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Daevid Allen - Banana Moon CD (album) cover


Daevid Allen

Canterbury Scene

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This album (with its splendid cover picture) has long been a favourite of mine. If you enjoy Daevid Allen's Gong, you shouldn't be without it. In my opinion it's even more fun than CAMEMBERT ELECTRIQUE, while its original A-side is as brilliant as FLYING TEAPOT (despite the absence of Tim Blake or Didier Malherbe).

BANANAMOON is a predominantly electric album. It seems to have been written and performed in a VERY good mood, and its high spirits are infectious. The opening track, featuring out-of-control drumming by Pip Pyle and ditto lead guitar by Allen himself (I think) sets the pace. The only truly melancholic moment on the album is track No. 2: the definite performance of the lovely Soft Machine ballad 'Memories', featuring Robert Wyatt on vocals and drums, sensitively accompanied by Daevid on rhythm guitar and by Archie Legget on bass. Until BANANAMOON appeared, this song had never officially been released. To my mind, it's as good as anything on the Soft Machine's first two albums. (Which is saying something!)

The album continues with the far out 'All I want is out of here', which sounds just like a performance by Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street. Spirits are raised even more by the faux-Bluegrass of 'Fred the Fish', which has Daevid singing about packing his bags for Australia. This two-and-a-half minute track alone is worth the price of admission.

But even greater stuff is to follow, as the original A-side ends on a hilarious parody of a typical Kevin Ayers-type ballad. Daevid sings in the lowest register he can manage, and he's even borrowed two of Kevin's original backup singers. Fabulous. All that's lacking is one of those pristine Mike Oldfield guitar solos - but they would have prettified BANANAMOON too much.

In fact, this album's forte is that it sounds so spontaneous, and so delightfully messy. Especially on its original B-side, which opens with yet another cheerful rock dittie, 'Stoned innocent Frankenstein', seguing into the all-out psychedelic/space-rock assault of 'And his Adventures in the land of Flip'. 'I'm a Bowl' forms a thoroughly Canterburian conclusion: childlike and whacky.

Report this review (#170759)
Posted Monday, May 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Daevid Allen's, great Australian beatnik and Soft Machine and Gong musician's debut solo album is a strange thing. Strange not in a sense of Canterbury sound, whenever you're waiting for that. No.

It is strange because there are not too much of this Canterbury sound, what every listener could expect from such album. Possibly it is just my very personal opinion, but I found there on this album heavily psychedelic version of something, what reminded me mostly Captain Beefheart's works. Less bluesy and with more complex music, but kind of avant-proto-prog. Some rock'n'rollin' guitars, shouting vocals, plenty of distorted instrumental sounds. Quite minimalistic music. Many traces of early psychedelic rock, very few - from something, what could be named jazz-rock. Almost no connection with classic Allen's Gong (Trilogy period), possibly some moments, reminding early Gong albums.

For me, it's difficult to valuate this album from Canterbury scene position. Easier to name it original and freaky psychedelic work, with some extended solos and few jazzy inclusions. Not for everyone taste for sure. But raw and fresh example for Daevid Allen fans.

Report this review (#279397)
Posted Sunday, April 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Daevid Allen's first solo album comes across to me like a collection of odds and sods, scraps of songs from here and there which for one reason or another didn't fit in with Gong (which was just getting up to speed at around this time) and so was recorded in a series of sessions with various musical pals (including allies from Gong and old Soft Machine bandmate Robert Wyatt). As a result, it's a bit of a mixed bag, directionless, diverse, often interesting but never quite crossing the line into being *fascinating*.

Ranging from straightforward-ish rock and roll on the opening track to avant-garde playfulness in the closing I Am a Bowl, the album visits every musical space in between. The best song on it is probably the cover version of Hugh Hopper's Memories, sung by Robert Wyatt, but it's essentially an inferior version of the song to the one on Jet-Propelled Photographs (the Allen- era Soft Machine's 1967 demo album). At the end of the day, the album seems to have been thrown together for the sake of a bit of fun, and that's the best spirit to take it in. It's OK, I suppose, but it's absolutely not the first Allen album I'd recommend to a newcomer to the man's work.

Report this review (#473617)
Posted Friday, July 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars When I started listening to this album I was expexting to listen a lot of the same type of sounds present in the classic Gong albums, but to be honest, what I found was more like a pop folk album.

The atmospheres created by Gong in the Radio Gnome Invisible are very hard to get (by a listener) and clearly this Daevid Allen's debut was not in that line. Then I realized that this album was published in 1971, the same year in which "Camembert electrique" was published but two years earlier than "Flying teapot" so I figured that probably Daevid hadn't started to explore those amazing sounds.

I feel just a couple of songs would be able to keep the attention of a whole Gong fan, but in general it's kind of boring. Anyway, I was expecting way too much from this album and I couldn't find what I was expecting. I'll rate it with three stars.

Report this review (#2076786)
Posted Sunday, November 18, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a very strange album that's in many ways dissapointing and intriguing. What brought me to this was my general attraction to canterbury solo careers. Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Steve Hillage, etc, there's a lot of big names to choose from. If that wasn't enough, there's the fact that this guy who lead the original lineup of Soft Machine was a member of the obscure garage boink music group Gong. Daevid Allen spells his name weird, so I thought his solo album would be just as pleasant or astounding. The cover art is really sick, and probably the only remotely polished element of this release.

I really love Ween, and one of my favorite Ween albums is GodWeenSatan. If you listen to the first song on this album, Time of Your Life, you might think that this album is absolutely miles away from GodWeenSatan or the Pod. I really love Frank Zappa, and one of my favorite Zappa albums is Joe's Garage. If you listen to the second song on this album, you might think that this album is absolutely miles away from Joe's Garage or We're Only in It for the Money. I really love Daniel Johnston, and one of my favorite Daniel Johnston albums is Hi, How Are You? Finally once you reach the song All I Want is Out of Here, you begin to understand where Banana Moon becomes relevant with all of the prior names. The album takes a complete 180 into absurity and chaos. I don't know if this album was at all relevant or influential to any of the previously mentioned names, but I hear a very clear connection. It is self expression by being as absolutely chaotic as possible.

Daevid Allen tricks us into believing that he rocks and/or rolls. Or that he is secretly a genius composer songwriter. I think the dude just had so much fine while recording this. At the same time you could easily write this off as complete gibberish, there's a charm to some of the droning proto-noise rock tracks towards the end. And His Adventures in the Land of Flip is probably the highlight of this album for me. Some might find it unbearable, but unbearable psychedelia is what I thrive on sometimes.

Most of all, how did this album get made? Gong is pretty out there for the early 70s, but I feel like the distinct aura of some of these songs was only possible in a DIY environment. See: all of the above mentioned DIY albums. Yes, I count Frank Zappa as a DIY musician, that's a different tangent for another review.

To end this review on a more serious tone, this album is really unbalanced. The original issue sells the first side as more of an accessible post-soft machine collection of songs, which range from alright to really mediocre. The second side is the freakout, which I think is the only consistent unit of energy on this record. I would absolutely come back to that side of Banana Moon, but as an album, I'm not sure if it's good. However, for the sheer daringness of Allen, I feel like this deserves to be counted as 3 stars.

Report this review (#2506702)
Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2021 | Review Permalink

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