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20-10-2015, 00:40

Steve Hillage - Live at Rockpalast (2014)

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Steve Hillage - Live at Rockpalast (2014)

Steve Hillage - Live at Rockpalast (2014)
DVD9: NTSC 4:3 (720x480) VBR | AC3, 6 ch, 448 Kbps / LPCM, 2 ch, 1536 Kbps
Progressive / Art-Rock | Repertoire | Scans Included | 01:25:17 | ~ 5.57 Gb

~ Live At Rockpalast Otto-Hahn-Schule, Bensberg, Germany, 20th March, 1977 ~

Booklet info:

Live At Rockpalast Otto-Hahn-Schule, Bensberg, Germany, 20th March, 1977
Steve Hillage has been active for more than 40 years as performer, composer and producer, achieving success across a number of very different genres.
We feature his 1977 performance on Rockpalast ('Rock Palace'), the legendary 'live' music TV show hosted in Germany by the WDR channel. It was first broadcast in 1974 and has become a pan-European television institution. It has its own fan club and online forum and, over the past 40 years, has become a trademark of quality viewing and listening.
When Hillage hit the stage at the Otto-Hahn-Schule in Bensberg in March 1977, he was beginning his second year as a true solo act, having made his name as lead guitarist with French avant-garde band Gong and released first solo album 'Fish Rising' while in their ranks.
His musical career had started in shortlived Canterbury band Uriel in 1967, with Dave Stewart, Mont Campbell and Clive Brooks. That trio carried on as Egg after Hillage left to attend university, reuniting briefly with him in 1969 to record an album released as Arzachel.
Next stop was Khan, whose one and only album, 'Space Shanty', was released in 1972. A brief spell in Kevin Ayers' band preceded Gong, where Hillage's contributions to their legendary Radio Gnome Trilogy ('Flying Teapot', 'Angel's Egg' and You') saw him develop his own instantly recognisable style, with extensive use of echo and delay effects.
By 1974, he had amassed enough material for a solo LP, and sessions for 'Fish Rising' began that September. The recordings featured many bandmates from Gong, including Miquette Giraudy, who had contributed backing vocals to You' and with whom Hillage would form an enduring personal and creative partnership.
By the time 'Fish Rising' was released in April 1975, founder members Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth had left Gong. Hillage took over as leader, but quickly tired of the role and, encouraged by the success of his solo release, jumped ship at the end of the year. After a short break, he began work on a second album, 'L', recorded in the USA during May and June 1976, with Todd Rundgren at the controls and Utopia as backing musicians.
On his return to the UK, Hillage set about assembling a band to promote the new release. They debuted at London's Hyde Park in September, after which came a 34-date UK tour and a handful of French dates in the run-up to Christmas. The New Year saw 22 shows in the USA before the band flew to Germany for the gig featured here.
Powered by former Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker and underpinned by the fluid, confident playing of the appropriately named Colin Bass (later of Camel), the band could reproduce much of the intricacy of the original recordings. Miquette Giraudy and Basil Brooks created constantly shifting synthesiser textures, over which Phil Hodge on keyboards, second guitarist Christian Boule and Hillage himself could improvise.
The show gets under way with 'The Salmon Song', a pulsating rocker with a spaced-out middle section that originally opened the second side of 'Fish Rising'. It proved a long-term 'live' favourite, and was frequently played as the opening number.
This lengthy 'Hurdy Gurdy Glissando', taken from 'L', was one of the highlights of the album, and features a delicately bluesy guitar intro that gradually gives way to psychedelic improvisation before a heavier middle section kicks in. From there on, the song builds to a dramatic jazz-rock climax, Hillage briefly quoting ‘Born Free' before bringing things back down to earth with a gentler coda.
Two of psychedelic pop's classic songs were covered on 'L', Donovan's 'Hurdy Gurdy Man' the first. It is given a rather funkier backing than the original here, and is graced with two brilliant solos that highlight Hillage's often-overlooked ability as a blues player.
For the next number, the band returns to the 'Fish Rising' album's centrepiece, ‘Solar Musick Suite'. This had been around for some time, having developed from a piece called 'I Love Its Holy Mystery', written for the aborted follow-up to Khan's ‘Space Shanty' back in 1972.
By the time it was recorded for 'Fish Rising', it had grown to almost 17 minutes in length, but 'live' performances tended to be shorter. ‘Solar Musick Suite' is still regarded by many as one of the finest examples of Hillage's solo work and this reading demonstrates just how solid this band had become after several months on the road.
There is no let-up as they return to 'L' for 'Lunar Musick Suite', extended here by the addition of both an instrumental introduction that later became known as 'Radiom' and an improvisational coda based on 'Meditation Of The Snake' from 'Fish Rising', this was later known as 'Meditation Of The Dragon'.
'Lunar Musick Suite' is another tour de force that sets off at a blistering pace, before several changes of mood and texture. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the studio version was a trumpet solo by the late jazzer Don Cherry, replaced here by a keyboard solo from Phil Hodge. He manages to preserve the eerily disjointed ambience of the passage, despite being unable to match the more organic quality of the original instrument. The suite's brief vocal section follows, after which Hillage showcases his skill with echo and delay effects, as he steers the piece to its conclusion.
Bringing the main part of the show to an end is the second of the previously mentioned psychedelic cover versions. George Harrison's 'It's All Too Much' is the only song played on the Stratocaster guitar that features on the covers of 'L' and, later,'Motivation Radio'. It's an enforced change, though - Hillage breaks a string on his Les Paul during the opening bars and slips off-stage to swap instruments. Quickly back into his stride, he leads the band through a storming version of the song, closing with a brief coda based on 'The Golden Vibe' from ‘Fish Rising'.
Steve says: "On the full unedited master tapes of the video recording there were some songs that weren't shown on the original TV broadcast. What happened was that I broke a string on my Les Paul guitar right at the beginning of 'It's All Too Much' and went off to change to the Strat. That caused a bit of a hiatus in the song and, at the time, we felt the performance wasn't up to scratch."
"But looking at it now, I think it sounds great - particularly the end section. So, I'm happy to restore ‘It's All Too Much' to the performance, along with ‘Aftaglid Part I' and 'Electrick Gypsies' from the encores (which also weren't shown on the original TV broadcast). This show is a peak performance from one of the highpoints of our Seventies roller-coaster ride - I hope you all enjoy it."
The encore begins as the main part of the show ended, with an excerpt from ‘Fish Rising'. This time it's 'Sun Moon Surfing', the opening section of 'Aftaglid', and is used to preface ‘Electrick Gypsies', the evening's final selection from 'L'. This is a manifesto for the approach Hillage would take on his subsequent work, combining new-age philosophy with rapidly developing technology to create a distinctive, instantly identifiable whole.
Although this methodology would ultimately lead him to push the boundaries of electronica and dance, it is curious to note that ‘Electric Gypsies' itself sounds more firmly rooted in hippy idealism than virtually anything else on either ‘Fish Rising' or 'L'; its jazzy middle section would not have been out of place on 'Space Shanty'. Nevertheless, it remains an enjoyable, if rather lightweight excursion.
The show closes with 'Not Fade Away (Glid Forever)' Hillage's version of the iconic Buddy Holly hit that he would release on the 'Motivation Radio' album later in the year. The end part of 'Not Fade Away' quotes from another song from Hillage's musical past - 'I Never Glid Before', a contribution to Gong's 1973 'Angel's Egg' album.
This DVD's line-up would make its final appearance less than a week later at the Rainbow Theatre in London. Like the Rockpalast show, the performance was captured for posterity, and several of the recordings were later released on the 'Live Herald' set. It was time to look to the future, although an appearance as part of the 'classic' Gong line-up at the reunion gig in Paris in May 1977 allowed Hillage to celebrate his past before moving forward.
In July, he travelled to the USA once more to record, working with Malcolm Cecil - of Tonto's Expanding Head Band fame - on the material that would become 'Motivation Radio'. When the LP hit the racks in October, fans were presented with a new, streamlined Steve Hillage and a song-based album that represented a definite change in dynamic. This trend continued on subsequent albums, but in the prevailing musical climate, in an era when less had increasingly become more, each release fared a little less well than its predecessor.
By 1980 Hillage had withdrawn from performing and recording, moving instead into production. Over the next decade or so, he found himself much in demand, working with the likes of Simple Minds, Robyn Hitchcock, Nash the Slash and the Charlatans. Through his production work he retained a close interest in music technology, and the early Nineties saw him launch System 7 with Miquette Giraudy. The act subsequently established itself as a leading light in electronica and worked with some of the genre's biggest names, including Alex Paterson, Laurent Gamier and Derrick May. By mixing upbeat dance music with distinctive guitar treatments, System 7 has brought Hillage to the attention of a whole new generation.
After a 30-year hiatus, Hillage reunited with Gong and worked with them on '2032', a recording that saw their characteristic sound infused with elements of modern dance, electronica and hip-hop. He also returned to 'live' performance with a new incarnation of the Steve Hillage Band, revisiting classic material from the mid Seventies.
Here, though, is a golden opportunity to look back at the band's first incarnation and enjoy top-flight performances of some of the most complex music to come out of the Canterbury scene. You could say that there is almost too much music in these songs, but it all seems to flow so effortlessly that it is easy to overlook just how good this band was, and how well Hillage could - and still can - play.

Michael Heatley July 2014
With grateful thanks to Steve Hillage and Alan Kinsman


Salmon Song [7'46 (Hillage/Giraudy)
Hurdy Gurdy Glissando [11'51] (Hillage/Giraudy)
Hurdy Gurdy Man [7'28 (Donovan P. Leitch)
Solar Musick Suite [14'17] (Hillage/Giraudy)
Lunar Musick Suite [17'30] (Hillage/Giraudy)
It's All Too Much [8'33] (George Harrison)
Aftaglid Pt 1 [2'54] (Hillage/Giraudy)
Ekectrick Gypsies [7'28] (Hillage/Giraudy)
Not Fade Away (Glid Forever) [7'31] (Petty/Holly)


Steve Hillage {guitar, vocals}
Miquette Giraudy {synthesiser, vocals}
Clive Bunker {drums}
Christian Boule {rhythm guitar, glissando guitar}
Colin Bass {bass, vocals}
Paul Hodges {keyboards}
Basil Brooks {synthesiser, flute}

Steve Hillage - Live at Rockpalast (2014)

Steve Hillage - Live at Rockpalast (2014)

Steve Hillage - Live at Rockpalast (2014)

Steve Hillage - Live at Rockpalast (2014)

Steve Hillage - Live at Rockpalast (2014)

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