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Steve Hillage

Canterbury Scene

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Steve Hillage Live Herald album cover
3.85 | 83 ratings | 14 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

A1 Salmon Song
A2 The Dervish Riff - Castle in the Clouds - Hurdy Gurdy Man
B1 Light in the Sky
B2 Searching for the Spark
B3 Electrick Gypsies
C1 Radiom - Lunar Musick Suite - Meditation of the Dragon
C2 It's All Too Much - The Golden Vibe
D1 Talking to the Sun (studio)
D2 1988 Aktivator (studio)
D3 New Age Synthesis (Unzipping The Zype) (studio)
D4 Healing Feeling (studio)

1. Salmon Song (7:39)
2. The Dervish Riff (4:21)
3. Castle in the Clouds / Hurdy Gurdy Man (7:04)
4. Light in the Sky (5:17)
5. Searching for the Spark (11:13)
6. Electrick Gypsies (5:58)
7. Radiom / Lunar Music Suite / Meditation of the Dragon (14:49)
8. It's All Too Much / The Golden Vibe (7:45)

Total Time: 64:06

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Hillage / guitar, lead vocals, synthesizers

- Andy Anderson / drums (4, 8)
- Colin Bass / bass (1-3, 7)
- Joe Blocker / drums, backing vocals (5, 6)
- Christian Boulé / guitars (1-4, 7, 8)
- Basil Brooks / synthesizers, flute, sequencers (1-3, 7)
- Clive Bunker / drums (1-3, 7)
- Miquette Giraudy / synthesizers, sequencers, vocals, bells
- Phil Hodge / keyboards (1-3, 7)
- John McKenzie / bass, backing vocals (4, 8)
- Curtis Robertson / bass (5, 6)

LP Version Side D: Andy Anderson, Miquette Giraudy & John McKenzie

Releases information

2LP Virgin VGD 3502 (1979 UK)
CD Virgin CDVM 3502, 260 825-217 (1990 UK & Europe) (remaster)
CD Virgin CDVMR 3502, 00946 373440 26 (2007 UK) (remaster)
CD Virgin VJCP-6880 (2007 Japan) (limited edition, remaster, paper sleeve)
2LP Back on Black PCV010LP (2013 UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
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Buy STEVE HILLAGE Live Herald Music

STEVE HILLAGE Live Herald ratings distribution

(83 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(53%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

STEVE HILLAGE Live Herald reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by corbet
4 stars After you've soaked in Hillage's main studio albums, and love them and know what they're all about, get Live Herald and prepare to die. I'll be 'blunt' (haha) -- this is some of the most stoned, spaced out, mind gratifying music I've ever heard in my life. Basically you get two main ingredients: endless waves of swishing synthesizers flying around your speakers like UFOs invading the planet, and the most heaven-storming psychedelic guitar solos ever recorded. Hillage's guitar philosophy isn't one of "let's play intricate chords, and never repeat myself, and try to impress everybody with how well-versed a player I am..." He doesn't care! He's all about heaping on ridiculous amounts of echos and phasers and flangers, then ripping his fretboard to pieces over and over and over again! So basically, he's my kind of guy. You need your Holdsworths, but you also most definitely need your Hillages. The recording quality is great -- you won't even remember you're listening to a live album, until the crowd explodes after each song -- and every track is equally amazing (you've never heard "Hurdy Gurdy Man" like this). Go try "Searching for the Spark" on for size. Final word: lovers of music from the Gong tip of the equation, you will eventually come to worship this album as your holy grail.
Review by Jim Garten
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Retired Admin & Razor Guru
5 stars One of my favorite albums of all time; Hillage is stupendous in these live recordings, and the solo at the end of Hurdy Gurdy Man is guaranteed to slam you into the wall & melt you into the carpet at the same time (apprentice wanabees Vai & Satriani - take note - this is how fast, fluid playing should be done!). The whole album laced with every synth effect possible in the late '70s, yet by no means a cold album - turn down the lights, turn up the HiFi, and let Steve show you the way.... Um... I quite like this album.... a bit....
Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars Once Steve HILLAGE was a member of URIEL/ARZACHEL, KHAN and the seminal space fusion band GONG. In '75 he made his first solo album "Fish Rising", soon after he left GONG and released a serie of studio LP's. The first solo-album "Fish Rising" is the HILLAGE's most acclaimed record but my favorite is "Live Herald". This is a great and stunning live- recording with different line-ups, including drummer Clive Bunker (ex-JETHRO TULL) and bass player Colin Bass (later joining CAMEL). The music shows HILLAGE's spectacular, often distorted and spacey effects and spectacular flights with the synthesizers (often the Minimoog). The climates shifts from dreamy of mellow to up-tempo and bombastic but it remains melodic and harmonic. Not as complex and adventurous as GONG but Steve HILLAGE, 'the hippie from outer space', will be remembered as one of the main inventors of the space rock, his unique guitarplay inspired later progrock bands like OZRIC TENTACLES and PORCUPINE TREE.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars It's all too much!

Originally released in 1978 as a double LP, "Live Herald" is now available as a single CD albeit without the additional studio songs. The album was recorded at the peak of Hillage's popularity (although peak might be too strong a word!) at a variety of gigs during 1977 and 1978, in and around the London (UK) area. The songs are primarily taken from Hillage's first album "Fish rising", "L" (which appears virtually in full) and "Motivation radio".

The sound quality is superb throughout, Hillage's performance adding a slightly harder edge to many of the tracks. Steve's distinctive guitar work never sounded better, supported all the while by symphonic sounding string synth tones. For me, there are two tracks which make this album essential. Both are cover versions, which Hillage takes and completely transforms. Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy man" becomes a guitar based anthem, faithful in melody to the original, but sounding completely different. The song is in two parts, the latter half being "Hurdy Gurdy glissando", a freeform instrumental interpretation of the main tune.

"It's all too much" is a cover of a relatively obscure George Harrison song. Once again, it take the form of an anthem of sorts, providing a wonderful climax to the set. "The golden vibe" from "Fish rising" is appended to the song to provide the climactic conclusion required.

The odd Gong melody such as "Castle in the clouds" is thrown in, but Hillage appears intent on ensuring that it is his personal identity which is foremost here. Other highlights include an eleven minute sprint through the Hawkwind like "Searching for the spark" and a 15 minute three part medley, the centrepiece of which is "Lunar music suite", again from "L".

Even if you have the original albums; no, make that especially if you have the original albums, this is a highly recommended addition to your Hillage collection. Arguably, this album represents his finest hour.

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
4 stars Not long ago I saw Steve Hillage on the stage (reunited with Daevid Allen) and something grew in me to get into this album more recently. I must admit I haven't kept an eye on his solo stuff in the 70s, don't no why really. Better late than never. 'Live Herald' is a compilation of recordings from 1977/78. Probably for one or two it's a handicap that they are coming from four different performances, which means you cannot enjoy a whole concert in one go. Never mind! Well - here we have a convincing blend of space and jazz rock. There are a lot of winsome moments on the album - the variety, the spacey synthesizer goodies, Steve's brilliant technical skills where he nearly reaches the border to insanity.

Compared to 'Live at Deeply Vale Festival 78' for example the sound quality is very good (due to the remix). The firsts tracks feature ex-Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker. Powerful rhythm work indeed. On Salmon Song Miquette Giraudy complements Steve as usual with some quirky vocal and sequencer acrobatics. The Dervish Riff follows, a (if not THE) highlight. What a playful and tricky jazz rock performance ... on top of it decorated with twittering synths ... gliding into Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy Man where Bunker seemingly has problems to follow Steve's incredible speed - but he's barely able to turn the corner at the end. Next two songs have been recorded one year later, now with Andy Anderson behind the drums.

Light In The Sky is basically played with a more straightforward rocking behaviour ... as well as strange contrasting impressions though. Miquette offers some extraterrestial vocal contributions. Searching For The Spark follows in a significant driving Gong vein. This one is very enjoyable too - spiked with a bunch of synthesizer/sequenzer goodies plus echoed vocals and fantastic corresponding jazzy and glissando guitar. The Radiom/Lunar Music Suite/Meditation Of The Dragon suite should be noted too - provided with a symphonic touch and many breaks and turns, clearly contrasting with the grooving behaviour of the other songs. The last third is dominated by Steve's melancholic guitar with delay effect which is heading a compelling cosmic part.

Not all songs are convincing me ... however the 2007 Virgin reissue includes one new bonus - Solar Musick Suite - another recording from the Rainbow Theatre in 1977 featuring Clive Bunker. And yes - surprisingly this is a great benefit - if not the (new) highlight - including some wonderful jamming moments. It all begins rather innocent but evolves to a fantastic playful event. Oh, lucky you, who could be there to enjoy this live! And this finally makes it easy to honour 'Live Herald' with the label excellent addition.

Review by fuxi
3 stars Enjoyable live album from Steve Hillage, which shows you what an energetic guitarist he really is. It opens with a couple of pieces from FISH RISING, his first solo album, and while some of that album's special touches (e.g. Lindsay Cooper's bassoon, Dave Sinclair's fuzz organ, Pierre Moerlen's drumming) are inevitably missing, the live performances sound just as "full", thanks to the presence of no less than THREE synthesizer players, the great Clive Bunker (ex-Jethro Tull) on drums, and Hillage himself in blistering good form.

I suppose you could consider those opening pieces some kind of jazz-rock if you wanted to, but it struck me that "Searching for the Spark", the fifth album track (more than eleven minutes long) is unadulterated space-rock, similar in mood to Gong's YOU, and even more similar to the manic instrumentals on Daevid Allen's and Planet Gong's LIVE FLOATING ANARCHY, an album that was recorded at around the same time as this. Daevid and Steve may have toured different parts of the world, with different bands, but their aims were still the same, it seems. Of course Steve happened to be the flashiest guitarist on the entire Canterbury Scene - which makes a difference.

Some of the lighter pieces (e.g. "Light in the Sky" and "Electric Gipsies") remind me why I could never really take Hillage seriously as a vocalist or lyricist, but boy do his solos make up for this! The nearly fifteen minute "Lunar Music Suite" (somewhat expanded from the original on Hillage's second studio album, L) sounds clean and neat; regrettably, the great Don Cherry wasn't present to repeat his dreamily nocturnal trumpet solo live on stage.

By the final track ("It's All Too Much") Hillage's ultra-busy way of guitar playing has become just a little too much, so perhaps it's for the better that I'm referring to Virgin's 1990 edition of this CD (only 64 minutes long) and not to the recently remastered version, which adds the "Solar Music Suite". (But then again, I love the studio original of that suite. What might a live version be like...?)

Review by Warthur
4 stars A solid live album from Steve Hillage, cobbled together from several different concerts (which may bug listeners who - like me - prefer it when live albums try to at least pretend to offer a distinct show rather than a Frankenstein-like patchwork of different shows with different lineups from different tours).

Earlier CD releases had a decidedly variable sound quality, probably exacerbated by the fact that the album is sourced from different tapes, but recent remasters have not only alleviated this a lot but also provided a very welcome bonus track in the form of a like workthrough of the Solar Music Suite from the excellent Fish Rising. Knock off a star if you're looking at an edition without that.

Review by friso
3 stars Steve Hillage - Live Herald (live) (1978)

Steve Hillage 'Hippi from outer space' (ex- Arachel, Kahn & Gong) presents his first double live album, released during the height of the decline of progressive rock. Though Steve Hillage has played on the major Canterbury group Kahn, I think his solo work belongs in the symphonic prog genre. There are very little jazz influences to be found and his link to the Canterbury scene itself is a bit far-fetched if you ask me. Some well known prog-musicans join Hillage on stage, but the line-up differs from each recording. Noteworthy are Collin Bass (who later would become an important member of '90 and '00 Camel) and Clive Bunker (ex-Jethro Tull). Furthermore there's a nice choice of keyboardists who heavily use synthesizers and some female vocals that are more then just 'reminders' of Gong.

Actually, only the first three sides are taken from live recordings. The fourth side is a silly mini-studio album I'll discuss later.

Hillage & band produces a sound that strongly reminds us of 'You'-era Gong, though the music dwells even more in a coating of synth/space sounds. The music is thus moving towards later-days Hawkwind and electro-rock of the eighties. This wall of synths is almost never absent. The guitars of Hillage are strongly recognizable, but I'd wish he would have appeared as flexible as on Kahn's Space Shanty album. On this live set I can't help be bothered by 'knowing his tricks'. You know! - those echo loops and chorus-effect distortions and those string-bends on the end of every musical sentence. Having said this, the band is clearly good in what it does and does deliver a 'space-cadet glow' experience. The extended jams with spacey guitar solo's do get me excited and it's hard to find 'proper' space rock.

Most material is taken from Hillage's own albums, but Hurdy Gurdy Man is a cover from Donovan. Being a big fan of the psychedelic works of Donovan I'm left a bit bedazzled; why choose one of the least psychedelic songs he ever wrote for your space-rock concert? Heavy use of electronic equipment can't help to save Hillage and crew now, this version of the song is just silly. The ending track of side 2 'Electric Gypsy' also suffers from it's arrangements and drowsy vocals by Hillage.

On the fourth side we get to listen to some studio material, of which some is among the worst in my collection (if this record is to make it permanently). The slightly abstract electronic rock track 'Talking To The Sun' is an acceptable song, but a bit boring. The rest is utterly stupid and an acceptable reason to embark in buying punk records from now on.

Conclusion. If taken as a three-sided live album (which I'll do for my review) this is a good example of a strong adaption to the lack of audience for challenging progressive music in the late seventies. Fans of Gong, space rock and synth driven prog will find a well recorded live album with great electronic equipment and some impressing musicianship. My personal complaint is the lack of catchy/effective song-writing and lack of flexibility by both Hillage and his arrangements. Don't listen to side four and you'll be alright. Strong three stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars I need to make something clear: I am in love of Genesis and Steve Hillage. In that order. I don't care what others reviewers are saying. This Live record is a MUST in any prog music collection. I really think that if you look "underrated" on Wikipedia there will be a post on Steve Hillage, He i ... (read more)

Report this review (#1345782) | Posted by steelyhead | Wednesday, January 14, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of these unknown, but essential live albums from the prog rock scene. Steve Hillage was a part of the Canterbury Scene and the former guitarist in Gong, a weirdo space rock outfit and the pretty superb Khan. This live album is full of spaced out jazz improvisations in addition to some prett ... (read more)

Report this review (#186070) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Thursday, October 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Great live recording that faithfully delivers the power of Steve Hillage during his Post Gong peak. The record could be a slightly better pressing but I would certainly get the cd. Do a bong crank it up and you'll be there at the front of the audience enjoying one of rocks true originals. I wa ... (read more)

Report this review (#92762) | Posted by burgersoft777 | Saturday, September 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Steve Hillage is a great guitar player - this stands above any discussion of his work. As an associate of the Canterbury Scene and a member of Gong, Hillage wrote his name at the annals of prog rock and earned some recognition, but far below than his great talents. On "Live Herald", he shows u ... (read more)

Report this review (#49646) | Posted by M. B. Zapelini | Saturday, October 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars While others are praising this disc, I cannot. It simply isn't that good overall. Only tracks 2,5 & 7 are worthwhile. Sound quality is good but nothing special for a remastered version. The vocal tracks don't work that well and it's suprising to see 'cover songs' from an artist with such a supp ... (read more)

Report this review (#25842) | Posted by | Sunday, October 10, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Great live document, any fans of Hillage studio albums must own this. Gives a new lease of life to the already brilliant studio versions and good track selection as well. Good point to start also if you're a potential fan but not sure what to get first. ... (read more)

Report this review (#25837) | Posted by Jools | Thursday, January 22, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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