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Canterbury Scene

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4 stars Like those other stalwarts of the free festival scene Hawkwind, Gong's back catalogue has been repackaged, compiled and bootlegged remorselessly, which makes purchasing albums a risky proposition for the newcomer. This compilation is probably the best currently available - a double CD for the price of a single which covers the main albums by Daevid Allen's Gong in the 1970s.

The bulk of the material is drawn from 5 albums - Camembert Electrique, Flying Teapot, Angel's Egg, You and Live Floating Anarchy '77, with a track from the bizarre 1979 New York Gong project thrown in for good measure. The tracks are not sequenced in strict chronological order, but rather are organised so that the music flows naturally (although established fans may find some of the juxtapositions a little strange). The package also includes informative sleevenotes which do a pretty good job of explaining Gong's convoluted history. The whole thing comes across as a labour of love put together by knowledgable fans of the band rather than as a cheap cash in, which is a welcome change from most compilation albums.

There are a couple of minor gripes - the packaging could inlude a little more information about the various line ups, and for the newcomer it isn't always clear exactly which track comes from which album, but if you're looking for an introduction to Gong's golden era you won't do any better than this.

Report this review (#54868)
Posted Sunday, November 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Great value collection and a worthwhile sampler for those who wish to explorer this interesting band without spending to much hard earned cash. There are a few major omissions like Zero the hero and the witch's spell. However this is a good and representative collection of Gongs output with a couple of tracks from the Here and Now planet gong line up. Tim Blake recently informed me that he has never received a penny royalties from Charley records which is typical of the problems that surround the ownership of this material. There are now a number of very reasonable CD anthologies of Gong and this is one of the better ones.
Report this review (#91914)
Posted Monday, September 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This was the beginning of my downfall.

Having loved Gong after the event (in the early 80's), I had tired of PHPs and teapot taxis. But, browsing HMV's sale section, I picked this up. All my other Gong was on vinyl, which although still handy to the hi- fi was generally ignored in favour of the fangled cds.

I'd forgotten just what stunning musicians this gang Gong were

I decided to seek a little further, found, and 5 years later, I am hundreds of pounds lighter (which just helps me float higher, n'est-ce pas?)

If you don't remember, this is who you are ...

A great sampler, but careful!

Report this review (#102194)
Posted Friday, December 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a fabulous double CD which offers you a fine selection of music from Daevid Allen's original Gong. I recommend it to newcomers since it offers a large number of highlights from CAMEMBERT ELECTRIQUE and the RADIO GNOME TRILOGY, as well as the best (long!) tracks from Planet Gong's excellent LIVE FLOATING ANARCHY (1977).

Just one caveat. I immediately noticed that two of my favourite tracks by this band were missing: 'Never bin stone before' (from CAMEMBERT) and 'Zero the Hero and the witch's spell' (from THE FLYING TEAPOT). If you know you're interested in the Canterbury Scene, it would be better to buy the entire RADIO GNOME TRILOGY, since that is full of great music from start to finish, and you'll get to hear all the tracks in chronological order, whereas this collection mixes them up completely.

Report this review (#127637)
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars First some of the technical details, the percentages are just approximate only. This compilation is taken from mainly Camembert Electrique 65%, Flying Teapot 50%, Angel's Egg 55%, You 60%, planet Gong weigh in with 2 tracks at the end and New York gong include one track materialism. Many tracks segue as suites and though timed separately as per the original albums they play as one track on this compilation.

CD 1 Squeezing Sponges Over Policemen's Heads (0:12) Camembert Electrique Fohat Digs Holes In Space (6:22) Camembert Electrique I never glid before (5:36) Angel's Egg Opium For the People Live Floating Anarchy Thoughts for naught (1:30) You A P.H.P.'s advice (1:37) You Magick mother invocation (2:11) You Master builder (6:09) You Tropical Fish/Selene (7:36) Camembert Electrique The Pot Head Pixies Flying Teapot And You Tried So Hard (4:38) Camembert Electrique A sprinkling of clouds (8:42) You And You Tried So Hard (4:38) Camembert Electrique Flute salad (2:09) Angel's Egg Oily way (3:37) Angel's Egg Outer temple (1:09) Angel's Egg Inner temple (2:34) Angel's Egg Materialism About Time - New York Gong Eat that phonebook coda (3:12) Angel's Egg

CD 2 Radio Gnome Prediction (0:27) Camembert Electrique You Can't Kill Me (6:18) Camembert Electrique Other side of the sky (7:40) Angel's Egg Sold on the highest buddha (4:25) Angel's Egg Castle in the clouds (1:09) Angel's Egg The isle of everywhere (10:21) You Radio Gnome Invisible Flying Teapot Flying Teapot Flying Teapot Psychological Overture / Floating Anarchy Live Floating Anarchy - Planet Gong Allez Ali black Sheep Have You Any Bull[&*!#] Mama Maya Mantra Live Floating Anarchy - Planet Gong

Some observations. For a trilogy I have to say the inclusion of so much Camembert Electrique material seems to make this trilogy (Flying Teapot, Angel's egg and You being Pts 1, 2 and 3 and the cheese album being the prelude. Unless this is a trilogy in four parts - like Hitchiker's Guide.

It's one way of getting much of four albums plus the 'bonus" tracks which (imho) are very good. you can get an idea of the music from the other reviews. It is trippy, silly, funny, odd, spacey, with some rather deft playing (prog) rather than too many grooves with solos (pysch). But you get that as well... So a combination of Pysch / prog but enjoyable. unless you hate this sort of thing then it isn't. There is no fusion representation from Pierre Moerlen's version of Gong. Good compilation to start with but if you're halfway convinced then I would recommend getting the main four albums if you're feeling rich. The New York and Planet Gong lineups do not get fair representation but aftre hearing the Planet Gong tracks I'm tempted to get that one as well. It's all very original music but that's not the point of this review. This is to decide whether a compilation is a suitable start or should you go ahead and get the albums which are aminly represented here anyway. If i knew then what I know now I would get the four albums provided they were remastered with proper and complete art work. Of course if this set is dirt cheap and you wonder what this version of gong is all about pick it up and you'll get an idea. I like the longer more musically intensive tracks and they are very worthwhile for that. The silly lyrics don't really intrude too much but they are there.

As a compilation, four stars, as an intro to Gong 71 -74 four stars, as an annoying way of getting the 4 part trilogy because of all the missing tracks one star. As an album four stars. Make of that what you will. It's a bit like Gentle giant's edge of darkness compilation with the same result.

So 3.5 stars really. Can't be mean for such a consistent and enjoyable album taken as an entity. The albums proper are essential for your collection, this compilation is fine in and of itself.

Report this review (#133187)
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have had this compilation for the last three years, gathering dust in my music collection. I have never had the courage to listen to it. The same goes for the rest of my Gong albums. I have bought and then stored them for later. I have now decided that my next year's project is to getting to know Gong and Soft Machine. So I dusted of this double CD and put them in my CD player. What happened next...........

GONG is a strange band and almost impossible to access for a mortal soul like myself. What annoyed me first was the Opium For The People track. It is a track which Clash could had included on the Sandinista album. Then some more jazzy tracks fills the room and my face is even breaking into a smile. Well, make that a grin. Gong's music is almost impossible to penetrate for a listener with no background from jazz. Gong does not do jazz, but their philosophy is in that ballpark. The other reviewers here has stated that this is the best compilation CD from Gong's best albums. I guess they are right. In that case; the booklet could had been a lot better. It is not bad, but a bigger booklet would had made this an even more essential compilation album than it is. The CD # 2 is clearly the best CD and at times, superb.

I am a Gong novice and I have been listening to this album twice already. I think it is a good introduction to the rest of the Gong universe. Well, I hope so ! The music........... well, it is a compilation album. I think Gong should be judged on their studio albums and not this album. This album is recommended for all those who are curious about Gong and their music.

3.5 stars and I am now moving on to the rest of the Gong and Soft Machine's albums.

Report this review (#186352)
Posted Sunday, October 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have decided to start writing reviews of albums that don't really get that much attention on this website or anywhere for that matter. This is probably one of the more known albums I will review. Gong's You is the third and final chapter in the Radio Gnome Trilogy (1972-1974). I believe this album was made in just a week or two...pretty impressive to say the least! This is by far the best chapter in the trilogy and the best Gong album to date. This album continues where the other two left off, except there is far less vocal presence from Daevid Allen and Gilly Smyth. This album focuses on the instrumentation of Steve Hillage, Tim Blake, Deider Malherbe, and Pierre Meorlen among a few others. If space rock and fusion had child it would sound like this. The first three tracks are quirky Allen tunes, which lead into Master Builder which is probably the second best song on this album. Steve Hillage's most memorable guitar solo is featured in the final minute of this song. Awesome saxophone and amazing drumming are also highlights in this song (and the whole album). A Sprinkling of Clouds shows a much spacier side of the band with awesome floating synthesizers which lead into bass which ends up a totally different place by the end of the song. Perfect Mystery is another Allen dominated song. Short and sweet (I do like Allen by the way). Isle of Everywhere would be considered by most to be a very well done jam session. Awesome drumming, saxophone, synths, space wispers from Gilly Smyth, and drumming as usual. The album ends with You Never Blow Your Trip Forever which is the best song on the album. This song is the melting pot for everything that was Gong (up to that point as they would later change their sound). Bottom Line: If you are a lover of space rock/fusion mixed in with a little Canterbury style humour get this. One of the best albums from one of the best bands. 5 stars well deserved!
Report this review (#204256)
Posted Tuesday, February 24, 2009 | Review Permalink

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