An icon of Britain’s famed “Canterbury Scene” of the late ’60s and ’70s, Steve Hillage made his mark mixing psychedelia, pop, and Hendrix-fueled guitar solos with thrilling abandon. Thirty years after his heyday, the guitarist made an appearance at this festival for his old band, Gong, and delivered a burning set. Included here are six tracks from that gig, plus three more from a ’79 show and a ’74 live version of his solo favorite, “Solar Musick Suite.”
Back to the 2006 set, you can hear Hillage in prime form on “Hello Dawn,” “The Salmon Song” (from his classic Fish Rising album), and a terrific cover of George Harrison’s “It’s All Too Much.” In addition to the upbeat interpretation of this Beatles classic, the axeman takes off into the stratosphere during the closing guitar solo, one full of blistering runs and his acclaimed gift for melody.
A good chunk of the CD is devoted to “These Uncharted Lands,” a lengthy, psychedelic head trip full of spacey improvs and groovy guitar.
Hillage may not have the cachet of other Brit axemen of the ’70s, but don’t be fooled – he was one of the best lead players of his generation and, as this record proves, remains a melodic monster today.
This article originally appeared in VG’s Oct. ’10 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.