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Steve Hillage - L CD (album) cover


Steve Hillage


Canterbury Scene

3.68 | 189 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars A Hurdy Gurdy Man in space?

This second solo album by Steve Hillage is quite different from his first. In my opinion, this is by far the better one of these two. While Fish Rising lacked direction, L is a much more focused effort. The songs are much stronger and it also features very interesting and varied instrumentation.

After having seen the Blackmore's Night DVD Paris Moon, I now know what a hurdy gurdy looks like. The hurdy gurdy is a very old instrument associated with the renaissance period (I think). It is hardly an instrument associated with the Space Rock with which we associate Steve Hillage. Yet, we will hear the hurdy gurdy here on the introduction to the Donovan cover Hurdy Gurdy Man. Yes, Hillage covers Donovan here! I have never heard the original version of this song but I strongly suspect that this one is very different from the original, especially with the nine minute coda Hurdy Gurdy Glissando added. Much like Manfred Mann's Earth Band made covers of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen songs that were radically different and much more elaborated compared to their original versions.

The ethnic and Folk influences continues on the Indian influenced Om Nama Shivaya. Is this Indo- Prog/Raga Rock? There are several exotic instruments also featured on this album, some of which I have no idea what they look like and some, like the tabla - an Indian instrument - that I have seen in real life. These ethnic instruments create a warm and organic sound, absent on the rather cold Fish Rising. And put side by side with electric guitars and spacy synthesisers, this makes for an overall rich and varied sound. This is indeed what Folk music might sound like when made up in space! (It's just a matter of time before that happens).

Lunar Music(k) Suite is the track that remind the most of the style of Fish Rising and it is also the least good song here in my opinion. And it is certainly not as good as the Solar Music Suite, the unique great track on Fish Rising. The opening of the track really catches my interest, but it very soon drifts away and doesn't quite hold up for eleven minutes.

The album closes with another cover song, this time a George Harrison composition. The drum sound on this song is absolutely awful! It sounds like they're banging on garbage cans with baseball bats or something similar. Apart from that it is a really fun version with a short but effective keyboard solo that sounds like a plastic trumpet.

The fact that this album has two covers and a couple of grey areas where there is very little of interest going on, preclude this album from being great. Nonetheless it is quite enjoyable and not ordinary. Probably Steve Hillage's best solo album.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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