Prior to Genesis, guitarist Steve Hackett recorded with Quiet World. Featuring the Heather brothers three, 1969's The Road was a proto-progressive opus, replete with orchestral arrangements, yet Hackett's distinctive guitar, later honed with Genesis, was within. Years later, while Genesis was on hiatus following Peter Gabriel's departure, Hackett, along with his brother John and the rhythm section of Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins, recorded his debut solo record. With each track named after the Major and Minor Arcana of a tarot playing card deck, Voyage Of The Acolyte not only provides a closer listen to Hackett as a guitarist, who, more often than not, sat low in the mix with Genesis, but also to Hackett as the composer. The energetic opener "Ace of Wands" has the flair of Genesis, but is uniquely Hackett. He layers on the guitars—acoustic, electric, backwards, fuzzed—all up front and center in the mix, something he'd never have gotten away with in Genesis. "A Tower Struck Down" is another quirky instrumental tour de force, aided by John Acock's keyboards and Percy Jones's bass. The album contains several acoustic numbers, demonstrating Hackett's mastery of nylon-string guitar, and he even takes a crack at singing on the pastoral "The Hermit." But the gem is "Star of Sirius." Despite offering another chance to preview Collins as lead vocalist, the well-constructed track lays down an archetype that Hackett would follow on later solo records. "Shadow of the Hierophant" features Sally Oldfield on vocals, but benefits even more from its slow-building symphonic refrain. Surprisingly, perhaps, the album hit the Top 30 on the UK charts. But whatever the future would have in store for Hackett, he was back to recording with Genesis by September.
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Taken from The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock, here is an Album of the Week to enjoy and discuss.
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"Always ready with the ray of sunshine"