Hackett, Steve - Voyage Of The Acolyte

Year of Release: 1991
Label: Blue Plate/Caroline
Catalog Number: CAROL-1863-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 40:52:00

I verily think that Andrew Lloyd Webber is a Steve Hackett fan. I think this because twice there were elements here in Hackett's Voyage Of The Acolyte that instantly made me think of Webber's most celebrated work, The Phantom Of The Opera. He, Webber, must certainly have been enamoured of "Star Of Sirius" to have lifted and developed a bit of the opening melody for "All I Ask Of You," and to have sought out Sarah Brightman (however they met), and employ her as Christine, perhaps because Sally Oldfield, who sings lovely here on "Shadow Of The Heirophant," was not available. This is all fantastical (though not fantastic) speculation on my part -- in case it wasn't obvious. Okay, and please forgive me for the Webber reference, I happen to like Phantom, though I know he is reviled by some.

Maybe I'm still on a high from NEARfest 2002, though I've had this CD for years and was playing it both long before he was even announced as being on the schedule, but also right after, in preparation. I never got past this CD, however. Not for any other reason than I kept needing to listen to it. My previous experience with Hackett was Guitar Noir... but I was starting from the beginning. And, I couldn't get past it because I love this album. I don't care how it rates in the Hackett oeuvre, I love it. I love it except that, here, I find Phil Collins' vocal style annoying. I'm not a Phil basher -- call me guilty of liking his solo stuff up through ...But Seriously, and even his time as Genesis' vocalist -- but here...well...no, he just doesn't work for me. Ah, but everything else does. "Shadow..." is so epic, so...so...very proggy to me. It's big, sweeping, dramatic.

But, you say, peeking at the track listing, that's the end of the album. What about the beginning?

"Ace Of Wands" leads off the album. It starts with a twisting, slightly tart intro from what seems like a multitude of instruments - guitars and synths -- gives way to wonderfully swirly keys and chiming bells, strings (from the Arp), parpy keys, acoustic guitars... all the hallmarks of prog all in one package. Well, that's the half of it. The second half is rocking with some great playing from Hackett (as if there really was any other kind) ... listen to him use the fretboard... marvelous. Shame it fades out rather than end spectacularly. "Hands Of The Priestess Part I" is a dramatic, pastoral piece, with brother John on flute and Steve on steel string guitar... you do I love this kind of stuff. "A Tower Struck Down" is fantastically dark, pounding drums, booming bass (Mike Rutherford, Percy Jones) ... and yet, somewhat sinisterly playful. Like what had been happening with Genesis when Hackett and Gabriel were still members. It's a bit quirky, and I couldn't tell you what was making the weird honking-squeak noise. It ends, once the tower has been toppled, on a very subtle, gloomy note. Dark guitar strums like death knells. "Hands Of The Priestess Part II" is next, and unlike "Part I," there is a darker undertone. Things have changed for the Priestess and not for the better.

Hackett sings on "The Hermit." His voice is buried I the mix, and I get the feeling that Hackett isn't entirely comfortable with the way he sings. But he sounds fine, lending this track sensitivity that having Collins, for example, do the singing, would not be possible. "Star Of Sirius" is a measured piece, that begins very gentle with swirling synths, plucked guitar, and Collins' vocals -- here they are okay. This is another piece that has a great deal of drama. When it picks up, in a manner like "Ace Of Wands," it becomes a little more poppy than the rest of the material. But it is mostly that serious and studied drama, fortunately, and ultimately comes out as a great piece of mellow music. "The Lovers" begins with solo acoustic guitar, but soon keys take the lead. This is recorded very, very quietly...perhaps too subtle. A remaster might be in order to bring this track out.

And then...and then the thoroughly fantastic "Shadow Of The Hierophant" begins. Wonderful, wonderful stuff, all of it. If his later stuff is considered better -- I know Spectral Mornings is considered a classic, and I have Till We Have Faces next to listen to -- my goodness...

Ace Of Wands (5:25) / Hands Of The Priestess Part 1 (3:28) / A Tower Struck Down (4:53) / Hands Of The Priestess Part 2 (1:34) / The Hermit (4:49) /Star Of Sirius (7:08) / The Lovers (1:50) / Shadow Of The Hierophant (11:45)

Steve Hackett - electric and acoustic guitar, autoharp, harmonium, keyboards, sound effects, vocals, bells, Mellotron
John Hackett - flute, keyboards, bells, Arp
Mike Rutherford - bass, 12-string guitar, bass pedals
Phil Collins - percussion, drums, vocals, vibraphone
John Acock - piano, harmonium, keyboards, mellotron, elka rhapsody
Nigel Warren-Green - cello
Sally Oldfield - vocals
Robin Miller - oboe, cor Anglais
John Gustafson - bass (6)
Percy Jones - bass (3)

Genesis - Nursery Crime (1971)
Genesis - Foxtrot (1972)
Genesis - Live (1973)
Genesis - Selling England By The Pound (1973)
Genesis - Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974)
Voyage Of The Acolyte (1975)
Genesis - Wind And Wuthering (1976)
Genesis - Trick Of The Tail (1976)
Genesis - Seconds Out (1977)
Please Don't Touch (1978)
Spectral Mornings (1979)
Defector (1980)
Cured (1981)
Highly Strung (1983)
Bay Of Kings (1983)
Til We Have Faces (1983)
GTR - GTR (1986)
Momentum (1988)
Genesis - Three Sides Live (1982)
Genesis - Genesis Archive 1967-75 (1988)
Time Lapse (1992)
The Unauthorised Biography (1992)
Guitar Noir (1994)
Blues With A Feeling (1994)
There Are Many Sides To The Night (1994)
A Midsummer's Night Dream (1997)
Watcher Of The Skies: Genesis Revisited (1997)
The Tokyo Tapes (1997)
Darktown (1999)
Genesis - Genesis - Turn It On Again (1999)
Sketches Of Satie (2000) (w/John Hackett)
Feedback '86 (2000)
Genesis - Genesis Archive #2 (2000)
Live Archive 70s 80s 90s (2001)
Live Archive - Newcastle (2001)
To Watch The Storms (2003)
Live Archive NEARfest (2003)
Live Archive 03 (2004)
Live Archive 04 (2004)
Genesis - The Platinum Collection (2004)
Metamorpheus (2005) (w/The Underworld Orchestra)
Live Archive 05 (2005)
Live Archive 83 (2006)
Wild Orchids (2006)
Tribute (2008)
Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth (2010)
Beyond The Shrouded Horizon (2011)
Genesis Revisited II (2012)

Steve Hackett Live (VHS) (1981)
The Tokyo Tapes (DVD) (1998)
Hungarian Horizons - Live In Budapest (DVD) (2003)
Somewhere In South America - Live In Buenos Aires (DVD) (2003)
Once Upon A Time (DVD) (2004)
Spectral Mornings (DVD) (rec 1978; rel 2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: July 16th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.hackettsongs.com
Hits: 750
Language: english


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