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Gong - On French TV 1971 - 1973 CD (album) cover

ON FRENCH TV 1971 - 1973



Canterbury Scene

3.90 | 10 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Of all the vintage filmed Gong stuff (not that the stuff abounds), the present French TV 71-73 DVD is probably the most essential, even if it doesn't feature a full concert of the band in their prime. Of course we get to see an few concert extracts, but

From the Rockenstock B&W footage from mid-73, the two tracks actually concern the Flying Teapot era, but the filmed interview in the French forest countryside hunting cottage (not that close to Paris) that they lived in, and they've already planned to go back across the channel. It must not be easy to film such a weird cast of artists, but the least we can say is that the interview team is more "out there", with dumb questions and wrong face zooms (the cameraman is clearly in over his head) often filming Malherbe when others are speaking.

The Pop Deux features a much earlier version of the group (with drummer Houari in early 71) and features a pre-Camembert Electrique track Never Fight Another War (very much in the Continental Circus soundscapes), but it's clear that Daevid is already in his camembert phase, since that's about all he answers in the interview and the Plant GonG mythology is in place. The sonic quality of the live footage is average. A smile is drawn when answering Kobaia (Magma) when askd of paranoia. Much freaky is the short Jazz Land broadcast of a few months later, where the band gets really psychy and groovy features an extra-terrestrial German violinist and a French horn player (other than Bloomdido)? Absolutely amazing stuff, great recording quality (no interview, just music) and awesome montage.

The short Pierre Perret B&W footage of mid-72 features the band in an outside multi- dimensional event where thy dish out their revolution-yelling Dynamite in front of a female bourgeois audience. Not sure of all the silly madness aspects of the TV show, but its fun to watch. The final B&W TV piece is an all-too short live extract from another Pop Deux show from 72, where Gong features an extremely rhythmic facet of theirs in a Fohat Digs Holes In Space improv, with Malherbe beating bongos. Amazing stuff

An outstanding DVD (but without Pyle, Hillage or Blake) that would be the ideal companion to a full concert DVD of the era, if it existed - the Monstserrat DVD is only partially satisfying (filled with zany stupid non-concert fillers dating from much later on) and might have done a nice second part to the present material, but since it's not French INA stuff? Anyway, the present footage collection is the best vintage and archival Gong stuff available (with an excellent booklet to boot as well) so far, hoping for more excavations in the near future.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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