Please Don't Touch, Steve Hackett was making the most of the downtime whilst Genesis were between vocalists by recording and releasing this, his debut solo album. A masterpiece of composition and playing technique, Voyage Of The Acolyte is sophisticated, punchy progressive rock of the highest calibre, and couldn't have been a better calling card to kick off a solo career that continues to this day.
Straight out of the gate, Ace Of Wands cracks into a offbeat groove and manages to pack about 15 minutes of ideas into five, ably assisted by Phil Collins' jazz fusion influence. With Collins on drums and Mike Rutherford on bass throughout, Voyage is often thought of as a lost Genesis album - more of that to come in the album's second half, but first Hackett shows off his acoustic skills on Hands Of The Priestess and The Hermit, with the former establishing the long-term pairing with his brother John's gorgeous flautistry. Halfway through, though, Steve drops in the King Crimson-like crunch of A Tower Struck Down, filling it out with an ominous synth sequence, odd little tape cuts of studio noise and even what sounds like a sample of a Nuremberg rally, before a bomb blast leads into a quiet outro and the remainder of Priestess.
The final two major tracks on the album are the ones that really lay claim to Voyage Of The Acolyte being the greatest album Genesis never made. Star Of Sirius even has a Phil Collins lead vocal, making it effectively a Banks-less trailer for Trick Of The Tail. The very best gets saved for last though, in the 12 minutes of Shadow Of The Hierophant, co-credited to Rutherford and apparently rehearsed circa Foxtrot. A grand mellotron and guitar swell gives way to an acoustic section and Sally Oldfield's vocal. Eventually, a hammering/tapping solo from Hackett leads into another short instrumental, before fading away to a glockenspiel theme, which will gradually fade back into one of the most stunning finales I've ever heard on a record like this. Simply, truly magnificent progressive music in the truest sense, with not a note wasted - don't miss this album if it's new to you, prog really doesn't get much better than this.
mega / zippy