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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Steve Hillage

Live in England 1979

Review by Gary Hill

This new live album is quite a cool one, both in terms of the music presented here and the full package. For one thing, we get not only the audio CD but also a DVD of the performance. From what I can tell the DVD is sort of a reissue of an earlier release, but then again it’s a bonus here, so essentially free if you buy the CD. The live performance is great. The only real flaw is that the sound quality isn’t the greatest. It seems a little muffled. Even that, though, isn’t bad enough to really detract from the enjoyment. All in all, this is highly recommended.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Salmon Song

This comes in high energy and a little noisy. There is a short burst of something that sounds a bit like Frank Zappa. Then they bring it out into the vocal movement. This has a hard rock sound merged with something perhaps a bit like Magma. Maybe a better description would be Magma meets Led Zeppelin and Frank Zappa. They shift it out into a slower moving, mellower jam with both Zappa and Hawkwind like space rock represented. They take us into some different jams as it continues. Then it powers back out into the Zep, Zappa and Magma conglomeration.

Unzipping the Zype
The droning element that opens this is quite Hawkwind-like. As the rhythm section kicks we get a cool groove in place. From there it turns towards a funky kind of jam. As the vocals join it starts to resemble a combination of Zappa and Hawkwind. When the guitar solos out of it later it works towards fusion a bit. The funk returns after that, reinforcing that funk element. Then they take out into more Hawkwind like space.
Hurdy Gurdy Man

I’ve always loved this song in all its incarnations. With a real psychedelic space rock vibe here, this one works quite well. It works out to something rather like Hawkwind later. Then it gets powered up into an ever faster jam that’s hard rocking and very potent.

1988 Activator
Starting like something from Chuck Berry this becomes a superfast and rather punky jam that really feels a lot like Hawkwind. This is a short song.
Unidentified (Flying Being)
More funk and fusion are merged with both Hawk-like space and Zappa oddities here. Some of the guitar soloing later brings a bit of fusion. Then it launches out into a drum solo for a while. From there some ambient Hawkwind-like space takes the piece. That eventually segues into the next piece.
It's All Too Much
There’s a mainstream rock element to this combined with something like Hawkwind. At times I could hear this as a cross between Hawkwind and Nektar. This is a fairly straightforward journey.
Hurdy Gurdy Glissando
Ambient space opens this and it grows gradually outward from there. Eventually a spirited psychedelic melody emerges over the top of this backdrop. The vocals come in subdued, rather like something from Hawkwind. As this continues to build an odd symphonic progressive rock vibe merges with that Hawkwind thing. Then, it turns towards funky fusion as it gets more energy and intensity in the mix. Some noisy space emerges from there. It’s echoey and very Hawkwind-like. Eventually we’re taken into more RIO meets fusion jamming from there. That jam gets pretty intense as it works out to the ending.
Electrick Gypsies

I can make out sort of a Robert Plant solo vibe here in some ways. That’s blended with the same kind of spacey progressive rock sounds heard on the rest of the set. More fusion oriented elements emerge later and this has some great jamming. This is one of the most straightforward and mainstream tunes here. Some smoking hot instrumental work eventually serves as the extended outro here.

 
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