Live at the Gong Family Unconvention 2006 (G-Wave/Gonzo Multimedia, 2012)
Steve Hillage is a legendary figure in British music. He’s been involved in some of the most interesting British music movements since the 1970s. He was a member of Khan, which was one of the original Canterbury music progressive rock bands. He later joined psychedelic rock Collective Gong and after that released a series of seminal solo albums that combined Canterbury music, psychedelia, space rock and electronic music. Next, he formed various essential electronic dance music and chill out projects, including System 7.
Steve Hillage reformed his band in 2006. The album Live at the Gong Family Unconvention 2006 features his longtime companion, synthesist and vocalist Miquette Giraudy, along with Mike Howlett on bass, Chris Taylor on drums, and Basil Brooks on additional synthesizers.
The first two cuts on the album, ‘Hello Dawn,’ from the album Motivation Radio and
‘It’s All Too Much,’ the Beatles cover – from the album L, show the rockier side of Hillage.
He goes into a more interesting direction with the spacey and hypnotic ‘Aftaglid,’ from the album Fish Rising.
The next two pieces ‘Solar Musick Suite’ and ‘The Salmon Song’ are also from Fish Rising. Hillage showcases his various innovative guitar techniques and effects that have influenced so many musicians in the progressive and space rock areas. Fish Rising had a strong Canterbury flavor. These live versions, however, do not feature the signature keyboards that were found in the original recordings. Instead, they are more guitar oriented.
The last piece from the concert is These Uncharted Lands, from the album ‘For To Next.’ This is the only piece from Hillage’s 1980s era and has a new wave pop flavor. However, Hillage extends it and transforms it into another of his signature pieces with fascinating guitar jam solos, spacey explorations and effects.
The CD has 4 additional exclusive bonus tracks, selected from Steve Hillage’s 1970’s archive. ‘Palm Trees’, ‘Unzipping the Zype’ and ‘Healing Feeling’ were recorded live at Amsterdam’s Sonesta Koepelkerk on December 14th, 1979. The band on these recordings included Hillage on guitar and vocals, Miquette Giraudy on synthesizers and vocals, Paul Francis on bass, Andy Anderson on drums and Save Stewart on rhythm guitar.
The fourth bonus track is an early live version of Solar Musick Suite, recorded with Gong at Hammersmith Palais in London, in 1974. The band included Hillage on guitar and vocals, Didier Malherbe on saxophone, Daevid Allen on vocals, Mike Howlett on bass, Lawrie Allen on drums, and Tim Blake on synthesizers.
There is also a DVD version of this album, edited by longtime friend and Gong family member Harry Williamson in his Spring Studio in Melbourne Australia.
Live at the Gong Family Unconvention 2006 is an exciting live document that showcases the trailblazing early pieces of one of the most influential and innovative British guitarists of the past decades.