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


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

4.24 | 1362 ratings

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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!

Negoba | 4/5 |


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