the third and final category is the one that's best represented here. A good album, then, but not a great one.

To be more precise: the pastoral folk of "Hands of the Priestess" and "Hierophant" (at least the latter's vocal half, sung by Sally Oldfield) actually sounds very charming and refreshing. Hackett's fortissimo guitar-and-mellotron outburst on "Hierophant" may frighten the pants off you the first time you hear it; it clearly shows how much he was enthralled by King Crimson's "Epitaph", but it's no less effective for that. A shame, though, that Hackett (or Mike Rutherford - I don't know who was responsible for the lyrics) wouldn't let Miss Oldfield sing a simple love song, but decided to stick to fake-poetical nonsense. 'Veiling the night shade bright stalks a flower revealed / Nearing the hour make haste to their threshold concealed'? I don't think so...

Silly lyrics are also the one weak point of "Star of Sirius", but otherwise I don't want to hear a word against this particular song. It's one of the most ravishing melodies I've heard Phil Collins sing - easily as good as anything on TRICK OF THE TAIL (then as yet unreleased). To top it all, "Sirius" includes a mellow middle section for oboe and mellotron so achingly beautiful it makes me want to burst out in tears every time I play it. Hackett tends to write wonderful tunes for wind instruments; it's something I truly admire. He also has a great ear for analog synth sonorities. On the gorgeous instrumental "Ace of Wands", Moog synthesizers are employed to great effect (as well as twelve string guitar, mellotron, bells and of course Steve's mischievous electric lead guitar).

To sum up, VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE is worth hearing but not the masterpiece of symphonic prog some of Hackett's fans make it out to be. When pressed, I'd give it three and a half stars. (You may be interested to hear that the album's best two tracks are also included in the excellent compilation THE UNAUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY.) As for ACOLYTE's cover art, I'm afraid it's the kind of wishy-washy fairytale stuff that gives prog a bad name. (Unfortunately, on later releases the artist concerned was to prove she could do even worse.) Finally - any mixed feelings I may have about this recording cannot disguise that Steve Hackett's post-1975 career is much more fascinating than anything achieved by comparable figures like Steve Howe or Rick Wakeman. Whatever his defects, Hackett rarely runs out of ideas. Long may he continue to perplex and surprise us.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#126450)
Posted Thursday, June 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This first album of Steve's is very firmly trenched in the early Genesis era of "Trespass", with the first half of the album being predimoninantly instrumental. It is the second half of the album that really stands out however.

"Star of Sirius" with vocals by Phil Collins is the best track on the album, kicking off the second half in a classic Genesis style, with a chorus and middle piece that illustrates that Steve can swing it with the best of prog rock writers. The next track, the lovers, acts as a short but beautiful dream-like interlude before you are taken on an epic 11 minute journey that is the "Shadow of the Hierophant". This piece includes operatic-like vocals from Sally Oldfield, and a climax that builds from a barely audible series of chimes, to a huge drum lead creshendo from Phil. This particular song more than any other on the album gives glimpses of things to come in future projects, where melodramatic, sweeping music on a grand scale becomes a common trait of Steves music.

Two extra tracks are provided on the remastered version - one is the "Ace of Wands " Live at the Theatre Royal Drury lane, and the other is an extended playout version of "Shadow of the Hierophant" (17 minutes long!). I am all for having live tracks added to remastered studio albums - it gives newcomers to Steve's work a chance to hear how good he is live. The extended playout version of "Shadow..." however doesn't add much to the album - it simply illustrates that Steve was wise to edit the finale by a good 6 minutes (the climax had already reached a plateau in the edited version and had nowhere else to go in the extended version).

The remaster apart, over the years the original album has had praise heaped upon it time and time again. This was a fine solo debut from Steve, but it is worth noting that he has since produced a number of albums on which his creative artistry and writing abilities have been demonstrated to even greater effect than on this album.

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Send comments to Leonardo (BETA) | Report this review (#127116)
Posted Friday, June 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have nothing very significant to add, but Voyage of the Acolyte is sort of like a poor man's Dark Side of the Moon, abstracted, diluted and abstracted again. That is to say, it is fantastic. The songs tie into each other and the album builds until the final song- a masterpiece. I find the album irritating in places like for instance Sally Oldfield's voice on Shadow of the Hierophant (not to say I wish it was not there) and the cough in A Tower Falls, but this keeps my attention on the music and leaves me wonderfully exposed when it comes crashing down out of nowhere. I can only describe the journey in Voyage Of The Acolyte as engrossing.

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Send comments to mcgoverntj (BETA) | Report this review (#127301)
Posted Monday, July 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "...lost in thought in search of vision as the moon eclipsed the sun..."

This album is of a rare beauty. I adore almost every minute of it.

The choice to try something new outside Genesis was a winning decision for Hackett. The atmosphere is warm with strong classical influences (a special mention goes to Sally Oldfield her beatutiful and pure vocals), rich of varied and intelligent compositions. Above all, its freshness, that sense of joy and delicacy flowing from all the notes, from all the synth's chants.

Acoustic and electric guitar softly whispering create pure melodic structures. Many changing moods from baroque (thanks to the use of instruments like oboe, cello and flute) to dramatic: the couple "Hands of the Priestess - part 1" and "A Tower Struck Down" are the most evident proof. The second one, in particular, is great, superb, nervous, exciting with those peculiar and distorted bass parts. Not to speak of the master use of synth whose results have bring the melodies to Olympus mount of prog.

The album is instrumental for the most part, with some exceptions like "The Hermit", "Star of Sirius" (which features excellent vocals thanks to fellow Genesis member Phil Collins) and "Shadow of the Hierophant" (11,45 mns).

The last one, is mainly instrumental and pompous. It reminds me (in its first part), a little, of Barclay James Harvest's memorable tune "For No One", especially for the majestic choir mellotron eruptions. That's one my best "goose bump moments in prog".

Thanks, Steve. 4.5 stars.

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Send comments to Andrea Cortese (BETA) | Report this review (#130847)
Posted Monday, July 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars So Where do we start? Where do we begin? An epic of monstrous proportions, teeming with ideas and ravenous beauty.

From shards of noise and effects in "A Tower Struck Down" to the downright pastoral beauty of "Hands of the Preistess", "The Hermit" et al. Coming in from the front then "Ace of Wands" .boom no easy opening, easing you in here straight in with drums and Steve's immaculate guitaring©. Moments of beauty do intersperse with the frantic nature of this song, which seems to be a theme running through the whole album, and it's always good to here different instruments being used on a "Rock" album. Bells, whistles all pervade the opening track, and just when you think the track is about to end, in comes that weird whistle again, and bang we're off again. Part I of Hands of the Preistess follows and is a beautiful instrumental of which Steve Hackett has become renowned, heavily featuring his brother John on Woodwind instruments it evokes visions of a summer's Sunday laying in a field of straw with you favourite girl/boy (delete as appropriate). The track is beautifully reprised after the aforementioned .Tower. Dum da da da. Again uncompromising straight from the off another typical Hackett instrumental you think, great but nothing out of the ordinary, then Steve starts playing with our minds great swathes of mellotron interspersed with unearthly sounds, more whistling, then .. Animal noises, someone coughing and chanting (seig heil? Steve Hackett?) into a very downbeat ending.

Now I love "The Hermit" how it can be described as nothing special is beyond me. Steve takes lead vocals and no he's not a great singer, but somehow the fragile, quivering vocal performance really suits this song and is beautiful beyond belief, it can still make the hairs of the back of my neck stand on end after god knows how many years of listening to it, the track finishes off with more of John Hackett's woodwind and this works to round off this great track.

Phil Collins turns up to sing "Star of Sirius" and you can't help but think how good this would sound on a Genesis album, no wonder Steve buggered off if they were turning down songs as good as this from appearing on their albums. The Lovers is another soft and gentle acoustic guitar instrumental and fits beautifully between Sirius and Heirophant.

Ah yes, "Shadow of the Heirophant", practically instrumental apart from the first couple of minutes which feature Sally Oldfield on vocals, which don't seem to be to everyone's taste (sounding semi-operatic) but really they do fit the song perfectly. But it's definitely the instrumental "2nd Part" that grabs you with this track, I also think the bridge between the two parts is brilliantly done, building from that a lone triangle (or whatever) in the distance is all you can hear and slowly, slowly instruments come in, the volume rises, always the same theme (repetitive? Boring? Of course not), it is a slow brooding build up but by the end you're exhausted, you're bathed in sweat, you're on the edge of tears, let this monster just enfold you in it's rapture.

For God's sake 5 stars doesn't tell half the story.

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Send comments to Gog/Magog (BETA) | Report this review (#131431)
Posted Thursday, August 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This will sound strange perhaps coming from someone who loves Genesis with Hackett, but this sound a bit too much like Genesis for me to think of it as a Hackett solo album. Well, a lot of it does anyway. I guess this isn't terribly surprising, since he was still in Genesis and all Mike and Phil both play on it (and according to the liner notes of the remaster, Gabriel told Hackett he should do a solo album).

In any case, the first track, Ace of Wands doesn't really sound that much like Genesis (I know, already contradicting myself :-) , except perhaps the fast beginning section reminding me vaguely of the beginning of Dance On A Volcano. I can't help but be reminded of Genesis with the gentle acoustics and flute of the next number. Very pastoral and quite beautiful. A Tower Struck Down recalls Lambs more powerful moments, while still retaining that unique Hackett approach that would flower to near perfection on his next 3 solo albums.

The Hermit is a good song, with Hackett's first (I presume) tentative attempt at vocals. I think they are fine, but not particularly noteworthy. Much like his singing still is today. No offense to Steve, but I think it works better when he lets other singers take the lead. With Star Of Sirius, the Genesis connection is quite strong thanks to Collins' vocals, which work perfectly on this fantastic piece of music. A very pastoral and Entangled type of sound. This is followed by a quite upbeat and lively outro. The Lovers is a lovely (sorry), brief acoustic interlude that leads perfectly into the final track, Shadow of the Hierophant. Personally, I love Sally Oldfield's vocals on this track, and in any event they are only there for a short time. But her voice fits perfectly for the part she sings. The song has some nice transitions, and I especially like the part where Hackett does his two hand tapping with lots of delay and reverb all by himself as a transition into the single bell (I think that is what it is) playing the melody that then is taken up by the rest of the band and slowly fades up to the monumental, if somewhat repetitive outro. A great ending to a very good album. My only issue is that buying the remaster, I got excited seeing it had as bonus track what I assumed to be a 17 minute live version of Shadow of the Hierophant. Well, it is 17 minutes, but it's just an "extended playout" version of the original. Which in this case means the ending, which I like in spite of it's repetitive nature, gets extended by an additional 6 minutes! Had there been anything new in those 6 mintues, I wouldn't mind, but as it is it just makes the song TOO long. The other bonus track is a decent, if not really any different than the original, live version of Ace. But I won't factor these bonus tracks into my rating. Just know if you get this remaster, they are not really worth hearing more than once (unlike the some of the bonuses on the next 3 albums).

While I do like this album, I don't think it is nearly as good as Spectral Mornings, an where I think Hackett finally hits on his "sound" as a solo artist, and created his best album in my view. Still I like this a bit more than the next one, and probably even a bit more than Defector (though The Steppes is better than anything on here I feel). So I think 4 stars is an accurate rating, as this really is an excellent addition to any prog music collection, but doesn't really reach masterpiece status for me. If you are an early Genesis fan, this is a must have. And, of course, if you like any other Hackett albums you will want this as well.

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Send comments to infandous (BETA) | Report this review (#131577)
Posted Friday, August 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album deserves 3 stars, good, but non-essential

Hackett the years before this album made a lot of awesome material with genesis, he could had followed the same line but with more guitar work (in genesis is very secondary the guitar roll). The highest point of the album is Ace Of Wands, a very agressive and progressive instrumental song, and Star Of Sirius, that reminds me to Genesis, my favourite band ever. That's why it hurts me to put 3 stars to Steve, but we have to be objective, this is no that good.

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Send comments to larra (BETA) | Report this review (#141870)
Posted Wednesday, October 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars What a superb, beautiful and exciting debut album! I've got not much to add to previous reviws but at least for me, "Voyage of the Acolyte" could be one of the most perfect debtu albums ever!

Still inffluenced by the sound of the 70's Genesis, Hackett build an awsome album based on his undeniable guitar skills, great performances of guest musicians (such as Phil Collins, John Acock, Mike Rutherford and Sally Oldfield) mixing some really symphonic, progressive and complex instrumental tracks such as the syncopated "Ace of Wands" and the darky and heavy sections of "Hands of the Priestess" (both parts) and "A Tower Struck Down". On the other hand, we have some beautiful, melodic and melancholic songs like "The Hermit", "The Lovers" and the legendary "Shadow of the Hierophant", a piece of almost 12 minutes which contains a celestial vocal performance by Sally Oldfield.

Definetively a great album, totally recommended for real symphonic prog lovers: full of classical inffluences, strong prog sections, powerful epic guitar solos and riffs and the constant sensation to be hearing a drem that became music!...

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Send comments to progadicto (BETA) | Report this review (#148163)
Posted Tuesday, October 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars One Genesis album not credited to Genesis is the first solo effort by Steve Hackett. The album was made after Gabriel had left and the guys were taking some time to try different things before making decisions about Genesis. Hackett took the chance to "be the Captain" for a change and this album has all of the beauty and grandeur of the 70s finest symphonic successes. A balance is achieved between delicate pastoral moments and rocking ones, the arrangements and sound are quite good, and the list of guest stars is impressive: Collins, Rutherford, John Acock, Sally Oldfield, and Percy Jones. Hackett notes that it "was great to work with Phil and Mike in a different way outside the confines of the band."

"Ace of Wands" begins with an uptempo riff and muscular bass that alternates a mellow section of acoustic guitars and synths. Nice progressions lead to some fancy Hackett leads towards the end. "Hands of the Priestess part 1" is pure prog heaven with acoustic and lovely flute over mellotron. The melody is gorgeous and dreamy. Occasionally light chimes and volume controlled electric leads make a welcome appearance. "A Tower Struck Down" jolts you from the serenity of the previous song with a Crimsonesque harshness to the mood. Sound effects come and go adding drama and unease. It then drifts back to the loveliness of "Hands of the Priestess part 2" briefly before going into "The Hermit." The music is very pretty with cello, acoustic guitar and flute. The vocals are somewhat tentative and thin as Hackett was obviously not too comfortable with his vocal prowess. "Star of Sirius" begins side 2 with mellotron, acoustic with effect, and a guest vocal by Collins who does a nice job. This track features a catchy pop-ish chorus that gets a bit sing-songey but I find the overall cheese rating of the album to be more than manageable. Let's face it, there's good cheese and bad cheese and this is some of the fine stuff. Some say albums like this are what made Punk necessary and while there is an element of truth to that philosophy, it can never take away the joy that music like this gives to people. Punk and prog can co-exist just fine in the eyes of we fans-it seems like the artists are the ones who have trouble getting along. "The Lovers" is a short instrumental introduction to the real highlight of the album, the magnificent "Shadow of the Hierophant." This has to be one of symphonic prog's greatest moments. I am captivated by the yearning beauty of the main melody that keeps finding its way back, seemingly more passionate each time. And then there is the angelic beauty of Oldfield's vocal which just makes my heart burst. The louder parts trade off with soft passages of mellotron, acoustic guitar, and flute. There are some pleasant electric leads peeled off now and again. Some have complained the track is a bit sweet and this is true but what can I say? Sometimes a particular piece of songwriting catches you in its spell and other times definitely not. I find it completely charming and spellbinding.

I would highly recommend this album to anyone who loves melodic symphonic prog like Genesis, Novalis, Willowgrass, Rousseau, Yes (think "To Be Over"), Oldfield, or Camel. It may not be a masterpiece but it is an exceptional album. The gatefold mini-lp reissue features good sound and the amazing artwork of Kim Poor whose album cover won an award. Her website describes the cover as follows: "Through bone and fire the sightless priestess foretells the future. Her eyes are denied the usual sight, but she represents events foretold: precognition, premonition and the road of the tarot are her stock in trade. The hands of this gifted seeress, and feminine intuition, allow the drawbridge of consciousness to be lifted for her, immediately becoming an open door. It is a Chinese watercolour in her background which tells of past lives ... the tower about to be struck down ... the balloons of colour that must be snatched and fully grasped in order to move forward, representing the artist herself." [Kim Poor] It also features two bonus tracks, a live version of "Ace of Wands" and a 17 minute extended version of "Shadow." All in all a high-quality release and one deserving of its reputation as one of the highlights of the mid 1970s prog scene.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#154747)
Posted Saturday, December 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is the famous, "Lost Genesis Album", and it is very similar to the Genesis sound indeed. The presence of Rutherford and Collins Only emphasizes that fact. While it is a good album, I like later albums better when Hackett Started to Develop his own sound and his own team of musicians. The highlights here are the Opening Ace of Wands, a powerful, shifting prog piece that shows off Hackett's talents well enough, as well as the debut of his brother John on flute, which is gorgeous. The Hands of the Priestess has nice acoustics and flute, as does the Hermit. Star of Sirius is ok, but a little too noisy for my tastes, as is A Tower Struck down. Shadow of the Hierophant is Incredible, giving us some beautiful female vocals with Sally Oldfield, and some very interesting chord progressions. But, overall, Hackett would make much better albums in the near future. This is a transition between Genesis and Post Genesis.

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Send comments to The Ace Face (BETA) | Report this review (#155242)
Posted Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Hackett delivers one of those albums where you can just hear the love and painstaking effort put into the composition and recording, but in the end the result does not quite resonate with me. This is primarily a mellow, reflective, and often times--I hate to say it--boring album. You'll find plenty of beautiful melodies and wonderful 12-string and mellotron arrangements, but often not simultaneously. I guess to be succinct, every time I put this album on, I really have to resist simply forwarding to the good parts.

Highlights for me include the opener, Ace of Wands, which features plenty of up-tempo playing and lots of guitar/keyboard interplay. There are also a bunch of different synth tones and guitar sounds, which have the effect of always keeping the song fresh and engaging. Hands of the Priestess (Parts I and II) is also a definite highlight of the album, with a wonderfully gorgeous flute melodies over delicate 12-string and floating mellotron. This combination does it for me every time, and Hackett is truly one of the masters of this format.

Star of Sirius, Shadow of the Heirophant. Based on other reviews and the arrangements of these songs, I know that I SHOULD thoroughly enjoy them. But I don't. I suppose one obvious reason why is that the mellow parts of the songs are a bit too repetitive, but more importantly, the faster sections are too short and lose their impact--basically I always find myself wanting more. That being said, there is plenty to delight any progger with these tracks. Star of Sirius features excellent vocal harmonies, tasteful guitar from Hackett, nice keyboard and mellotron, and a nice (except perhaps the repetitive chorus) melody. Heirophant has some incredible moments as well, such as Hackett's tapping/solo section, and the finale. The problem is that the last six minutes of the song repeat the same chords, and simply add instruments (and volume). It seems to me Hackett overdid the dynamic contrast here.

I have to say that this album seems overrated--I really wonder what rating it would receive if Hackett's name was not attached to it. There's a fair amount of unique and entertaining music, but it's couched in within an equal amount of boring material. Also, this is a tough album to relax to because of the volume contrasts--I CONSTANTLY have to adjust my volume to hear the delicate parts and not subsequently have my eardrums pierced by the louder segments. Solid album, but nothing exceedingly cohesive or groundbreaking. Bonus points for the album art.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#156467)
Posted Monday, December 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is a marvelous musical voyage released by Steve and his acolytes. Only Tony is missing on this one to get the whole of Genesis, while they were four.

Back then, I was an orphan young boy of my most beloved band. Peter had left a few months earlier and when I heard that Steve was releasing a solo album, I rushed out to buy my copy of his work. And what an excellent surprise it was! It starts already with the great cover artwork and lasts till the last and wonderful song.

The whole of this album was (and still is more than thirty years later) a real enchantment. It sounds of course fully as a Genesis album if you would except the crazy lyrics from Peter of course. It is also more instrumental (but this is more than logical).

Several aspects of the band are depicted. Complex and intricate instrumental with Ace Of Wands, fully pastoral and very melodic Hands Of The Priestess (both parts). The most Crimsonesque track A Tower Struck Down is another instrumental winner. Heavy, repetitive and scary. Even if I don't listen to this piece very often, it doesn't spoil the whole. The first part really sounds as an end of the world track (till the Sieg Heil shouts are fading away). The least accessible number from Voyage Of The Acolyte.

The Hermit is plunging into the Trespass-esque mood. Although I like very much the combination acoustic guitar and great keys, I can't say that the vocal part (from Steve) is on par. But this is only the start of his solo work, so I would rather be indulgent.

One of the best song available is Star Of Sirius. You can't imagine a closer song from Wind & Wuthering than this one. Rhythm changes, great synthesizers and a really catchy (even poppy) chorus and tranquil verse part (in the style of One For The Vine). When you listen to this excellent piece of music featuring Phil on the lead vocals, there are no wonder that all the Genesis fans were just thrilled with this great album. Mike is just great in his bass play as well. A highlight of course.

A short Horizons oriented acoustic guitar solo is opening the way for a great closing number : Shadow Of The Hierophant. If you happen to like sumptuous mellotron, this one is for you. Aerial vocals from Sally Oldfield, bombastic instrumental passages, clever guitar breaks. Another truly Genesis number and another highlight. The long, repetitive and crescendo fianle is a fantastic symphonic prog moment.

This is by far the best album ever recorded by any Genesis member in a solo effort. The rating? Five stars of course! I have just ordered the remastered edition while listening again to this marvel, since I read that the two bonus tracks are really worth.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#158406)
Posted Saturday, January 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
5 stars STEVE HACKETT is among the most influential guitarists in the history of rock music.Born in London in 1950,he begun his musical journey in 1970 with ''Quiet World'' along with his brother Jon.A year later he joined GENESIS after the departure of original guitarist Anthony Phillips,with whom he spent 5 overcreative years.In 1975 Steve was announced the first GENESIS member to release a solo album,''Voyage of the acolyte''.A fantastic work of high quality,''Voyage of the acolyte'' actually moves GENESIS' sound a step further.Now,the familiar pastoral orchestral GENESIS-like arrangements (featuring strong use of flutes and mellotron) are mixed with some really progressive guitar work based on virtuosic changing tempos and climates.The album doesn't allow you to breathe,as at one moment the acoustic folkish sounds of Hackett's guitar relax you at the maximum,when suddenly the next track offers complicated musicianship with amazing interplays and fast tempos!

Hackett is accompanied for this release by a number of great musicians like his brother Jon,GENESIS' fellows Rutherford and Collins,Sally Oldfield etc...Words are not enough to describe this absolute masterpiece of music,a lost GENESIS album by one of world's best musicians/song-writers.Certainly a must-have!

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#162542)
Posted Sunday, February 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars 1976... I was a soldier at that time in the French army, when we had no choice of doing it or not. I was in Germany and I became the head of the record library. I met two boys : one fan of prog (and a guitar player too) who later became my brother in law, and another one music lover, a fan of classical. At that time, prog intended to be the 'modern classical music' (no joke!) but was rejected by most 'serious music' lovers. A kind of adventurous and not passeist music, far from museums and elites. And with the rock feeling of rebellion. That's what we tried to say to this classical amateur and I think he did finally agree. 2008 : I still pretend this is Hackett's best album. I couldn't find the same emotion, inventivity and symphonism in his other works. At least at the same level. Yes, this is a real Genesis album. To be compared with the best ones of that period such as A Trick or Wind. Yes, this is a gem of symphonic prog. With a gorgeous cover in the true prog tradition.

Finally a good introduction for the neophytes to our prog world.

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Send comments to Thierry (BETA) | Report this review (#163317)
Posted Thursday, March 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In 1975, Steve Hackett became the first Genesis member to release a solo album. Although Anthony Phillips left Genesis in 1970, he did not release his first album until 1977, the same year Peter Gabriel released his debut solo album. Of course later on, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, and Phil Collins would all release solo albums. At the moment, I can't think of another band that had so many members release solo efforts, and in mostly large numbers.

Hackett's debut, Voyage of the Acolyte sounded like a missing Genesis recording that never made it into the light of day. And maybe that's because Hackett had some of his Genesis friends help him out with this album, notably Mike Rutherford on bass and Phil Collins on drums. But it wasn't just that. Hackett also played the Mellotron and harmonium, adding lush background drops to these songs. Sure, it wasn't anything like having Tony Banks on board, but the effect was good enough to give it that Genesis feel.

In addition to Rutherford and Collins, other musicians contributing include Steve's younger brother, John Hackett, who performs admirably on the flute and Arp synthesizer. Co-producer John Acock contributed more Mellotron, harmonium, piano, and the Elka Rhapsody, a string synthesizer. Robin Miller, who appeared on some King Crimson albums adds some oboe and English horn, and Nigel Warren-Green contributes some cello. So this is a little more than the usual Genesis affair.

The music is mostly instrumental as only three of the songs contains vocals. Hackett sings on The Hermit, Collins sings on Star of Sirius, and guest vocalist, Sally Oldfield (sister of Mike Oldfield) sings on Shadow of the Hierophant. Some of the songs are quite complex (like the opener Ace of Wands), some are pastorally laid back, and the last track (Shadow of the Hierophant) is a lengthy piece deserving of placement on any of the mid-1970s Genesis releases.

Hackett does a very impressive job on his debut as a songwriter. Genesis had a more democratic approach to writing music and this one really let Hackett open up. In fact, after this album Hackett often felt stifled by the Genesis approach and he often felt that he didn't have a fair share in contributing music. This led him to go solo in 1977. I don't fully understand why the other members of Genesis reacted this way towards Hackett's abilities, especially if they had listened to this album (and Collins and Rutherford played on it!!). I have no doubt that his contributions would have not only been fitting for the Genesis albums of that time, but certainly would have made them even better.

Although Hackett did a great job on this album, this was all new to him. It shows on some of the material. The short pieces often sound unfinished and the cohesiveness of the album as a whole is often lacking. It seems like it jumps around a bit and it gives me a feeling of unevenness.

An enjoyable listen that is highly recommended for Genesis and symphonic prog fans. Not quite a masterpiece, but surely an excellent release considering the circumstances. Four stars.

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Send comments to progaardvark (BETA) | Report this review (#165695)
Posted Friday, April 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Steve Hackett´s first solo album, recorded and released while he was still in Genesis, is a mixed bag. It has some wonderful tunes and some that are less than that. At the time I thought it was a bit of a frustration. I was expecting more, specially considering the fine musicians involved. I still have the same feeling. It sounds like a Genesis record that is somewhat incomplete, without some of that magic touch all Genesis albums had so far.

Most of the time my feelings were that the tunes were good, but not fully developed. Some more, some less. Even in the best songs (Ace of Hands, Star Of Sirius) I cannot help but thinking that something´s missing. Don´t get me wrong, the playing is great, the production is good and the overall sound is above average. I really love that guitar sound! The problem is really the songwriting and maybe some arrangements that could bring more life to the tracks (lack of time pehaps? After all, Genesis was still the priority).

All in all, a good record, even though I expected more from such talented musicians. 3 stars.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#171804)
Posted Wednesday, May 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Voyage Of the Acolyte... into your mind.

Another celestial creation by one of the highest ranked guitarists in the entire genre of Progressive Rock. One might say that this album sounds a lot like Foxtrot / Selling England era Genesis, but I disagree, I like this style much more. Where Steve Hackett differs from the traditional Genesis, is where Steve Hackett cranks up the psychedelia knob, and dumps the pop which we started to see on Selling England, and The Lamb Lies Down. Another difference is the more repetitive approach in which Hackett ingrains his psychedelic harmonies into your brain. A fine example of these techniques can be heard on Ace of Wands, A Tower Struck Down, and my favourite Shadow Of The Hierophant (especially the 17+ minute bonus version). Where this album does sound a little bit like Genesis, is in the moments of tranquil, delicate beauty, as seen on Hands Of The Priestess Pt 1 and 2, The Hermit, The Lovers and once again Shadow Of The Hierophant. Although, the only reason that they sound similar in those passages, of course, is due to the acoustic guitar in Genesis performed by Yours Truly.

Although I do not agree that this sounds like Genesis, Steve Hackett has made a leap back into time (away from the direction of The Lamb Lies Down, and A Trick Of the Tail), to a more Symphonic / Psychedelic Foxtrotish atmosphere, temporarily renewing the spirit of the 70's Progressive Rock scene. An ~ESSENTIAL MASTERPIECE~ in any Prog Lover's collection.

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Send comments to OzzProg (BETA) | Report this review (#175529)
Posted Friday, June 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars There is lots of mellotron, sadness and beauty throughout Steve Hackett's debut record. In other words... this is my kind of album ! His GENESIS mates help out here except for Banks and Gabriel(who just left that band). Steve's brother John is on board, and he will continue to help out his brother on future releases.

"Ace Of Wands" is surprisingly in your face to open with guitar, bass and drums leading the way. I like the synths that follow before they hit us again. Gentle guitar follows with mellotron before another outburst. Synths and bells before 2 1/2 minutes as themes continue to be repeated. It changes completely 3 1/2 minutes in. Where did that come from ? Guitar and mellotron are so good. "Hands Of The Priestess Part !" is a pastoral track with gently played guitar, flute and mellotron leading the way. "A Tower Struck Down" is a fairly heavy pulsating piece of music. Percy Jones helps out with some extra bass on this one. Synths come at 3 minutes followed by samples of a Hitler rally. The mellotron before 4 minutes is so majestic, the best on the album. "Hands Of The Priestess Part II" features flute, mellotron and some intricate guitar.

"The Hermit" is the first song with vocals. Steve sings on this one as he plays acoustic guitar. Cello a minute in with flute to follow. Aboe 3 1/2 minutes in. I like this melancholic tune a lot. This song and "The Lovers" are the only two tracks without mellotron. "Star Of Sirius" is another vocal track with Phil Collins at the helm. More gentle guitar as aboe then vocals come in. Mellotron rolls in. Synths as well. Very pastoral until the song kicks into gear 2 1/2 minutes in. What a great section ! Aboe 4 minutes in with mellotron as guitar and synths follow. Very GENESIS-like here. It kicks back in around 5 minutes right to the end. "The Lovers" features more acoustic guitar to open until synths take over half way through. "Shadow Of The Hierophant" is such a gorgeous song that contrasts those uplifting sweeping mellotron sections with the higher pitched vocals of Sally Oldfield. Her voice is so moving. We get some vibes from Collins after 6 minutes which signals a change for the rest of the song. It almost becomes dead quiet, then builds with mellotron, drums, synths and more right to the end.

In my opinion this is the best solo effort by a GENESIS member, although "The Geese And The Ghost" by Anthony Phillips is pretty darn close.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#182549)
Posted Monday, September 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For some people, GENESIS really disappeared the moment that Steve Hackett left the band. In a way, it is true. Only partially. What died with Hackett's departure was symphonic-GENESIS, and the band still had a few good albums up their sleeves (especially the trio's first). But something good came out of all of that. Finally, the guitar-master was able to explore his art freely, to create whatever he wanted. And the results were truly magnificent. Curiously, one of Hackett's best (if not best) albums was recorded before he left GENESIS, his first masterpiece, the superb "Voyage of the Acolyte"

We have an album made of 8 tracks, all of at least better-than-good quality. As always with Hackett, we have a big array of styles and influences, even though it's safe to say that he still owes a little bit of his sound to his (then)-main band. It's no secret also that probably this record's best tracks are, in my view, those two which feature GENESIS members alongside Hackett. So, hearing the style (still much more prog-rock-oriented and less world-music) and having in mind the collaboration of Collins and Rutherford, both factors would clearly affirm that the guitarist's own project was still not 100% his own. That, of course, is a totally invalid conclusion, and I'd say it's the other way around.

For what we have here is 100% Steve Hackett, exactly because a big part of GENESIS' beautiful music was due to Hackett's wonderful playing. If one ever wonders what was lost in the band's music after "Wind and Wuthering" (I would say after "And then there were three", an album were the trio still managed to pull a prog masterpiece), it was the atmospheric style, that sound that evoked something beyond the music. What GENESIS lacked from "Duke" onwards was, simply put, magic, the kind of magic that their guitarist was able to provide in enormous, immeasurable quantities (and, mostly, quality).

Steve Hackett has never been a guitarist that tries to show off his skills. We will rarely hear him dazzling us with his speed or his mind-defying fingering. His technique is superb, even admired by classical music fans, but it's not in his fingers but in his mind, in his imagination where we will find the true high art. He manages to make the guitar sound like a keyboard, manages to make it cry, to make it laugh, to express things that can't be explained in words. De-wording music is actually making pure music, and Hackett achieves this constantly. He invented (or perfected, actually) techniques later falsely attributed to others, he played music thought impossible for rock musicians, but that's not what his art is about. His art is about sounds, about creating a canvas where his guitar's notes are the brushes and the colors at the same time. His art is about songwriting, for if there's any doubt that Hackett can craft a good track, it only takes a few listens to any of his albums to erase it.

Ace of Wands (8.5/10) The most energetic of the lot, is also probably the less atmospheric but at the same time the more virtuosic. But even in the midst of the convulsion the artist creates magic in a middle section that ascends to the stars. Excellent opener.

Hands of the Priestess - Part I (9.5/10) A beautiful opening reveals a flute that tries to bewitch us like that one that legend found in Hamelin. We will dearly follow its trail. Pure beauty. This is what prog music is all about. Short but memorable.

A tower Struck Down (8/10) A very haunting, menacing opening sends shivers down our spines. Terror lurks in the dark it would seem. Peace eludes us as the second section fills us with even more doubts and uncertainty. The scene has flames, little figures dancing around it, mental-illness, eyes like tornadoes. Very good track.

Hand of the Priestess - Part II (9/10) The amazing melody of Part I returns but this time it sounds more pastoral, with an oboe singing the tune in a joyous celebration of nature and prog-rock. Even shorter, but still outstanding.

The Hermit (9/10) The beginning is very sad, with vocals appearing for the first time, buried under three feet of reverb, coming from a distant place. It's Hackett, who never was a singer but always was (and is) an artist who knows where and how to use his voice. The flute appears again, with a little melancholic melody. The end of the track is pure instrumental bliss. Excellent.

Star of Sirius (9.5/10) My love for GENESIS shines through when, at the mere appearance of Phil Collins' voice, I smile. Of course, the majestic music underneath it is what really captures my emotions. Everything is pensive, atmospheric, surreal; a figure in keys appears which announces the arrival of the fast section, full of the same glorious relaxed-energy that only GENESIS or its guitarist could create. We get a repetition of both sections, and we long for more minutes when the track's 7 are finally over. Superb.

The Lovers (8/10) A quick interlude in acoustic guitar, this is very soft and acts as the perfect introduction for the magic that is about to unfold.

Shadow of the Hierophant (10/10) Mike Rutherford collaborates with Hackett in this track, and one can't deny the importance of his input. But in the end, it's the music that absolutely overwhelms us. When the female voice rises over the acoustic arpeggio, it's like an angel singing to us tales that we can't yet grasp because we've never been told to truly understand beauty. The tragic melody that strikes when the bass and drums come back feels like a dagger in our weakened hearts. The celestial creature sings again, but then we're brought back to our senses immediately before we can get lost in so much light. She appears once again, but for the third time she's stricken off the canvas. Suddenly Hackett starts playing around with his instrument, he taps the strings creating a whirlwind that ascends to a much brighter place. The music is happier now. Percussive vibes start announcing the arrival of the final part of the epic. First we get it at very low intensity. It grows until it explodes tenderly in our ears. And a superb song has ended, one of the best in all rock. The album fades.

There are no weak tracks and no boring moments. Maybe a couple songs could've been even better, but rarely do we get albums like that. This is a towering masterpiece that grows with me every time I hear it, like the legend that created it, arguably the greatest guitarist in all progressive-rock, and for my taste, in all that is rock.

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Send comments to The T (BETA) | Report this review (#184223)
Posted Tuesday, September 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
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Symphonic Team
3 stars The solo voyage begins

Steve Hackett is one of my all time favourite guitarists and possibly my favourite solo recording artist. Yet, I cannot rate most of his solo studio albums higher than three stars. His solo debut, Voyage Of An Acolyte suffers from the same problems as many other Steve Hackett solo albums.

The first half or so of the album is entirely instrumental. The Jazz-Rock/Fusion of Ace Of Wands and the mellow, acoustic folk of Hands Of The Priestess (parts 1 & 2) as well as the dark, heavy A Tower Struck Down are all excellent, but still not quite masterpiece standard. These four opening tracks give the impression that the whole album is an instrumental affair (as it probably should have been!). But this is not so, however. The Hermit is the first vocal track; a soft, mellow song, sung by Steve himself, that leaves no lasting impression on me. I think that Steve's singing voice would develop and mature very much over the years and become much better in the 80's and 90's.

Star Of Sirius features vocals by Phil Collins and is a decent song. However, it sounds more like a Genesis leftover than a 'lost Genesis classic' to my ears. On albums like Trick Of The Tale or Wind And Wuthering it would easily have been the least good track by far. And thank goodness that Steve stayed in Genesis for another couple of albums before he went solo for real. Voyage Of An Acolyte proves that he wasn't ready for a real solo career just yet.

The closing number Shadow Of A Hierophant has vocals by Sally Oldfield. She has a beautiful voice, but it is completely out of place on this album. Besides, having different vocalists on different tracks on the same album almost never works. And that is something that brings a lot of Hackett solo albums down. The closing section of this last track is way too long and seems to be going absolutely nowhere.

Overall, apart from Ace Of Wands and a Tower Struck Down, Voyage Of An Acolyte is a very soft and mellow album. It really would have benefited from a couple of rock songs like Every Day from the Spectral Mornings album or Camino Royal from Highly Strung or Mechanical Bride from To Watch The Storms.

Sorry Steve, but this album is simply not the masterpiece some people say it is! There certainly are a few real gems on this album, but as a whole this is hardly excellent. If you are new to Steve Hackett's solo discography, I would recommend starting with a later album (but please don't touch his next one, Please Don't Touch!), or even better, one of his excellent, recent live DVDs where he blends highlights from his entire solo career (including a couple of pieces from the present album, often in improved form!) with some Genesis material.

Good, but Steve would do much better later on

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#184562)
Posted Friday, October 03, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Voyage Of The Acolyte is the debut solo album from Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. It´s no secret that Steve Hackett is one of my big heroes and sources of inspiration when it comes to guitar playing. His innovative approach to the use of a guitar is praised by many and his contributions to Genesis sound is invaluable.

Voyage of the Acolyte was recorded while Steve Hackett was still a member of Genesis in the turbulent time after Peter Gabriel had left the band and Genesis was in search for a new singer. This meant that the members had time to concentrate on other projects for a while and Steve Hackett decided it was time for a solo album. He is helped by his brother John Hackett on flute, Arp synthetizer and bells and his Genesis collegues Mike Rutherford on bass guitar, bass pedals and Fuzz 12-String and Phil Collins on drums, vibes, percussion and vocals. There are also contributions from John Acock, Sally Oldfield, Robin Miller, Nigel Warren-Green, Percy Jones, Johnny Gustafson, Steve Tobin. Steve Hackett plays electric & acoustic guitar, Mellotron, harmonium, bells, autoharp, effects and sings lead on the song The Hermit.

Voyage Of The Acolyte turned out to be a big succes both among fans and critics and as a consequence Steve Hackett´s desire for a solo career and full control over his music grew to a point where he couldn´t see himself as part of a band anymore. He stayed with Genesis for two more albums ( A Trick of the Tail and Wind & Wuthering) but then decided to leave.

The music on Voyage Of The Acolyte is very dynamic progressive rock. There are loud symphonic parts with lots of mellotron and Steve Hackett´s signature electric guitar leads and soft parts with flute and acoustic guitar. Besides that there are also a few fusion elements on the album.

Ace Of Wands starts the album in melodic fusion mode. It´s a rather challenging song but very memorable and melodic. Hands of the Priestess Part I is a beautiful soft song with flute from John Hackett. A Tower Struck Down which is my favorite here is probably the most experimental song. It´s in fusion territory with some extraordinaire bassplaying. Hands of the Priestess Part II is just a short interlude before the calm The Hermit where we hear vocals for the first time on the album. Steve Hackett sings lead on that song. Star of Sirius has Phil Collins on lead vocals. The Lovers is just a short beautiful song before the Epic Shadow of the Hierophant where Sally Oldfield sings lead. It´s a 11:44 minute long symphonic song with both calm parts and bombastic symphonic ditto.

The musicianship is great and the production is good.

Many reviewers have written praising reviews of this one but I must admit that even though I do enjoy Voyage Of The Acolyte I don´t think it´s a very cohesive album and the full picture suffers because of this IMO. This is good music but I fail to see it being excellent and therefore I will only rate this 3 big stars. Genesis fans will have an interest here, but like me ( and I´m a giant Genesis fan) it´s not certain that they will be more than partially satisfied with Voyage Of The Acolyte.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#185116)
Posted Thursday, October 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
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Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Like much of his work, the first Steve Hackett solo release had to grow on me. I was not immediately delighted with what I heard, but after some time, the album gained life and a more frequent place in my player. Having heard it multiple times, I can do nothing less than rate it higher than I initially expected I would. Fans of early Camel should appreciate this much, as the varying textures of sound are pleasing to the ear. Give this album time- it sits loftily among Hackett's best.

"Ace of Wands" "Ace of Wands" kicks off with a frantic guitar introduction that reminds me of what The Mars Volta would be doing three decades later. Insanely creative guitar work dominates this piece, but aside from the dual lead work, there are patches of tasteful synthesizer, acoustic guitar, bells, and more, all laid over a cool bass line. The sudden whistle is a really silly transition, but other than that this is a solid instrumental, full of energy. It is a great way to begin the album.

"Hands of the Priestess, Part 1" This sorrowful instrumental centers around acoustic guitar and flute, with a mournful electric guitar creeping in now and then. The Mellotron adds an extra layer.

"A Tower Struck Down" The rhythmic structure is similar in feel to the "Apocalypse in 9/8" section of "Supper's Ready" by Genesis. This piece could have fit right in with the darker moments of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway; bits of it sounds like it came right out of "The Colony of Slippermen." The last minute of the song begins with a breathtaking Mellotron that segues into the final moments, which are rather bland, but not awful..

"Hands of the Priestess, Part 2" Another beautiful track, this one is under two minutes, and features acoustic guitar, flute, and oboe, among other instruments that add to the layer of pleasing sound.

"The Hermit" Like a lonely a hermit, Steve Hackett's despairing voice is only accompanied by his twelve-string guitar. He sounds as though he's performing his lonesome song in the deep recesses of a cave, and you, a mere passerby, are hearing it from within. Sharing in his woe, and curious, you seek him out and join him on cello. Another person comes in with a flute. And so forth. The piece is simple and initially forgettable, but once you've heard it a second time, the song reaches into the alcoves of your mind and it all comes back to you. The long ending is lovely, as though the hermit has finally found friends.

"Star of Sirius" This is the crowning moment of the album, one with beautiful twelve-string guitar and synthesizer. Phil Collins does a fine job singing on this one, and the vocal harmonies are not to be missed. The warbling synthesizer over the twelve-string guitar has become a staple sound by now. The middle section sounds like it came right out of a glorious classical piece. The chorus is exciting and amusing. The vocal melody is one of the most original and pleasing melodies I have ever heard.

"The Lovers" Quiet classical guitar, reversed electric guitar, winds, and other soft instruments make up this one-and-a-half-minute instrumental piece.

"Shadow of Hierophant" The previous piece only serves as a short introduction before a massive wall of Mellotron, electric guitar, and drums come crashing through. The female voice almost makes one forget he is listening to progressive rock, but opera instead. Once again, the Mellotron weighs heavily in this piece, as does Hackett's acoustic guitar work. Halfway, he institutes a great amount of tapping on an electric guitar laden with effects. Also once again, one may hear this as a piece that Peter Gabriel-led Genesis could have concocted, so it really shows Steve Hackett's contributions in his former band, It showcases him more, though, which is perhaps why similar songs were not included in Genesis records. It's a brilliant work, all said.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#189548)
Posted Sunday, November 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
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4 stars Quite the voyage

Steve Hackett's debut is very much likely to soothe anyone who has ever been a fan of Genesis. Like Chris Squire's sole solo album, Fish Out Of Water was called ''The lost Yes album'', this one quickly falls under the same comparison for the other progressive giants for the 70s. As many people know, Hackett was a somewhat outspoken force in the band and it only became apparent just how much Hackett brought to the table for the band when he left And Then There Were Three, some might say. Hackett's Genesis buddies just about all show up with the exception of Peter Banks and Peter Gabriel, and while the album definitely does not sound like a Genesis album in its purest form, it certainly has some moments where it comes close. The nice and most surprising thing about the album is just how much energy this album has. Many people may have a problem with Genesis and their lack of 'rocking' moments, but on this album no such thing can be said, even if the serene moments do exist on the album.

The best parts of the album are the ones where Steve really wants to show some flash as a guitar player. The album opens with what's likely the best of these purely ambitious prog rock tracks in the form of Ace Of Wands, which is surprisingly fast, energetic and with enough pure rock power to put a lot of other bands to shame. Like many songs on the album, this one is an instrumental and like most other songs on the album it has a wonderful melody that is bound to get stuck in your head. These melodies are reprised later on in the album, revealing its true nature as a concept album. A Tower Struck Down is not as hard rocking or as fast as the opening tune, but it certainly makes for a great story telling device with the sampled sounds and chantings which make it truly malevolent. This song is bookended by the two-part, brief but calm instrumental Hands Of The Priestess whose mood makes for a surprising contrast to the other songs on the album.

Of course, Steve's compositional prowess also shows through on the album. Star Of Sirius is likely the best example of this, and arguably the best song on the album. Phil Collins makes an appearance on this track on the microphone, but he does so in his dreamy Trick Of The Tail voice, which when mixed with Steve's soundscapes makes for a crazy-good track ripe with melody, symphonic bombast and familiarity thanks to the reprisal of Ace Of Wands. Other songs which follow this kind of structure are also on the album, but both of them are a lot more toned down. The Hermit ends off side one impressively, and on side two The Lovers is voiced gently by Sally Oldfield and makes for a very tranquil track. The album ends with the storm-gathering Shadow Of The Hierophant, a somewhat repetitive song which is simply a build to its peak and then a decline into silence signaling the end of the album. Used more for mood than anything else.

In the end Steve Hackett has created an emotional and technically impressive ride which will thrill fans of his other projects and interest just about everyone else. This album is considered a symphonic classic for a reason, and while not essential is certainly deserving of a strong 4 stars of sirius out of 5. Very much recommended.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#190012)
Posted Thursday, November 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Several years back I checked out most of the songs on this album and I remember mainly one thing out of that experience: I couldn't understand why almost everybody is so enthusiastic about this debut by Hackett. Ok, the whole thing isn't really bad or poor but it's really somewhat pale compared to the first 8 albums by Genesis. And that's what's bugging me really. You would expect if someone like Hackett leaves the band due to difference of (artistic) opinion , he would at leasr come up with something truly great. But that's not quite the case I feel.

The opener Ace of Wands is one of the better songs and gives at least some hope. I would give this one 3,75 stars probably. Next Hands of the Priestess pt.1 stars with beautiful flute but I'm underwhelmed with Hacketts guitar performance (3,5). A Tower Struck Down sounds like a flat copy of Crimsons Red to me. Nothing impressive about this track, maybe the funny keysounds are nice but that's all (2,75). Second (short) part of the Hands of the Priestess is too short actually to have substantial impact and significance. Just ok (3*). The Hermit is a nice ballad but again it fails to impress me in any way. Hacketts vocal performance tells enough in this respect. Oboe and flute towards the end save the song somewhat (3,25*). Star of Sirius starts in the same vein but mainly (again) the vocal contribution destroys the fun for me. I do like the keys and they prevent me from really hating this song. All in all just not good enough for a high rating despite some nice melodic moments (3,5*). The Lovers is the second very short track starting with acoustic guitar later accompanied by mellotron. Ok but again: no more (3*). The closer Shadow of the Hierophant is the supposed highlight but is actually the biggest disappointment to me. The female vocals are not my cup of tea, maybe enchanting in a way like a sort of siren but somehow it puts me off a bit. What bothers me most is te eslow style of the song, it just drags on, there is no energy or captivating element as far as I'm concerned. If I compare this song to Cinema Show or Firth of Fifth for example this is simply a weak effort I have to say. Last 5 minutes make things even worse for me and I can only give some 2,5* at best I'm afraid.

So that leaves an average of just above 3 stars and therefore I can only give this rating for Steve Hacketts debut. There are hardly any moments where he proves he's a great guitarist or songwriter. I'm in severe doubt if I will check out more of his material since this is the only album I own by him. Not recommended.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#200804)
Posted Tuesday, January 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
ghost_of_morphy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is a classic prog album, well beloved of fans of Hackett and those who came to his solo work through Genesis. Yes, it launched a great solo career. Yes, it is a welcome breath of fresh air. But no, it isn't Steve's seminal album. Neither is it the mythical "Lost Genesis Album." It's a good debut that promises much better in the future. Three stars (alhough it is only with a great effort of restraint that I can resist awarding 4..)

Anyhow, track by track.

Ace of Wands is a frenetic but unimaginative introduction into Steve's worlds of guitar composition and virtuosity. It's ok, but if this were all he had to offer, this would be a forgettable album, just as this is a forgettable track.

Hands of the Priestess pt. 1 shows us what is in store for us lucky fans. Steve's brother John is an accomplished flautist, and tracks like this one and it's reprise prepare us for some of the truly great things that they will accomplish later.

A Tower Struck Down is track that I find most interesting. This one lands firmly in progdom, but not in Genesis style progdom. Steve reaches out on his own and finds a most interesting mix of unusual time signature, weird sounds and effects, and nice composition. This foreshadows that we will hear later on Spectral Mornings in Clocks and Tigermoth.

Hands of the Priestess pt. 2 has the virtues of the first part.

The Hermit is an interesting and well-composed song. No more, no less. Nothing stellar here, and certainly nothing that raises the quality of the album.

Star of Sirius is a song that is so hard to evaluate. One of the difficulties is Phil's vocals. Phil is still in his earliest vocal mode. This is before his aping of PG and belongs to the period when he was thought of as the angelic voice backing Mr. Gabriel. But here he is featured. I find that this style fits the song, but I also find it mildly annoying. Another difficulty is that this song is basically simplistic, except for the tempo changes. Brother John (an unintentional Lamb reference, I promise you) shows up in an interesting way on instruments other than the flute. Sharp tempo changes add a lot of interest, as does Hackett's bright and interesting performances. I like this track, but I sure can see where some people would be far less enthusiastic about it.

The Lovers is mellow guitar for the first part and then mellow synth and guitar for the rest of it. It's a short and pleasing track, but hardly exceptional.

Shadow of the Hierophant is obviously intended as the piece de resistance. It falls short. If there is one track on this album that reminds me of Genesis, this is it,, but it sure doesn't remind me of Genesis at their best. Still this does fit into the post-Gabriel style,. Sally Oldfield is an interesting choice of vocalist, and brother John is enthusiastically present once again. It's mediocre.

Anyhow, what we are left with here is an album where about half of the time listening is mediocre and the other half foreshadows things much better. I suppose that if one considered what this album meant to prog in a historical sense, one could bump this up to four stars. But I'm giving it three.

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Send comments to ghost_of_morphy (BETA) | Report this review (#221749)
Posted Friday, June 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The Missing Piece of Genesis

Steve Hackett's Voyage of the Acolyte has often been called the missing Genesis album, and there are clear reasons why. Hackett's guitar had figured prominently in many of the band's best loved songs by some fans (including me). "Return of Giant Hogweed," "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight," and "Firth of Fifth" rely heavily on Hackett's carefully composed but also explosive lead guitar skills, and remain among the best tracks of the classic era. 1974's Lamb Lays Down on Broadway focused much more heavily on the storyline and vocals, and of all the musicians left in the shadows of that theatrical monster, Hackett probably suffered the most.

During the time that Genesis was searching for singers, Hackett wrote and eventually released Voyage of the Acolyte. The album has some amazing music, sounds that both the Lamb and W&W onward could have used in greater quantity. At the same time, the compositions are not nearly as complex or mature as Genesis of that era. One wonders what heights could have been if the 4 could have successfully integrated Hackett. But it was not to be.

Voyage of the Acolyte is the closest approximation, as this album features Phil Collins on drums throughout, and vocals on one track. In addition, Mike Rutherford adds bass on a few tracks, including some fuzz bass, something outside his usual tone. Critically though, Steve's brother John takes the keys, which while adding the perfect tonality and atmosphere, provides none of the virtuosic creativity Tony Banks gave to Genesis. John Hackett did, however, add some magnificent flute parts that matched anything on a Genesis album.

Voyage's opening track, "Ace of Wands," is a great example of what is good and bad about the album. Each composed section is superb, but the way in which they are arranged is simply poor. Sections return without development or variation and one transition uses an embarrassing explosion that sounds like a 1975 TV movie. Still, the sections are so good on their own merit, that I find myself returning to the album often.

All of the flavors one loves in classic prog are here: complex multi-layered parts, flute interludes, mellotron, pastoral sections punctuated with aggressive rock. As such, this album superficially sounds amazing. Aside from a few bumps (the pop of the chorus of "Star of Sirius") the music is beautiful prog. The multipart "Hands of the Priestess / Tower Struck Down" is indeed prog at its best. Unfortunately, the epic "Shadow of the Heirophant" though beautiful, is actually one of the weaker songs on the album. Already overlong, the extended version provided as a bonus is simply pointless. (Of historic interest is the fact that "Heirophant" contains a tapping cadenza eerily like Eddie Van Halen's "Eruption" but predating it by 3 years on record. Steve Hackett's role in the expansion of the guitar technique is criminally underappreciated.)

Though it has its weaknesses, this is a great album that belongs in most prog libraries. It's not Genesis, but close enough to satisfy any fan's need for more from that phenomenal group. Pick it up and enjoy!

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#222539)
Posted Monday, June 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
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Prog Metal Team
4 stars Hackett's first solo album is an astounding piece of music and shows ample proof of the major role he must have played within Genesis. Ace of Wands is an excellent upbeat instrumental composition with great riffs and more things going on then on other artist's full albums. Play the opening 30 seconds a bit heavier and you're inside an Opeth album. But after 2 minutes of balancing soft acoustic parts against heavy guitars, it goes in all sorts of direction. Folky, classic, moogy, funky, Genesisy. Everything passes on the catwalk and believe me, it works just fine.

Next on is Hands of the Priestess. I don't know what priestess Hackett was thinking of, but given the soft porn leanings of this tune, it's not difficult imagining some of those priestesses and their hands. Yes a dirty mind is a joy forever :-)

A Tower Stuck Down is entirely different matter. Dark, heavy, threatening, brooding, extravagant, stubborn. No way this could have ended up on any Genesis album. The last half minute of it has some slow picking that reminds me strangely enough of both the ending chords of Rush's Cygnus X1 and the intro for A Forest by The Cure. Or how very different styles of music sometimes come up with almost the exact same thing.

The Hermit is another gentle piece. I like Hackett's voice here. Reminds me of that same subdued passion of Andy Latimer. After a reprise of the Priestesses, Phil Collins comes in to spoil the album with a bland performance on Star of Sirius. In the times of vinyl, I used to turn the record and place the needle right after this track to conclude the album with the stunning Hierophant.

Majestic opening bars (that he must have stolen from Opeth again) lead into a nice folksy ditty sung by a woman who reminded me of the siren on Mike Oldfield albums. Hey look, she's named Sally Oldfield. We get 4 and a half minutes of superb sweeping guitars and mellotons, balanced against the acoustic parts. It flows into a moody guitar solo and ends with a 6 minute crescendo that blasts away Ravel's Bolero off the face of the planet. This is the one of the most stunning 6 minutes in rock music for me. It's subtle and colourful yet at the same time immensily dark and heavy. Majestic.

Even disregarding Phil's annoying disruption, this is a true prog masterpiece. 4.5 stars

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#244839)
Posted Friday, October 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
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Prog Metal Team
4 stars Steve Hackett's debut album is also incidentally his first masterpiece!

Although I consider myself a huge Genesis-fanboy this album actually works better for me than both Trick Of The Tail and Wind & Wuthering because it has more of an even flow with some magnificent tops and no bottoms! In fact, I'll go as far as to say that this album's material is better than anything that Steve could have written if stayed on in Genesis.

Voyage Of The Acolyte actually sounds more like the Gabriel-era albums than the once that Genesis was producing at the time. I think that it has a lot to do with John Hackett and his flute playing that always worked magnificently well with Steve's guitar. The best example of that is Hands Of The Priestess Part I where the two create a superb atmosphere with so little, plus the melody is just brilliant.

Still, it's Shadow Of The Hierophant that completely steals the show. It's probably my favorite song from all of Hackett's solo-carrier and an excellent album closer.

***** star songs: Hands Of The Priestess Part I (3:28) Shadow Of The Hierophant (11:44)

**** star songs: Ace Of Wands (5:23) A Tower Struck Down (4:53) Hands Of The Priestess Part II (1:31) The Hermit (4:49) Star Of Sirius (7:08) The Lovers (1:50)

Total Rating: 4,37

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#254710)
Posted Monday, December 07, 2009 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Steve Hackett - Voyage of the Acolyte (1975)

Something old, something new: but not just for Genesis-fans

After troubles in the major English band Genesis Steve Hackett had quit the band and started a solo career on the same label as Genesis, The Famous Charisma label. The majority of the people who would buy his first record would of course be Genesis fans and so the record has lot's of Genesis-like symphonic prog and even some of the members of Genesis have joined Hackett in the studio. Rutherford plays bass and Phil Collins drums and sings on one song. Still it wouldn't be fair to call this a Genesis rip-off. The record has it's own vibe. There are more influences from and classical music, the vocals of Hackett are abstract, there are lot's of gentle acoustic guitar parts, the composition style is different. There are no big epics, but lot's of instrumental parts made into tracks with lot's of ideas without being disturbed by vocal parts. It's like Hackett takes more time to get the special atmosphere he wants to create.

The strong elements of this album are the great symphonic atmospheres, the different approach to symphonic prog, the great recording of the drums (they sounded horrible when Phil played with Genesis), the balanced use of the guitars (he could have made it a solo freakshow, but it really is an album of a complete band) and the abstract/magical sound. The records doesn't have weak parts and flows like one big song. The artwork is brilliant, the inlay of the fold-out sleeve is great.

Some tracks I would like to mention are Star of Sirius and Shadow of the Hierophant. Star of Sirius is most Genesis-like track with vocals of Collins, lot's of instrumental beauty and some catchy parts. Shadow of the Hierophant is totally different. It has a long acoustic intro, a bombastic main theme and a quiet vocal theme with gentle vocals of Sally Oldfield. The long ending section of this song has one theme that starts off quiet and evolves slowly in one big bombastic symphonic rock moment! Very inspired music.

Conclusion. Great début of mister Hackett with a nice combination of Genesis inspired music and classical music played with our beloved symphonic prog band sound. If you don't like Genesis' music you might give this a try. If you do like Genesis or symphonic prog in general this is a high quality album you should not skip! Also people interested in classical music should listen to this. So far this is my favourite Hackett album. Four stars.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#259124)
Posted Sunday, January 03, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Being a big fan of Genesis in the first place, it was a real treat to get this first solo album by then guitarist Steve Hackett. I heard him do some amazing guitar work, so I was ready to hear more. Man, was I ever floored. He just up and kicks you in the teeth with the in your face tune "Ace of Wands." This dude knows how to play prog as good as anyone out there. I just loved the way he connected "Hands of the Priestess[part 1], A Tower Struck Down, and Hands of the Priestess[part 2]." It is like eating fresh cherries in spring. Delicious!!!!

I also enjoyed "The Hermit," even with Steve's weak vocals. It isn't that bad, as far as I'm concerned.

I think the high spot on the B side is the last song, called "Shadow of the Hierophant." I love hearing Sally Oldfield's vocals. Very pleasing to the ear. Some nice guitar work as well.

I do have to say that I was a little disappointed with the B side because there was about half as much going on there and the album was losing steam for me as the end neared. I don't like endings where the same idea is repeated for 2 to 4 minutes. I think it stinks. If Steve have done the same thing for the last three songs as he did for the first side, I could have easily given this release 5 stars. As it is, I give it 3.5 stars because, like I said, there just isn't enough going on as far as the prog element goes. It is still a must have for any prog head because of the first side, but that is about it. So it really gets 4 stars for Progarchives.

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Send comments to Keetian (BETA) | Report this review (#273793)
Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars One thing about a Steve Hackett album as opposed to a Genesis album, there's a lot more instrumental music. The guy is pretty intelligent and isn't afraid to try something different. He features the oboe here, which Genesis didn't do. But this features the same synthesiser backdrop that is on the Genesis albums of that time.

The first two songs are vintage Genesis, the first being typical of Genesis and the second, 'Hands of the Priestess' features a much more acoustic/baroque sound, with plenty of flute. The problems come after this. 'Tower struck down' is victim of being too eccentric. It starts off quite good, being a dark semi-rocker with eerie synths. But without Tony Banks and others being around to do scrutinous quality control checks, too much eccentricity creeps in. With Hackett on his own, there's no one around to say "Now take out that DUMB coughing sample, Steve". The best of the rest is 'Star of Sirius' which is folk/prog but has a breezy chorus that gets repeated a bit near the end. It's nice and it features Phil Collins on vocals, which helps. The rest of the songs are nice but don't really have any hooks or anything. The last song is an 11 minute epic. It starts off with this girl singing beautifully, but I can't understand her at all, then there's a bit of acoustic music and big mellotron sound and this is repeated twice. That takes the song to four and a half mintues, before the songs gets louder and there's a bit of meandering music before there's a masterful guitar solo, probably not strong enough to justify being six minutes long, but good anyway.

I'm Giving Steve 3.5, top marks for varying the songs, giving instruments like the oboe and the flute prominence in a guitar/keyboard world, daring to be different and making a couple of 'Genesis' classics, as well as making a clean production. But his music lacks hooks, and he suffers from not having a permanent singer for his albums.

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Send comments to Brendan (BETA) | Report this review (#278674)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Some musicians see things as they are and ask 'Why?' Steve Hackett sees things as they could be, and asks 'Why not?'

He's always had this approach. For Hackett, it's rarely about what he should be doing but what he could be doing. Not what was expected of him, but what he might get away with considering the liberal musical era and the opportunities afforded him through the success of Genesis. After all, 1975 was an enlightening year for him and many others in the professional rock community (both Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page among others were in the midst of serious drug withdrawl, Clapton chronicling this period on his 461 Ocean Boulevard) and somehow through the haze of smack-tinctured eyes and coke-eaten septums, astonishing music was being made. By almost everyone.

For Genesis, a British prog institution, major changes were occurring. Peter Gabriel left to pursue his own directions and the band tightened-up musically, going on to release at least four more excellent LPs (two with Hackett who himself would leave in '77 after the great Wind & Wuthering). It makes the timing of this, Steve Hackett's first self-led effort, both right and unexpected in that it was made before this master axeman left the band. Some will point to similarities with Genesis' music here, of which there certainly are several, and perhaps at the time that worked against the record. But in today's context it works just fine if you've a taste for progressive rock at the very height of its whole maddening marvelousness. Plus we get to hear what makes a really good solo project so compelling, so full of new liberties and ideas previously undiscovered, unneeded or discouraged. The value of the singular vision in contrast to the equally valuable group effort, and why one member of a band is so significant to how that unit sounds and operates. And it's among Hackett's very best work.

Of course he got some very good help. Phil Collins' shamelessly confident skins bop open 'Aces of Wands', totally prog, packed with sheet-pressed layers of Hackett's rounded lines, mellotrons, what sounds like an Arp synth on sci-fi lead, and trooper Mike Rutherford taking no prisoners on bass. The 12-string acoustic is out for romantic part 1 of 'Hands of the Priestess', bucolic and gentle, a good balance to the opener, and Wettonesque pounder 'A Tower Struck Down' with its extra bass parts and unsettling rhythmic lurches continues the constant redirection. A nice attempt at neoclassical in 'The Hermit' reminding of the Selling England days, tarnished slightly by our host's medium singing but kept aloft by his subtle arrangement, extending into sister piece 'Star of Sirius' with a welcome Collins on voice for a lively number peppered by Hackett's laserbeam fills. Another well-placed acoustic interlude before twelve minute closer 'Shadow of the Hierophant' spotlighting Sally Oldfield's heady soprano, ominous battlements from the band, and Steve Hackett's massive mountains.

Not comparable to his following releases, this will be a grower for some and an instant love for others. A remaster would be even better. Nice one, Steve.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#284267)
Posted Sunday, May 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Steve Hackett's debut album, and what an album! Frequently tagged as the "lost" Genesis album, "Voyage of the Acolyte" is just wonderful down to the last drop. "Ace of Wands" opens things up beautifully, with the main riff of said song being present on different tracks throughout the album, which I am a sucker of. The rest of the album strives for excellence and certainly achieves it. Sally Oldfield's vocals on "Shadow of the Hierophant" are amazing and Steve's singing on "The Hermit" is pleasant, but his guitar work takes the show without a doubt. Definitely get this album if you enjoy Genesis. Disappointment is not an option here. Pure pleasure you'll get from this album.

1. "Ace of Wands" - 10/10

2. "Hands of the Priestess Part I" - 9/10

3. "A Tower Struck Down" - 8.5/10

4. "Hands of the Priestess Part II" - 9/10

5. "The Hermit" - 9/10

6. "Star of Sirius" - 10/10

7. "The Lovers" - 8.5/10

8. "Shadow of the Hierophant" - 8.5/10

72.5/8 = 90.625% = 5 stars!

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Send comments to Lark the Starless (BETA) | Report this review (#288590)
Posted Monday, June 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Released during a relatively quiet year for prog music (1975), VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE came as a pleasant surprise to fans of the genre, and especially to Genesis fans. As the quietest and least visible member of the band, Steve Hackett was probably the last Genesis member that fans expected to release a solo album. Peter Gabriel had left the band only months prior, so all media attention at the time was on Gabriel, a fact which makes the success of the album all the more remarkable (it hit the Top 30 in the UK) !

As most Genesis fans know by now, the inspiration for doing the album was due largely to Hackett's frustration with not getting his songs on Genesis albums, combined with his own increased fluency and creativity in writing. And this fact is made indelibly clear on VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE. Anyone with doubts about Hackett's contribution to the Genesis Sound need only listen to this album, as it is arguably the most "Genesis-like" of all Hackett's solo albums (or any other member's, for that matter !)

Aside from an overly-long closing track ("Shadow of the Hierophant"), there is no filler to found here. Track-by-track, it flows seamlessly with great arrangements and great songs. The tracks flow so well together, it could easily have been made into an extended suite, although it is probably better as is, as the tracks each stand up so well as individual songs. Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins are present on several tracks, and vocals are handled by Collins, Hackett, and Sally Oldfield (no relation to Mike, as far as I know !).

Production-wise, it isn't the greatest, and there is a little too much reverb on the acoustic numbers. But overall, VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE, comes off as a surprising tour-de-force from one of the prog world's most under-rated artists !

Four-and-a-half Stars. (rounded up to 5 !)

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Send comments to carlmarx38 (BETA) | Report this review (#294861)
Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars You will never have wanted to boot up a game of "Legend of Zelda" more in your entire your life than you will have after hearing this album, and I mean that as a big compliment. If you ask me, the main function of progressive rock should be to create musical vistas that excite the imagination, and "Voyage of the Acolyte" pulls that feat off as very few other albums can.

Largely instrumental, Voyage of the Acolyte is Steve Hackett's natural extension of the music he did with Genesis-just as lush and wondrous but with an air of solemnity that sets it apart from his work with the seminal prog group. As grand as early Genesis could be, one got more of a fairy tale vibe than an ancient myth one. As well they should have, as they fulfilled their goal exceptionally. Hackett differs, however, in infusing his music with a more dire sense of gravity. Just as the listener is apt to be thrilled by the second half of "Star of Sirius", they are as likely to be put into a dark, meditative mental frame by the sombre, brooding "The Hermit". This mix of styles and sense of importance is almost assuredly entirely intentional, as the album is a concept of sorts based on the mysticism of Tarot cards. As soft as the melodies can get, they never lose their feeling of being ancient, almost holy. On my first listen I noticed that the music had a very hymnal feel to it, and it's completely to the album's advantage that it does. There isn't one moment that feels wasted, no song without at least one or two moments that are completely sweeping.

As I mentioned earlier, the tones of the album are vast and various, and what's more impressive still is that not a one of them feels out of place. The album's moods range from thrilling on "Ace of Wands" to menacing and foreboding on "A Tower Struck Down", and almost overwhelmingly beautiful and awe-inducing on both parts of "Hands of the Priestess". That said, the album's highlight has to be the final song, "Shadow of the Hierophant", where all the moods of the album, be they serene or ominous or grand or sorrowful coalesce into one magnificent thematic crescendo. The first half of the lengthy tune features vocals from Sally Oldfield that are heavenly enough to bring peace to the Middle East, and the latter half features a build that suffers from the lack of a true finale but still proves itself to be one of the most majestic tension builders this side of the middle of "Starless".

While I'm generally not a fan of a lack of lyrics, the largely instrumental structure of this album definitely works in its favor, as the musicianship from Hackett and company carries a beauty and virtuosity that, in this context, for the most part does not need to be supported by vocals. The use of bells is some of the best I've ever heard in a prog context, and even the occasional keyboard passage is kept to a restrained and tasteful minimum. Much of the album truly does feel like a perfect fusion between classical music and rock and roll.

The sheer beauty of "Voyage of the Acolyte" enables it to be enjoyed by music lovers of all stripes, including those not familiar with prog, and features the musical and thematic sophistication to be studied by scholars of the genre for days on end. This perfect mix of accessibility, virtuosity, tasteful musicianship and moments of awe-inspiring beauty make "Voyage of the Acolyte" an album that no fan of progressive rock can afford to be without.

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Send comments to 40footwolf (BETA) | Report this review (#303830)
Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars An awesome album coming at a time of uncertainty for the GENESIS crew, Voyage of the Acolyte contains some strikingly sensitive and beautiful guitar-based atmospherics not unlike that of ANTHONY PHILLIPS on his soon-to-arrive Geese and the Ghost (also with important contributions from MICHAEL RUTHERFORD and PHIL COLLINS). (I find it interesting that neither of these two gems contains any help from keyboardist Tony Banks.) While there is a cohesive flow and consistency to this album--feel and mood---there is something a little muddy in the recording/engineering that always left me feeling a bit frustrated--I wanted to hear the distinctive contributions of all the instruments but they always felt a bit too quiet or muddled. Also some of the sections--as beautiful as they are--are either repeated too formulaically or go on a bit too long. I liked the album a lot back in the day--played it quite a bit--and still play "Star of Sirius" and "Shadow of the Heirophant" from time to time. It's just recorded too quietly (for some instruments). IMO, Steve's best solo work of the 70s-80s is on his third album, Spectral Mornings.

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#338024)
Posted Monday, November 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars On the local FM station back in 1975, perhaps 1976, they announced that they would be playing the solo album by the guitarist for GENESIS. My reaction as a naive 16 year old was, "What, Genesis has a guitarist?". The instrumental aspects of the group's sound were so dominated by Tony Banks that even some of Hackett's delicate work could have been accidentally construed as keyed rather than fretted. But, no matter, yes indeed Genesis had a guitarist, a fine one at that, but a composer and songwriter he was not, especially in 1975.

As if to accentuate his strengths and shortcomings simultaneously, "Ace of Wands" busts out of the gate like a bull in heat. It is shortly tamed, but the major impression of incompleteness is thus established early and reinforced throughout. It's ALL enjoyable enough, whether delicate ("Hands of the Priestess") or harder edged ("Tower Struck Down") but none of it outstanding. The best of the lot is "Star of Sirius", which suggests future tracks like "Entangled", but lacking that piece's cohesion. "Shadow of the Hierophant" is an even better/worse example - the mellotron theme is simplistically lovely and hypnotic, but how many times do we need to hear it? Worse, even SALLY OLDFIELD cannot impart much distinction to the vocal parts in between. While I enjoy it well enough,, it is neither valid as a song nor as an epic, a sonic Amazon hand in hand with a compositional dwarf. Already twice as long as it has any right to be, the bonus material includes an extended playout version! Nuff said.

"Voyage of the Acolyte" was released at a time when the members of GENESIS were still nurturing each others' powers while holding weaknesses in check. Hackett was still writing and producing better material within the tightening shackles of the band. Nostalgia aside, modern bands like HOSTSONATEN and ERIS PLUVIA improved upon the pastoral images herein, while Hackett himself refined his writing, composing and even vocal skills over his lengthy voyage. Nonetheless, this is a good effort from a man deserving of his many acolytes and accolades.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#340256)
Posted Wednesday, December 01, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Who will enjoy this album?

Genesis and Steve Hackett fans only

What do we have here?

The album does start really well. "Ace of Wands" is a fantastic prog instrumental, a prodigious musical rollercoaster but alas nothing later in the album gets close to the qualities of this track. The main weakness of the album is the vocals. Hackett voice has been criticized a lot later in his career album but his vocals on "The Hermit" are really, really weak if not terrible. The track is not even saved by a nice atmospheric ending. Phil Collins on "Star of Sirius" performs his worst vocals performance I ever heard in his career. The last track "Shadow of the Hierophant" sung (well) by Sally Oldfield is too long to my taste and feels like different pieces of music with no relation put together. "A Tower Struck Down" is an heavy and repetitive instrumental, lacks of any melody while the song before "Hands of the Priestess" is melodically too simple, the flute seems scholar and the all track lacks of feeling and get very quickly boring.

Why I rate it 2 stars:

I had high expectations for this album, sadly they did not got confirmed. "Voyage of an Acolyte" for me remains a highly overrated. Something seems missing: magic...soul ...I don't know eactly what but it does not work. If it was not for "Ace of Wands", I would give the album one star.

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Send comments to Theriver (BETA) | Report this review (#350939)
Posted Sunday, December 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars In between "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" and "Trick of The Tail", Steve Hackett, then Genesis guitarist, released his first solo album, "Voyage of Acolyte. "

On this album he finally experienced the arthistic freedom he never had in band.Although many say that this is an album of "lost" Genesis, I say that this album has a lot more expensive than Hackett of Genesis (although there are many similarities) .

"Voyage of Acolyte is a concept album, whose theme is the tarot (very weird, but ...). Even though all eight songs on this album are excellent, their opening song,"Ace of Wands "is the best-throughout its 5 minutes, we heard a sequence of themes played quickly, there are beautiful guitar passages (as Steve Hackett dominates the instrument!), other more hard-rock sections, no weak moments. "Hands Of The Priestess"(the two parts) is a quiet, acoustic music, the same can be said of "The Hermit" and "The Lovers. "Star of Sirius" is, as another reviewer commented," the best music of Genesis that Genesis never did" . That's because here we have the participation of Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford.A song starts with an acoustic section as well, with the vocals in the chorus, before moving to its jazzi chorus.In the end we have "Shadow of Hierophant, " another great masterpiece.The ethereal vocals of Sally Oldifield mark the first part of music, while the second part is a very long instrumental solo with mellotron and a very dark atmosphere.

An excellent album! 5 stars for sure!

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Send comments to voliveira (BETA) | Report this review (#360290)
Posted Wednesday, December 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I will not attempt to give an overview of the history that brings Steve Hackett to this solo album, but I will say that this album is very strong.

Sounds like Genesis, and that's what I love. The buildups and shifts in the album is great. The juice was still flowing when Genesis departed, but listening to this album, you can feel that they still wanted to make some great stuff together, which is why they came back strong with Trick of the Tail.

Anyhow, Voyage of the Acolyte is definitely an album I would consider putting in any collection because of how they made it. It is not the same traditional Genesis album with all the song splits. It's very classical, and therefore makes sense when the whole thing plays as one consistent song.

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Send comments to dubovsky (BETA) | Report this review (#423594)
Posted Sunday, March 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I'm a huge admirer of Steve Hackett's guitar playing, both solo and within the context of Genesis. I'm not really a huge fan of Genesis as a whole, though, or symphonic progressive rock in general, but Hackett is always a worthy listen.

The music here is very, very above par symphonic progressive rock based around the guitar. Besides early Yes, this is the best symphonic progressive rock album I've ever listened to. The variation here is terrific, and ranges extremely. It's all beautiful, powerful, and well written and strongly accentuated by the synthesized symphonic sounds. I'm confident that any fans of symphonic prog would find this interesting as well as any guitar aficionados.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#431197)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tapfret
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The "Missing" Genesis Album

Sub-genre: Symphonic Progressive Rock (Holds true to form)
For Fans of: Genesis, Bands that bridge the gap between Symphonic Progressive and New Age
Vocal Style: Clean male mid-range to operatic female
Guitar Style: Very lightly distorted rock sound to warm vintage classical guitar.
Keyboard Style: Everything from Mellotron to Moog/ARP shaped synth to natural piano sounds.
Percussion Style: Standard rock set.
Bass Style: Standard rock.
Other Instruments: Bells, Harps, Cello, Flute
You are not likely to enjoy this album if: You have an aversion to medieval, renaissance and sylvan themes.



Summary: This reviewer is not much of a historian when it comes to the split up of Genesis. It is my understanding the music in Voyage of the Acolyte was written as material for Genesis. That being said, it is hard to find a way this music would have fit in the Genesis library. At times, especially when you hear the vocals of Phil Collins, or the very familiar rock guitar work of Hackett himself, the pieces seem to fit together. But the overriding fantasy theme was a split from the direction that Genesis itself was going. Additionally, Voyage of the Acolyte stands out from Hackett's subsequent work; where his next few albums tend to be more piecemeal work, Voyage of the Acolyte holds together cohesively as a single concept. As a matter of fact, it sticks out as one of the most important concept albums in Symphonic Progressive Rock history.

From start to finish, the word that most immediately springs to mind when thinking about this album is 'beautiful'. It is difficult to maintain the level of contrast exemplified in this album without sacrificing any sense of flow. Oftentimes attempts are made to adapt medieval themes to rock music, with results that turn out 'campy' to say the least. This album avoids the pitfalls of its less attractive stepsisters. Hackett not only brought the material to make this happen, but also assembled just the right carpenters to shape the material into the construct that he wanted.



Final Score: Voyage of the Acolyte is a top 10 album in my collection and an essential piece to any Symphonic Progressive Rock collection. Everything about this problem is attractive. The writing, the playing, the recording quality, even the cover and sleeve art are attractive. There's no question that this masterpiece album deserves five out of five stars.

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Send comments to Tapfret (BETA) | Report this review (#444574)
Posted Sunday, May 08, 2011 | Review Permalink
Buh
5 stars Before listening to this album, I was not a huge fan of Genesis, though I had enjoyed a few of their albums. Not knowing what to expect I went into this one, and wow...this is a beautiful album!!! The acoustic guitar is lovely, as is the flute and the vocals. It's like Mr. Hackett set out to make a minimalistic, but nonetheless effective prog album, mainly showcasing lovely acoustic melodies he's written, and flute parts played by his brother.

Eclecticism is another strong point here. Only 8 tracks, but each one with it's own flair. "Ace of Wands" and "A Tower Struck Down" show off the heavier side of Hackett, and sound King Crimson inspired. Both "Hands of the Priestess" numbers boast excellent guitar and flute, but also a gorgeous melody that drives them. The prettiest melody here might be the very short, but effective "The Lovers". The three songs with vocals are also great, the best being the 11- minute finale "Shadow of the Hierophant".

Since listening to this album, I've listened to much more Genesis, and while I'll be in the minority on this one, to me, this was better than any Genesis record. Not more experimental, but more pretty and consistently wonderful. This is really one of my favorite records of all time.

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Send comments to Buh (BETA) | Report this review (#456671)
Posted Friday, June 03, 2011 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It makes sense that VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE is dubbed ''the album that Genesis never recorded''. Obvious to most prog fans is that it is Steve Hackett's album (many point to him as a key figure in the 70's Genesis sound, as do I), but also that Rutherford and (Phil) Collins help out. I can draw a few comparisons to this album and THE GEESE AND THE GHOST, Ant Phillips's first solo record, in that both had held the guitar position in Genesis and Mike and Phil contribute on both records. Their solo albums will appeal to fans of different eras of Genesis; if Phillips's spoke more to the TRESPASS junkies, the ones who like albums like FOXTROT might find this more rewarding.

I can hear some of the Genesis sound in this, but VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE has its own sound in a way (I guess THE GEESE AND THE GHOST does as well, something I failed to mention in that review). Steve Hackett's guitar sound is the defining characteristic here; it always had something unique about, most notably heard on the wacky opener ''Ace of Wands''. Much of the album is guitar-centric; many of the tracks are either entirely based around acoustic melodies or they have sections pulsated by gentle, acoustic passages (think ''Star of Sirius'').

The singing is at best okay; Hackett himself has the best vocal performance on the album on ''The Hermit'' (why does Camel come to my mind when I hear that song?), not that Phil or Sally Oldfield are horrible, but their performances come off as dry to me. The opening third of ''Shadow of the Heirophant'' levels the actual beauty of the piece as a whole; the mellotron- drenched ending really defines symphonic music without an actual symphony much like King Crimson's ''Epitaph''.

I got this album and Ant Phillips's debut at the same time, so I find myself comparing the two rather often. I rate VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE higher because this has more appeal to the symphonic prog fans as well as having more rocking sections. Other than the beginning third of ''Heirophant'' and ''The Lovers'' to an extent, VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE is quite solid. Definitely will appeal to the fans of classic Genesis.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#463031)
Posted Thursday, June 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
baz91
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Since this is Steve Hackett - the then-guitarist of Genesis - we're talking about, it's easy to have high expectations of his debut solo album. Sadly however, whilst this album is certainly unique and interesting, it's perhaps not the classic that you'd expect.

On the Genesis albums, Hackett had never been much of a standout guitarist, in the way that Steve Howe or Robert Fripp had been, but had instead been content to work mainly in the background, letting Tony Banks take the lead on most of the solos. Sure he let out the occasional guitar solo, e.g. Firth of Fifth, but never anything too monumental. His solo album would then surely be a chance to hear his talents in the spotlight? Not so. Here we see a man who takes his music deadly seriously, and writes music for orchestral instruments, with the occasional prog rock twist.

I've always enjoyed solo albums for the line-ups on the album. 'Voyage of the Acolyte' is no exception, as Hackett manages to bring Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford from Genesis to play on drums and bass guitar respectively. Whilst Collins has now become the anti-christ of prog, back then he was known for his impressive drumming ability, and it shows here. Rutherford had been even more of a background man in Genesis, and even though he still is in the background here, there's no denying that he can be heard more on this album. Also appearing is John Hackett, Steve's younger brother, on flute and synthesizer. John would go on to appear on most of Steve Hackett's solo albums. A number of other guest stars appear, but I shall get to them later.

The album begins cleverly with the full-on prog instrumental Ace Of Wands. It's clever in the sense that any proghead who'd picked the record up and started the first side would instantly be drawn in by the sensational intro drum fill. In the first four seconds of this album, you are immediately transported into a world of proggy wonder. Since purchasing this album, there's always been a little button I can press on my iTunes menu to hear that wonderful fill. The rest of the song isn't that bad either. There are soaring electric guitars, synthesizers and flutes, all blended into a beautiful melodic whole. In my opinion, this is the best track on the album.

Next up is an acoustic track, Hands of the Priestess, Pt. 1. This is where the album starts to get dull. Very little happens in this track, and it feels like filler. However, A Tower Struck Down changes all this. The electric sounds are brought back for a dark instrumental. Strangely enough, this is the most Genesis-y the album gets (e.g. the riff that begins at 1:17). Unfortunately, it starts to get a little repetitive after a while. Suddenly, in the middle of the track, there is a recording of a person coughing, and then a recording of people shouting 'Sieg, Heil!' before an explosion. The rest of the track is quiet, and we are left wondering what on earth that was all about. Hands of the Priestess, Pt. 2 picks up from where part one ended. This part is slightly more interesting, as it reprises a riff from the end of Ace Of Wands.

The Hermit is a very dull song indeed. The main feature of this track is Steve Hackett singing, which is hardly that impressive. He actually reminds me slightly of Camel's Andrew Latimer. The track is dominated by acoustic guitar, but features oboe and flute too. A very pretty song, but also dreadfully dull.

Over to Side 2, we start with Star of Sirius, a song which features Phil Collins on vocals. His voice has been double tracked, giving a very strange effect. Those familiar with later Genesis may find the familiarity of his voice helps them to get into this song. It is a song with verses and choruses, but it is definitely progressive, as there is an instrumental that is very reminiscent of The Hermit on Side 1. The chorus is actually quite catchy and I do enjoy this song every time I put it on. Doing research for this album lead me to an amazing discovery: John Gustafson of Roxy Music and Quatermass plays the bass on this track, in place of Mike Rutherford.

The Lovers is another short and dull instrumental, in lieu of Horizons from 'Foxtrot'. Perhaps the only intersting point is that it uses a short snippet from the next track.

The final track on the album is in fact Hackett's longest solo track to date. Shadow of the Heirophant stands at an impressive 11:43, but when listening to it, one realises that there's hardly 5 minutes worth of music, as this is actually a very repetitive song. Essentially, there are two parts to this track, the six-minute 'main part' and the mammoth six-minute 'outro'. In the main part of the song, We hear guest star Sally Oldfield (sister of Mike Oldfield) use her stunningly beautiful voice. Her voice reaches the highest notes with seemingly little effort. The instrumentation is a blend of mellotron and electric guitar for the non vocal parts, and acoustic for the main part, which overall gives a very powerful and "important" feel to the song. The outro, as already mentioned, is six minutes long, and consists of the same riff repeated over and over, in lieu of The Beatles' I Want You (She's So Heavy). It gets louder and louder until eventually fading away towards the end. While this is certainly a grandiose exit, one can't help but notice that the riff doesn't feel quite right. In other words, whilst being a very good riff, it's not quite as satisfying as, say, the Würm segment of Starship Trooper. On the remastered CD, there is a 17 minute extended studio version of this song, which essentially extends the outro to 11 minutes, as well as increase the volume of Collins' drumming. If you're quite the fan of the outro, then this will be a huge bonus, but otherwise, there is hardly any reason to listen to this version.

Kim Poor was the artist responsible for the beautiful yet disturbing paintings on the cover and in the gatefold. The CD remaster is extremely good, as it not only includes both paintings, but actually extends the gatefold painting to it's full size, essentially giving us more than the vinyl sleeve. Hackett and Poor would marry, and she would do all his artwork, following a trend that Robert Wyatt and Alfreda Benge had set. Also included on the CD is a live version of Ace Of Wands which is vastly inferior to the studio version, but a nice touch all the same. This is a worthy purchase for all fans of Genesis, who'd like to see Steve Hackett in a different light.

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Send comments to baz91 (BETA) | Report this review (#463324)
Posted Friday, June 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars STUNNING!

This is one of my all time favorite prog records. In fact I love this album more than what Genesis put out in the same period, "Trick of the tail" and "Wind & Wuthering", though I am a huge Genesis fan.

Steve Hackett's "Voyage of the Acolyte" has everything a prog lover needs. The album is quite adventurous. Stunning Mellotron playing, excellent guitar playing, lovely flute parts, great production, and the songs themselves are GREAT. I love the cover art and the concept for the album, and the music fits perfectly.

The songs Ace Of Wands, Hands of the Priestess Part 1 & 2, A Tower Struck Down, The Hermit, Shadow of the Hierophant are my favorite tracks, and Shadow of the Hierophant being the absolute best track on the whole album. The Lovers is a good tune as well, but nos AS good as the others.

Star of Sirius is the most uninteresting track for me, being sung by Phil Collins. I'm not a big fan of Phil's vocals, and that ruins the song a bit, and the track itself is a mixed bag. Some of the Mellotron parts are great, but I find other parts to be a little cheezy, like the chorus parts.

A classic album nevertheless, and a MUST HAVE in a prog rockers collection. If you dont have it yet, GET IT. NOW.

5 stars easy.

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Send comments to Moonstone (BETA) | Report this review (#471333)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have heard this album called a lost Genesis album. I like that Steve had Mike and Phil help him out on this album, it gave us a little taste of what Genesis may have sounded like, if Steve had more input.

Most of the songs are instrumental, so that automatically turns a lot of people off, however when it comes To Steve I find I enjoy his instrumentals more than most of his songs that contain lyrics.

The strong points of the album in my opinion is Ace Of Wands, A Tower Struck Down, and Shadow of the Heirophant. In my opinion not really any weak moments here. Star of Sirius could have been on a Genesis album of that period, and the Hermit gives us our first chance to hear Steve on vocals.

I give the album 4 stars.

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Send comments to Squonk_hunter (BETA) | Report this review (#503051)
Posted Sunday, August 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Steve Hackett's first solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte may not reach the heights of some of his later works, and it may even be his most dated sounding album, but it's still a masterpiece of progressive rock. As is often said, he sounds more like Genesis here than anywhere else, with the contributions of Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford [not to mention the very Tony Banks-like synths of John Hackett and John Acock (if Tony Banks would have been listed in the liner notes, I might have believed it)] helping that fact. It still stands a very interesting and compelling piece of music on its own, though, and the first side in particular works well as a progressive suite, with the opening "Ace of Wands" one of the most being the most energetic rockers of its time, merging many styles in a very short space, and both borrowing a riff from Led Zeppelin's "The Song Remains the Same" and contributing one to their later "Achillies Last Stand." "The Hermit" is very atmosheric, "Star of Sirius", with the multi-layered vocals of Phil Collins and some very progressive construction could have been on any Genesis album of the time, and the closing "Shadow of the Heirophant" is one of the most haunting and emotionally devastating crescendos you'll ever hear, in any genre. But perhaps the best moment is on "Hands of the Priestess part II", where the melancholy theme opens up to a beatuful oboe-led sun shining through after the rain moment. A wonderful experience.

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Send comments to 7headedchicken (BETA) | Report this review (#522710)
Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars A classic, an album from golden era of Prog, Steve Hackett in the best shape, but most of all, the best presentation of his acoustic work crossed with Genesis style music (but after all, he is Genesis).

Voyage of the Acolyte brings many melodies. Not cheap, not wonderful, but rather intriguing, the ones that gets under your skin. Yet it is also an album where few elements spoils the whole a bit. However, after every listen I get a feeling that this album wants to be loved. So gentle, so variable, so pleasing in every sense.

Even the little The Lovers is a bit interesting, even it is just a filler. And being to understand exact mood featured on track Hands Of The Priestess, Part I would be also fine. I never seem to get it right, it always puzzles me. In a good way.

Nevertheless, I have some problems with A Tower Struck Down, but even it has its moments. Not much though. Shadow Of The Hierophant is a reprise of album's theme.

4(+), for a great visionary, harmed only by 10% of bad parts + some repetition.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#535823)
Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Recorded by Steve Hackett with some Genesis pals in tow whilst the band were deliberating over their post-Gabriel direction, Voyage of the Acolyte is a brilliant showcase for Steve's skills - both as a guitar player and as a songwriter. I don't think it's a classic from beginning to end - I usually end up tuning out during the somewhat lukewarm "la la la la" vocal section on Star of Sirius - but it's packed with great music, from the super-complex Ace of Wands to the magnificent outro to Shadow of the Hierophant. Any fan of Hackett-era Genesis should make this their first stop in touring Steve's solo discography.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#544394)
Posted Thursday, October 06, 2011 | Review Permalink
Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One of the best and most characteristic progressive rock albums ever made, and Steve Hackett's finest moment as a composer. At it's best it surpasses Genesis, and at it's worst it's still around the same level as them. The music is very adventurous and imaginative with excellent use of contrasting moods and themes, Steve was (and still is) a brilliant writer and somewhat underused in Genesis so this album really made my day on first listen. The CD didn't leave the player for a month and the music is still as fresh now as it was back then. The musicianship have to be mentioned as well with bandmates Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins doing the rhythm section and brother John Hackett and John Acock on flute and keyboards respectively. Returning to a more song-oriented format on further releases, this is one of Hackett's most unique and rewarding albums, and absolutely essential for any starving proghead, preferably with a crush on Genesis. Highlights include the brilliant "Ace of Wands" and "Star of Sirius", the latter being sung by Phil Collins, two rollercoaster rides with splendid music. Essential.

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Send comments to Bj-1 (BETA) | Report this review (#560853)
Posted Tuesday, November 01, 2011 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars No doubt, Hackett's solo debut was and still is a wonderful record capturing all the instrumental and composing ideas Steve had accumulated during his GENESIS tenure but was prevented to "sell" them to the band-mates. So he decided to go solo. But this is very much GENESIS-sounding album, and if you are a fan of Gabriel-era GENESIS you should definitely get "The Voyage of the Acolyte"!

There are lots of beautiful instrumental passages, pastoral feel of guitar solo, acoustic strings, mellotrons and flutes, symphonic arrangements, and above all, diversity. "Hand of the Priestess" carries the fine melodic snippets of what was probably left from the material Hackett composed for GENESIS album "Selling England..", while "Tower Struck Down" is an abrasive heavy guitar attack resembling some dark KING CRIMSON aspects. The highlight is perhaps "The Star of Sirius" with Phil Collins handling the lead vocals and is a typical multi-part progressive track of the GENESIS canon. Being an exceptional guitar player Hackett is much less of a vocalist, so "The Hermit" although nice ballad is probably the least strong track on the album. Another magnum opus is the closing "Shadow of a Hierophant" with female lead vocals by Sally Oldfield and some really wonderful weeping sound of Hackett's guitar and his brother John's flute. Of course, the opener "Ace of Wands" is a memorable instrumental composition and a furious starter to this lovely record.

Absolutely essential to all listeners of "symphonic" type of classic prog.

PERSONAL RATING: 4,75/5

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#561596)
Posted Thursday, November 03, 2011 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars First solo album from Steve and the only one released while still a member of Genesis. His reason for making this album (and later leaving Genesis) was he felt that not enough of his ideas were being used by the band. Some call this a 'lost Genesis album' and while I see where they are coming from I don't really agree. Some of the music here does sound like Genesis, while some of it is (gulp!) even better than Genesis! Both Collins and Rutherford appear on the album as well as other people, some more well known than others.

The first half of this album is almost flawless. Generally I find a lot of the music too acoustic- y for my tastes. The use of synths here is more interesting than most of what Tony Banks was doing at the same time. The two best songs here, "Ace Of Wands" and "A Tower Struck Down," are excellent tracks and, realistically, there is probably only 2 or 3 Genesis songs better than these two. That's how good they are. In fact, I would say that the last 2 minutes of "Ace Of Wands" is better than anything Genesis ever did. There, I said it.

Opening the album with a drum fill and a guitar run, "Ace Of Wands" wastes no time getting to business. This track features some of Hackett's best guitar work on the album. Love the flute-like synth playing mixed with bells...awesome sound. I just love how it abruptly changes after 3 minutes to a face-paced section with acoustic guitar strumming and later some of Steve's trademark finger-tapping style. The two-part "Hands Of The Priestess" which segues between the other songs on side one features acoustic guitar, flute, Mellotron, backwards sounds as well as some mournful electric guitar. Good as segues but nothing special on their own.

"A Tower Struck Down" is probably the single best song here and a lot darker and sinister sounding than almost anything Genesis did. Great interplay between the instruments. Love the sequencer pattern that appears after 2 minutes, very hypnotic. For a few seconds it gets interupted by random noises and then gets drowned out by a crowd yelling "Steve Hackett!" although it sounds like "Sieg Heil!" instead. Synth-generated thunderstorm sounds and then gorgeous Mellotron strings, followed by repeated minimal guitar. Fantastic song.

"The Hermit" features Steve's own pedestrian vocals. Mostly acoustic guitar with some strings and some flute. Sort of a letdown after what came before but still a decent song. Phil Collins does lead vocals on "Star Of Sirius." Starts off with acoustic guitar and Phil's multi-tracked vocals being joined by Mellotron. Nice synth melodies during the first half of this song. Oddly enough, this song does not sound very Genesis-y. Some vibraphone leads to the main upbeat portion of the track featuring acoustic guitar strumming and 'nah, nah, nah, nah' vocals.

In the middle it gets dark sounding before some flute brings the sunshine back in. More synth melodies and vibraphone before the upbeat section returns. Probably Collins' best drumming on the album. "The Lovers" is a less than 2 minute instrumental that sounds like the first half is being played backwards during the second half. The almost 12 minute epic "Shadow Of The Hierophant" features Sally Oldfield (Mike's sister) on lead vocals. Very symphonic prog sounding. I'm not the biggest fan of Sally's voice but at least she can sing better than her brother (ha!). This is the longest song and it tends to lose my attention. Some cool finger-tapping from Steve; hard to believe this is from 1975 not 1985. The last part that builds up is the best part of the track.

Hackett made a lot of great songs on his own but his albums were never very consistent. Voyage is probaly the most consistent of them all (although admittedly I haven't heard anything post-80s from him). This was recorded after Gabriel left Genesis and shows that, sooner or later, Genesis were going to end up a trio eventually anyway. This is worth it just for those two great tracks (you know which ones). I'll give this a 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#575158)
Posted Friday, November 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Perfection can truly take many forms. This is a perfect album. It carries you along on a voyage via songs that belong in the order that they were put in. I couldn't imagine listenting to these songs in any other order. Starting off the album with Ace of Wands really sets the mood for the album with its many curve balls. The song goes from one good idea to another at such a rate that rolls along so naturally and so pleasantly. Now, since Ace of Wands sounds like various good songs put into one, the rest of the songs on the album don't stand out so much on their own as when they are put one after another. For me, the album has become like one great song. It has to be played all the way through. There are definately stand-out moment. One particular song that stands out for me is Star of Sirius. Oh how I love Phil Collins' contribution to this. It certainly is a great way to start side B. This was Steve Hackett's first solo album so I'm sure he wanted to give a treat to all the loyal Genesis fans, and I will say on behalf of us all, thanks Steve Hackett. Also, Thank you Mike Rutherford for helping Mr. Hackett finish Shadow of the Hierophant. It makes for a great way to close the album. By now, I cannot expect anything. What comes is a spacy tune that ends with what sounds like a genuine climax. There aren't too many songs like this, but those that are are some of the best. And what a great place to put it in: at the end of the album. I am satisfied.

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Send comments to jalas (BETA) | Report this review (#584802)
Posted Thursday, December 08, 2011 | Review Permalink
Matti
COLLABORATOR
Neo-Prog Team
5 stars This much-reviewed album is fondly admired by Genesis fans, and IMHO it's among the finest solo efforts of any (former) member of an acclaimed band. Quite an achievement for a debut! Made during the hiatus followed by Peter Gabriel's departure, it writes a crucial additional chapter in the story of Genesis. Worth noting is that Hackett collaborated with both Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford, and Collins also sang on one of the album's standout tracks, 'Star Of Sirius', perhaps paving way for the decision to become the lead vocalist for Genesis. The other guest vocalist is Sally Oldfield, whose high angelic voice is a perfect match with the delicate, romantic and symphonic music on the nearly 12-minute closer 'Shadow Of The Hierophant'.

Taking its inspiration from the Tarot pack, the album is full of pastoral beauty with lots of acoustic instruments (brother John plays flute). Naturally Hackett also takes advantage of his chance to give the leading role to his masterful guitarism: the energetic instrumentals 'Ace Of Wands' and 'A Tower Struck Down' seem a bit too evident in that sense, but they give some kick amidst the soft and ethearal stuff (namely the dreamy isntrumental 'Hands of the Priestess' in two parts). 'The Hermit' is the most melancholic track, sung tenderly - and with an exaggerated vibrato - by Steve himself. The flute solo is lovely.

On behalf of Genesis, I believe we all are grateful that Steve didn't leave them at this point. If you enjoy the more pastoral side of Genesis (e.g. on Wind & Wuthering), this is a must.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#704083)
Posted Monday, April 02, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ah, the missing Genesis album (or so people think). Even though only one member of the band composed this, (though Rutherford and Collins played on it) it still has a strong Genesis feel. Yet there are a lot of sounds on here that Genesis never really touched; maybe this is why a lot of Steve's material was left behind. Instrumentally the album is incredibly balanced, considering Steve's main instrument is the guitar. There's tons of synth, Mellotron, flute, and even oboe. What I like specifically about this album is Hackett's ability to mix upbeat, riff oriented music with the slower, more celestial passages, often in the same song.

The album opens with 'Ace Of Wands.' (10/10) The song is super upbeat and some great melodies, but what really gets me are the harmonies between the guitar/synth/bass.

'Hands of The Priestess' (9/10) is an absolutely beautiful song with flute and Mellotron, I just wish it was developed more instead of being repeated throughout its duration (though the second part changes it up which is nice).

'A Tower Struck Down' (9/10) is another upbeat riff based song with great synth work and a fantastic rhythm section in Collins and Rutherford.

'Hermit' (7/10) is decent, but I feel as though the vocals kind of hold it back a little (sorry Steve!). The second half of the song is just a beautiful mix of acoustic guitar and oboe.

'Star of Sirius' (10/10) is probably my favorite song on the album. It's extremely atmospheric, but also goes though a few upbeat sections. Phil's vocals are a nice addition as well.

'The Lovers' is just a short acoustic piece that segues into the 'The Shadow Of Hierophant' (9/10) This song does a lot with not much. The opening few minutes alternates between acoustic guitar/flute/ vocals and Mellotron/drums. A short guitar interlude leads to a section I relate to 'Starless' from King Crimson based on its amazing buildup.

Overall, this album has all the ingredients I appreciate in Genesis, and then some. The extra instruments, specifically the oboe, are nice additions. As much as I wanted to see Hackett more involved in the writing with Genesis, I think Voyage of the Acolyte more than makes up for it.

9/10

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Send comments to Mr. Mustard (BETA) | Report this review (#811020)
Posted Monday, August 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars "Voyage of the Acolyte" is the pinnacle of Steve Hackett's genius in many fans' eyes, and rightfully so as it boasts some of his most celebrated material. Any Hackett fan is enamoured with awesome tracks such as 'Ace of Wands', 'Star Of Sirius' and 'Shadow Of The Hierophant'.

Many cite this as the missing Genesis album and it is easy to see why when you look at the lineup on the album. Steve Hackett plays electric & acoustic guitar, Mellotron, harmonium, bells, autoharp, vocal, effects, and he is joined by brother John Hackett on flute, Arp synthetizer, bells. But the real surprise treat is the addition of Mike Rutherford on bass guitar, bass pedals, Fuzz 12-String,and Phil Collins on drums, vibes, percussion, vocals. The collaboration feels more Genesis than one might imagine, and there are stirring performances from John Acock on Elka, Rhapsody, Mellotron, harmonium, piano and the beautiful tones of Sally Oldfield on vocals.

'Ace of Wands' is a very melodic instrumental with delightful keyboards and of course Hackett is brilliant on lead guitar. This one has appeared on many concert setlists for good reason; a simply stunning start to the album. 'Hands of the Priestess Part I' is next, with a mystical feel and some gorgeous Mellotron and acoustics. The flute is dreamy as are the chimes; some of the most beautiful pastoral music I have heard.

'A Tower Struck Down' is dramatic music with nice buzzing synth lines,rutherford's violent bassline, and odd meters with choral voices adding to the mystical flavour. It even has "Sieg Heil!" shouts at the end and explosions; a war of ideas, and then Mellotron swathes followed by low guitar tones. This is one of the proggiest tracks on the album. Followed by 'Hands Of The Priestess Part II' with more lovely flute and medieval sounds.

After all the instrumental work, vocals soon enter the album. 'The Hermit' has the vocals of Steve Hackett echoed and phased in the studio, with a medieval lute. The flute passage is a gorgeous augmentation to end it.

'Star Of Sirius' gives Phil Collins a chance to show he can sing. It is a peaceful song and has multi harmonies to disguise Collin's real voice; perhaps Hackett was worried about this. The music is keyboards and acoustics at first, then it builds into some nice melodies and definitely sounds like Genesis.

'The Lovers' is a short transition with acoustic tranquillity, similar to 'Horizons' in some ways, except it feature backwards keyboards. 'Shadow Of The Hierophant' features the golden crystalline tones of Sally Oldfield, always a delight. It is the longest track at 11:44, and perhaps the masterpiece of the album. Oldfield's vocals lend a Celtic quality to the music as always, such an accomplished vocalist, and the flute and chimes are mesmirising.

One of the greatest Hackett albums ever, "Voyage of the Acolyte" is a delight from beginning to end, proggy and with virtuoso musicianship throughout. The songs and themes are based on Tarot, that never interested me, but I am very interested in the musicianship. Hackett proves he is going to make a solo career one day with this debut. He not only proves he will make it but he shows the other members of Genesis how it is done with that inimitable prog edge.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#841148)
Posted Saturday, October 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Voyage of the Acolyte' - Steve Hackett (8/10)

The break-up of the progressive Genesis is one of the quiet tragedies of rock music. While the band technically lived to fight another day well into the eighties and beyond, the pop- oriented style was a world away from the bombastic prog epics they were first known for. In a sense, Genesis became a different band with the same name, and while I'm sure there are many out there who prefer the 80's pop- American Psycho's Patrick Bateman, for one- I'll always remember the band for their contributions to prog. Although Peter Gabriel's departure was the first nail in the coffin, it was Hackett's decision to leave that set the band's transformation in focus. Although the Genesis guitarist's solo debut "Voyage of the Acolyte" was released and recorded while he was still in the band, it is clear here that the main band was no longer scratching Steve Hackett's creative itch. With the same playful, cinematic guitar work and symphonic structures that defined much of Genesis' best work, paired with the fact that Steve is backed up here by fellow bandmembers, "Voyage of the Acolyte" may be seen as the route Genesis would have taken, had Hackett been given full control instead of Collins. Taking his distinctive style one step further, "Voyage of the Acolyte" comes close to bridging the gap between the archetypal rock band and symphonic orchestra. It may not feel as smooth as the refined masterpieces of Genesis proper, but Hackett's first foray into the solo realm is indeed spectacular.

There's no surprise when "Voyage of the Acolyte" bears a strong resemblance to Genesis. Much like an orchestral symphony, the mood and style is complex, without ever being jarring on the ears. I read a comment once where it was said that Hackett was a master of the subconscious, and it certainly rings true here. In spite of (or perhaps because) the music is largely instrumental, there is a more otherworldly atmosphere here than the Gabriel-fueled romps through the farce of British working class society in early Genesis. The album art (painted by his wife, if I'm not mistaken) is a perfect counterpart to the mood. As always, Hackett's guitar tone is deep and meaty, and his playing reserved, melodic and rarely showy. It's well-assumed that the guitar element would play a heavier role here, but Hackett pays good consideration to the music as a whole. The synthesizers are allotted some of the most beautiful melodies on the album, and though Hackett's guitar is always doing something in the works, he seems less excited to sport his skills, and more enthusiastic about letting others spread their wings. Especially for the solo album of a guitar player- this is pretty rare. Suffice to say, there are no blistering guitar solos or longwinded 16 bar blues jams. Narcissistic musicians and listeners will no doubt feel alienated by this approach.

"Ace of Wands" is a perfect way to open the album. Almost as were it an energetic overture of sorts, it is a highly dynamic instrumental piece that runs the spectrum from Celtic- influenced prog grooves to classical arrangements and the odd touch of ethereal atmosphere. The next three tracks run together as a longer piece, with "A Tower Struck Down" offering a near King Crimson-esque tension to contrast the relative lightness of "Hand of the Priestess". Thus far, "Voyage of the Acolyte" has been an entirely instrumental trip, and the lack of vocals gives Hackett the room to exercise his composition skills to their full potential. With the great success of this instrumental material in mind, it comes as something of a dull shock when Hackett's own voice is heard on the melancholic acoustic piece "The Hermit". The accompanying cello (performed here by Nigel Warren-Green) is a pleasantly dark accompaniment to the baroque sound of Hackett's acoustic arrangement. The vocals, however, feel quite ill-fitted for the sound. Although Hackett is not a poor vocalist by any means, his croon feels dry, muffled, and even poorly produced compared to the excellent instrumentation. "Star of Sirius" is arguably the most poppy tune here. Perhaps coincidentally, Phil Collins offers his voice here, and though his vocal delivery is much more effective than Hackett's on "The Hermit", the music runs into a similar problem; the production feels less professional than it did when the music was purely instrumental. It's as if "Voyage of the Acolyte" is self-aware that the instrumental material thus far is superior, and wants to draw a bolder line between the two. The result is that "Voyage of the Acolyte" comes across as a bit of an uneven record, at least relative to its studio success.

"The Lovers" is a short acoustic interlude, the likes of which we have seen before from Hackett on "Foxtrot"s own "Horizons". Being little more than a slow exercise in fingerpicking, it's largely benign. However, it's given the great honour of being the extended introduction for "Shadow of the Hierophant", the mandatory prog epic that closes off the record. It's here where everything comes together; all of Hackett's scattered pieces coalesce into something monstrous, beautiful, alien and intimate. Although it flirts with the eleven minute mark, "Shadow of the Hierophant" is a surprisingly minimalistic composition, relying largely on two motifs to get by, one soft and vocal-driven, the other more anthemic and proggy. It may have felt slightly longwinded, had it not been one of the most beautifully composed and performed things Steve Hackett has ever touched. Thanks in large part to guest vocalist Sally Oldfield's incredibly pristine voice, "Voyage of the Acolyte" forgives its slightly weaker midsection and delivers something straight out of a world of fantasy. Sally's voice really cannot be overestimated here, her vibrato and floating quality gives her the voice the semblance of an angel. Fused with Steve Hackett's classical ambitions and moderate Celtic influences, it's something really wonderful. The repeating final section does tend to feel a tad overextended by the end, but there's no mistaking that "Voyage of the Acolyte" leaves its best for last; really wonderful stuff.

It will no doubt be exciting for someone to listen to Steve Hackett's debut, especially if they're any fan of the progressive-era Genesis. If Genesis could be seen as an earthy form of progressive rock, then "Voyage of the Acolyte" is somewhere between that and the aether, where Yes have claimed their perch. For whatever reason, the album feels uneven in the way it was recorded. It certainly opens and ends on its strongest notes, and while there is a consistent beauty throughout the music here, I cannot help but feel that the album could have been even better, had the flow come across a little more smoothly. It's not perfect, but it's some of the most vital Hackett's creativity has ever felt.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#854034)
Posted Friday, November 09, 2012 | Review Permalink
1 stars This is just one more album. I do not recommend except if you are a fan of Steve Hackett, if there is any. I found it quite disconnected, taking unrelated notes from here and from there. Some times is really poppy. Right now I am listening "na, na, na, na" which is obviolusly very un ispired. The vocals are also bad. Maybe I need to hear the album more times but by now, I would not pay for it. Although I already paid because it had high rates. At the moment one star. Maybe in two years when I listen again I will give it to it one more star.

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Send comments to amontes (BETA) | Report this review (#879948)
Posted Friday, December 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars This album starts so great with maybe the best guitarmelodie Steve Hackett ever delivered. But here the words of glory stop for me. A lot of reviewers point to this record as a proof of Hackett's quality songwriting, but I'm not so impressed by it. In fact the song writing factor may be the crucial factor for me why I never really liked this record. The differrent passages in the songs don't fluidly flow over in each other: it seems a bit forced. The most themes are not interesting enough either. Well, actually there is - besides the introduction guitarmelodies - not much memorable about this record for me. I wanted to write a more sophisticated review about this record, but I just don't want to listen to it anymore: two stars...

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Send comments to the philosopher (BETA) | Report this review (#881114)
Posted Monday, December 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In retrospect, making a solo album at this point in time might have been a somewhat jerkish move on the part of Steve. In the wake of Peter Gabriel's departure from Genesis, the band was in a bit of an uncertain place, and one could argue that everybody in the band should have been focusing all of their energies on figuring out how the new look Genesis was going to move forward. Instead, almost as soon as the Lamb tour was over and Peter was officially out of the band, Steve took the opportunity to spend a month recording his debut solo album, and his involvement in relation to various aspects caused him to miss early rehearsals for A Trick of the Tail. Feelings couldn't have been too hard at the time, though; while Tony Banks is nowhere to be found, Mike Rutherford handles the bulk of the bass guitar work, and Phil Collins contributes all of the percussion and even sings on one of the tracks. Who knows, maybe Mike and Phil decided that they couldn't risk any bad blood on the part of Steve, so they decided it would be a good idea to help him out, or maybe they were eager to get back to playing non-Lamb material together as soon as possible.

This is a 1000% prog rock album. Five of the eight tracks are instrumental, the song names all reference Tarot cards, the lyrics might as well be sung in French, and everything about the album screams out THIS IS SERIOUS MUSIC FOR SERIOUS LISTENERS. From a certain perspective, it's a far more concentrated dose of prog rock on the whole than any Genesis album to that point; yes, Genesis albums had their fair share of "serious" music, but they also had a tendency to lighten the mood at just the right times (the lighter songs are often an irritant for Genesis fans, but I think the consistent of inclusion of such material was one of the great strengths of the Gabriel era of Genesis). On this album, the music may sometimes get gentle, but it never remotely approaches lightweight, and this both helps and hurts the album. Steve was still a little bit away at this point from his future tendencies to mix things up, that's for sure.

Still, this album makes for a delightful listen, and part of this is because the sonic texture is far more varied than on a given Genesis album. Aside from the standard instrumentation, Steve's brother John contributes flute, and there are contributions from others on oboe, English horn and cello. There's still plenty of keyboard - Steve wasn't going to abandon one of the most important foundations of solid art rock just because Tony didn't want to help out - but the keyboard parts are very much a part of the ensemble, as opposed to an entity showing much personality (which, for better and worse, Tony Banks' keyboard parts always had). The star, though, is clearly Steve's guitar, and my does he take advantage of his new freedom. If you've ever felt any sense that Steve was underused relative to his abilities in Genesis, then the opening "Ace of Wands" will reinforce that feeling something fierce. Yes, the song is more than just a guitar showcase; all of the various parts are memorable, and there are solid sequences where the majestic keyboards become the focus and the guitars fade into the background. Ultimately, though, the song's most notable features come from its rapid dash from guitar lick to guitar lick, some electric and some acoustic, with Steve mixing speed and minimalism in the way only he could and showing a stronger guitar tone than on most of his Genesis work.

"Hands of the Priestess I" and "Hands of the Priestess II," which sandwich "A Tower Struck Down," show off Steve's skills at making gentle instrumental music (whereas "Ace of Wands" and "A Tower Struck Down" show his skills in making energetic instrumental music). The first part features John's flute and Steve's guitar going back and forth on an atmospheric melody over a soft acoustic part, and the second part brings out a happy exchange of flute, English horn and guitar, with a momentary reprise of one of the themes briefly played in the middle of "Ace of Wands." "A Tower Struck Down," in contrast, would be a borderline heavy number if the guitar and the bass didn't sound so goofily wimpy (which is all the stranger given that there are two people playing bass in the song); I like the song, and it has multiple interesting sections (and some GREAT atmospheric keyboard parts in the middle), but the song almost sounds unfinished in spots (in contrast, the version on Genesis Revisited II decades later sounds fantastic).

The first vocal on the album comes from Steve on "The Hermit," and while he's no great shakes, he's definitely not bad either, though to be fair the vocal melody (a fairly nice idea repeated over and over) doesn't require much of him. The song itself is quite lovely, though; the melody goes nowhere, but it's an atmospheric nowhere, and the arrangements (especially the fantastic solo by the oboe or English horn, I admit I'm not 100% which) are very pleasing to my ears. "Star of Sirius" is a more upbeat acoustic ballad, this time featuring Phil on vocals, but Phil is basically just another layer in the delightful atmosphere whenever he sings. No matter, the slower parts are beautiful, and the faster parts give another opportunity to hear Steve doing his speedy minimalism thing oh so well.

After another instrumental, the classical-guitar-turns-into-ambience of "The Lovers" (only 1:50), we come to the album's finale and defining track. "The Shadow of the Hierophant" (which has enough contributions from Mike that it warranted a songwriting co-credit) is about as pompous as prog can get without crossing a suckiness line, and all the better for it. The first half (the vocal half) is basically two ideas alternating back and forth; a fantastic slow guitar line supported by STRONG keyboards, and an acoustic ballad with Sally Oldfield singing lyrics I still don't remotely know after owning the album for a very long time (aside from an occasional "Has the moon eclipsed the sun"). Honestly, I don't care that I don't know the lyrics; the singing is so lush, and the vocal melody so beautiful, that I'm perfectly willing to let the song have the same effect on me it would have if I was listening to something from an opera (where I wouldn't know the words because I wouldn't speak the language). Once the "song" portion ends, Steve breaks into the most emotionally charged 40-second tapping sequence I can imagine, before pulling out a brief guitar melody that rivals anything he did with Genesis, and the ending sequence begins. Oh, that ending sequence. It's just one relatively simple theme, repeated over and over (starting on solo vibes before the guitar comes in), building into a more and more dramatic arrangement, over the course of five minutes. I listen to it, and I know it's not much, and I know on a certain level it's a giant put-on, but it's just such a giant steam-roller of sound and power and that I can't get myself to care. It's one of the best stretches in Steve's career, that's for sure, and it helps make the track into one of the best of Steve's career.

On the whole, this is also one of the best albums of Steve's career, but I'd still say it falls a smidge short of greatness. It's just a touch short of genuinely classic tracks, and it has some stretches (like in much of "Tower") that don't sound quite right, and quite honestly it sounds much closer to a generic prog album than it does to the sort of album that Steve would be making later. But if it doesn't quite make it to greatness, it's still awfully close. Fans of 70s Genesis, and 70s prog rock in general, should be all over this.

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Send comments to tarkus1980 (BETA) | Report this review (#896048)
Posted Saturday, January 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have always liked Hackett's Voyage of the Acolyte. This album is a long lost Genesis record, without the name added to it. Rutherford plays bass and Collins pounds the skins, as well as adding his vocal talents. Hackett is superb in his guitar playing and his compositions on this album. In fact, his imminent departure from Genesis was because of their inability to recognize his work as a valuable asset.

Ace of Wands, Hands of the Priestess, a Tower Struck Down, Star of Sirius, and Shadow of the Hierophant are the highlights from this album, and all are fantastic. This is definately symphonic prog at its best.

Personally, I love this album more than the Lamb, as I find it much more cohesive. If I couold give half stars, I would give it 4 1/2 stars in total.

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Send comments to wehpanzer (BETA) | Report this review (#901305)
Posted Monday, January 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Steve Hackett's first album "Voyage Of the Acolyte" is a true gem and probably the best effort of his solo albums. Enjoying the freedom he had after a temporary break with Genesis, you can tell his imagination really went wild here. One of the reasons I like this album so much, is that its got something for every prog fan. Ace of Wands is a furious fast paced instrumental, while other songs like "Shadow of the Hieophant" is a slower paced epic with beautiful female vocals. In addition, this is by no means a guitar dominated album, as you would might expect, but has the musical depth of any Genesis album. This album sort of proves how good Hackett was at writing music, and how significant his contribution to Genesis really was (not that anyone doubted that). Infact, I'd even say this is better than any Genesis album after "The Lamb". All in all, this is without a doubt an essential album. It may not be the most unique prog album you've ever heard, but to me that isn't such a bad thing. Its just classic prog, even if its a bit generic, that any fan of the genre should be able to "get" pretty much immediately. Its got everything you could ever want in a prog album.

4.5 stars. Essential, and nearly a masterpiece.

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Send comments to pfloyd (BETA) | Report this review (#947254)
Posted Sunday, April 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars I had this album for years. First listen, I was very disappointed; music didn't flow, there were too many bizarre passages and changes of direction. I enjoy early Genesis greatly and Steve Hackett's guitar has always been a key factor. Perhaps, it was wrong to expect similar music in his first solo album. So, I listened to this album numerous times since the first spin. I still cannot enjoy it; right when a piece starts to grab me, it takes a weird turn and throws me off. Experimentation is fine and Steve is clearly a very talented guitarist but this album doesn't deliver for me. Unfortunately, there is not even a single piece I would long for if I didn't hear it for a while.

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Send comments to Sanki (BETA) | Report this review (#1121538)
Posted Sunday, January 26, 2014 | Review Permalink

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