Personnel: Steve Hackett (vocals, guitar, Mellotron, harmonium, bells, autoharp); Phil Collins (vocals, drums, vibraphone, percussion); Nigel Warren-Green (cello); John Hackett (flute, ARP synthesizer, bells); Robin Miller (oboe, cor anglais); John Acock (Mellotron, harmonium, piano); Mike Rutherford (bass, bass pedals).
Additional personnel: Sally Oldfield (vocals); Percy Jones, John Gustafson (bass).
Recorded June-July 1975.
The essence of progressive music is characterized perfectly on Voyage of the Acolyte, Steve Hackett's first solo album. The former Genesis guitarist uses his instrumental mastery to conjure up musical images of sorcerers, magic, and old English castles with the primary use of keyboards and electric guitar. Phil Collins on drums and vibraphone and Mike Rutherford on bass and fuzz 12-string contribute their talents to the churning synthesizers that accompany each passage. The basic instrumental elements of progressive rock are heard loud and clear throughout the album, including Mellotron, harmonium, flute, and bells, and none with a minor role to play. Collins, Hackett, and Sally Oldfield all donate their voices to a few of the songs here, adding a nice touch to the heavy insertion of electronics. Glimpses of oboe and cello can be detected underneath some pleasurable guitar work in "The Lovers and "Hands of the Priestess Part 1." Traces of Yes can be found all the way through the album, but especially on the 11:45 grand finale "Shadow of the Hierophant" that combines all the instruments in a colorful bombardment of musical fury. A true progressive masterpiece, Voyage of the Acolyte is an album firmly stationed in the upper echelon of prog rock. ~ Mike DeGagne