Tabletop Genesis Episode 16 – “Voyage of the Acolyte”

steve-hackett-voyage-of-the-acolyteThe tarot cards have been spread out and the reading predicts an episode dedicated to the first solo album by a Genesis member: Steve Hackett’s 1975 debut effort, “Voyage of the Acolyte.” Is this the “lost Genesis album” as some have claimed? The Tabletop weighs in …

3 thoughts on “Tabletop Genesis Episode 16 – “Voyage of the Acolyte”

  • October 1, 2016 at 5:51 am
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    Hello.
    A few comments. First some background.
    I became a Genesis fan with Wind & Wuthering. I wasn’t able to see Steve Hackett within Genesis though. I first heard this album, probably in 1977-1978, when a friend of my brother’s lent it to him. It did nothing for me back then. My first S.H. LP was a second-hand copy of Please Don’t Touch. With negligible radio play. I then borrowed, then bought a copy of Voyage of the Acolyte a year later. It was better on a second listening. Spectral Mornings was his first album i bought as soon as i saw it on the record shelves. I was hooked. I had 3rd row centre seats for his aborted first North American tour in 1979!
    Now, back to Voyage of the Acolyte. Personally I hate the “Genesis’ lost album” banner this albums gets. This is Steve’s “letting off steam” album. Some of the tracks rejected by Genesis or put on the back burner for future reference .
    Truely an album that can and must be played in full from Ace of Wands to Shadow of the Hierophant.
    There was a comment made that a theme in Ace of Wands can be heard in other tracks. Ace of Wands was the last song to de written and recorded, so it’s the reverse.
    Hands of the Priestess has got to be his best acoustic song . Pure beauty.
    A Tower Struck Down invades Hands of the Priestess, and goes in a completely different direction. It always bothered me that he had the “Seig Heil”s in it, but the “tower” is evil, and it is struck down in the end.
    Hands of the Priestess returns to come to it’s poper end. I would have loved to hear a complete version with parts 1 & 2 combined.
    the Hermit brings us Steve’s vocal debut. His voicei s perfect for this song, though in the future his permanent vocalist debut wasn’t as successful. Today his songs fit his vocal stylings. (Steve did speak on stage to introduce Entangled during the A Trick of the Tail tour in 1976.)

    So much for side one.

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  • October 1, 2016 at 9:16 pm
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    Another great podcast, gang!

    I discovered this one in 1979 while on my initial Genesis binge and loved it straight away. Personally, I never once thought of it as a “lost Genesis album” since it is so different in many ways from what the band had done and were ever to do. That said, there is a similar sort of aura surrounding it that allows it to sit nicely alongside Genesis material of the mid-1970’s.

    What grabbed me most was the continual juxtaposition of beautiful melodic parts with much more frenzied ones. We also get some great interludes that include 12-string and classical guitars. Phil’s drumming right out the gate on Ace of Wands makes for a highly effective opener. I was floored when I first heard that! Frankly, I don’t think any other drummer Steve has worked with in a live setting has ever been able to replicate that and lend it the same kind of impact that it has on the studio album. Another point of exhilaration for me: the flute & oboe parts are some of the most lovely melodies Steve has ever written, and coupled with those haunting mellotron strings those parts in “Hands of the Priestess” and “Star of Sirius” always evoke a sort of beautiful misty moonlit night. (I voted for the latter as my favorite, btw.) Finally, while I didn’t know at the time that the crowd in “A Tower Struck Down” was a Nazi chant, I immediately knew why he chose that particular segment: it sounds like they’re all saying “Steve Hackett! Steve Hackett! Steve Hackett!” It’s a shining example of Steve’s brilliant sense of humor.

    I thoroughly enjoyed what everyone had to say about VotA. Thanks once again for your thoughtful insights into one of my all-time favorite albums.

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  • October 14, 2016 at 7:36 am
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    Greetings, music lovers!

    It always bothered me that Steve seemed to save himself rather than adopt the all-for-one-and-one-for-all attitude in choosing to start his solo career off the back of The Lamb tour rather than join his bandmates in making the all-important A Trick Of The Tail record. He’s gone on record in saying that Pete’s leaving was “the beginning of my solo career whether I liked it or not” instead of seeing it as an opportunity to prove that the band could survive without their erstwhile lead singer. Consequently, the writing of A Trick Of The Tail started without him and I think that was a great shame (yes, Mike and Phil had been involved in other projects but neither of them interfered with the writing of the next Genesis album).

    I’ve never heard this as the “lost Genesis album” anymore than Unorthodox Behaviour or Smallcreeps Day are lost Genesis albums. There’s very little on Voyage Of The Acolyte that would have got onto any of the Genesis albums. The material – understandably – has far too much of Steve’s personality on it and Steve was rarely a major contributor to the Genesis tunes (and before anyone cries out “Firth Of Fifth” it needs to be pointed out that all Steve is doing on that tune is playing little more than a variation on Pete’s flute solo).

    As for the material, apart from The Shadow Of The Hierophant (the second half, not the bit with Sally Oldfield singing), it doesn’t do much for me. I find his everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink approach to be far too busy for me. This too clever-by-half attitude is akin to the guitarist winking at the listener and saying “I’m really good, aren’t I?”

    I first came across the album in the late eighties. I’d heard Hierophant on Alan Freeman’s rock show on the radio and was mesmerised by it. I bought the record (on vinyl) at Skeleton Record Exchange in Birkenhead soon after hearing that tune (it was a Saturday and it was raining – if you’ve ever visited Birkenhead you’ll know that it’s a town that suits rain very well).

    Unsurprisingly, even though I’ve continued to follow Steve’s career from afar and bought a few more of his albums since then, I remain nonplussed.

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