Steve Hillage

Rainbow 1977

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Steve Hillage's Rainbow 1977 is an authorized release taken from the last night of his tour at the famed London venue. With the exception of "Electrick Gypsies," this is not the same show documented on Live Herald, which was at the same venue a few months earlier. This date, from the Motivation Radio Tour took place nearly after the album was released. The music here is also different from that found on the video Germany '77. Hillage assembled this release after hearing the tapes of a popular bootleg he'd heard called Gon Go Long and added tracks not included there. The booklet in the release is a reproduction of the actual concert program. Hence, the liners--written by Hillage--are in tiny type, making them all but impossible to read without a magnifying glass. The photos are mostly black-and-white and color reproductions of the lineup. The music is fantastic. Hillage and Miquette Giraudy enlisted the American rhythm section comprised of drummer Joe Blocker and bassist Curtis Robertson, who add a much heavier -- at times almost funky -- bottom end than his U.K. bands. That said, this is a thoroughly proggy space rock gig. The material is drawn from Fish Rising and L, with four perfroomances of the songs on Motivation Radio. The recording is merely very good instead of excellent (though it's better than standard board tapes or the bootleg that provided source material for some selections). The playing is inspired, chancey, ambitious. There are two covers included: an anthemic reading of George Harrison's "It's All Too Much" and a fine version of Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" to close. Highlights from his own work include "Light in the Sky," "The Salmon Song," "Solar Music Suite, Pt. 2" and the sprawling 15-plus minute "Searching for the Spark," which is worth the price all by itself. Another bonus is the inclusion of Hillage's on-stage banter and incisive humor. If you have the boot, this contains music you don't have and is a viable way to show support for the artist; if you don't and are either a Hillage fan or merely curious about his work, this is necessary for your shelf.

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