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Gong - Continental Circus CD (album) cover



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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars A UFO in their carreer . If you enjoy this than listen to Obsolete from Dashiell Hedayatt as GonG delivers some the wildest music ever . Mind-boggling and highly energetic. This album is the soundtrack to a motorbike race in southern France (I think Le Bol D'Or ) , and it is even weirder that this hippy commune that Gong was at the time (a little like the Greateful Dead were in the US) must not have been well accepted by speed-BIKERS.
Report this review (#27588)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars Admittedly, I've only heard this album twice (once in the early 90's, once in the late 90's), but it did absolutely nothing for me. Nothing like any other Gong album, it obviously was recorded under the influence of way too much "COIT". All I remember was a lot of dense, impenetrable jamming. Hey, wait a minute! Now I know where Acid Mothers Temple stole their sound!! Seriously, I don't think I even heard the whole album, so I may be wrong on this one. But I sure didn't like what I heard.
Report this review (#27591)
Posted Tuesday, February 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This record is the soundtrack of a film by Jerome Lapperousaz, "Continental Circus". This beautiful film about GP motor bike races in Europe is centered around biker Jack Findlay. It shows races of course, dramatic accidents, funny incidents, but above all life on the road for these passionate and very courageous men ! It stresses the opposition between lucky "factory" pilots and independent bikers who have a hard time finding money to be present in GP races. Gong's music is absolutely perfect for the film and wonderfully plays its role. Listening to it without having the images in mind can be frustrating. Strangely, Daevid Allen's voice sounds rather like Robert Wyatt's ... Thirty years later, hearing Gong's work still strongly evokes the film images, which IMHO shows it was rather good for its purpose !
Report this review (#27592)
Posted Saturday, May 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I really liked this album but I'm biassed and should explain. First I am a huge Gong fan having gone to many of their gigs and collected all their albums and offshoot albums as well as G.A.S. bootlegs. They were like a religion to me! Second, I used to race bikes and whilst I never actually saw Jack Findlay, he was a sort of boyhood hero. (I'm still a keen and mad biker after all these years.)

Continental Circus is essentially a collector's album and one that, despite the special place it holds in my heart, I hardly ever play. I guess it would appeal to those that like the highly improvised, experimental ("what's happenin' man?") style of synth, layered on glissando, layered on ..blah blah...evolving into new riffs in the classical (almost Beethoven like) way Daevid Allen seemed to pioneer in concept albums. A motif introduced out of nowhere in one track comes in to become the theme of the next. Yes the riffs are repetitive and, taken on their own, uninteresting but that's actally the point. There's a manic "can't let go" feel to the piece. Yes, it's trippy and confusing. It's also quite beautiful and soothing. You can hear connections in this album with later works, e.g. the intro to the Om Riff in You and Gong Est Mort.

The album's second side is a repeat of the first without the words, which is probably why one of the reviewers thought he only listened to one side.

Report this review (#40274)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This could of been a great album,but unfortunatley it isn't.Blues For Findlay is the best track on the album,and one of my favorite songs from Gong,but they could of easilly shortened it to a 6 minute song instead of 11+ minutes.

The rest of the album has it's moments,but unfortunatley,that's all it seems to have.

I would normally give something like this a 3 star rating,but I love "Blues For Findlay" too much!!

Report this review (#60867)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
4 stars This was my very first Gong purchase back in 1989, and it floored me then, and still floors me now. I love the manic riffs, and relentless jamming within the lengthy tracks, Pip Pyle's tasteful drumming (sadly recently deceased - aint life unfair?) and Daevid's Glissandos can really catapult one's mind into the far reaches of the cosmos without ever leaving the bed- room. And no, I don't partake in herbal or fungal abuse either. Didier Malherbe's awesome sax playing has an unusual sound quality to it on this recording, kind of 'clicky' and thin. The album is built around 4 tracks, of which 'What do you Want?' is a variation of 'Fohat Digs Holes in Space' from the hilarious Camembert Electrique album a year earlier. Blues for Findlay comes in vocal and instrumental versions and niether out-stay their welcome. A way-cool space-rock album with touches of Canterbury - highly recommended.
Report this review (#89368)
Posted Sunday, September 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This Lp was for a number of years very hard to obtain in the UK. It had an almost legendary status among gongs fans possible because of that fact. We finally got a shipping from the continent and were not disappointed. Although this lp is clearly a soundtrack the music is certainly gong and falls into the camembert electrique period. Some of the music is extended versions of that LPs themes. I love this record and the simple but insistent bass riffing that ties it together. Despite the later adventures of Gong in England I feel that this band never improved on this album. The only downside is the lack of Tim Blake, who's synthesizers might well have added to this spacey album. Allen's lyrics are about riding in a motorcycle race and fit well. The lyrics are a vast improvement on most Gong nonsense by the way. The sound quality is better than any other recording from the french period and that alone makes this essential for gong fans. If your into space rock by this it will not disappoint.
Report this review (#91308)
Posted Saturday, September 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I only have the LP, which has the 4 tracks originally released. Only the Giacomo cd has the 2 extra live tracks, I think, and I heard that is a boot.

2 monster riffs, probably better said as 2 monster rhythms form the backbone of this album. They are the basis of 3 out of the 4 tracks (track 4 being an instrumental version of track1). They then spin off , as all good Gong should do, but never lose sight of the original rhythm. 'What you Want' is an extended, more varied 'Fohat' and you can never have too much of that.

This is, for me straight, hard, rock ... and beneath the pixies, Gong excel at that like very few others. I cannot begin to understand that this could be any less than 5 stars ... Gong are a 5 star band & this is up with Camembert & Angel's Egg, and You as the cream of that 5 star cream. Lick it! You'll love it!

Report this review (#102196)
Posted Friday, December 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Continental Circus is the third album from psychadelic Canterbury influenced rock band Gong. The first two albums from Gong was IMO good allthough not excellent and Continental Circus continues the style even though it´s a bit more jamming than the previous two albums.

The album consists of only four tracks and even though the opener Blues for Findlay is over 10 minutes long the album is very short. Out of the first three Gong albums this is my least favorite one, but it´s still good. The trademark weirdness is there of course, but the emphasis is generally on the instrumental parts with lots of soloing from sax and guitar.

The musicianship is great. Gong is a very tight band.

The production is pretty raw, but still enjoyable.

The cover art isn´t the most beautiful thing, but as I understand from previous reviews the album is a tribute to a french car race and as the cover depicts a racecar driver it´s probably very suiting.

If you´re a Gong fan this will undoubtedly be in your collection, but if you´re new to the band I wouldn´t start here. Start with Camenbert Electrique or one of the Radio Gnome albums first. If you enjoy those this one will probably also be enjoyable to you even though it´s basically jamming all the way through. 3 stars will be my rating.

Report this review (#179371)
Posted Monday, August 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Well, this is a difficult one. A soundtrack to a French motorracing movie. If that movie really exists, I would like a copy. Or is the movie the Le Mans movie I already got ?

Half of this album is good. That's when Daevid Allen does what he knows best. Creating a soundscape between naive pop and jazz. The music is spaced out, but also pretty melodic. Blues For Findlay is a good song with all the Gong trademarks. Not that I know this band well, but I recognice this pattern from the Magick Brother album. The rest of the album descends into a boring movie soundtrack with some spoken words which does not make any sense, even for a motorsport mad nerd like myself. Not good at all.

This album.... or rather; EP has been compared to the first Pink Floyd albums. I agree with that. I am not a fan of those two albums so that is not a redeeming point of view in my far from humble opinion. Most of Continental Circus is a rather pointless space rock excess and not the usual Gong fare. A big plus for the Jack Findlay track and that's it.

2.5 stars

Btw. I just found out that there is a movie called Continental Circus and it is about racing bikes around Europe. If it is available on DVD, it will soon find it's way to my castle.

Report this review (#256586)
Posted Thursday, December 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Continental Circus is probably best regarded as a short demo EP showcasing the band's sound immediately prior to the recording of Camembert Electrique, since it includes one song later rerecorded under a different song title on that album, one song which is just quotes from the movie spliced together with musical extracts from here and there on the album and with a little Gilli Smyth space wailing added, and one original song (Blues for Findlay) which, whilst good, isn't so good that it deserves to be on the album twice (once in an instrumental version). If you're a full-on Gong scholar it's worth a listen, but it's not really for anyone who isn't a collector.
Report this review (#480565)
Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars The same band of counterculture bohemians better known at the time for an album with a namesake track titled "Mystic Sister/Magick Brother" may not have been the best choice to score a film about the rough-and-tumble world of competitive motorcycle racing. But a job's a job, and even the most dedicated hippies have to pay the rent.

The obvious highlight here is the twin bookend "Blues for Findlay", and not only because it takes up 60% of the finished LP. The tune kicks into gear using a little old-school rock 'n' roll energy (surprising for 1971, when Jazz and Classical were the fusions du jour), lots of exciting psychedelic guitar work courtesy of the inimitable Daevid Allen, and even a homeopathic dose of girlfriend Gille Smyth's patented 'space whispers'.

Too bad the song itself is often lame enough to make you cringe ("Hey, mister factory man, biding my time"...etc), making the separate instrumental version a welcome addition to the disc. Elsewhere, the punchy "What Do You Want?" fills the gap between the two "Findlays" with some attractive and suitably groovy Space Rock. But the title track is nothing more than a collage of movie sound effects, thus effectively turning an already abbreviated album into little more than a two-song EP.

Strictly speaking, the album was always a throwaway effort for Gong completists only. But let's be generous and award it a second star for discriminating collectors of Euro-Prog esoterica. Otherwise, file this one away as an earthbound detour from a band better suited to songs about extraterrestrial pothead pixies buzzing around in teacup UFOs.

Report this review (#791355)
Posted Friday, July 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Daevid Allen was well aware that making a soundtrack for a film was one way to get some extra cash in the early days, much like PINK FLOYD did early in their careers. Of course Allen was part of SOFT MACHINE in the mid sixties playing with FLOYD at the UFO Club and no doubt he followed PINK FLOYD's career. The film "Continental Circus" was about the Grand Prix Motorcycle circuit and in particular Australian Jack Findlay who had a great career of 20 years which is incredible since he wasn't part of a sponsored team but privately funded. We get sort of a stripped down version of GONG here of five members with Gilli Smyth taking care of almost all of the compositions and adding her space whispers as well. At around 34 minutes this certainly was a full length album back in the day and it contains four tracks.

"Blues For Findlay" has such an infectious melody with vocals, a relentless beat from Pip Pyle, and it's very much guitar driven. The lyrics are lame or silly but hey it's GONG and they are known for this. You can't help but move to the music here as the vocals come and go. Check out the prominant bass before 6 minutes. The drum work and guitar continue to impress. We get some spacey guitar before 8 1/2 minutes as it settles back some then it kicks back in late. "Continental Circus World" is the only miss really. Although this track which splices bits from the film along with music does give us some context to what the movie is about, and at 4 minutes it's by far the shortest track. We get lots of motorcylce sounds and bits where the drivers speak about different things.

"What Do You Want?" is my favourite and it starts with a bass solo(nice) as light drums join in followed by spacey guitar sounds from Allen. I love this stuff. Vocals from Daevid 6 minutes in as the trippy instrumental sounds continue although it is softened here. The guitar then becomes more aggressive and we get backing vocals from Gilli that are GONG 101. Sounds like sax after 7 minutes that will continue to the end as the vocals stop. The guitar is the focus though and we get brief vocals to end it. "Blues For Findlay-Instrumental" ends it and is self explanatory really although while we get the same beat and melody the guitar is spacey this time throughout, plus we get sax on this one.

Like my buddy Tom Ozric I can't give anything less than 4 stars as we get three long tracks that in my opinion are as good as any GONG tracks that will follow in their career. Mind you I really like when bands jam in a spacey and psychedelic manner.

Report this review (#1314849)
Posted Monday, November 24, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars Tucked between the early days of GONG when every aspect of the band's direction was at the whim of founder Daevid Allen and the more group oriented Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy albums is the lesser celebrated CONTINENTAL CIRCUS which was in reality an original soundtrack of music for the 1972 film documentary of the same name that was directed by Jérôme Laperrousaz. The film (which i've never seen) is a race car flick about the 1970 Grands Prix 500cc and stars Jack Findlay and Giacomo Agostini. The album was technically released as GONG avec DAEVID ALLEN but is actually the same exact lineup as "Camembert Electrique" with Pip Pyle on drums, Christian Tritsch on bass, Didier Malherbe on sax and flute and Allen's life partner and space whisperer extraordinaire Gilli Smyth.

This soundtrack is basically three tracks and with an instrumental reprise of the opener "Blues For Friday" which is perhaps one of the tightest and heaviest type of songs that has been released in the greater GONG universe. The track is quite long for a heavy rocker at over eleven minutes long and sounds a lot more like a more melodic and upbeat track off of King Crimson's "Red." It contains a typical progressive rock jam type feel with heavy guitar and bass riffing, some jammy soloing and hard hitting drumming during the first part of the track but slowly turns into a Daevid Allen rap as he dishes out some mean verbal juggling for 1972! During this period he sounds a lot like Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground. The sax gives it a veritable jazzy vibe at times. Toward the end it becomes more psychedelic as the bass becomes more jittery and that recognizable space breeze whisks across the musical soundscape adding a whole layer of trippiness.

While the opener was a pretty cool prog rock type of tune about race car driving, the following "Continental Circus World" actually sounds like a sound collage of a race car movie with roaring engines whizzing by and anthemic track music blazing in the background. Emerging from the sampled sounds comes a psychedelic sound collage of spoken word parts, more race car engines and an energetic rock tune trying to dominate the soundscape but continually gets pushed back to reveal the spoken words and race cars. This one sounds more like an early Faust type of track than anything. "What Do You Want?" jumps back into the music with heavy bass and cymbal action as the guitar psychedelically slithers in as if it were a Pink Floyd reject looking for a new home but ultimately becomes one of those quirky Canterbury jazzy rocker tunes that Allen is so adept at crafting. He also pummels out some of his most intense guitar solos on this one, a feat he would never have the chance to do again once Steve Hillage joined the GONG gang. The "Blues For Findlay" reprise is nice as an instrumental but a little redundant.

When it comes to rating soundtracks i always have to keep in mind that what is excellent music for appearing on screen with the appropriate visuals does not automatically translate into an interesting listening experience without the visual context for which the tracks have been created. In the case of CONTINENTAL CIRCUS, the tunes do indeed hold up quite spectacularly on their own and sound superbly executed even if you have absolutely no idea what film they are supposed to supplement. This is very much a Daevid Allen led GONG album with no idiosyncrasies left behind for the sake of anonymity. This is the definitely the heaviest and most rocking album of the entire GONG canon and deserves kudos simply for that fact. Personally i love this a lot. Every track is great and the reprise of "Blues For Findlay" doesn't detract one little bit. The tune is so catchy and rocks out so intensely that i actually love hearing it a second time. This one is much better than many make it out to be. Excellent work by all musicians on board with an extra special shout out to Pip Pyle on drums.

Report this review (#1802473)
Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2017 | Review Permalink

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