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Steve Hillage

Canterbury Scene

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Steve Hillage Motivation Radio album cover
3.51 | 153 ratings | 14 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hello Dawn (2:48)
2. Motivation (4:07)
3. Light In The Sky (4:12)
4. Radio (6:13)
5. Wait One Moment (3:25)
6. Saucer Surfing (4:28)
7. Searching For The Spark (5:38)
8. Octave Doctors (3:38)
9. Not Fade Away (Glid Forever) (4:00)

Total Time: 38:29

Bonus tracks on 2007 Virgin remaster:
10. Leylines To Glassdom (Tonto Version, promo single) (2:47)
11. The Salmon Song (Original "Power Trio" Backing Track) (9:03) *
12. The Golden Vibe (Alternate Mix) (3:28) *

* Previously unreleased

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Hillage / electric guitar, guitar synth, vocals, shenai, arranger

- Malcolm Cecil / T.O.N.T.O. synthesizers, producer
- Miquete Giraudy / synthesizers, vocals
- Reggie McBride / bass
- Joe Blocker / drums

(T.O.N.T.O. = The Original New Timbral Orchestra)
"Power Trio" were SH, Morlen & Howlett

Releases information

Artwork: Bob Cato

LP Virgin - V 2777 (1977, UK)

CD Virgin Records - CDV 2777 (1987, UK)
CD Virgin Records - CDVR 277 (2007, Europe) Remastered by Paschal Byrne w/ 3 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy STEVE HILLAGE Motivation Radio Music

STEVE HILLAGE Motivation Radio ratings distribution

(153 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (41%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

STEVE HILLAGE Motivation Radio reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another space prog rock album. The presence of Miquette Giraudy on keyboards give the real space dimension for this record. She plays wonderfully those cosmic keyboards: they are really unique and it was a breakthrough for that time. HiILLAGE's electric guitar is more present and aggressive than on "L". I think the songs here are better structured, more space prog hard rock. HILLAGE's guitar sound is more varied too. We feel the necesary changes here that will lead to the very structured modern space next record: "Green". We are here at the roots of the OZRIC TENTACLES influences.
Review by Sean Trane
3 stars If Fish was still GonG and L was more of Utopia because of the Rundgren production, this is the real Hillage/Giraudy sound coming up. Very comparable to its follow-up Green, Steve and his wife/partner Giraudy manages to find their stride and while still sounding Canterbury or fusion , the spacey feeling is very present because of the Glissando(glide) technique he learned from Daevid Allen and the strange aerial synths learned from Tim Blake.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Incredible to think that Steve Hillage was playing New Wave long before it became a huge success in the late 70's. His vocal style together with sophisticated guitar riffs and synths by his other half lend well to an extremely complete album.The sounds are crisp and clear, production almost perfect. ' Radio' builds to a great climax and ' Saucer Surfing' feels like exactly that...surfing out on the cosmos. I highly recommend this fine album from a pioneer of progressive rock.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "Hello to the new direction, let's go there"

Steve's third solo outing takes its title from a simple combination of two of the album's track titles. The album sees Hillage moving in a more commercial direction with new wave overtones, combined with the residual influences of Todd Rundgren's Utopia, whom he had worked with on the previous "L".

The guitar work is still dynamic and impressive, but shares the stage with synthesiser and keyboards played by both his partner Miquette Giraudy and Malcolm Cecil. "Hello dawn" has a pop feel to it, its placing as track one obviously being intended to promote this as the track of choice for radio play, if not as a hit single per se.

Psychedelic sounds and lyrics come to the fore on tracks such as "Light in the sky", Giraudy declaring in full girlie voice "Oh me oh my there's a light in the sky". The space conclusion to the track gives way to some fine acoustic sounds as "Radio" drifts in across the airwaves. At just 6 minutes, this is the longest track on the album, a further indication that Hillage was intent on tightening things up. This largely instrumental track builds from its gently melodic start to a louder later half where the limited vocals reside.

If anything, side two is even tighter and more accessible. "Wait one moment" is a lilting Kevin Ayers like ballad, with a striking guitar solo at its core. Given the mere 3 minutes of the song, it does squeeze in some good sounds, with a synthesiser break too. "Saucer surfing" has some of the spaciest sounds of the album, complete with little green men like voices.

Great play is made on the sleeve of the use by Malcolm Cecil of the TONTO synthesiser (The New Timbral Orchestra), the instrument even enjoying a name check on the picture captions. To be fair, the synthesiser was still enjoying a phase of rapid development at the time. The opening section of "Searching got the spark" offers the most obvious display of the exciting new sounds and dimensions it offered. The track has something of a Hawkwind feel, the incessant driving rhythm setting the toes tapping nicely; pity about the rather unimaginative fade though. Talking of fades, the album closes with a cover version of "Not fade away", a song which the Rolling Stones made famous, but which is not in fact a Jagger/Richards composition. The song was actually written by Norman Petty and Buddy (Hardin) Holly, originally appearing as the B side to Holly's 1957 single "Oh boy". Hillage's version is closer to the Holly original than the Stones cover, the staccato guitar having a real 50's feel.

In all, an enjoyable album, which fails to offer the challenges of Hillage's previous works, but which contains a strong diversity of styles and sounds.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Although Hillage's Canterbury scene roots are undisputed, this album firmly establishes him as a strong figure of Space Rock. In addition to the heavy sounds of "Light In The Sky", the compositions like "Radio", "Saucer Surfing" and "Octave Doctors" are wonderful space jams in the best GONG tradition of "Radio Gnome Invisible" mythology. Plenty of amazing guitar and synth sounds with a help of his wife Micquette's vocal whispers make Hillage produce this highly accomplished album which I must recommend to all psyche/space lunatics out there....
Review by loserboy
4 stars Steve Hillage is an innovator and one listen to "Motivation Radio" and i am sure you will agree ! In terms of sales I guess this one did not stack up to his first 2 albums, but this album works equally well for me! In fact in many ways this album is my favourite of all his albums. I would say that this is the most accessible of the three for sure and like with all his recordings there is something deeply unique about what he is doing. This album would carry a lot of the songs that he would perform live over the years in and outside of mothership GONG.
Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is my least favourite of Hillage's first four albums. About a third of it I don't even like but the rest is excellent.

"Hello Dawn" is a light catchy tune with vocals that ends well with guitar. "Motivation" is similar to the first and to be honest I just can't get into either one. I do like when Steve lights it up late here though. "Light In The Sky" features some aggressive sounding guitar and it's heavier. I hear what sounds like children's voices. It's spacey late with drums. "Radio" is spacey with relaxed guitar melodies. It kicks in with vocals around 4 minutes. "Wait One Moment" is a good one. He slows it down here.

"Saucer Surfing" has some prominant drumming on it that I like. It turns somewhat dreamy 3 minutes in to the end. "Searching For The Spark" features spacey electronics. The tempo picks up before 1 1/2 minutes.Vocals around 3 minutes. "Octave Doctors" sounds great as the sounds seem to echo or pulse. Then the guitar takes over. "Not Fade Away (Glid Forever)" has this beat with guitar. Not a fan of this at all when the vocals arrive.

Certainly "Fish Rising" or even "Green" give me much more pleasure than this one.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars While this album has some good moments, on the whole I find it much more commercial than Hillage's previous two albums, Fish Rising and L. The songs in general are much shorter, and less progressive than his earlier work. But there are some listenable pieces on the album. Light In The Sky is a fun, playful song, and the astute listener will hear a nod to captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica at the end. Another highlight is Octave Doctors which features a great Hillage guitar solo.

This album might appeal more to the fans of Daevid Allen's Gong than the more technical Pierre Moerlin's group (which I favor). But still, it's not bad.

(By the way, is that a BeeGee on the cover? :) )

Review by Warthur
3 stars Motivation Radio was Steve Hillage's third solo album, and finds him once again changing up his solo sound. Fish Rising was a Canterbury piece heavily influenced by his concurrent work in Gong, whilst L found Steve in a more transitional phase, still prone to an extended instrumental workout but also vaguely interested in trying something more catchy (though the cover songs there are substantially better than his own attempt at a New Age pop anthem, the toe-curling Electrick Gypsies).

This time around he was free both of Gong and Todd Rundgren and able to make a musical statement without the influence of either of them, and he seems to have decided to turn his hand to shorter tracks and finally crack the art of producing a tune which doesn't require ten minutes or so to really unpack its ideas. As such, it's another quite transitional album, and a musical blueprint for the likes of Green and Live Herald. Motivation Radio contains all you expect from a Hillage album - glissando guitar, space whispers, New Agey lyrics that tend towards the laughable - and so it's worth a listen if you are a fan. At the same time, other solo albums of his have assembled these parts into more pleasing wholes and are perhaps worth looking to first - Fish Rising is his best for long-form works, whilst Green is pretty decent when it comes to shorter pieces.

Review by HolyMoly
2 stars Steve Hillage is a Canterbury scene artist that I've never quite been able to enjoy as much as I hoped - not that that was his concern in the least. His work as a member of Gong, as well as the Gong-like solo debut "Fish Rising", set the bar pretty high for this guitarist. This album, his third solo flight and the first to really feel like a solo album (the prior two were more like supergroup albums), suffers from poor flow, underwritten song material, and thin sound. The difference is immediately apparent as soon as "Hello Dawn" starts. Whereas before Hillage's music was characterized by a huge, spacey sound, this one sounds like a rough bedroom demo by comparison. This would be fine (nothing wrong with a shift in perspective if you're an artist), if the song had anything going for it, which it sadly does not. Just a few chords, an optimistic vocal, and a weak hook. "Motivation" follows, showing glimpses of a dance beat to make a fairly annoying self-help song.

"Light in the Sky" is by far the best song here, with a great set of guitar riffs and a cool cameo vocal by Miquette Girady in the chorus. Great tune! "Radio" sounds good at first, with a long instrumental intro that hearkens back to the prior albums, but in the end it goes nowhere, even after the vocal finally kicks in. "Wait One Moment" returns to the basic 3 minute song format, with an emphasis on "basic": a predictable ballad that sounds ok, but doesn't offer much else for me. Again, basic is not a bad thing, but these songs could at least use some emotion or atmosphere to carry them along. "Saucer Surfing" is a decent enough space rocker, as is the first part of "Searching for the Spark" (the latter being a highlight on "Live Herald", overall a much better version than here). "Octave Doctors" is a ho-hum instrumental that doesn't leave any impression, but the worst is saved for last with "Not Fade Away", the Buddy Holly tune, seemingly "updated" to include the New Age philosophy Steve Hillage was into at the time, using Hillage buzzwords like "glid".

Hillage is a great musician with a very distinctive guitar style, but for this album he appears to go half-heartedly into the world of 3 minute songcraft, de-emphasizing his guitar and emphasizing his lyrics, which I have to say are pretty heavy-handed and don't inspire me much. "Light in the Sky" and "Searching for the Spark" save this one in the end, but overall I consider this a big disappointment.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars By 1977 former Gong guitarist STEVE HILLAGE was well on his own path with a successful solo career building momentum but as the age of prog was ceding to a new era of funk, punk and disco, HILLAGE became irritated with many prog snobs snubbing the new up and coming genres and limiting his musical expressions to the world of progressive rock. In his own expressions of rebellion and breaking free from any such pigeonholing attempts, HILLAGE delivered a new sound on his third album MOTIVATION RADIO which found as much inspiration from Funkadelic and Earth, Wind & Fire as from Gong or Pink Floyd.

Unable to shake his space rock connections completely, MOTIVATION RADIO offered a unique mix of danceable funk rock steeped with the usual glissando guitar fueled psychedelia and art rock. The album also added a bit of punkish guitar heft that surely must've thrown the prog snobs for a loop when this hit the scene. While the funk rock moves dominate the guitar, bass and drum rhythm sections, HILLAGE hired Malcom Cecil from Tonto's Expanding Head Band to produce and engineer the album which in the process kept many of the trippiest moments of classic Gong alive and well. Likewise HILLAGE's vocal delivery is very reminiscent of Daevid Allen's best Gong moments so apparently he was indelibly marked by the experience for life.

This album offered an interesting mix of tracks with some like the opening "Hello Dawn" shouting the fact that HILLAGE had totally funked up his fans sh.i.t and delivered a major curveball but it doesn't take long for his psychedelic roots to steal the show such as the Gong-esque "Light In The Sky" that narrates the arrival of UFOs complete with all those freaky psychedelic excursions heard on "Angel's Egg" and "You" even with a surrogate Gilli Smyth offering some space whispering. Some tracks like "Wait One Moment" take on a Pink Floyd flavor with a chilled space rock sound that reminds me of "Comfortably Numb" from "The Wall" but obviously two years before that album would emerge.

Of all the tracks on board, "Saucer Surfing" is the closest thing to HILLAGE's masterwork "Fish RIsing" with the same trippy layers of glissando guitar accompanying the overly mystical and esoteric lyrics that sometimes border on ridiculous but reflected the new age and Eastern philosophical interests that dominated the 60s and 70s. "Searching For The Spark" prognosticates the style of what Ozric Tentacles would make a career out of and its not unthinkable that the band was inspired by the unique electronica that dances around in a hypnotic yet cyclical manner. "Octave Dancers" must've really rankled prog stalwarts because it almost sounds like dancy disco only with a funk groove yet features STEVE's classic glissando workouts as well as bluesy guitar licks. The closing "Not Fade Away (Gild Forever)" ends the album with rather bluesy funky space rock vibe.

This is an album that i never really liked a lot until i let it sink under my skin. Sure it's not HILLAGE's best of the lot by a long shot but it certainly does deliver some entertaining moments. Like many the funk and simplicity that didn't measure up to "Fish Rising" rubbed me the wrong way but as i've listening to it more and more it certainly has grown on me in a weird way. There are lots of clever moments on this and the production is amazingly crisp and clear (granted i have the 2000 remaster). Sure HILLAGE's vocal performances range from classic Daevid Allen to sometimes sounding like Devo and even a touch of new wave but ultimately the space mix and HILLAGE's own signature style tips it all in my favor of liking it more. Not his magnus opus but personally i like this one better than "L."

A 3.5 star album but i like it enough to round up to 4

Latest members reviews

4 stars This is a really fun album from Steve, although somewhat uneven. "Searching for the Spark" is pretty mind-blowing psychedelic throb keyboard and guitar and just really great. My copy of this also has "Leylines to Glassdom" as a bonus track (better sounding IMO than the version on Green) which i ... (read more)

Report this review (#804041) | Posted by bartok | Monday, August 13, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Hillage's third solo outing has a bit of something for everyone. The first two songs on the recording have a somewhat more commercial feel to them in terms of their intros and vocals, but the instrumental play and riffage are superb spacey prog. You could argue that elements of Motivation does ... (read more)

Report this review (#152111) | Posted by LARKSTONGUE | Wednesday, November 21, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Oh, if the idea of synthesiser , guitar and fantasy lyrics take you to a special place far , far away from this world, then this album is one of the landmark recordings. The production values are very high and so are the visions portrayed. This album came to me back in the 1970's and revealed it' ... (read more)

Report this review (#101758) | Posted by Ganzfeld | Tuesday, December 5, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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