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Steve Hillage

Atlantic SD 18205
Released: January 1977
Chart Peak: #130
Weeks Charted: 9

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Steve HillageThis album recently made Steve Hillage Britain's newest guitar hero. Hillage labored for years in blissful obscurity with Gong, one of the strangest appendages of the innately bizarre body of British space-rock groups. Despite the interest of such musicians in "free jazz," a noted observer once remarked: "Whatever this stuff is -- it ain't jazz-rock." Specifically, it is psychedelic program music, inspired by mind-expansion drugs and meant to be experienced while under their influence.

Which is not to say that Hillage is as solipsistic as bands that gave acid rock a bad name. Indeed, he is a virtual anachronism, retaining all the guileless optimism and joyful spontaneity that made this kind of music worth listening to in the first place. His guitar style combines Hendrix-inspired production technique with virtuoso soloing ability.

L moves away from the amphibious exoticism of Hillage's first post-Gong experiment, Fish Rising, into more conventional territory. Accordingly, two late-Sixties period pieces frame the album; Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" and the Beatles' "It's All Too Much." The arrangements aren't changed so much as dismissed; Hillage sings a throwaway vocal, then gets down to some fierce guitaring.

Producer Todd Rundgren uses this session to show off his new studio; and the layered textures of double- and triple-tracked guitars and synthesizers work as well for his purposes as for Hillage's macrocosmic designs, especially on the electrifying "Lunar Musick Suite."

- John Swenson, Rolling Stone, 3/24/77.

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