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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 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.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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