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Gong - Expresso II CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.71 | 260 ratings

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5 stars Expresso II looks like a natural follow-up to the previous Gazeuse! album, which had been issued in US as Expresso (I guess the Yanks did not like the French title so decided to name it after the opening track). We are still in the deep jazz-rock territory and the percussion trio (Mireille Bauer, Pierre and Benoit Moerlen) is still musically dominant.

However, this album slightly differs. Malherbe's woodwinds are gone, along with the only remnant of the old classic line-up. Enters Hansford Rowe! Previously a complete anonymous to me, this guy shows that he was a top bass player in his time, reminding me often to Jaco Pastorius or even Chris Squire. He plays amazingly good, utilizing various pedal effects and often keeping the main melodic line, be it as riff chords or soli.

The guest list is no less impressive. Among well-known personalities we find here guitarists Mick Taylor (ex-Mayall's BLUESBREAKERS, ROLLING STONES) and Allan Holdsworth (unlike the previous album, here as a guest only) and violin player Darryl Way (ex-CURVED AIR). Taylor's heavy blues guitar colors the opening Heavy Tune while Holdsworth shines in a few brief but excellent moments in Sleepy (together with Way's Vivaldian violin craze) and Soli.

Unlike Gazeuse, which is more spacey and atmospheric fusion record, Expresso II sounds more down-to-earth, juicy and hard jazz-rocking. Truncated to only four rhythm section members (3 percussionists and a bassist!) as a core, GONG is still an excellent team that shows those people who easily dismissed them after departure of Allen and Hillage were not right. Sure, the music is very different but isn't just that the main point? To be different and yet to remain true to themselves. Pierre Moerlen continued to pursue the similar musical direction under the name PIERRE MOERLEN'S GONG after this album. This makes the last GONG studio album of the continued career of the band during the 70s, and it could hardly be the better farewell party. Another unjustly overlooked prog gem cries to be re-discovered.


P.A. RATING: 5/5

Seyo | 5/5 |


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