Classic Rock Review

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Steve Hackett Voyage Of The Acolyte (1975)


The idea that Steve Hackett releases a solo album may have shocked many fans. Genesis had just lost their singer and supposed musical mastermind Peter Gabriel, the future of the band seemed uncertain. Was Hackett’s debut another indication that the band was breaking up? He was the first one to release a solo album, and that, too, surprised people, because during Genesis live performance he had always been the most unobtrusive of the lot, sitting still and unmoveable at the side of the stage.

Listening to the album dispelled most of the worries and speculation. The music was very compact and very sophisticated from the first to the last note. A certain ‘Genesis sound’ is evident on the album not only because his band mates Collins (drums, percussion, vocals) and Rutherford (bass, bass pedals, fuzz 12-string) played on it. Hackett’s guitar has moved to the front, though, and the keyboard mostly accompany him.

Hackett could let it all out and show he is a master of the strings, but he does not really. There are many moments, to be sure, where he demonstrates the breadth of his repertoire from classical acoustic to fast and rocky, but all these part remain in the context of the album and the piece in question. Hackett is no show-off, he is a musician and a composer who knows when to show and when to conceal.

He is supported by his band maters and his brother John, whose extraordinarily melodic flute-playing adorns Hackett’s works to this day. Keyboarder John Acock, cello player Nigel Warren-Green and Robin Miller (oboe and the related coranglais) help give this song a sound different from Genesis. Only three songs have vocals. Hackett himself sings on the one, Phil Collins joins him on the second piece while the clear voice of Sally Oldfield can be heard on the third.

While opinions may differ about Hackett’s singing and Oldfield’s vocals are flawless, the drummer’s vocal performance is surprisingly good. Up to this album Collins could only be heard doing backing vocals in Genesis, singing lead vocals only on the ballad More Fool Me which did not win him all the fans’s sympathies. His performance here is solid and shows that he is not only a good drummer but also a fine singer. Those who heard Voyage Of The Acolyte in 1975 will not have had any doubts about Collins’s qualifications as the lead singer when it turned out that Genesis would continue with Collins as the front man.

February 20, 2013 Posted by | Steve Hackett Voyage Of The Acolyte | , | Leave a comment