Steve Hillage Band
Suberb, new live 1979 double CD.
Phillips Halle, Düsseldorf, Germany 28th March 1979
Some gigs are simply so good they are meant to be out there - even if they take decades to actually make it into our hands. This is without doubt one of those concerts - it would not be denied.
A basic stereo recording straight from the front of house mixing desk is always a hit and miss affair. To achieve a good sound in the hall there needs to be a balance between the sound coming from the amps on stage and that coming out of the PA which is controlled from the mixing desk. If there is loads of bass coming direct from the stage then less is needed in the PA mix, and so on. All this means that a stereo recording just coming straight off the desk often has elements of the sound diminished and others overly boosted. It can be a rough listen.
However in Dusseldorf in March 1979 the Steve Hillage Band, the hall acoustics, the iron oxide particles on the mixing desk cassette tape, and a host of other variables aligned to produce a recording of highly pleasing near perfection. It's a marvelous, hither to unheard, addition to Steve's catalogue.
From the first track, after a brief intro, Miquette Giraudy's sequenced synth locks into place, Steve joins in picking out a delicate repetitive guitar motif before the rhythm section opens up with a funky, muscular groove - and we're off. This is a band at the height of it's powers, with Steve in great voice throughout, and most obviously utterly enjoying themselves. The vibe is completely infectious and doesn't let up throughout the entire gig, including the only known live recording of 'Talking to the Sun', the second encore.
Whether arabesqueing through one of Steve's own adventurous compositions or covering a Beatles or Donovan classic all is approached with joie-de-vivre and high sensibility. The trademark heady Hillagesque combination of vibrant psychedelic rock interwoven with an irresistible full blooded groove, interspersed with the smoothest of deep-space synthi/guitar trips gathers all before it in a tsunami of up-lifting music. With the benefit of hindsight Steve's musical trajectory from the creative space riffs of Gong to the trance and techno of System 7 is blindingly obvious. He may trip the light fantastic like a good 'un, but he's always been funky bugger as well.
Had it been unearthed from Steve's archives earlier, this wonderful recording would have had a massive shout for inclusion in the 'Searching For The Spark' Steve Hillage box-set. I do hope there are more like this awaiting discovery in the archive - keep it under your hat, but I just think there may be.
Packaging is a Media book with attached jewel-case trays and 24 page illustrated booklet.
Also available on triple vinyl... 'Düsseldorf 28.3.79' 3LP