Hi-Hu

 

Megan Sue Hicks (USA): Maranatha (Warner Brothers WS-20005, Australia, 1972)

Singer/Songwriter

Megan Sue Hicks (lead vocals, guitar)

Despite the title, this doesn’t appear to have any religious content; and despite Megan Sue Hicks being American, it was recorded in Australia, though she had returned to the States by the time it was released. The opening ‘Hey, Can You Come Out And Play?’ is eerie psychedelia, vaguely recalling Julie Covington’s ‘My Silks And Fine Array’ without the folky and ethereal edges, and is an instant classic. The remainder is more conventional singer/songwriter fare, ranging from gently folky numbers to more uptempo country-flavoured cuts, and is consistently pleasant without being hugely memorable. GRADE: C+.

High Tide (UK): Ancient Gates (World Wide SPM-WWR-CD-0007, CD, Germany, 1990)
Psychedelic
Sushi Krishnamurthi (lead vocals)
This remarkable disc features five long psychedelic jams, of which only one is under 15 minutes, and three of which are instrumental. With some haunting and eerie violin work, and with Sushi Krishnamurthi adding her Indian-inflected vocals to two cuts, it captures the spirit of early Krautrock pioneers like Amon Düül II, and is easily one of the most remarkable albums of its era. The band then changed name to Hazchem and issued a further two LPs. GRADE: B.
See also Hazchem

High Treason (USA): High Treason (Abbott ABS 1209, with rolling papers, 1969)
Jazz/Rock/Psychedelic
Marcie Rauer (joint lead vocals)
This odd album starts out as fairly conventional late sixties underground rock, but their version of ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ (the only non-original) is bluesy and jazzy, and the short instrumental ‘Circadian Rhythm’ is baroque jazz/rock. Over on side two, ‘The Witch’ starts off as a powerful piano-led piece reminiscent of Grace Slick’s early seventies compositions, before going lounge jazz, whilst the twelve-minute closer ‘Fallin’ Back’ is a long jazzy jam with psychedelic edges. Overall, the LP offers a strange mix of styles, and while it isn’t top-of-the-heap for any of the genres it touches upon, it’s an enjoyable and distinctive piece of work. GRADE: C+.

Highfield Children’s Choir (UK): Where Is Love? (National Children’s Home NCH 4, 1974?)
Folk
For the most part, this album by kids at a children’s home simply consists of massed vocals with simple piano backing, with the material largely consisting of showtunes. As such, it’s not very inspiring, but it does include one pleasant original song, ‘Rolling In Love’, performed by teenage folk outfit the Sovereign Collection. This was also released, in a different version, as an extremely rare privately pressed single. GRADE: D.

Highway Life (USA): Songs From “Dude” (Kilmarnock KIL 72007, quadraphonic LP, 1973)
Pop/Rock
Nell Carter (joint lead vocals), Salome Bey (joint lead vocals), Leta Galloway (joint lead vocals), Carolyn Dutton (violin)
The stage musical ‘Dude’ was a follow-up to ‘Hair’, penned by the same team of Galt MacDermot and Gerome Ragni, but failed to achieve anywhere near the same level of prominence. Whilst there’s nothing here as iconic as, say, ‘Let The Sunshine In’, this is a pleasant enough collection of country-tinged rock, though a few more instrumental breaks would have been nice. GRADE: C+.

Hiidensointi (Finland): Hiidensointi (Hisi Vieköön HVRCD-01, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2010)
Rock/Progressive
Nina Hiieronniemi (principal vocals)
The artwork made me expect some sort of folk/metal crossover, but this is actually nothing of the kind. Instead the disc mixes hard rock and symphonic progressive on ten short, well-crafted songs. A few cuts have some nice folky edges and the arrangements are beautifully judged, with some intricate acoustic guitar and lots of lush keyboards, making for a consistently enjoyable, if rather lightweight, LP.

GRADE: C+.
Hiidensointi (Finland): Ovia Ja Aikoja (Hiisi Vieköön HVRCD-02, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2013)
Rock/Progressive
Nina Hiieroniemi (principal vocals, melodica)
Album number two is in the same vein as their first, but perhaps with a bit more of a seventies vibe on a few cuts. Again the songs are extremely well put together, and the results are highly accomplished, but given the format of exclusively short songs it’s all a touch inconsequential. GRADE: C+.

Steve Hillage (UK): Fish Rising (Virgin V 2031, with insert, 1975)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Miquette Giraudy (bells, backing vocals)
Recorded whilst Hillage and his songwriting partner and musical collaborator Miquette Giraudy were still members of Gong, Fish Rising is the great Gong album that never was. Substituting cosmic tales about fish for the mythology of Zero the Hero, it’s the logical follow-up to the ‘Flying Teapot’ trilogy and is dominated by two long suites – ‘Solar Musick Suite’ and ‘Aftaglid’ – that were central to Gong’s live set until Hillage and Giraudy departed later in the year. The line-up also deserves mention, drawing from the cream of Canterbury and RIO talent: Mike Howlett, Tim Blake, Pierre Moerlen and Didier Malherbe from Gong, Dave Stewart from Hatfield & The North et al, and Lindsay Cooper from Henry Cow. GRADE: B.
Steve Hillage (UK): L (Virgin V 2066, 1976)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Miquette Giraudy (occasional vocals)
Hillage’s second solo album is both similar to, and different from, its predecessor, largely due to the presence of Todd Rundgren and a cast of mostly American musicians (Roger Powell, Kasim Sultan and John Wilcox from Rundgren’s band Utopia, plus jazz luminary Don Cherry). Bookended by superb covers of Donovan’s ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ and George Harrison’s ‘It’s All Too Much’, it concentrates on slightly shorter pieces, with Rundgren achieving both an unusual, quasi-industrial drum sound and a complex soundscape involving plenty of studio trickery (notably the way ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ speeds up and finally disappears before transmuting into ‘Hurdy Gurdy Glissando’). Whether this or Fish Rising is better is moot, but this was Hillage’s commercial high water mark, reaching the UK top ten. GRADE: B.
Steve Hillage (UK): Motivation Radio (Virgin V 2777, with inner, 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Miquette Giraudy (occasional vocals, synthesiser)
Somewhat straighter than his first two, Motivation Radio opts for nine short, discrete tracks, with some songs even tending towards mildly trippy hard rock. That’s not to say he has left his psychedelic roots behind: ‘Radio’ and ‘Searching For The Spark’ are superb cosmic excursions, whilst ‘Octave Doctors’ (perhaps not surprisingly) could pass for a continuation of ‘Isle Of Everywhere’ from Gong’s You. By any measure, this is a good album, but I do find myself missing the long, trancy jams of its predecessors. GRADE: B–.
Steve Hillage (UK): Green (Virgin V 2098, green vinyl, with insert and poster, 1978)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Miquette Giraudy (occasional vocals, synthesiser, Vocoder)
After the decent but slightly underwhelming Motivation RadioGreen (co-produced by none other than Nick Mason) is a decisive return to form. The A-side (titled ‘Green Rock’) is solid throughout, but it’s the long suite on side B (titled ‘OM Rock’) that really impresses: pieces like ‘UFO Over Paris’ and ‘Leylines To Glassdom’ are as tripped-out and blissful as their titles suggest, and it all climaxes in the energetic ‘The Glorious OM Riff’, which recycles riffs from You to brilliant effect. GRADE: B.

Steve Hillage (UK): Live Herald (Virgin VGD 3502, double, 1979)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Miquette Giraudy (occasional vocals, guitar, keyboards, bells)
Hillage’s first live album features three sides recorded at various venues in 1977 and 1978 and a fourth of new studio recordings. The live numbers find him in suitably expansive form, tripping out to the cosmos, and the studio numbers are mostly pretty good, though his stab at a cosmic/new wave crossover on ‘1988 Aktivator’ pales in comparison to Here & Now (whom he namechecks in the lyrics). GRADE: B.
Steve Hillage (UK): Rainbow Dome Musick (Virgin VR1, clear vinyl, 1979)
New Age
Miquette Giraudy (keyboards, bells)
Recorded for the Mind-Body-Spirit Festival in London, this was Hillage and Giraudy’s new age album, setting his spacy lead and glissando guitar against her haunting keyboard drones and bells. How much you like it will depend on how much you appreciate ambient music – it would never be my listening of choice, but this is nicely done and could be seen as a step on from the most minimalist end of Gong. More than on any other album, Giraudy deserved an artist co-credit here, as she wrote and co-produced ‘Garden Of Paradise’ whilst Hillage wrote and produced the other piece, ‘Four Ever Rainbow’. GRADE: C+.
Steve Hillage (UK): Open (Virgin V 2135, die-cut sleeve, with inner, 1979)
Pop/Rock/Psychedelic
Miquette Giraudy (synthesiser, Vocoder, backing vocals)
Returning to a rock-based format, Hillage offers another nicely trippy album – but one far more influenced by pop and funk than his previous work. In fact, whilst enjoyable, the six songs are remarkably slight, with the musicians only really stretching out on the closing instrumental ‘Earthrise’, which adapts an Arabic piece by Oum Kalsoum. GRADE: C+.
Steve Hillage (UK): For To Next/And Not Or (Virgin V 2244/OVED 8, double, 1982)
Pop/Dance/Progressive
Miquette Giraudy (synthesiser, programming, backing vocals)
Hillage’s final studio solo album is radically different from his previous work: all the percussion is programmed and all the instruments are played between himself and Giraudy. When the material is outstanding, as on the opening ‘These Uncharted Lands’, the results are impressively atmospheric; when it isn’t, as on the other seven songs that make up the first disc, his rather one-dimensional singing is graphically highlighted. Early copies came with a bonus second disc And Not Or that was subsequently issued separately: this featured six instrumental pieces (using the same skeletal approach) on which Hillage finally cut loose with some great spacy guitar work. This is by far the superior of the two LPs, harking back to classic Hillage whilst also hinting at the direction he would later pursue in System 7. GRADE: C+.
Steve Hillage (UK): Madison Square Garden 1977 (Purple Pyramid CLP 2222, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2015,

recorded 1977)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Miquette Giraudy (occasional vocals, synthesiser)
Recorded in February 1977 whilst Hillage was supporting ELO, this short but superb set concentrates mainly on the L album (with the only other number being the opening ‘Salmon Song’). As a bonus, there are two additional studio tracks: the stunning instrumental ‘Are We To Believe?’, featuring Rick Wakeman, and more marginally a version of ‘Rocket Man’ featuring William Shatner. What’s more, the artwork is lovely, completing a fine live retrospective. GRADE: B.

Steve Hillage (UK): Germany – 77 (Voiceprint VPDVD32, DVD plus CD, with booklet, 2007, recorded 1977)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Miquette Giraudy (synthesiser, bells, backing vocals)
This superb live show takes in an excellent cross-section of material from Hillage’s first three studio albums. Whilst the staging isn’t spectacular, it’s very well filmed and recorded, allowing one to appreciate the band’s astonishing musicianship to the full. The accompanying CD (which omits a couple of songs) merely confirms the impression that Hillage and his collaborators are on top form throughout. GRADE: B.
Steve Hillage (UK): Rainbow 1977 (Gonzo Multimedia HST198CD, CD, 2014, recorded 1977)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Miquette Giraudy (occasional vocals, synthesiser)
Recorded with a smaller line-up than the German concert (just Hillage and Giraudy plus the rhythm section of Joe Blocker and Curtis Robertson), this is another stellar archive release. With virtuoso performances from all the musicians, the sound is muscular yet sinuous – and tripped-out to the nth degree. GRADE: B.
Steve Hillage (UK): Live At Deeply Vale Festival ’78 (Ozit CD 781, double CD, 2004, recorded 1978)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Miquette Giraudy (occasional vocals, synthesiser)
This doesn’t have the impeccable sound quality of the sets above, but it’s good enough for a live album and has ambience in spades. Unusually, the lengthy set is supplemented by alternative (audience-sourced) recordings of a few of the cuts, plus bonus cuts by some of the festival’s other participants: three by Tractor and two by the Ruts. GRADE: B.

Steve Hillage (UK): Live In England 1979 (Voiceprint VPDVD44, 2007, recorded 1979)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Miquette Giraudy (occasional vocals, synthesiser, tambourine, hurdy-gurdy)
This is a straightforward repackage of a 40-minute episode of ‘Rock Goes To College’, filmed in Hillage’s spiritual home of Canterbury, bolstered by some decent bonus material: a fantastic ‘Whistle Test’ performance of ‘Hurdy Gurdy Glissando’, promotional videos for ‘Radio’ and ‘Light In The Sky’ and a 2006 interview. The concert itself is not as good as the Germany – 77 set, though it still contains some outstanding moments. The set was reissued (minus one of its bonus tracks) with a CD of the concert (featuring two different bonus cuts) in 2013 (Gonzo Multimedia HST129CD). GRADE: B–.
Steve Hillage Band (UK/USA/France/Fiji): Live At The Gong Family Unconvention At The Melkweg Amsterdam (G-Wave GWVP101DVD, DVD, 2009, recorded 2006)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Miquette Giraudy (synthesiser, backing vocals)
Hillage’s first band performance in 27 years is a good one, with most of the seventies classics present and correct, even though the lysergic haze has retreated and the playing is slightly more stiff and precise. However, the real revelation is the closing ‘These Uncharted Lands’, receiving its first live outing and tripping out to the ether in fine style. The set – which looks as though it has been edited – is bolstered by a lengthy interview with Hillage and Giraudy that delivers unusual insight and wit. GRADE: B–.
Steve Hillage Band (UK/USA/France/Fiji): Live At The Gong Family Unconvention At The Melkweg Amsterdam (G-Wave GWVP101CD, CD, 2009, recorded 2006)
Progressive/Psychedelic
Miquette Giraudy (synthesiser, backing vocals)
The CD version of the show confirms it to have been an impressive event, and adds some interesting bonus material: three live cuts from 1979 plus a 1974 performance of ‘Solar Musick Suite’ with Gong. These extra numbers complete a fascinating package offering an excellent overview of Hillage’s live career. GRADE: B.
See also Gong, Mirror System, Orb, System 7

Himiko (France): Nebula (Assai AR-CD04, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2016)
Pop
Himiko Paganotti (principal vocals)
The Magma alumna’s solo album occasionally hints toward that band with its soft, repetitive keyboards, but generally operates in quite different territory. This is mellow, introspective dream-pop, with some nice instrumental textures and wistful moods, but is ultimately too conventional for those who enjoy prog and insufficiently catchy for those with more mainstream tastes. GRADE: C+.
See also Sophia Domancich, Patrick Gauthier, Magma, Monkey Toon, Slug

Hipgnosis (Poland): Sky Is The Limit (Music Corner MCDR054, CD, 2006)
Progressive
Ania Batko (principal vocals)
This is an odd record indeed: the first three tracks offer light, gentle space-rock with breezy female vocals and influences from both pop and trip-hop, but the fourth number ‘Fourth Hit’ is close to doom metal. The next song ‘Ummadellic’ has some industrial edges, though mostly it sounds like a modern twist on Pink Floyd, whilst the closing ‘Mantra – Sky Is The Limit’ is a gentle piece with wordless vocals, returning to the style of the first half of the LP. Overall it’s a strange, minimalist, rather inconsequential LP, but a mildly interesting one too. GRADE: C+.
Hipgnosis (Poland): Still Ummadelling (Hipgnosis-Art 2007 H-003, CD, with digipak, 2007)
Progressive
Ania Batko (principal vocals)
The band’s second album is also somewhat curious, comprising one new studio recording (the bland ballad ‘Wherever The Angels Fall’) plus a lengthy live set. This consists of their usual minimalist space-rock, though much more tripped-out and expansive than on the studio LP, climaxing in their interpretation of Pink Floyd’s ‘Careful With That Axe, Eugene’ (retitled ‘Take Care Of Your Axe, Eugene’). The end results are frequently brilliant, with some moments of stunning intensity, but it’s once again an odd, patchy record that’s all over the place. GRADE: B–.
Hipgnosis (Poland): Relusion (Hignosis-Art H-004, CD, with digipak and poster booklet, 2011)
Progressive
Ania Batko (lead vocals)
Album number three is a beautifully packaged concept set inspired by the writings of Richard Dawkins. Musically, it mixes their usual trippy space-rock with some near-pop moments, with the arch, Björk-like vocals adding a slightly surreal dimension. Overall, it’s a strange record that doesn’t really hang together, but it certainly contains some moments of excellence. GRADE: C+.

Hipgnosis (Poland): Life Plays No Encores (Hipgnosis-Art H-005, DVD plus triple CD, with digipak and poster, 2015)
Progressive
Ania Batko (principal vocals)
Hipgnosis are a genuinely odd band, falling almost exactly on the cusp between B– and C+. They deserve a B– as they’re extremely good at what they do, creating genuinely majestic, mid-paced space trips that step forward from mid-seventies Pink Floyd. However, with Floyd the space trips were counterpoints to actual songs (and usually great songs at that) whereas here they are the music. In any case, this is an impressive enough live retrospective, with three CDs and a lengthy DVD featuring two amateurishly filmed (but well recorded) concerts, so I’ll err on the side of generosity. GRADE: B–.

See also Albion

Terutsugu Hirayama (Japan): Castle Of Noi (Crime K32Y 2136, 1983)
Progressive
Kaori Shimomachi (joint lead vocals)
This Japanese album has some good instrumental passages and riffs and a fair degree of complexity, but the portentous drums and excessive synthesisers mean it has dated badly. It appears to be a concept piece of some sort, with a few short tracks and cartoon-like sound effects making it appear rather fragmented. All Hirayama’s subsequent projects were under the band name of Teru’s Symphonia. GRADE: C+.
See also Teru’s Symphonia

Hirondelles (UK): Introducing Les Hirondelles (Tony Pike Studios TPM LP 158-9, 1972)
Beat/Lounge
Bobbie Ascot (joint lead vocals)
Despite the French name, the band was from South London and played rather dated lounge beat with lots of florid organ work. Their album consists of covers of Bacharach/David, James Last and Fred Neil numbers, plus four original compositions of a good standard. For the most part, it’s very enjoyable (and unusual for a British LP: most of these kinds of albums came out of the States), though the male-sung and instrumental cuts are better than those performed by Bobbie Ascot, due to her dramatic and slightly operatic vocal style.

GRADE: C.

His Brother’s Children (USA): His Brother’s Children (Certron CS-7014, 1970)
Folk
This collaboration between two Catholic school choirs in San Antonio – the girls from Providence High School and the boys from Central High School – sounds exactly as one would expect. With backing from acoustic guitars, banjo and tambourine, their massed vocals ring out on mainly jolly and uptempo material, with the material ranging from ‘All My Trials’ and ‘Let’s Get Together’ to ‘Aquarius’ and even ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’. Several cuts work rather well, but overall the album is simply too jolly and wholesome, bringing to mind a scout jamboree. GRADE: C.

Tracy Hitchings (UK): From Ignorance To Ecstasy (SI Music SIMPly Six, CD, Holland, 1991)
Rock/Progressive
Tracy Hitchings (lead vocals)
Although credited as a Hitchings solo album, From Ignorance To Ecstasy was produced by her Strangers On A Train colleagues Clive Nolan and Karl Groom; the former wrote all the material and the two musicians provided most of the backing along with drummer Dave Wagstaffe (who also worked with Hitchings in Landmarq and Quasar). Musically, this has a more conventional and fuller rock sound than Strangers On A Train, with a few neoprogressive edges; the first couple of cuts aren’t too bad, but much of this is pretty pedestrian (with the eleven-minute ‘Caamora’, after which Nolan named one of his subsequent bands, being especially tedious). GRADE: C–.
See also Gandalf Featuring Vocals By Tracy Hitchings, Landmarq, Quasar, Strangers On A Train

Hljómar (Iceland/USA): Hjlómar (SG 018, Iceland, 1968)
Pop
Shady Owens (joint lead vocals)
This is a charming period pop piece, showing influences from beat, Swingin’ London sounds and early psychedelia. It was in fact Hljómar’s last album, but their only one with female singer Shady Owens on board. Following the album’s release, the band mutated into Trúbrot. GRADE: C+.
See also Náttúra, Trúbrot