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Hillage, Steve: Live in England 1979 (CD/DVD)

Recorded on the same tour as his acclaimed Live Herald album, Live in England 1979 was filmed and recorded at The University of Kent on February 28th of that same year. Joining the legendary Gong guitarist on this tour were Miquette Giraudy (synthesizer, vocals), John McKenzie (bass, vocals), Andy Anderson (drums), and Dave Stewart (guitar, vocals).

Many of the standout tracks from the early days of the Steve Hillage Band are included here, such as a hard rocking, complex version of "Salmon Song", a mesmerizing "Unzipping the Zype", and a raucous take on "Hurdy Gurdy Man". Through it all, Hillage's searing, fiery guitar work is ever present, and Giraudy's bubbling synth textures add that required space rock feel. The CD includes all 6 songs played at the concert, plus two bonus live tracks from 1977 with the line-up from the L tour. On the DVD you get the full show as well, plus two promo videos of "Radio" and "Light Up the Sky" and an interview with Steve & Miquette from 2006. I've always been a fan of Hillage's guitar work, but much of the Gong material just doesn't do a lot for me, so it's nice to hear some additional live material from this talented musician and his band. Yeah, much of this is still trippy and spacey, but there's a nice melodic hard rock feel to many of these songs, especially "It's All Too Much", and the guitar work throughout is quite good. This guy can certainly shred.

Audio quality on the CD is decent, and while the video quality on the DVD portion is somewhat grainy it will do just fine for a concert of this vintage. Good stuff all around from the folks at Gonzo Multimedia.

Track Listing
1) Salmon Song
2) Unzipping the Zype
3) Hurdy Gurdy Man
4) 1988 Activator
5) Unidentified (Flying Being)
6) It's All Too Much
7) Radio (DVD Only)
7) Hurdy Gurdy Glissando - live 1977 (CD only)
8) Light in the Sky (DVD Only)
8) Electrick Gypsies -live 1977 (CD only)
9) Interview 2006 (DVD only)

Added: August 24th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Gonzo Multimedia
Hits: 1545
Language: english

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Hillage, Steve: Live in England 1979 (CD/DVD)
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-08-23 18:59:54
My Score:

Back in 1979 the college live music scene was still alive and well in the UK, with genuine headline acts willing to trawl round the country playing to the great unwashed student population. The University of Kent was the setting for one such performance captured for the 'Rock Goes To College' show, finding both the Steve Hillage Band and the (judging from their enthusiastic raucous bantering of the show's compère) alcohol fuelled audience in top form. So, due to the format of the show what we have presented here on both CD and DVD is a fast paced forty minute set that neither dilly-dallies nor lacks for energy.

Hillage has long been underrated as a guitarist, with his fiery dextrous playing throughout this set proving what a talent he was and still is. His collective of the time of Dave Stewart (also on guitar), Andy Anderson (drums), John McKenzie (bass) and of course Hillage's partner Miquette Giraudy adding synths and vocals, were equally in the groove, opening pair "Salmon Song" and "Unzipping The Zype" immediately make you wish you'd been in attendance all those years ago. Both songs simply drip with vigour before "Hurdy Gurdy Man" cleverly eases the foot off the gas heading into the spacey psych Hillage's Gong past is more associated with. Then "1988 Activator" adds a bank of synth washes to what in essence could in less skilled hands be a snot of punk, while "Unidentified (Flying Being)" proves that patience is a virtue, slowly hypnotising its way into arguably the stand-out track of the show, although set-closing "It's All Too Much" isn't far behind.

Considering the age of the recording the DVD quality is pretty decent and the grainy nature of the film actually adds to the atmosphere of a time long gone by. Thankfully the sound quality, while a little quiet, is excellent throughout.

With the brevity of the performance a few bonuses were always in order, with a pair of 1977 live tracks, "Hurdy Gurdy Glissando" and "Electrick Gypsies" on the CD adding to the main event nicely, while failing to capture the same energy. Whereas the DVD adds a couple of short promo clips for "Radio" and "Light In The Sky" and an interview from 2006 with Hillage and Giraudy. The latter is reasonably interesting but with a 27 year gap between the show and the chat, it does feel tacked on, while the promo's aren't exactly captivating stuff.

However for Hillage fans and indeed those taken by 70s Progressive, Spacey fare, Live In England 1979 is a great example of exactly how exciting the scene was back then and a live recording you'll watch often and listen to even more.

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