Release Date: 1975

Track Listing
1)  Ace Of Wands
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2)  Hands Of The Priestess Part I
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3)  A Tower Struck Down
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4)  Hands Of The Priestess Part II
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5)  The Hermit
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6)  Star Of Sirius
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7)  The Lovers
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8)  Shadow Of The Hierophant
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Member: Burgess Penguin (Profile) (All Album Reviews by Burgess Penguin)
Date: 11/12/2001
Format: CD (Album)

The Players:
Steve Hackett:Guitars, Mellotron, Bells, Vocal on 5, Percussion
John Hackett:Flutes, Synth, Percussion
John Acock:Keyboards
Mike Rutherford:Bass, Bass Pedals, 12-string guitar
Phil Collins:Drums, Vibes, Vocal on 6
Robin Miller:Oboe, Cor Anglais (English Horn)
Nigel Warren Green:Cello
Sally Oldfield:Vocal on 8

Put quite simply, this is the absolute best post-Gabriel Genesis album that Genesis never made!Repeated listenings of this 1975 vintage solo gem from Steve Hackett show just how vital he really was to the classic Genesis sound, not just in terms of his playing, but his writing as well. It also shows just how under-utilized that Steve's writing and compositional ideas were in Genesis. It was the non-receptivity of his bandmates that caused him to walk out (it was either that or walk into the nearest nuthouse).The instrumental, "Ace of Wands" leads off as a snarling, seething tour-de-force, laced with beautiful mellotron choirs and chimes, and unpredictable twists like A SIREN WHISTLE!!??? Steve was not holding back here, the leopard broke out of the zoo and he was HUNGRY!!!"Hands of the Priestess Parts I & II" are two sublimely beautiful interludes featuring Steve's brother John on flutes and the lone forlorn oboe of Robin Miller. These two romantic musings bookend the sheer terror that is "A Tower Struck Down", a lumbering, menacing instrumental with angry riffing by Steve, peppered with odd interjections of coughing, a parrot and crowd noise from a Hitler rally."The Hermit" is a somber rumination with Steve singing, the only real weak spot on the disc. While Steve's voice is certainly not unlistenable, it just doesn't command your attention either."Star of Sirius" puts Phil Collins in the vocal spotlight and he actually turns in a splendid performance here (before pop-stardom seduced him and robbed him of his soul). This song features driving choruses and beautiful keyboard/woodwind orchestrations that would bring tears to your eyes, another spine chilling prog moment if ever there was.A peaceful respite in "The Lovers" follows with Steve baring his soul on a lone classical guitar, leading into "Shadow of the Hierophant", a grand epic featuring the beautiful soprano voice of Sally Oldfield (that's Mike's sister), the piece evolves from lush romanticism into a lumbering, menacing conclusion, 11 minutes of sheer symphonic prog bliss!All throughout, the rhythm section of his Genesis mates gives the songs a ferocious energy and authority (which just makes me even sadder to see the turn they took in 3 short years when Steve bowed out) without overpowering everybody else. Phil and Mike's interaction on the instrumental pieces is particularly fierce! Steve's brother John would become an important part of his music in subsequent solo releases with his flute artistry. John Acock''s colorful and understated keyboards give these songs very vivid atmospheres. Steve himself seems to relish his role here as a melodic colorist, preferring to let the songs be the star of the show, although he does like to let the snarling leopard out of the cage from time to time too.Man, if only Genesis continued on like this!! Maybe in an alternate universe, they did. We may never know…
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Member: Constable Napweed
Date: 7/1/2003


Simply awesome and showed why Steve had to leave the band. Hackett was not afraid to go against the grain. The differing styles on this album are ones that would be embraced albeit in a different area of prog by Robert Fripp. Hackett wasn't afraid to take chances....Later Genesis couldn't be accused of that either, but whereas Steve stretched his wings and flew....Genesis took a backward step and played safe. Gabriel was a loss to Genesis but not as much as the lower profile Hackett.
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Member: tv241st
Date: 7/1/2003


I just dug this one out of the archives for a Thursday night listen. Excellent album. I think this could just as easily have been a Genesis album, except that it's way more progressive than anything Genesis was doing at the time. I believe it was released in 1976 which would put it around the Trick of the Tale/Wind and Wuthering time frame - the last flickers of prog from Genesis. Anyway, I think Steve Hackett may be the most underrated solo artist from the "founding father" prog bands (Genesis, Yes, ELP, KC).
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Member: def (Profile) (All Album Reviews by def)
Date: 9/26/2005
Format: CD (Album)

Where do I start? Most of us already know of this excellent album. I'll concentrate on the differences with the previous CD release. The sound is remastered, bonus tracks added and extended album notes, standard jewel case with cardboard slipcase. The tracks are a live version of “Ace Of Wands” and an extended “Shadow Of The Hierophant”. “Ace Of Wands” is available on other S.H. releases, though not this particular cut. The extended “Shadow Of The Hierophant” is just that, an extended playout. The album notes span 2 pages, and include all lyrics plus The Hermit, painted by Kim Poor. Is it worth it? Yes, but the bonus tracks aren't anything special.
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