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Gong - Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.24 | 918 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Slap Happy Silly Proto-Space Rock

While Gong's Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy is part of the prog canon for many listeners, I only acquired part 3, YOU, a few months ago. I was already a huge fan of Steve Hillage, and this seemed to be the recommendation as the prototype Gong album with the classic lineup. Despite going in with no expectations, I don't think anything can prepare the Gong na´ve listener to what is coming their way. One part Canterbury whimsy, two parts Hillage delay-laden spaciness, a pinch of Zappa-style composition, and generous application of Daevid Allen's unique drug-induced daffiness all get stirred up in a big pot to make a delicious psychedelic stew that stands as a cosmic lamp-post on the other side of the wardrobe door. (Whew that was a long sentence, but accurate.)

I have since also picked up part 2, Angel's Egg, and YOU is clearly the better of the two. The massive challenge of getting these parts to meld into a cohesive whole is better achieved on part 3, and the transitions are much less jolting. By the time we get to the beginning of track 4, "Master Builder" which is based around Hillages longtime theme "The Glorious Om Riff," the band has already spanned massive musical territory. Lest we think we are on a Hillage solo record, midway through the song there is an abrupt brake for Allen to sing the riff in a sputter that must have surely influenced Mike Patton's vocal work. Quickly, we're back to the outer planetoids with frenetic drums and bass driving the trip just as much as the guitars.

While Daevid Allen's quirkiness may not please me musically as much as Hillage's work, his vision adds breadth and storyline to the atmospherics. It really turns the space-rock into more conceptual prog proper. Theater has always been a big part of the best prog, and Allen makes Gong one of the most theatrically entertaining in the history of the genre. Despite the absurdity of the whole Pot-Head Pixies persona and storyline, it is this added mystique that makes Gong a much more interesting entity than Eloy or Ash Ra Tempel (at least for me.) At the same time, it would be difficult to rate as masterpiece an album that has repeated refrains of "Cops at the door, no cops at the door" recited in druggy slur.

Certainly from its position on PA, one would assume that YOU should be a part of any complete prog library. This is absolutely the case. Gong is a singular band and this is their prime album. For me this is a solid 4 star album, nosing toward higher. Grab some aromatic flowers, sit back, and enjoy the trip.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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