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Gong - Expresso II CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.71 | 260 ratings

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3 stars Second Time Wasn't the Charm

As an enormous guitar nerd, jazz fusion and specifically Allan Holdsworth have been essential parts of my musical education. It was during my travels in this realm that I discovered Gong's Gazeuse, which is still among my favorite works of fusion. That album's US title was Expresso, and this is then its natural successor. By this time, this band really shouldn't be called Gong at all. I reserve that title for Daevid Allen's work, and count this very good band as a separate entity. This outfit is led by percussionist Pierre Moerlen and both he and his brother Benoit provide a mallet feast that is melodic, pretty, dextrous, but ultimately much more forgettable than the previous album. The edge and excitement of the new style has worn off, and we simply get a bunch of monster musicians having a great time. Not a bad note here, just no spark. When an album actually has a track called "Boring" and another named "Sleepy," you have to wonder if they were mailing it in.

To be fair, it seems like Holdsworth lets loose a bit more on this album. His soloing is more virtuosic, and he dishes out some truly jaw dropping playing here. As a guitar player, I appreciate getting to hear Allan at his peak strength, before he went into his strange totally outside soloing over Muzak. Interestingly, we also get one track with ex-Bluesbreaker and Rolling Stone Mick Taylor on lead. This adds a nice contrast to Holdsworth but isn't especially evocative. Of course, the drumming and percussion is phenomenal. I've said it before and I'll say again that 70's fusion drumming is probably some of the best ever recorded, and this album actually features percussion even more than its predecessor.

For me, this album is simply a chance to listen to the Gazeuse outfit jam out as I've basically memorized the previous album. Still a worthy listen for any fusion fan, but certainly not one of the first 25 fusion albums a newcomer should grab. 2.5 rounded back toward center.

Negoba | 3/5 |


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