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Gong Downwind album cover
3.50 | 208 ratings | 10 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Aeroplane (2:39)
2. Crosscurrents (6:11)
3. Downwind (12:30)
4. Jin-Go-Lo-Ba (3:24)
5. What You Know (3:40)
6. Emotions (4:44)
7. Xtasea (6:39)

Total Time 39:47

Line-up / Musicians

- Pierre Moerlen / lead vocals, drums, vibraphone (3,6), marimba (3), timpani (3,7), concert toms (3,4), glockenspiel (3), cowbell & timbales (4), piano (1,2), Hammond organ (1,7), Oberheim (2,5-7) & Korg (3-5,7) synths, co-producer
- Ross Record / guitars (rhythm on 5), backing vocals (1,4)
- Hansford Rowe / bass, Wal bass (2,3), vocals (4)
- Benoit Moerlen / vibraphone (1,2,4,5,7), laughter
- Francois Causse / congas (2,4,5), marimba (2,4)

- Mike Oldfield / guitar & bass & Irish drum (3)
- Mick Taylor / guitar (5)
- Steve Winwood / Minimoog & Korg synths (3)
- Didier Lockwood / violin (2,6,7)
- Didier Malherbe / saxophone (3)
- Terry Oldfield / flute (3)

Releases information

Artwork: Keith Morris (photo)

LP Arista ‎- SPART 1080 (1979, UK)
LP Arista ‎- AB 4219 (1979, US)

CD Great Expectations ‎- PIPCD 025 (1992, UK)
CD Arista ‎- 251 138 (1992, Germany)
CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC2235 (2010, UK) 24-bit remaster by Paschal Byrne

Thanks to meurglysIII for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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GONG Downwind ratings distribution

(208 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

GONG Downwind reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Zac M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Both this album and the next one (Time is the Key), released by what was then know as Pierre Moerlen's Gong, are terribly underrated. While this may not be as good as Angel's Egg or Gazeuse, it is still an excellent album. Pierre Moerlen and crew decided to recruit Steve Winwood, Mike Oldfield, Didier Malherbe (former member of Gong), and a slew of other wonderful musicians to record this album. Also, Moerlen decides to add vocals back (including some on the cover of a Santana tune, Jin-Go-Lo-Ba) in to the compositions, which had not been done since Shamal.

Aeroplane starts out the album nicely and has the addition of vocals. It's a fairly short track, but is still good and catchy. Next comes Crosscureents. It is similar to the style developed on Gazeuse and Expresso II in that it features great mallet percussion. Downwind, the title track, is probably the best one on the album. It also starts out with mallet percussion, but this time also has a great funky bass line at the beginning as well, and a great sax solo by Didier Malherbe. The sounds of the mallets are so haunting and at the same time still relaxing. this track also features another nice guitar solo.

Jin-Go-Lo-Ba is a cover of a famous Santana tune. It's definitely one of the better covers I have heard. What You Know is another catchy vocal number with crunchy guitars. Emotions is another mallet-drenched piece, but this time is a nice violin accompaniment by the great Didier Lockwood. Things get toned down a bit for Xtasea. Again, mallets are the focus of this composition and also features another nice violin accompaniment. It's much jazzier than the previous tracks.

This album is really great. Most people will put it off because the original Gong lineup and focus is not there. Pierre Moerlen took charge of Gong and ressurrected it into a nice Jazz-Rock mallet-induced outfit. This album is recommended to fans of the earlier Moerlen albums or just nice jazz-rock as well. 4 stars, a truly great effort by the late, great Moerlen and crew.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If we do not consider the couples of more straightforward rock-oriented common songs involved, this is an excellent Gong's record of the jazz-fusion era, characterized by the charming, refined and magic xylophone-marimba-vibraphone arrangements. There are many famous musicians involved, featuring Steve Winwood and Mike Oldfield among others. Be warned: the electric guitars that are not played by Mike Oldfield have a rather bland sound: it has the dull style of Darryl Stuermer himself!

On side 1, The first track "Aeroplane" is good but a bit odd, since it sounds quite straightforward rock with lead vocals: it is not really progressive. The excellent next track "Crosscurrents" contains excellent & complex percussions from the Moerlen brothers; the combination of violins, electric guitars, drums and keyboards is impressive too. The best track is definitely "Downwind": full of the Moelen's percussions, it sounds a bit like the track "When the wind chimes" on the Mike Oldfield's Islands album: Mike Oldfield himself plays the emotional electric guitars; as if this was not enough, Terry Oldfield seems to play very typical flute parts. the excellent saxes and keyboards parts will also remind you a bit the Passport band around 1980.

On the side 2, the first track "Jin-Go-Lo-Ba" dangerously sounds rock with a mix of fusion like the Passport band, especially the urban keyboards in the background. "What You Know" is definitely a deja vu song: although the presence of Hohner Clavinet, Gong can make better than this kind of dull & common track. The mellow & relaxing "Emotions" has the pleasant violin style of Jean-Luc Ponty, combined with the delightful Moerlen's magic percussions. "Xtasea" ends well this album: the first part is quite relaxing, having a bit the same style than "Emotions". The second part is also excellent despite a misplaced electric guitar solo.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

First Gong album under Pierre Moerlen's name, Downwind is a surprising album in many ways, but at least with the evocative artwork, we know who's the boss. Although seeing the line-up of the group on this album is resembling the one f Expresso II, it has al all-star guest cast of Taylor and Lockwood (again), the returning Malherbe but Stevie Winwood and Mike Oldfield. Actually I suspect some of the tracks on this album being recorded during the Expresso II recording sessions.

The surprising (for Gong) hard-blues rocking tracks (both written by Moerlen and outsider O'Lochlain) of Aeroplane and What You Know are much reminiscent of Heavy Tune (of Expresso II), the former and latter having some "acceptable" vocals, with lots of riffy guitars and if there was not Benoit Moerlen playing vibraphone over these tracks, you'd never guess you're listening to a Gong album. Not that these tracks are bad per se, but they're a bringdown, especially in their pedestrian rhythms and forget the usual Gong light-hearted moody music. The very tedious cover of Jin-Go-Lo-Ba (this was an insane bet that I would've never taken), is completely lacking the power of the Santana original, even if the vibes addition is somewhat interesting, but it is not catastrophic either, by all means.

But things get on more familiar grounds with the superb 13-mins+ Far-Eastern-sounding title track, giving excellent interplay where everyone gives their maximum, including Moerlen's splendid drumming, Malherbe on flute & sax and Oldfield playing up a wild guitar solo; The preceding Crosscurrents being much in the same vein, but not as stunning. Yes with these tracks do bring us back to the good ol' days and there is more. On the flipside, Emotions and the closing Xtasea are also fine jazzy tunes but very atmospheric tracks where Lockwood's violin plays wonders in the slower parts, the later finally picks up speed and a searing guitar solo add so much-needed drama.

While Downwind is not a pure Gong album (hence the new moniker), It could be grouped with Expresso or Gazeuse on your shelves, as it is not that different both in musical continuity ( but we weren't really used to so much vocals and straight rock songs with this combo anymore) and in quality (just half the album is really worthy, IMHO). So if you liked those and still crave for tuned percussions (vibes), then go for this one. I myself have decided to pass up on it, I made a PM'sG compilation for one, and for two, I've had enough of vibraphones with the previous Gong albums.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars First Pierre Moerlen's Gong album. Very transitional work. Having it's roots in two previous great Gong jazz fusion albums, it shows the direction Pierre Moerlen will choose for his Gong-related project in future decades.

Some musicians are still from previous Gong's line ups, few guests are participated as well (Steve Winwood and Mike Oldfield between others), and even from their names you can expect the direction . Yes, it is still jazz-rock, but with many r'n'b, blues-rock and Latin elements. Many straight forward rock vocals and even terrible version of Santana's "Jin-Go-Lo-Ba " presented there.

From other hand, some songs are obviously better, and it looks they were recorded still at the time of Gazeuse or Shamal. As a result, very mixed impression. Something like 50/50 between Gong, and what later will be cheese Gong imitation ( under Pierre Moerlen's Gong name).Still possibly the best album of this side-track project.

Not as good as any previous Gong work, but still listenable album. Possibly, will attract those with love to softer, polished and slightly cheese jazz fusion.

Review by Warthur
2 stars The first album under the name of Pierre Moerlen's Gong takes the blueprint established by Espresso II and... kind of makes a hash of it.

As well as singing on two poppier tracks (Aeroplane and What You Know) - both of which are best skipped over - Moerlen splits his attentions between percussion and keyboards, disrupting the interesting percussion-focused approach of the group. In addition, the material here is just weaker and less interesting than that on Espresso II - not even a guest appearance by Mike Oldfield on the title track can disguise the fact that the band is repeating itself. Really, if you already have Gazeuse and Espresso II, there's absolutely no need to own this too.

Latest members reviews

4 stars One thing about the extremely fertile music scene in the '70's was the folks were `in and out of each others sessions all the time' (to paraphrase Python!), hence even though this is ostensibly a solo album by the one Gong member left holding the baby, instead it is probably the only place you ... (read more)

Report this review (#512264) | Posted by beebfader | Wednesday, August 31, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The first time I tried to listen to this album, I was so incredibly bummed out by the first song that I just turned it off. I thought "if this is any indication of what this album has in store for me, no thank you." I was shocked that a band of Gong's caliber would stoop to writing and recor ... (read more)

Report this review (#465079) | Posted by peskypesky | Sunday, June 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A very beautiful album of Pierre's Moerlern's gong. At the first hearing we seem to hear a comercial music but listening more carefully, it is a very well played album. Since excellent guitar parts, even a xylophone that gives to this album a unique atmosphere, we must consider that we have a ... (read more)

Report this review (#427821) | Posted by Joćo Paulo | Tuesday, April 5, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A patchy album. The songwriting, for the most part, is not up to that of Shamal or Gazeuse!. Having said that the title track is a standout and would be worth the price alone if not for the fact that the CD is hard to get and not cheap. As some of the other reviewers have said there are a coupl ... (read more)

Report this review (#171501) | Posted by Greta007 | Monday, May 19, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Downwind" of GONG released in 1979. The first work in PIERRE MOERLEN 'S GONG name. It is a still dazzling overall jazz-rock sound. However, music is variegated. The sounds of unique guests such as saxophones of Didier Malherbe and violins of Didier Lockwood have been splendidly made the best ... (read more)

Report this review (#54857) | Posted by braindamage | Sunday, November 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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