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Steve Hillage - L CD (album) cover

L

Steve Hillage

 

Canterbury Scene

3.68 | 185 ratings

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Arrrghus
4 stars In this album we witness the guitar hero (or should I say zero) begin to create his own style. Steve begins to distance himself from GonG's sound with the help of producer Todd Rundgren (not a bad guitar player himself). Hillage's sound is spacier than his debut, and the production is much more... polished. Also, the use of Rundgren's Utopia brings an interesting taste to Hillage's sound.

First off, this album is loaded with covers. Out of the six songs on the album, Steve covers two songs (exluding the Indian chant), and he probably betters both original versions. The first cover and first song on the album, Hurdy Gurdy Man, captures Donovan's hippie vision while making Steve's own. As an added bonus, we get to experience Hillage's amazing solo on this song; it will make your jaw drop.

However, Hurdy Gurdy Man isn't the only song with extraordinary solos in it; all the songs have superb leads on them. Hillage's playing isn't flashy, though, and his humble yet melodic and fluid style creates a euphoric atmosphere on this record. His solos are in a blue-influenced style, but he also adds bebop and post-bop phrasing and standard jazz fluid playing into his leads.

Don't just get this album for Hillage's guitar playing; the songs he writes are what the album is worth buying for. Electric Gypsies is an almost prophetic vision of the future with bizarre motorcycle-like sounds wrought forth from Steve's guitar (similar the sounds in Free Form Guitar by Chicago's Terry Kath). Also, The Hurdy Gurdy Glissando is a great spacy psychedelic romp with a great vocal melody and interesting percussion. It becomes an intersting frenzy towards the end. Om Nava Shivaya adds an interesting vibe to the album, but it is a bit pointless.

None of the other songs compare to the epic Lunar Music Suite. The song has a great pulsing rhythim for the first several minutes, and the melody changes over time to keep the listener engaged. The song progresses into several mindblowing solos (including one from trumpet ace Don Cherrry). Finally, the song leads into vocals, and the vocals are just eerily beautiful. I can just see the full moon when he sings those lines (by the way, this song was recorded exclusively on two full moons).

Overall, this album is an essential representative of not only Steve Hillage, but an excellent prog album for every prog fan. It's an amazing album, one of my favorites, but it's not quite worth 5 stars.

4.5 stars

Arrrghus | 4/5 |

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