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Gong Magick Brother album cover
3.40 | 211 ratings | 12 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1969

Songs / Tracks Listing

- Early Morning -
1. Mystic Sister / Magick Brother (4:44)
2. Change the World (aka Rational Anthem) (4:10)
3. Glad To Sad To Say (3:35)
4. Chainstore Chant / Pretty Miss Titty (4:38)
5. Fredfish / Hope You Feel OK (3:18)
- The Late Night -
6. Ego (3:55)
7. Gongsong (4:05)
8. Princess Dreaming (2:55)
9. 5 & 20 Schoolgirls (4:23)
10. Cos You Got Green Hair (4:58)

Total Time: 44:25

Line-up / Musicians

- Gilli Smyth / vocals & voice (space whisper)
- Daevid Allen / guitars, bass, vocals
- Didier Malherbe / flute, soprano saxophone
- Rachid Houari / drums, tabla

- Burton Greene / piano (6)
- Dieter Gewissler / contrabass (1,7)
- Barre Phillips / contrabass (2,8)
- Earl Freeman / contrabass (6), piano & pianoharp (7)
- Tasmin Smyth / voice (1,8)

Releases information

Artwork: Daevid Allen

LP Byg Records - 529 305 (1969, France)
LP Affinity - AFF 4 (1977, UK) Different cover art and tracks 2 & 3 switched order
LP Charly - CRL 5052 (1977, UK) As above

CD Decal ‎- CD CHARLY 31 (1987, France) As above
CD Charly - SNAP 199CD (2004, UK) Remastered; with initial cover art & track running order

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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GONG Magick Brother ratings distribution

(211 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

GONG Magick Brother reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars An absolutely strange UFO with very weird music well worthy of GonG but it is right now just Gong. Because if the zanyness is already present and makes for this album much of an interest , but it is not part of the Radio Gnome trilogy or linked to it. Only Malherbe , Allen and Smyth are on this album that will be present on the classic GonG.

But the main interest of the album is that I cannot think of one album that is more representative of hippydom, in fact it could epitomize it. As Daevid got thrown out of England (so called visa problems but as an Aussie and in the Commonwealth.....) , he went back to France and joined a hippy commune in Normandy and one can guess that he got those guys into this project . This album although structured reeks anarchy , but not in the same way that of Amon Djuul's first group. If this had been recorded in Germany , this would've had a chance to be classified as Polit-Rock alongside such as other left-wing activists as Kluster etc... Not that Daevid would be called left-wing but just an activist alone would fit him fine. Anyway , this album is very rough and raw to the bone (especially compared to Angel's Egg and You) but is much worth a spin but beware of your sanity. Doctor's prescription would say no more than one toke/poke a week to avoid addiction.

Review by soundsweird
4 stars More proof that Psychedelic Rock was a key component/forerunner of Progressive Rock. The search for new sounds, the desire for greater artistic freedom, and the willingness to throw in the stylistic kitchen sink are things that both genres have in common. As another reviewer mentioned, this album is Gong's "Piper at the Gates of Dawn"; quite different from their later work, but magical nonetheless. I'm sure there are those who like this album a lot, and hate everything that came afterwards, just like those Syd Barrett-philes. Some of it doesn't work, but that's why CD players have a 'program' feature. Also, the sound is a little iffy, but it goes with the territory.
Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars My God what kind of drugs makes you write this kind of music ? This is really psychadelic S... and I must admit itīs a bit too strange for me ( and this is a Zappa fan speaking).

The sound quality is a bit muddy and raw which is not a problem and as this is from 1969 I donīt expect fine audio quality. The music is very laid back even though it kind of rocks and Daevid Allenīs voice is very stoned which kind of emphazises the laid back nature of the songs. The songs are basically simple sixties rock songs with very few exceptions. This is definitely prog rock but not of the symphonic sort, itīs way too strange for that. The only band I can compare them to are The Mothers of Invention, even though they donīt really sound like them, but they have some of the same strange choice of notes.

All in all this is a bit too strange and not my taste at all, but I canīt deny the quality of the songs and the musicians playing are also pretty good. It doesnīt reach excellent in my book though so 3 stars it will be.

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The debut of a bizarre planet. Well, it didn't met my expectations -- it's nothing short of good, but certainly not as stellar as GONG trilogy will be. This is a shape of GONG to come, so to say. This hyper-dipper-ultra psychedelic music - Syd Barrett's influences are obvious. There are also a lot of tape manipulations, which is fine, but there lays the problem: there' are only a few conventional songs, the rest of the album are noodling. Which doesn't have to be bad, but in this case songs=ideas. There are melodies, passages, timbres, even lyrics that will be fully developed later. However, apart from three excellent tunes (one acid electric, one acoustic and one reggae) the rest is suffering from 'the debut syndrome': young people unable to construct the whole picture. But the pieces are fine too.

Production is even below 1969 standards, but I think these guys just didn't care for that. It's evident they were experimenting with different timbres, including heavy distortion, not only on guitar, but on the whole tape mixdown - that's why it's hissy at the moments. Moreover, amounts of phaser/flanger and similar swooshing effects is hilarious. But I like it.

This record will help you understand better the origins of GONG family - from the very Canterbury beginnings (it's the only GONG record that shows the hints of Canterbury sound IMHO) to the reggae approach in 1990's.

Review by Warthur
3 stars 1969 was a good year for ex-Soft Machine members kicking off new careers after leaving that band; along with Kevin Ayers recording his solo debut Joy of a Toy, Daevid Allen hooked up with Gilli Smyth and between them put this out this early proto-Gong album. I say proto-Gong because the Gong sound has not quite developed here yet. Several songs are psych-folk with lyrics alluding to the political hopes and dreams of the Summer of Love, but this typical hippy fair sits cheek by jowl with free jazz-like improv with Smyth's ethereal wailing getting an early workout. The different ingredients which make up Gong are all here but they've not yet mixed in together to make the rich broth which would appear on the later albums. Not a bad start, not a fantastic one either.
Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars I'm Happy, I'm not happy, I'm sad....I'm not sad.... I think a lot of people remembers "The Witch" spelling these words in "Angel's Egg". Before coming to this album I didn't know that they were already been used on "Pretty Miss Titty".

So while I was expecting what somebody has called "Proto-Gong", I've been pleasantly surprised to hear this, maybe sour, full Gong album.

Yes, it has pure psychedelic moments perfectly in line with the London's summer of love, ,with sounds that can even remind to the early Barrett with a hint of Beatles, but first of all the great inventive and the jazzy weirdness of Daevid Allen.

We pass from the acid guitar and violin of "Glad To Say To Say" with the vocal line reminding to Who, Beatles and Pink Floyd at the same time, to the fantastic closer "Cos You Got Green Hair" and its flute that contains already all the kind of goods that can be found across the Radio Gnome Trilogy.

So there are two keys to access this album: a prelude to Radio Gnome and a link between the 60s late psychedelia and the Canterbury genre. The genius of Daevid Allen has already started actually to transform the hippy-trippy psychedelic standards into something new and different.

An album very innovative, with noisy unstructured avantgarde tracks like "Little Sister" followed by a country/psych song like "Change The World". Even a Floyd fan like me would regret thinking that this Gong would have probably been more appropriate to comment Zabriskie Point, apart of C'mon Number 59, of course.

This album is full of ideas, some of them abandoned later, or not developed, but this is normal in a debut. I find it excellent and deserving 4 stars

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars After Daevid Allen left Soft Machine he spent a few years continuing his beatnik lifestyle traveling around Europe and getting into mischief before finally recording his first album under the GONG moniker. Despite the band name this is more of an Allen album with equal billing given to Gilly Smyth who makes her debut on this first GONG album as the trippy poet and space whisperer who graced not only the GONG albums of the Allen era but also many of the solo offerings from band's members. MAGICK BROTHER has also been released as MAGICK BROTHER, MYSTIC SISTER and was released early in 1970. The album is really an accumulation of musical ideas that had been with Allen since leaving Soft Machine and since those years took place in the tumultuous late 60s it is no surprise that this album has its sound firmly rooted in 60s psychedelia and the lyrics in that same idealist Utopian vision of the hippie movement.

This is in fact an interesting crossroads for Allen's career where he finally got to put to tape all of those latent ideas that didn't make it into Soft Machine that fully embraced the most psychedelic aspects that rock had to offer at that time and the more progressive ideas that were finding their way into the world. This album came out after all those groundbreaking releases of 1969 and the musical landscape was changing quickly but Allen was finding away to keep those space rock sounds going and evolving them into the next phase. On MAGICK BROTHER you can hear hippie peace protest songs "Rational Anthem" next to fully fueled freakouts that sound more like something on a Krautrock album and would make contemporary trippers like Pink Floyd proud. My guess is that many mind-altering substances were consumed in the making of this one. You think?!!

The album is divided into two sides. The first is "Early Morning" and the second is "Late Night" but to be honest I can't really tell any difference between the two as they both contain hippie folk type songs and freaked out bizarreness. This is one that I wasn't impressed with upon first listen coming to it after all the better releases that followed but it has grown on me and is in fact an interesting little album in its own right. I would not recommend skipping this one since it has a charm all its own and provides a glimpse of GONG's origins. The only problem I have is some of the folkier songs are a little lackluster and could have used a little more fine tuning but overall it doesn't diminish my listening experience. 3.5 rounded up

Review by ALotOfBottle
4 stars After touring Europe with Soft Machine in August 1967, Daevid Allen was rejected to enter the United Kingdom due to overstaying his visa on previous staying. Allen settled in Paris and together with his partner, Gilli Smyth, he formed a band called Gong along with a few other side projects such as the Bananamoon Band. The two also took part in the 1968 Paris protests and later settled in Deiā, Mallorca, where they had met a poet Robert Graves on their previous visit. In August 1969, they returned to Paris and recorded their debut album Magick Brother with Gong, which was released under the BYG Actuel label. At the time, the group did not have a bass player, so it was up to Allen to play the instrument. He also invited guest musicians, notably Barre Phillips, a renowned double bass player, who had previously performed with Eric Dolphy, Jimmi Giuffre, and Archie Shepp, Burton Greene, a pianist, who had played with Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler, and a wind player Didier Malherbe, who would later become one of the members of the "classic" Gong era.

Since his very first days in Soft Machine, it was clear that Daevid Allen was a forward-looking, unorthodox, and immensely original individual. Brian Hopper, formerly of the Wilde Flowers with Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, and Richard Sinclair to name a few, recalls meeting Allen for the first time: "[Daevid] showed up at Robert Wyatt's parents' house along with which he brought his own record collection, which was quite eclectic. And he was the first, I suppose, really hippie sort of person we'd met at that stage, you know, he was quite a sort of phenomenon, if you like, that arrived on the scene." Allen's musical vision comprises various diverse element, which fructify in a complex, odd, moody, tounge-in-cheek whole. Jazz influences are the most evident of all, reflected by swinging arrangements, free-jazz-like passages, and harmonic solutions. However, these only provides the basis for the music on Magick Brother. Avant-garde elements such as spoken word, storytelling, melody-less ambient parts, are introduced and play a crucial role in Gong's distinctive musical formula. Everything is topped with somewhat of a cosmic topping to it, whether it be lyrics, long reverb tails or quirky modulation effects. Most of all, the band builds on the legacy of the psychedelic boom of the sixties, with its escapist, hippie, trance-like feel.

Isn't it amazing that the first seconds of the very first Gong album are a sound of an oriental-sounding gong? "Mystic Sister/Magick Brother" is somewhat of a display of magic that one is dealing with on the album, being a hippie folk ballad opened by spacey ambient guitar parts with whistling, bird-like wind instruments somewhere in the distant background. "Glad To Say To Say" follows a rather simple psychedelic pop song pattern, featuring a catchy guitar riff and Daevid Allen's overdubbed vocals. Towards the end, the piece descends into trippy atonal mayhem. "Rational Anthem" is based around a quiet, blurry guitar motif with various ambient effects around. After the calm mood of the previous track, "Chainstore Chant/Pretty Miss Titty", a heavier psychedelic rock piece, offers more dynamically varied parts with Daevid Allen's guitar in the foreground. The song also features spoken word parts, delivered through Gilli Smyth's "space whisper". "Fredfish/Hope You Feel OK" opens with comedic spoken words, which sound as if broadcasted through a radio. Later, the track turns into a Syd Barret-era Pink Floyd-like ballad. Side two, labeled The Late Night (as opposed to side one, Early Morning), opens with "Ego", an avant-jazz statement with psychedelic rock influences, particularly on the sung parts. "Gong Song" tells a story of Pothead Pixie, a visitor from a distant planet, Gong. The concept would be continued on the following albums. Musically, it has somewhat of a Beatles-like sound, but with strong influences of jazz. "Princess Dreaming" opens with a repeating screech, an awfully unpleasant ear-sore, which later dissolves into a part spoken by Gilli Smyth. "5 & 20 Schoolgirls" is another piece kept in a psychedelic pop convention, but again with jazzy flavoring and a healthy dose of peculiarity. The album closes with a haunted ambient soundscape of "Cos You Got Green Hair", which seems to point the way towards the following works by Gong.

The Flying Teapot may yet be to take off to planet Gong, but Magick Brother, Gong's debut album, undoubtedly sets the stage for the band's next albums with its cosmic, trippy, escapist, and jazzy character. The release does have its flaws, poor studio recording being the most notable and disturbing, but is an incredibly rewarding and fascinating journey. Regardless of the style, whether it's a free-jazz workout, a spacey ambient trip or a psychedelic pop ballad, everything is played with great taste and precision. Highly recommended!

Latest members reviews

3 stars A big surprise, to say at least. I had absolute no expectations when I started to listen to this album. I thought this was going to be a pretty horrid experience. I was proven wrong. Remove all the hype and all the weirdness surrounding Gong. Put your headphones on and listen very carefull ... (read more)

Report this review (#251998) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, November 21, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 8.5/10 Great "Magick Brother" is really an underrated album in my opinion, and carries with it some amazing Gong moments and is overall great. This is it, Gong has entered the scene and we are given some really innovative music, great melodies and ideas, and an overall breathe of fresh air ... (read more)

Report this review (#148459) | Posted by The Lost Chord | Thursday, November 1, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Not really a prog album unless you consider looking backward whilst falling forward progress. Way to much dope was consumed and no doubt far to much acid by this proto- gong line up, What a re we left with firstly this LP sounds as though it was recoded in a bathroom not a studio, it is a horri ... (read more)

Report this review (#92830) | Posted by burgersoft777 | Sunday, October 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Gongs first LP is quite simply a Psychedelic masterpiece rivaled only by Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn and White Noise's An Electric Storm. Allen's Gliss gutar was heavily influenced by Syd Barrets gutar work on Piper and like Syd, Allen is capable of taking you to musical dimensions others can ... (read more)

Report this review (#27577) | Posted by | Thursday, March 18, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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