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Steve Hillage - Open CD (album) cover


Steve Hillage


Canterbury Scene

3.57 | 62 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 1979 was an incredibly busy year for Steve Hillage - possibly too busy, what with three albums hitting the market in a brief span of time. Live Herald was a strong summation of his live performances, and Rainbow Dome Musick was a left turn into ambient music which, a decade later, would inspire Hillage and his constant partner Miquette Giraudy to get into the EDM scene as the ambient house act System 7. Somewhat forgotten in the shuffle is Open, a more traditional studio album offering from Steve and the followup to Green.

Perhaps part of the reason it's been a little overlooked is the fact that recent editions have increasingly cluttered the poor thing up. Not only do CD rereleases monkey about with the original running order, but they also tack on an burdensome number of bonus tracks at awkward points in the running order. Getting Better, a rather embarrassing cover of a decidedly lesser Beatles song, gets crowbarred into the middle of most CD editions, which also tend to start off with the four studio tracks which used to make up side 4 of Live Herald - a clutch of songs which, whilst not horrible, certainly don't represent Steve putting his best foot forwards.

On the whole, the running time is greatly inflated by the bonus material (going from 39 minutes to 65 minutes), but if you trim the album back down and resequence it to reflect the original vision, it actually comes across much better. Whilst still going on prog-ambient excursions driven by his spacey guitar and Miquette's synthesisers (as on Earthrise), Hillage also grows and evolves his sound, working in a pinch of funk here and a welcome dose of punk energy there (Getting In Tune might be the most refreshingly direct song he'd done for a while).

In general, I wouldn't put this above Green, but I certainly find it a more consistently interesting album than, say, Motivation Radio, and overall I think Open deserves more credit than it gets when it comes to the appreciation of Hillage's overall discography.

Warthur | 4/5 |


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