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Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Gong - Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.24 | 917 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Strange, yet somehow wonderful

Once upon a time before I know what prog rock was, I had a magazine which was a special edition about the history of progressive rock and its key players. In the back of said magazine was a list of the top 50 prog rock albums (according to them, anyways) - and there was one of the albums (I can't even remember where it placed anymore) which always caught my eye thanks to it's wonderfully weird title. The Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1: Flying Teapot. I never did get my hands on the album in the early days of my snooping around the progressive genre, being that despite having seen it on the shelves a number of times I never quite trusted my instinct to just buy it. It also doesn't help that in Canada, buying a new cd of that caliber can be quite costly for the frostbitten inhabitants of the country. One day, however, in my need to branch out and explore new frontiers of music (Canterbury, specifically) I entered a used music store and saw this album sitting on the shelves. Thank god for Prog Archives, otherwise I wouldn't have known that this was simply another album in the series that came after Flying Teapot, and it was for a good price. And so, holding my breath, I finally took the plunge... and then headed back down the street to attend the night's punk show (and may the prog-gods smite me for that).

Let's be honest with ourselves here - this is not normal music. If you're expecting to play it safe with this album you're waaay out of the woods. Even in the realm of Canterbury this one is quite unusual - and yet it sits pretty as the number one album of it's genre (at the time of writing this, anyways). Needless to say, this one may take a while to catch on. I can recall talking to other prog heads about this album and saying, ''I really just don't get it!''. But y'know what? This album has enough charm to it, even if you 'don't get it' that you'll want to come back for more... and more... and even more. There's just a certain something about the album. It's so spaced out that you'd think it was supposed to be put under the psych/space rock sub-genre, and yet at the same time it experiments with jazzy elements enough to stick in with Canterbury. Whether it be the mean bass riff and guitar from Master Builder, the quirk of the two opening songs (Thought For Naught and A PHP's Advice) or the spaceoutedness of the entire second side this one just mesmerizes.

But like I mentioned before, you'd better be ready for some quirk. If the cover and title of the first album in the series didn't give it away, this one can certainly get strange. This happens mostly in the shorter tracks such as Perfect Mystery, but also in the longer pieces, like the ending section of You Never Blow Yr Trip Forever (''bye bye!'') - usually the parts that have vocals, because apparently the band just wanted to keep it weird - and kudos for that. A Sprinkling Of Clouds also features a lot of quirk in its keyboard playing - a long spaced out instrumental that simply bounces until about 5 minutes in when it explodes into motion, the wonderful bassline coming in again.

Someone who really needs a nod from this album (although he's gotten many, many by now) is Steve Hillage, lead guitar (in case you didn't know). Although the first listens reveal barely any guitar other than some subtle noodling thanks to the multitude of other instruments, peeling away the layers eventually shows a wonderful virtuoso whose talents really pick up the album (and all the Canterbury experts are reading this, smacking their heads and saying, ''duh!''). Of course where would we be without Mike Howlett on the bass. I've mentioned it already, but I have to say it again - the bass parts on this album are absolutely great!

Something happened with this album after I gave it more and more listens - originally it was only worth a 3 in my books, but with repeated listens this one is going to have to get a 4. Make that a 4.5. Really wonderful music - quirky and interesting with a touch of heaviness where need be. Highly recommended, although it might not be the place to start with the sub-genre if you're unsure about it.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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