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Steve Hackett - Voyage of the Acolyte
Label: Caroline Records
Release: 1975

Tracklisting:
Ace of Wands
Hands of the Priestess, Part 1
A Tower Struck Down
Hands of the Priestess, Part 2
The Hermit
Star of Sirius
The Lovers
Shadow of the Hierophant
Voyage of the Acolyte - Steve Hackett
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Hackett's first solo effort, recorded in 1975, is a pure guitarist's album - mostly instrumental, with a hell of a lot of Hackett to digest. But this is not a bad thing - in fact, it's a great thing. After all, Hackett was a master at emotionaleffect, and getting the most out of a few notes, rather than playing a few hundred - not that he couldn't pull that off as well. But here, the guitar is mainly used for melody, and great lines in general. It makes for an excellent record.

Hackett though, does kick out on the opening "Ace of Wands" - time signatures fly out at you to no end, and there's about one million different parts. But it rules majorly - again, the lines are melodic rather than shreddy, and there's some beautiful volume stuff inside there, along with good ARPs too. Great, great number - superbly constructed and played byHackett, although it must have been a bitch to play live!

The next part is the "Hands of the Priestess" suite, cut into by "A Tower Struck Down". The "Hands of the Priestess" partsare beautiful, with some lovely acoustic parts and a beautiful electric guitar melody. In contrast, "A Tower Struck Down"is the experimental part of the album - an intentionally ugly progression, and lots of weird goings on. The only real low-point, although it is decent. Side 1 closes with a light acoustic ballad - "The Hermit".

Side 2 begins with a pure prog composition in "Star of Sirius" - and a good prog composition to boot. Lovely melody lines on the acoustics, and great mellotron. And yes, Hackett shows us some more wonderful guitar melodies. Phil Collins also contributes nice guest vocals (he also does the drums for this album too, and Mike Rutherford is also present) and there are some soaring, soaring guitar lines at the end - another great track.

Following the short "Lovers" instrumental, we go straight into the final, and best track on the album, the 13-minute "Shadow of the Hierophant" - an absolute stormer. Includes several storming themes on both acoustic and electric, and acracking guest vocal. After a good solo section (more of Hackett's patented fretboard tapping), we go to the best part ofthe album - the final theme. Repeated again and again, but with constant build-up and with more and more instruments andlayers of sound. It builds up and up, and it would probably go on forever. It's probably better for the track that ratherthan concluding with a big boom-crash ending, it just fades out. Absolute classic.

This album recieves a very high 9 - it's a classic prog album, and if you like Hackett, you will love this. Pound-for-pound,this is his best work - a masterpiece. Go buy.

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