Steve Hillage: Live In Madison Square Garden 1977

Excellent soundboard recording from the Hillage band.

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Hillage has said that his band’s plan of action in the US, where few people knew of them, was to just go for it, and their playing here is accordingly inspired.

This line up – Phil Hodge (keys), Colin Bass (bass), Christian Boulé (glissando guitar), Basil Brooks (synth), Clive Bunker (drums) and Miquette Giraudy (synth/voice) – featured on some of the 1979 album Live Herald; it’s a shame they didn’t make a studio recording. Hurdy Gurdy Glissando builds up to an adrenalised, high velocity ending as does Hurdy Gurdy Man, with Hillage cutting loose ecstatically. Lunar Musick Suite is rather more subtle and organic than the rather heavy-handed version on 1976’s L. Meanwhile their cover of George Harrison’s It’s All Too Much also gets the full treatment and ends with Hillage soloing pretty extravagantly and segueing into Gong’s Master Builder, with Bunker especially thundering along in hot pursuit. The set is about 50 minutes long, and the two bonus makeweights are worth having: alternative mixes of Are We To Believe?, a fine slice of cosmic prog Hillage recorded recently with Rick Wakeman, and a droll version of Elton John’s Rocket Man, with tongue-in-cheek recitation by William Shatner.

Mike Barnes

Mike Barnes is the author of Captain Beefheart - The Biography (Omnibus Press, 2011) and A New Day Yesterday: UK Progressive Rock & the 1970s (2020). He was a regular contributor to Select magazine and his work regularly appears in Prog, Mojo and Wire. He also plays the drums.