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Steve Hillage

Live at the Gong Unconvention 2006

Review by Gary Hill
I’ve reviewed the DVD version of this release in the current issue of Music Street Journal. You can find more information about the set. Let me just say that this audio version is a strong live album with a lot of cool stuff going on in it. I like it a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Hello Dawn
Guitar rock with definite space rock in the mix, this is pretty cool. There’s a killer, rather psychedelic guitar solo later in the tune. That solo just keeps getting reinvented and they work out into a major space rock bit from there that serves as the outro.
It's All Too Much
There’s definitely more of a hard rock meets prog and jam band sound to this cut. It works through a few changes, but it more straightforward than the opener was
Aftaglid
What an intriguing cut this is. The first three minutes or so takes a mellow, Hawkwind-like space rock element and runs with it. Then the whole thing gets powered out to hard edged Hawk-like material with some fusion in the mix. More of a standard guitar rocking sound takes this instrumental later.
Solar Musick Suite Part 1
A pounding space rocker, this one definitely has a lot in common with Hawkwind. There’s a section later in the piece that makes me think of some kind of collaboration between Hawkwind and King Crimson, though. There is also some seriously intense guitar soloing further down along this musical path. This is over eleven minutes in length.
The Salmon Song
There is an awesome, fun riff driving this beast. It makes me think of some kind of combination of Wishbone Ash and Hawkwind. It drops mid-track for some tasty space rock meets undersea goodness. When it comes back out into the rocking part later it seems with a renewed vitality and some space chaos eventually ends the cut in noisy fashion.
These Uncharted Lands
Hawkwind is again a valid reference, but there’s more of a straight ahead classic rock styling in place here, too, along with some fusion and some 1980s rock. Some female vocals in a backing position lend an interesting flavor later. In addition, the extended melodic guitar solo is quite cool. Hawkwind meets jam band as this continues down the road. There’s a cool section where the bass and space keyboards drive it out into sheer space. From there it descends into something that makes me think of early Pink Floyd.
Palm Trees
The first bonus track, this is from 1979 and definitely has a lot more of a fusion kind of vibe. It’s less spacey and very tasty. The vocal section, though, has more Hawkwind in it. It keeps getting changed and altered as this continues and there’s a particularly tasty guitar solo nestled in the midst of the cut.
Unzipping the Zype
Bouncy prog with some space in the mix opens this and it grows out from there. Around the two minute mark it gets funky. With male vocals and female accents, I’m reminded of Blondie and Roxy Music. As this continues we get some awesome bass work of the funk variety. Space music gats played over the top of that funk later.
Healing Feeling
Atmospheric melody with bits of world music makes up this fairly short instrumental
Solar Musick Suite
This tune was recorded with Gong in 1974. It’s very much got a space rock, psychedelic meets progressive rock sound. As it continues there are definitely hints of Hawkwind. The saxophone lends some cool jazz textures, though, particularly when they fire out into harder rocking sounds. When that saxophone solos later that jazz element is even more profound and when it rocks out from there it definitely gets a bit of a Red era King Crimson vibe, but this thing just keeps changing, particularly as the guitar solos forward from there is some real psychedelic tones. There’s a cool bit that serves to end the piece that seems to combine Hawkwind with some punk rock (I’m almost reminded of the Dead Kennedys).
 
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