Steve Hillage: Rainbow 1977

Live document of one-time Gong man’s guitar-star years.

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After leaving Gong, Canterbury scene graduate Hillage entered his commercially successful guitar-hero years. The Todd Rundgen-produced album L was a 1976 Top 10 hit and a ‘cosmic rock’ classic. His band supported Queen at Hyde Park, and the following year’s Motivation Radio kept things simmering.

This previously unreleased live album from November ’77 catches him enjoying that period at Finsbury Park’s Rainbow, bursting into selections from those records with a lively fusion of proggy soloing and crackling adrenalin. Electrick Gypsies and Solar Musick Suite highlight his UFOs-at-Stonehenge hippie tendencies, but fiery covers of Donovan’s Hurdy Gurdy Man and George Harrison’s It’s All Too Much exhibit waspish energy, even if the eager-beaver drummer misses his crucial intro cue on the latter.

Hillage has since branched out into a number of genres, and within the ebbs and flows of the longer numbers on this sparky souvenir you can hear him start to explore the perimeters.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.