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Steve Hillage - Fish Rising CD (album) cover


Steve Hillage


Canterbury Scene

4.10 | 462 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars During Hillage's GonG membership, he had already signed a solo deal with Virgin (also GonG's label since Angel's Egg), Steve wrote and rehearsed many of the tracks on the present album (originally thought to be for the second Khan album) previous, during and outside the GonG crowd musical adventures; and the album was recorded from August 74, between GonG tours and recording sessions. So unsurprisingly this first solo effort is filled with GonG members, but also old mate Dave Stewart (from the Khan and Uriel/Arzachel days) and more surprisingly Henry Cow's Lindsey Cooper. Recorded in a few sessions, the album was released with this strange fish artwork in spring-75, just in time to worsen the Planet GonG's implosion and resulting in Steve's unwilling presiding over the group's destiny on management pressures. In many ways, this album is still way too close to a GonG that I find it difficult to call it a full-fledged solo album, despite the obvious songwriting differences.

Indeed, if Fish Rising has many Pot Head Pixies influences, it would be cruel and inaccurate to overlook a much more Canterburian feel, somewhat reminiscent of Hatfield And The North and acknowledge the "pre-Gong-esque" origin of most of the tracks on it. Actually only the closing Aftaglid dates from his GonG days. So while the material might be relatively different from the GonG, it received an unavoidable RGI treatment, despite some conscious effort not to. The opening 17-mins 4-movements Solar Magick Suite has a definite Hatfield twist, no doubt due to Dave Stewart's keyboards, but Hillage's superb aerial guitar wailings steals the show. After a forgettable short but filled with Gong-esque lunacy Fish track, the album plunges in the more cosmic Meditation Of The Snake, which might be a return to You.

Flipping the fry-pan's content over, we discover the other side of the Salmon fish, which has yet to be cooked for the next 9 minutes and in four movements, sounding like a Camembert-filled Teapot with an Angel omelette to top it off,. Closing the fishing party hostilities is the 15-mins Aftaglid pieces (this time in 8 stages), a superb cosmic piece of music that reveals itself as my fave. The remastered version of this album comes with two bonus tracks, the first of which is a remixed Pentagrammaspin track that belonged to the original album, but couldn't find the space to nudge in; and was rushed onto a Virgin sampler as a preview piece. . In its definitive version, this bonus sounds like an integral part of this delicious album. The second track is definitely more expandable, as it is a work-in-progress of the Aftaglid track, which if not as refined as the definitive version is certainly more powerful.

Despite the album's fair commercial success, Steve and partner Miquette continued in the mother group and acted as its (unwilling) leader, but he would leave at X-mas time 75 after the Shamal album's release to record his first "real" solo (IMHO, of course) album proper, where he would rid himself of many of the Gong mannerisms, even if this writer thinks it was a mistake to do so. .Definitely Hillage's best solo work.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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