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GONG

Canterbury Scene • Multi-National


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Gong biography
Formed in Paris, France in 1968 - Disbanded in 1976 - Reformed intermittently since 1990

GONG is a Space/Canterbury Rock group formed by Australian guitarist (formerly of SOFT MACHINE) Daevid ALLEN. He did not do it alone though, he & his wife, Gilli Smyth are the whole nucleus of that band with numerous band line-ups. "Magick Brother, Mystic Sister" is GONG's first release & the line up consists of: Didier MALHERBE (sax), Christian Tritsch (guitar), Pip PYLE (drums) & of course, Daevid Allen (guitar & lead vocals) while his wife Gilli performed the spacey vocals. GONG's second release: "Camembert Electrique" is the beginning of Allan's ideas of Pot Head pixies, Radio Gnome's, & Octave Doctor's featured on later albums of "The Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy" along with the Protagonist Zero The Hero, which consisted of "Flying Teapot" (1972), "Angel's Egg" (1973) & "You" (1974). After "Camembert Electrique" release also saw a new line-up & a steady one. The line-up consisted of: Didier Malherbe (sax) Mike Howlett (bass), Pierre Moerlen (drums), Steve HILLAGE (guitar), Tim Blake (synthesizers) & of course, Daevid (vocals & guitar) & Gilli (space vocals). This line-up would last until "You". When Allen, Smyth, & Blake departed due to dissatisfaction of being an instrumental band this led Pierre to be the leader & released "Shamal" in 1976. Hillage lost faith in the group & departed as well.

All of the "Radio Gnome Trilogy" albums & "Camembert Electrique" are great places to start for anyone interesting in GONG. "Magick Brother, Mystic Sister" is very raw, & not as technical or jam worthy as later GONG, but the Canterbury humor is still there. "Shamal" is the beginning of their Fusion sound that would be later presented on later albums. "Gong Live" features a good compilation of tracks performed live would also be good starter album.

: : : Alexander Vogel : : :

Discography:
With original year of issue and format.
Basic, incomplete, GONG-named band discography.
A more advanced, far-reaching, super-hyperlinked and inaccurate version will be made eventually....

Studio albums, live albums and singles:
1969 - ...
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GONG discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

GONG top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.42 | 195 ratings
Magick Brother
1969
3.79 | 421 ratings
Camembert Electrique
1971
3.13 | 169 ratings
Continental Circus
1971
3.94 | 590 ratings
Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot
1973
4.14 | 727 ratings
Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 2 - Angel's Egg
1973
4.25 | 1073 ratings
Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
1974
3.81 | 381 ratings
Shamal
1975
3.93 | 415 ratings
Gazeuse!
1976
3.71 | 292 ratings
Expresso II
1978
3.49 | 187 ratings
Downwind
1979
2.98 | 128 ratings
Time Is the Key
1979
3.23 | 77 ratings
New York Gong: About Time
1979
3.01 | 70 ratings
Leave It Open
1981
2.52 | 53 ratings
Breakthrough
1986
2.52 | 54 ratings
Second Wind
1988
2.70 | 42 ratings
Gongmaison: Gongmaison
1989
3.50 | 86 ratings
Shapeshifter
1992
3.49 | 112 ratings
Zero To Infinity
2000
2.92 | 58 ratings
Pentanine
2004
3.91 | 97 ratings
Acid Motherhood
2004
3.15 | 139 ratings
2032
2009
3.89 | 188 ratings
I See You
2014
3.93 | 170 ratings
Rejoice! I'm Dead
2016
3.65 | 65 ratings
The Universe Also Collapses
2019

GONG Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.60 | 93 ratings
Gong Live, Etc
1977
3.67 | 70 ratings
Gong Est Mort? Vive Gong!
1978
3.56 | 77 ratings
Live Floating Anarchy 1977
1978
3.28 | 39 ratings
Pierre Moerlen's Gong Live
1980
2.73 | 25 ratings
Live at Sheffield '74
1990
4.18 | 37 ratings
Live au Bataclan 1973
1990
2.67 | 15 ratings
Live On T.V. 1990
1993
3.02 | 22 ratings
25th Birthday Party
1995
3.81 | 7 ratings
Live Floating Anarchy 1991
1995
3.90 | 36 ratings
The Peel Sessions 1971/1974
1995
3.83 | 18 ratings
Full Circle - Live 1988
1998
3.46 | 17 ratings
Live 2 Infinitea
2000
3.53 | 7 ratings
Glastonbury Fayre 1971
2002
2.67 | 3 ratings
OK Friends
2002
3.63 | 28 ratings
Live In Sherwood Forest '75
2005
3.78 | 13 ratings
In the '70s
2006
2.50 | 2 ratings
Sheffield City Hall 1976
2013
2.50 | 2 ratings
Paris Bataclan 1976
2013

GONG Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.28 | 22 ratings
High Above the Subterania Club 2000
2000
3.93 | 18 ratings
Classic Rock Legends
2000
2.92 | 14 ratings
Montserrat 1973 and Other Stories
2006
4.17 | 12 ratings
Live In Brazil: 20th November 2007
2007
3.80 | 5 ratings
Live At The Family Unconventional Gathering
2008
3.90 | 10 ratings
On French TV 1971 - 1973
2012

GONG Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.54 | 20 ratings
Wingful of Eyes
1986
3.02 | 11 ratings
The History and Mystery of the Planet Gong
1989
2.22 | 36 ratings
Camembert Eclectique
1995
3.25 | 4 ratings
The Best Of Gong
1995
3.83 | 6 ratings
Radio Gnome Trilogy
1995
2.29 | 8 ratings
Family Jewels
1998
3.57 | 16 ratings
The Other Side Of The Sky (A Collection)
1999
3.19 | 12 ratings
The Best of Gong
2000
3.69 | 8 ratings
The World Of Daevid Allen and Gong
2003
3.85 | 4 ratings
Opium for the People (Compilation)
2006
1.67 | 3 ratings
Gong On Acid
2006
3.00 | 3 ratings
Sixty Minutes With Gong
2007
1.00 | 1 ratings
Soundcheck Preserves
2009
4.47 | 11 ratings
Love from the Planet Gong (The Virgin Years 1973-75)
2019

GONG Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.24 | 8 ratings
Est-Ce-Que Je Suis / Hip Hypnotize You
1969
2.75 | 4 ratings
Shamal
1976
2.93 | 5 ratings
Opium for the People
1978
1.75 | 4 ratings
Downwind
1979
2.00 | 2 ratings
A Sprinkling Of Clouds
1997

GONG Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Shamal by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.81 | 381 ratings

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Shamal
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars Underrated album, yet so beautiful and refined, slipped not for his own faults without almost leaving a trace. Anyone who talks about Gong speaks almost exclusively of their three most famous albums, a trilogy as singular as it is crazy.

Now, in 1976, Radio Gnome no longer transmits, the planet Gong is a place light years away, David Allen left the group but the Gongs remained, now led by Didier Malerbe. And they found another dimension, more sensible. In my opinion, Shamal is not a jazz-rock record, as it is defined by many. It is a rock-jazz, very rock and not very jazz, of extreme refinement. A late-progressive rock, hit and run by Gong in the Prog world or, in other words, a dip and go into Progressive. A dive unfortunately not understood at the time, perhaps re-evaluated after twenty years, but still misunderstood.

Remarkable, like gems set, are the xylophone duets of the good Mirelle Bauer now with bass, now with flute or sax, original sounds because they were created with an atypical instrument for rock. Many good musicians on which Mike Howlett stands out on bass, followed by Mirelle Bauer on xylophone (partly helped by the drummer but also good at vibraphone Pierre Moerlen) and Didier Malerbe on tenor and soprano sax. Turn down the quality of the product a little bit Mike's lead vocals not up to par, maybe it was better if he just played bass. Patrice Lemoine on keyboards navigates a sound that doesn't give him many ways to express himself. Good start, Wingful of Eyes opens, which immediately presents the refinement of all the work. Then the thickness of the piece increases the lead guitar first electric then acoustic by Steve Hillage, owner on previous albums but here with one foot out, now launched towards a solo career. Here is the Gong, Chandra starts, in my opinion the best song, and Mike's bass is unleashed. The rhythm changes and the sax alternating with the xylo rises, which together lead the good piece to a violin finale. The sung with sax embroidery arrives but always supported by the variegated imperious bass, the true protagonist of the whole album. The shamal blows, soft exotic sounds are heard, here is Bambooji. They duet beautifully xylophone and flute. Hillage's electric appears muted, growing more and more until the gong hit with a final that tastes like a MikeOldfieldian sound, then the shamal returns and cancels everything. Cat in a Clark's Shoes, the weakest piece of the work, after a not very harmonious beginning acquires personality, but then loses credibility in the ending. Mandrake, third and last consecutive instrumental, begins softly, with the xylophone always in the foreground, and then acquires rhythm in time with the sax. Then calm returns with sounds that recall visions of calm sea waves that stretch and die on the shoreline. Shamal is one of the two best songs, always with the bass dictating the law and forming a carpet on which the sax basks in the morning sun of the desert. The final still guided by the bass leads to a beautiful performance of xylo and violin by Jorge Pinchevsky and the beautiful voice of Sandy Calley, both welcome guests. All sound that creates atmosphere. A romantic-Saharan atmosphere. Like many good albums, which do not tire, it should be listened to several times. For the record: produced by Nick Mason (very good sound quality).

End of my mission to re-evaluate Shamal, a mission certainly not sponsored by Virgin Records or Nick Mason, but by a healthy love for Prog: to stimulate people who love it like me to listen to good rock from the fabulous 70s.

 Live au Bataclan 1973 by GONG album cover Live, 1990
4.18 | 37 ratings

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Live au Bataclan 1973
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If your thinking bout a live GONG album I would strongly recommend this one from 1973. This is actually an archival release that didn't see the light of day until 1990 or so. We have the classic lineup of Allen, Smyth, Hillage, Moerlen, Howlett, Blake and Malherbe. And I also like that this is from one show recorded in Paris, France. My biggest surprise was at how spacey and atmospheric this is. Tim Blake is busy. Gilli Smyth might be the star here though as she really offers up a performance vocally that needs to be heard.

The two tracks that standout for me are the longest piece "Dynamite-I'm Your Animal" at over 17 minutes and "Taliesin". Both feature that spacey atmosphere and Smyth doing her awesome vocal performance. I have to mention Malherbe too mostly for his sax work but also the flute on "Flute Salad" which is pretty cool. The other track making my top three is the closer and encore track "Wet Drum Sandwhich". I'm impressed with the second half of this song where it turns more serious. Some killer sax too.

A must for GONG fans.

 Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.25 | 1073 ratings

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Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by prog_traveller!!

5 stars Gong is a fundamental band to frame the progressive scene of the early 70s. Despite the fact that their music, while deeply related to the Canterbury scene, has perhaps more to do with space rock, at least from a certain point onwards. The most diverse realities have been inserted under this musical umbrella.

Fifth album ever and third in the trilogy known as Radio Gnome Invisible (Flying Teapot and Angel's Egg the other two), You represents a rather sharp sonic change in the band's musical economy. Less psychedelic as such and more space for ideas close to jazz rock and even more to electronic space rock, so much so that this last definition is probably the most appropriate for this work. Also for the impact that vinyl will have on the scene in question. Produced by Gong themselves and Simon Heyworth "under the universal influence of the Invisible Opera Company of Tibet" with the inclusion of percussion by Benoit Moerlen and Miquette Giraudy to the backing vocals, You tells a precise story.

In You, Zero is forced to return from his journey and asks Hiram the Master builder how to build his own Invisible Temple; having done this, he decides to organize the Great Feast of freaks on the island of Everywhere, in Bali, where the Switch Doctor turns on the third eye to each of the diners, except for Zero who is lost in the pleasures of the Earth (the Cake of Banana Ananda Fruit) and is thus obliged to continue its existence by rotating on the cycle of death and rebirth, slowly approaching Angel's Egg.

After a fairly quiet start with Thoughts for Naught and the alienating situations of A P.H.P.'s Advice, the album takes off with Magick Mother Invocation, the couple Gilli Smyth / Daevid Allen and the effects contained in the composition. Master Builder is a piece that for long stretches can be traced back to Allen's solo career, while maintaining precise stylistic features of the Gong. Instead, A Sprinkling of Clouds highlights the sound of synths and is based on a structure that perhaps has little to do with traditional Gong sound, with a bewitching rhythmic carpet by Howlett and Pierre Moerlen. After the interlude of Perfect Mystery, The Isle of Everywhere seems more modern now than when it was written, with its funk accents in the bass lines and the sax parts to "flavor" everything. The long and structured You Never Blow Y'r Trip Forever is probably the best part of the album, a bridge with the past that proposes in the text the final theme of recognizing the other as part of ourselves.

The trilogy, and at this point it seems superfluous to say, in its monumentality represents one of the greatest rock operas ever. Two and a half hours of spatial dissonances, visceral vibrations of the universe, otherworldly evocations, "tripped" references where the imagination has been pushed really to the limit. Two and a half hours where the soul of a band condenses at its creative peak.

 Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 2 - Angel's Egg by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.14 | 727 ratings

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Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 2 - Angel's Egg
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars Eclectic, spatial, technical, jazzy ... these are just some of the attributes that can describe this "Angel's Egg", the second chapter of the "Radio Gnome Invisibile" trilogy by Gong.

The little green elves led by Daevid Allen create a psychedelic prog-jazz work that has little to envy to the previous work, and the first chapter of the trilogy, "Flying Teapot". Together with the following "You", Gong placed a trio that in a certain art rock field, would find equal only in Can (Tago Mago - Ege Bamyasi - Future Days) or in King Crimson (Lark's tongue in Aspic - Starless and bible black - Red).

Angels Egg, the second act of the trilogy is the album with greater relevance to the story. "Other Side Of The Sky" picks up where Flying Teapot left off: Gilli's voice slips again on a layer of cosmic alchemy elaborated by Tim Blake's machines. The song sounds like the parody of the music of "2001 A Space Odyssey", it is the soundtrack for the interplanetary journey in which Zero will dive after saying goodbye to his old world. The sounds float in clusters, live in perfect symbiosis with the laws of chaos, the voices are reduced to just whispered monosyllables, while for the only rhythmic semblance you have to wait for the final drum solo. The approach towards a more canonical song form takes shape with "Sold The Highest Buddha" and the subsequent "Prostitute Poem": the drums beat a jazzy tempo, keyboards and sax orbiting on bass and guitar lines that in these two pieces acquire greater heaviness. "Prostitute Poem" with the subsequent "Givin My Luv To You" and "Selene" reintroduce again the harmonies of the galactic vocalist Gilli Smyth, embraced by the sax and studded with oriental percussion alternating English to French, words to moans for a new starts as an Odysseian siren showing her tempting graces to unsuspecting space sailors in search of love. "Flaute Salad" follows another mini-suite where flute and synthesizer improvise; "Outer Temple", or when hallucination becomes frenzy (saxophone and synthesizer range far and wide); "Inner Temple", the balance between delirium and trance; the cacophony of percussion "Percolations"; then "Love Is How You Make It": hypnotic voices, ringing bells and the melody of a music box guide Zero into the world of sex. The last two tracks of the album "I Never Glid Before" and "Eat That Phone Book Coda" also carve out a tiny space for the guitar genius of Steve Hillage.

The final chaos introduces us to the concluding piece, "Eat that phonebook coda", imaginative and jazzy, which is perhaps the least successful episode of the album ... but in the end they are trifles, because such a journey is an unforgettable experience and therefore highly recommended.

 Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.94 | 590 ratings

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Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars Flying Teapot is the first album of the Planet Gong Trilogy, produced by Giorgio Gomelsky and then published by Virgin in 1973. Legend has it that front-man Daevid Allen had his first hallucinogenic vision of this celestial body in Easter 1966, in which a mysterious telepathic station - called, in fact, Radio Gnome - landed in Tibet. Right there, a flying teapot carrying a goblin with a propeller on his head proclaimed to Allen that he was sent to Earth in order to prepare humans for the coming of the Pot Head Pixies in 2032, with some messages of brotherhood and goodwill. Precisely in the Carolingian land, the lysergic holy man met his companion Gilli Smyth, with whom he formed the Gong together with the crazy saxophonist Didier Malherbe. After four albums already active, however, it was finally time to start rolling out your very personal saga to music, starting with that vision and mixing a mix of unusually spicy ingredients in the cauldron: pinkfloydian space-rock, influences to Frank Zappa, slapstick from the galaxy, klezmer arias, Terry Riley electronics, new age exoticism, jazz-fusion, oriental cacophonies, floating synthesizers, erotic-psychedelic whispers, teacups and, of course, the "secret" ingredient: a lot, but just a lot ! LSD.

"Radio Gnome Invisible" introduces the story and characters in the first act "Flying Teapot". It tells of a "flying teapot" - flying teapot in fact - coming from planet Gong that lands in the mountains of Tibet to meet three representatives of the planet Earth (Mista T Being, Fred The Fish and Banana Ananda). The flying teapot carries "Pot Head Pixies": small green creatures with tiny antennas planted in their heads constantly connected to the radio transmissions of Radio Gnome Invisible coming, even if on purpose, from the planet Gong . The mission of the Pot Head Pixies is to prepare the planet Earth for the arrival of a large colony of Gonghiani scheduled for 2032. The story then continues with the other two discs and with the adventures of our terrestrial representative Zero The Hero on the planet Gong .

The space odyssey begins with Flying Teapot, the narrative of first contact, the beginning of Allen's fantastic vision. Already the first song, the mini-suite "Radio Gnome Invisible" is placed a few light years ahead of everything that until then rock music had expressed. Deliberately, as if to accentuate the high technological / spatial connotations, all the sounds are deeply marked by a "synthetic" imprint; the "conventional" rhythmic patterns are replaced by collages of sounds dilated by the time domain, and deformed by mysterious cosmic anomalies. The song "Radio Gnome Invisible" together with "Flying Teapot", "The Pot Head Pixies" and "The Octave Doctors And The Crystal Machine" constitutes an agglomeration of space rock in its primordial state: the melodic part is built by sudden rotations of voices in falsetto, zany phrases, keyboard loops and short sax solos. The later "Zero The Hero And The Witch's Spell" and "Witch's Song", "I Am Your Pussy" feature the perpetually "orgasmic" voice of the witch Yoni aka Gilli Smyth. Orgasmic, mysterious, ethereal, saturated with eros in the same way that the sirens of Ulysses teleported to this dimension would sing. Gilli's voice goes perfectly with the character of the witch Yoni. Allen personifies Zero The Hero, the male counterpart, in a script that should be the transposition of a duel with medieval connotations where the fearless knight faced an evil witch in the midst of potions, amulets and magical rituals. All this involves a cabaret break where the only challenge is between those who sing with the most absurd register.

It takes a couple of plays to be able to swallow the eccentric psychedelia of the mythology of Planet Gong: there is no social reflection within it, only a space-rock saga steeped in humor and with many ideas borrowed from Buddhist philosophy, presented with the musical acumen of a band with proven efficiency, very skilled in ennobling the absurd as the highest form of comedy, making use of a multitude of arcane and lysergic influences in doing so.

 Full Circle - Live 1988 by GONG album cover Live, 1998
3.83 | 18 ratings

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Full Circle - Live 1988
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars This 1988 recording was first released ten years later, then again by Musea in 2001 and then again by Gonzo in 2013 which is the version I am listening to, although I do believe they are all exactly the same. Recorded direct to cassette, this featured the rather unusual instrumental line-up of the band featuring of course Pierre Moerlen on drums, alongside Benoit Moerlen and Stefan Traub who both provide vibraphone and synthesizer, and bassist Hansford Rowe and guitarist Ake Zieden. As one might expect, we get mostly songs from the more recent albums 'Second Wind', 'Breakthrough' and 'Leave It Open', but for anyone coming across this band for the first time then this is an absolute delight.

The recording has cleaned up incredibly well, and one would not think the source was a cassette from some years earlier, while the band are on fire and there is very strong interplay between them. Their style of fusion is incredibly accessible and interesting, and I cannot actually think of another band who would perform with two vibraphone players. This gives the music a very interesting dynamic, as while the sounds being produced are often similar to keyboards, the mallet strike is very different, and they change between using keyboards and vibes. The guitar often sits right at the back, almost invisible, just coming in when needed, while the bass is often in the front with complex lines, and Pierre keeps it all together with very powerful drumming.

Pierre Moerlen's Gong were a very different beast indeed to Gong, yet very much related, and to my ears one of the most important Gong offshoots. Even now, more than 30 years on from the original concert, it is fresh and exciting and something which will happily in any prog lover's collection.

 Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.25 | 1073 ratings

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Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by A Crimson Mellotron

5 stars The cheerful silliness of this band has held me captive enjoying their one-of-a-kind musical expressionism ever since I first discovered Gong. And this album stands high on the ladder of quirky, odd, but overly enjoyable music created by this multi-national cohort of 'pothead pixies'.

'You' is the last entry in their Radio Gnome Trilogy, and this phenomenal album consists of intertwining shorter narrative pieces and longer acid jazz and psych-prog mostly instrumental pieces. This happens to be last album for a long time to be released by Daevid Allen's version of the band. Alongside him, on 'You' the listener gets to hear Gilly Smyth's space whisper, Didier Malherbe handling the wind instruments, Tim Blake on keys, Steve Hillage and Mike Howlett on lead and bass guitar respectively, then Pierre Moerlen on drums, with Mireille Bauer and Benoit Moerlen on percussion, and Miquette Giraudy on additional vocals, listed as 'wee voices and chourousings'.

So, a 10-piece band, one would really expect something grandiose, trippy, and gay. And the Gong addict would get exactly this. Opening up the album is the silly 'Thought for Naught', followed by another short song 'A P.H.P.'s Advice' which transitions into the 'Magick Mother Invocation' - a 2-minute space whisper recording that introduces the first big song on the album, the unforgettable 'Master Builder', which is one of the absolutely legendary composition in the band's catalogue. After it, comes the 9-minute psychedelic acid fest 'A Sprinkling of Clouds', closing side one.

'Perfect Mystery' is among the shorter narrative pieces on 'You' and flows into the big 'The Isle of Everywhere' - a surreal psychedelic jazzy song that really takes the listener on another planet... quite likely on Planet Gong! Then comes the final and longest track 'You Never Blow Yr Trip Forever'. This is the album culmination, and also a grandiose showcase in all of Gong's flavors.

'You' is a masterpiece of progressive and psychedelic rock without a doubt, the spacy atmosphere is sharply penetrated by the haunting wind instruments of Malherbe, the slide and gliss guitars pervade the imagination, and the space whisper is gently spread all over this fabulous trippy soup that is Gong!

 Live at Sheffield '74 by GONG album cover Live, 1990
2.73 | 25 ratings

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Live at Sheffield '74
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by trickert

5 stars I'm not understanding the more negative reviews for this recording. My version is the RSD 2020 vinyl re-release, and the sound quality is surprisingly good. Further, the band just sounds fantastic. That classic mixture of Gong wonk--alternatively keening, jazzy, wacky, spacey, whimsical. A good bit of improvisation, too, as they do, assuring that while you will recognize the songs, still, they are indelible; you won't hear them played quite like this again. Didier Malherbe, on flutes and saxes, in particular layers improvisational sections throughout, giving this a particularly jazzy feel, even if it rocks and swings like crazy, too; and Daevid is always Prime Daevid in his DaevidHead. They use a little more repetition in some sections, too, although not many, that have real power, but also in a way that reminds me of ... Hawkwind. Interesting. Finally, the 4th side of my two-record set includes a side-long track live from 1989 at Glastonbury: interesting for comparison's sake, but very different from the 1974 performance. Overall, what other band can walk this odd line between totally loose and on-fire tight? The albums, of course, are great, especially from this period, absolute classics--but this live stuff is also really welcome. And, for me at least, really necessary, as it paints a fuller picture of Gong as a *working band*. Probably 4.5 stars, but I'll give it the 5.
 The Universe Also Collapses by GONG album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.65 | 65 ratings

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The Universe Also Collapses
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Progressive rock listeners will mostly like Gong because of the charismatic psychedelic space rock albums of the Radio Gnome Trilogy. Since enigmatic frontman Daevid Allen and 'space whisperer' Gilli Smith have both passed away the Gong tradition has been continued by a group of musicians which has been present since 2014's 'I See You' album - which was the last album on which Allen and Smith performed. Without any members of the seventies Gong the legitimacy of this line-up is debatable, but I would argue that this band deserves to be continued - especially with an album like 'The Universe Also Collapses'.

Present are the psychedelic and slightly dopey vocals with their jazzy timing, the space rock soundscapes, the jazz rock elements, a lost-in-time sixties refrain, the strong rhythmical section and above all that typical Gong sympathetic vibe. Add some very strong wind-sections by Ian East (that add a layer of VdGG intensity!) and some keyboard sounds that remind me a bit of CAN's 'Future Days' album - and you might get a picture of what to expect. The totality of it comes across as a group effort, rather than focusing on individual talents - which are evidently present. Of course, there's no replacing Deavid Allen's personality, but the vocals on this album are well done. I didn't like them at first, but somehow one moment later I 'found out' how much they are a charming tribute to Gong's founder. The production of the album is also very well done; a bit retro, yet modern enough to feel relevant in today's progressive rock landscape. Definitely better sounding - than say - 90% of the best albums of 2019.

I consider all songs (except the last) to be equally satisfying. 'Forever Reoccurring' is a twenty minute multi-part track that throws around all typical Gong elements and has a nice listenable pace to it. This song has the most Canterbury-like feel to it as well. Somehow this track has this conclusive or 'after though' feel about it, as if would perfectly fit right after the 'You' album. 'My Sawtooth Wake' is a thirteen minute track that further elaborates on the opening track and ends by musically referring to it. This would have made for a perfect ending to the album. The final song 'The Elemental' than sound a bit out of place with its songy feel and slightly flat mixing job. I actually rated the album as if this was just a bonus track.

In conclusion. With or without Gong legitimacy, this is the most charming space rock (and perhaps Canterbury as well) album of 2019! If the band would want to improve on this effort, it would have to expand on that varied Allenesque psychedelic songwriting - which also had a certain humanity to it. The jazzy instrumental space rock part is about as good as it could get in this tradition.

 Love from the Planet Gong (The Virgin Years 1973-75) by GONG album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2019
4.47 | 11 ratings

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Love from the Planet Gong (The Virgin Years 1973-75)
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is a lavish boxed set covering the Radio Gnome Invisible years of Gong, as well as the Shamal album - arguably the last album from their Virgin run where their original psychedelic whimsy was still in evidence, before the more buttoned-down fusion style of Pierre Moerlen's Gong started to predominate on Gazeuse.

Not only do you get lavish remasters of the relevant albums from the original master tapes produced by Mike Howlett, but the overall presentation is overseen by Steve Hillage, and if you're aware of Steve's fantastic Searching For the Spark boxed set of his solo albums you know that Steve is no slouch when it comes to this sort of thing. Even better, you also get a wealth of live material here, including at least one complete concert corresponding to each studio album release, giving you a deep look at the other side of Gong during this era. (The embarrassment of riches on offer here makes the old Live Etc. double album rather redundant, in fact, because everything on there is on here, and found in its original concert context too.)

Buyer beware: DO NOT confuse the Charly Records Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy boxed set for this magnificent offering! Charly are only able to put out that set due to the legal confusion over who actually had the rights to Gong's work during this era - a question about which many arguments have been had, but to which a 100% definitive answer in court has (to my knowledge) never been arrived at. Charly do not have access to the original tapes from the Virgin vaults, and therefore any remasters of this material they put out will inevitably be inferior; what's more, the boxed set doesn't include any of the excellent live material included here, and perhaps worst of all the band don't get any royalties from Charly, whereas they DO get their well-deserved royalties from the sales of Love From the Planet Gong. If you are going to splash out on a boxed set of the Radio Gnome material anyway, you may as well get the boxed set which does it right - rather than one which will shortchange both you and the band!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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