Steve Hillage

Searching for the Spark

Steve Hillage is the greatest master of tape-echo guitar in rock history, and this 22-CD boxset (that’s not a typo) does a good job proving it. A pioneer of British psychedelia and quirky Canterbury sound, Steve was an explosive lead player and mad experimenter with Echoplex machines, loops, and dense studio layering, long before many other Brit greats.

Check out the swirling guitar echoes in 1973’s “The Golden Vibe” to hear his delay magic, while “Aftagid” sports space-rock loops and a howling Echoplex solo. His live take on the Beatles “It’s All Too Much” remains joyous: Steve turned George Harrison’s gem into a crowd-pleasing concert stomper. Listen to the ’60s acid-rock masterpiece Arzachel, cut when Steve was barely 18, as well as 1972’s epic Space Shanty album by the Canterbury assemblage Khan, both revered as important pieces of British rock.

In this collection, you get posters, a book, eight full solo albums, studio outtakes and demos, and piles of rare ’70s live material. There’s none of Steve’s work with Gong, but let’s not get greedy – this is classic Hillage and worth a long, deep dive into his guitar-fueled past. The label is only pressing 2,500 copies, so move fast.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s March ’17 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.