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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 : : :

See also:
- DASHIELL HEDAYATT "Obsolete"
- Mother Gong

Discography:
With original year of issue and format.
Basic, incomplete, GONG-named band discography.
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The Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy ( 4 CD Book )The Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy ( 4 CD Book )
SNAPPER MUSIC LTD. 2017
$30.81
$43.11 (used)
Flying TeapotFlying Teapot
SNAPPER MUSIC LTD. 2007
$7.73
$5.00 (used)
I See You ( Media Book )I See You ( Media Book )
MADFISH 2017
$6.24
$6.20 (used)
Rejoice! I'm Dead! ( Cd )Rejoice! I'm Dead! ( Cd )
MADFISH 2017
$10.53
$13.26 (used)
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PIERRE MOERLEN'S GONG Downwind LP VINYL Germany Arista 1979 7 Track (1C06462272) USD $13.06 Buy It Now 2h 52m
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25th Birthday Party London, The Forum by Gong (2x CD 1995) UK prog USD $5.24 Buy It Now 3h 32m
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Bob Marley - Ambush / Bob Marley & The Wailers Ambush in Dub TUFF GONG 1979 USD $6.57 [0 bids]
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Nadine Sutherland - Starvation / Tuff Gong All Stars - Hungry TUFF GONG 1980 USD $12.81 [0 bids]
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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)

3.44 | 164 ratings
Magick Brother
1969
3.82 | 361 ratings
Camembert Electrique
1971
3.13 | 146 ratings
Continental Circus
1971
3.93 | 504 ratings
Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot
1973
4.12 | 616 ratings
Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 2 - Angel's Egg
1973
4.24 | 926 ratings
Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
1974
3.82 | 337 ratings
Shamal
1975
3.93 | 373 ratings
Gazeuse!
1976
3.73 | 255 ratings
Expresso II
1978
3.49 | 162 ratings
Downwind
1979
2.92 | 111 ratings
Time Is The Key
1979
3.28 | 69 ratings
New York Gong: About Time
1979
2.98 | 60 ratings
Leave It Open
1981
2.52 | 48 ratings
Breakthrough
1986
2.53 | 47 ratings
Second Wind
1988
2.77 | 37 ratings
Gongmaison: Gongmaison
1989
3.47 | 73 ratings
Shapeshifter
1992
2.24 | 34 ratings
Camembert Eclectique
1995
3.50 | 101 ratings
Zero To Infinity
2000
3.78 | 80 ratings
Acid Motherhood
2003
2.95 | 53 ratings
Pentanine
2004
3.14 | 128 ratings
2032
2009
3.94 | 163 ratings
I See You
2014
3.85 | 137 ratings
Rejoice! I'm Dead
2016

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

3.65 | 82 ratings
Gong Live, Etc
1977
3.66 | 66 ratings
Gong Est Mort? Vive Gong!
1978
3.74 | 67 ratings
Live Floating Anarchy 1977
1978
3.29 | 32 ratings
Pierre Moerlen's Gong Live
1980
2.23 | 19 ratings
Live At Sheffield '74
1990
4.24 | 29 ratings
Live au Bataclan 1973
1990
2.69 | 11 ratings
Live On T.V. 1990
1993
3.00 | 16 ratings
25th Birthday Party
1995
4.00 | 5 ratings
Live Floating Anarchy 1991
1995
3.93 | 30 ratings
The Peel Sessions 1971/1974
1995
3.80 | 13 ratings
Full Circle - Live 1988
1998
3.48 | 13 ratings
Live 2 Infinitea
2000
3.61 | 6 ratings
Glastonbury Fayre 1971
2002
3.50 | 2 ratings
OK Friends
2002
3.65 | 21 ratings
Live In Sherwood Forest '75
2005
3.85 | 9 ratings
In the '70s
2006
4.00 | 1 ratings
Sheffield City Hall 1976
2013
4.00 | 1 ratings
Paris Bataclan 1976
2013

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

3.28 | 19 ratings
High Above the Subterania Club 2000
2000
3.94 | 16 ratings
Classic Rock Legends
2000
2.90 | 12 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
3.93 | 9 ratings
On French TV 1971 - 1973
2012

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

3.56 | 18 ratings
Wingful of Eyes
1986
3.02 | 10 ratings
The History and Mystery of the Planet Gong
1989
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Best Of Gong
1995
4.33 | 3 ratings
Radio Gnome Trilogy
1995
2.40 | 6 ratings
Family Jewels
1998
3.60 | 15 ratings
The Other Side Of The Sky (A Collection)
1999
3.27 | 11 ratings
The Best of Gong
2000
3.74 | 6 ratings
The World Of Daevid Allen and Gong
2003
4.08 | 3 ratings
Opium for the People (Compilation)
2006
2.00 | 1 ratings
Gong On Acid
2006
4.00 | 2 ratings
Sixty Minutes With Gong
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
Soundcheck Preserves
2009

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

3.33 | 6 ratings
Est-Ce-Que Je Suis / Hip Hypnotize You
1969
3.00 | 2 ratings
Shamal
1976
3.08 | 4 ratings
Opium for the People
1978
2.00 | 3 ratings
Downwind
1979
3.00 | 1 ratings
A Sprinkling Of Clouds
1997

GONG Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Full Circle - Live 1988 by GONG album cover Live, 1998
3.80 | 13 ratings

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Full Circle - Live 1988
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by WFV

4 stars Excellent artifact from the Pierre Moerlen era. The sound and vibe here are far more organic than the bland Live album released in 1980. The recording is quite full and there is exquisite banter that really gives the album an exciting, intimate feel. A healthy selection of band favorites make this a top live album worth seeking out. My personal favorites on this album are Exotic and Leave it Open, but all the tracks put together make this something no fan of Pierre Moerlen's Gong should be without. In fact, this is among the best late eighties prog performances I've heard.
 Pentanine by GONG album cover Studio Album, 2004
2.95 | 53 ratings

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Pentanine
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by WFV

3 stars Definitely underrated and sorely underheard.

Of course the fusiony material of Pierre Moerlen's Gong is compared to the unfusiony space cadet Gong. Often, I find, in the negative.

I love both and wish this ensemble would have put out more contemporary records. I acquired this beauty several years ago and after many listens gave it a high three star. After revisitation a few years later it gained half a star. Third revisit it gets 4.5 in my collection.

Not for the average rock oriented proghead, this fusiony record is mostly melodic with some new age flavoring. Moerlen lines up with unknown Russkies behind him who are obviously fabulous musicians.

One wishes this lineup did three or four outings together. The opener, Lacheur, and Blue Nuit standout for me.

As I said, not for the average proghead, so while I may give it high marks if taking everything into account here this gets three from me.

 Rejoice! I'm Dead by GONG album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.85 | 137 ratings

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Rejoice! I'm Dead
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars It's always a crying shame when a prominent member of a classic rock band passes away after decades of divine musical service but even more so when two of the founders pass on within a year of each other. Of course i speak of Christopher David Allen or better known as Daevid Allen who passed on in 2015 after having founded the sounds-like-no-other band GONG all the way back in 1967 only to be joined shortly thereafter by the unparalleled space whisperer Gilli Smith the following year. It seems like their bond was strong as they traveled the space ways together and even death could not separate them. With their passing so too does the entire identity of GONG as a new chapter unfolds without two of the most unique personalities in all of rock history. After 2015's "I See You," which saw the duo laying down their last earthly performance together, the rest of the crew was given the green light with blessings to continue one of progressive rock's most recognizable Canterbury jazz infused space bands. While many fans may find this of poor taste, it certainly isn't the first time that Allen parted ways only leaving the band name to showcase other talents. The only difference now is that he won't be coming back.

REJOICE! I'M DEAD is officially the 14th studio album released by GONG only two years after the last Allen contributions and the following year after his passing however despite Allen having reached the proggy pearly gates, his resonant vocals from the past appear on the tracks "Model Village" and "Beatrix." Officially at the helm is newbie to the band Kavus Torabi of former Cardiacs and Knifefield fame on on vocals and guitar but the rest of the band remains steady since the previous release giving GONG a somewhat stable lineup despite the loss of two founding members. There are two versions of this album. The regular nine track version and another special 2-CD version with a bonus DVD. The second disc on this version has a couple extra tracks, a few demos as well as some rehearsal recordings. The DVD is an audio disc with 24/96 PCM stereo and DTS 96/24 5.1 digital surround mixes.

The album is somewhat of a serious salute to the mastermind and whimsical hippie who started the whole thing back in the 60s as is apparent by the title and soundwise the band pretty much traces the footsteps of the past and straddles through the Canterbury tinged psychedelic rock that they have been famous for since the Radio Gnome Trilogy in the mid-70s. REJOICE! I'M DEAD sees a lot of different new flavors as well as Torabi brings a lot of his post-punk sensibilities to the table most notably on the new wave guitar sounds heard on the title track. However they do become engulfed by the special guest star appearance of Steve Hillage who cranks out some retro sounding space guitar most remanent of his "Fish Rising" period and with an extended journey into the psychedel-o- sphere, GONG prove that they have what it takes to carry on the jazzed out space ways of planet GONG's most tripped out jam sessions.

The track "Kapitial" is particular rough around the edges with a frenetic heavy guitar although it's pacified by the jazzy sax outbursts of Ian East. Likewise the vocals are heavily fortified with an echoey space syrup that in tandem creates one of my favorite tracks of the album. "Model Village" offers a last of an Allen performance and one that borrows right from the Radio Gnome days with subdued space rock and jazzy brass sequences embraced by Allen's poetic prowess and another surprise appearance by off and on again member Didier Malherbe offering his most respectable duduk performance which sounds like a magic eulogy and celebration of life for his long time friend of the ages. Unfortunately the duduk does not stick around and leaves the party way too soon.

"Beatrix" is some sort of short French chanson performed by Allen by would have been much better with Gilli Smith as it sounds like something right out of the "Angel's Egg" playbook. "Visions" is a true space cadet journey into an ambient stream of synthesized sounds accompanied by a lazy sax that slowly oozes out sultry notes as the electronica slinks by with tripped out vocals joining in intermittently and serves sort of as a long extended intro to the near twelve minute "The Unspeakable Stands Revealed" which continues the tripped out space effect only the jazz-rock instrumentation tags along for the ride and thus ups the tempo. This is one of those ratcheting up effect tracks that slowly builds on itself and adds progressive electric guitar riffs, vocals chants as well as those clever Canterbury sax phrasings. The track adds a sprinkling of vocals after several minutes and becomes a heavy post-punk type of track swimming in the psychedelic sea of Canterbury jazz!

Both ending tracks "Through Restless Seas I Come" and "Insert Yr Own Prophecy" offer more of the same heavy guitar induced psychedelic space rock juiced up with jazz and flute. REJOICE! I'M DEAD is overall a fairly decent album as it carries the torch with dignity and gusto and ushers GONG into the post-Allen era well into it's fifth decade of existence as a band that turned a greater rotation of talents sort of ensemble. While this is indeed an excellent album it does lack some of my favorite GONG characteristics provided by the irreplaceable team of Allen and Smith. Perhaps my biggest complaint about this one is the poor vocal skills of Torabi as he is the weakest vocalist in the GONG history books. While getting the job done, he doesn't have that unique flair and offers no humor to the mix. That's another thing i miss tremendously is Allen's zany silliness that popped out when least expected.

REJOICE! I'M DEAD is a serious affair much in the vein of Pierre Moerlen phase despite the sound being different and tainted with vocals. Admittedly i had an instant negative reaction to this one as it was substandard to my ears compared to the great "I See You," but many listens in it began to unleash it's magic. One of the most noticeable differences is the most pumped up rock guitar with much more bravado than on previous albums. Also noticeably lacking is any attempt to replace Allen's zany antics and idiosyncratic silliness that permeates every release he had his hand in. Sadly missing as well are the Gilli Smith space whispers that add a cosmic feminine divinity to the mix. This is a pure boys club now and it really sounds like it. Not a classic but an excellent array of jazzy space rock in true GONG spirit. Allen is obviously overseeing from his unknown whereabouts. Miss the duduk's ubiquitous sound as well.

 Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.93 | 504 ratings

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Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Although he can take credit for founding Soft Machine and pretty much kickstarting the whole Canterbury Scene of progressive rock only to leave that very band before the debut recording emerged AND a lengthy career to follow as a solo artist and beyond, Daevid Allen aka Divided Alien would best be remembered for the three albums that make up the RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE trilogy which began with VOL 1 - FLYING TEAPOT released on 23 May 1973 and was quickly followed up by "Angel's Egg" released on 7 December 1973 and "You" in October 1974. After three albums of pretty much leading his infamous GONG which juxtaposed his beat inspired pixie poetry with the radical free spirit psychedelic swing, Allen pretty much shook the GONG tree only to watch old members fall as totally new ones joined the ranks.

FLYING TEAPOT was the first incarnation of the much larger "classic" GONG era which would only grow larger for the following albums that concluded the trilogy. The first thing that is evident is that FLYING TEAPOT greatly expands the overarching sound of the GONG universe not only conceptually but in the lineup expanding from a mere five band members to a whopping nine which would include newbie Steve Hillage on guitar and ex-Magma bassist Francis Moze (who also contributes piano). The zany antics of Daevid Allen with his psychedelic swing band of the early 70s GONG found their greatest success and legendary status with their RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE series which initiates the great GONG mythology and is about, and i have to quote here since i could not make this up any better:

"The story begins on the album Flying Teapot (1973) when a pig-farming Egyptologist called Mista T Being is sold a 'magick ear ring' by an 'antique teapot street vendor & tea label collector' called Fred the Fish. The ear ring is capable of receiving messages from the Planet Gong via a pirate radio station called Radio Gnome Invisible. Being and Fish head off to the hymnalayas of Tibet (sic) where they meet the 'great beer yogi' Banana Ananda in a cave. Ananda tends to chant 'Banana Nirvana Mañana' a lot and gets drunk on Foster's Australian Lager."

Carrying on with the Canterbury whimsical jazz-rock of his earlier albums, the new GONG becomes laced with more surreal bouts incorporating sudden diversions into serpentine psychedelic meanderings that add enough humor to swear you really did drink too much of the magic tea and went on a Monty Python binge watch. The album begins the trilogy with an instant dip into the devilishly deviated tripper's paradise of the track "Radio Gnome Invisible" which not only includes Allen's happy hippie-go-lucky jittery jaunts into frenetic little time signature freak outs but offers a true glimpse into the entire career of the Cardiacs with this one song. Yeah, the jazzy trade offs with the freak fueled vocal capers just reek of the 80s zolo merry pronk-sters who simply added a little punk, Cockney accented attitude and an upped appreciation for the frenzied off-kilter zaniness of it all.

"Flying Teapot" the track, takes a different approach and debuts the psychedelic spaced detached segments that would become a staple on the following "Angel's Egg" and "You" with Hillage and newbie synthesist Tim Blake cranking out some of the meanest free form space jazz augmented by the sax and flute flexibilities of Didier Malherbe who stuck around for the wild ride. Allen also displays some of his most adept vocal skills as he basically raps while the bass slowly descends into a funky groove that emerges from the formless spaciness that preceded. As the longest track on the album (12.5 min) this one offers the most variety of little silly scenarios and the most adept track of blending Allen's silly psych swing jazz-rock with the synthesized space wind sounds. This one actually has GONG (the instrument) sounds in it!!!

"The Pot Head Pixies" is a pure Allen concoction most like his former albums offering a glimpse of how the stoner beatnik existed before the transition into the higher realms of the FLYING TEAPOT universe which is followed by the short "The Octave Doctors And The Crystal Machine" which contrasts by going purely space synth. The true treat of the album comes at the end with the one / two punch of "Zero The Hero And The Witch's Spell" immediately followed by the behexing charm of "Witch's Song / I Am Your Pussy" which together display the most sophisticated songwriting chops of the new band that show the evolution from the actors playing their respective parts to coming full force into a bona fide tour de force of a band sound that is the perfect teaser for the album's that follow. The former actually sounds more like a Pink Floyd track before it totally morphs into some fantastical tribal pixie world accompanied by some of the silkiest and smoothest sax blowing sessions on the album.

Gilli Smyth finally gets her day in the sun after being hidden behind the scenes for too long as she totally takes the bull by the horns and offers some of the swankiest poetic prowess permissible by law climaxing with orgasmic gleeful giggling as she narrates her promiscuous escapades with the sultry psychedelic swing jazz accompanying her seductive space whispers. FLYING TEAPOT is amazing! I totally concur that this is the weakest of the RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE trilogy but the first installment is never supposed to be that highlight or that would defeat the purpose! This one is totally satisfying and the absolute perfect album to whet the old appetite for the much grander and more sophisticated following albums that push the story and sound of GONG to higher dimensions. If this had been as good as those albums, the band would have blown their wad on this one album. Personally this one has been the hardest to get into mostly due to its poorer production compared to the next two, however this is one helluva fun album that is absolutely brilliant. If this didn't click the first time, do try again for it is one amazingly unique album even within the GONG universe itself.

 Continental Circus by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.13 | 146 ratings

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Continental Circus
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator 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.

 Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.93 | 504 ratings

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Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by hi_t_moonweed

4 stars Funnily enough I managed to acquire this album in late 1973. I "found" it in a local record store while working in a small country town. As the cover suggests it is not most straight laced album or band on the planet and the store owners were as pleased to offload it as I was to buy it. This album was my first encounter with Gong and the band has never disappointed. TFTP is a very interesting album as there is as much going on, on the vinyl as there is on the gate fold (but that is another story). Every listener has their own tastes and opinions which is why albums like this one are not easy to review. Personally I very much enjoy this album, as it is light-hearted as well as musically sound as easy to digest. If you don't take the content too seriously, you may actually enjoy the journey to planet GonG. I am, you are, we are-crazy-.
 I See You by GONG album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.94 | 163 ratings

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I See You
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars What an inspiration both Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth proved to be on their final Gong work together, 2014's `I See You'. The fact that they were able to contribute to an album during oncoming health issues is admirable enough, but the fact that it's a superb work almost on the same level of their defining Seventies discs is a very welcome miracle! Hardly some sad `old-man' retro excursion, `I See You' lovingly embraces all the classic Pothead Pixie-era elements that Gong-ladites love about the band, but roots it firmly in a modern sound delivered by a younger collection of musicians behind the older yet ageless Gong figureheads, and the results sound completely inspired and a band more focused and alive than ever.

So much to love about the classic Gong era permeates the self-titled opener, racing through everything from a loopy and playful Daevid Allen vocal so full of mischievous spirit, gnarling guitar twists, mysterious drifting voices to eerie glissando guitar tendrils. `Occupy' is a breakneck punk-rocking blast that cuts in and out of Ian East's dreamy sax wafts, and the psychedelic `God and the Devil Shake Hands' is lyrically cheeky and damning as it moves around reprising spiralling dirty flute and sax themes, Allen purring an almost rapping drowsy drawled vocal, and there's just a trace of King Crimson-esque metallic danger towards the end! Gilli's ethereal space whisper floats gracefully throughout the deep space-rock atmospheres of `The Eternal Wheel Spins', both Kavus Torabi and Fabio Golfetti's guitars moving between drifting ambient drones, urgent spasms, manic eastern flavoured motifs and Ozric Tentacles-like shimmerings.

`Syllabub' is a Zappa-inspired impish romp with a whimsical jazzy backing (just dig that supremely spacey instrumental break in the middle though!), `This Revolution' a political-themed spoken-word poetry interlude, and `You See Me' a spacey reprised improvisation highlighted by jagged guitars, Orlando Allen's skittering drumming and Dave Sturt's pumping bass. `Zion my T-Shirt' then proves to be a welcome come-down of reflective verses, darkness and sadness tinged spoken-word passages, murmuring bass ruminations and crystalline ambient caresses, with parts of the piece reminding of both Porcupine Tree's `Don't Hate Me' (which had its Gong-like elements as well) and the introspective thoughtfulness of `Wise Man in Your Heart' off Gong's superb 2000 album `Zero to Infinity'. The eccentric and joyful `Pixielation' jumps between bouncing Daevid loopiness and a range of cool instrumental interludes, and `A Brew of Special Tea' is a hypnotic and disorientating cut up tape- loop sound collage.

To end the disc, `Thank You' shambles with a delicious bluesy lurch and is a fond farewell to everyone ever involved with Gong and those who've embraced the spirit of the group over the decades, and `Shakto Yoni and Dingo Virgin' a final celestial glissando and wordless sighing voice drone that reaches the highest heavens. These two pieces could not make for a more dignified and appropriate send-off from both Daevid and Gilli, and it closes this era of Gong perfectly.

One of the absolute strongest releases to appear under the Gong tag since probably `You', and definitely the best Allen/Gong related work since `Zero 2 Infinity', `I See You' has all the psychedelic strangeness, satirical lyrics and unpredictable direction changes you could want to find on a Gong album, and the younger musicians (well, younger than Allen!) here proved to be the perfect musical contributors to support the stalwarts of the group. It's hard to think of a better farewell than this to Allen and Smyth (both who passed relatively soon after its release), and fans of the `Magick Brother' through to `You' era of the band that haven't looked into the group since those works should absolutely give this a shot.

Five flying teapots for a modern classic, and truly a work for Gong fans to treasure.

 Gongmaison: Gongmaison by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.77 | 37 ratings

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Gongmaison: Gongmaison
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Graham Clark!

I saw Daevid Allen live in Edinburgh in a small club in the fall of 1989, on his comeback tour where he introduced Gongmaison. He began the show with just himself in a Wizard costume, playing harmonium and then acoustic guitar, with the rest of the Gongmaison members slowly joining him. At the time, there were only a few members, including Graham Clark on violin, and Shamal Maitra on tabla and percussion. The songs he played are found on this album, on the Owl and the Tree album (with Gilly Smyth and Mother Gong), and on his Australia Aquaria album (brought together nicely in the collection "Gentle Genie"). These are all great tunes, clearly written over a number of years before these shows, except "Flying Teapot" of course - at the show I saw, Gilly Smyth and Mother Gong also got up and played a set, and they all came together at the end to play Flying Teapot. But the Gongmaison songs are all high quality. Graham Clark's violin playing is particularly wonderful. Daevid rarely played with a violin in his band, but the years with Clark produced some really great music (Clark co-wrote some of the music that appeared on Shapeshifter, as well as "Blame the Rich" on Gentle Genie). This Gongmaison album is pretty short, with only six songs and a short version of Flying Teapot, and so I can only give this 7.5 out of 10 (3 PA stars). Better to pick up the Gentle Genie album, which has most of this album plus the best tunes from those other two albums - that one is really worth it.

 Shamal by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.82 | 337 ratings

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Shamal
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

2 stars Missing Daevid Allen.

While the band felt they could make excellent music with Daevid and Gilly gone (on break), and should have been able to, this album demonstrates just how important they were to the band in every way. Musically, the music is no longer zany and playful, but becomes more jazz-rock-fusion, and much less musical. But the real kicker is the singing. Daevid Allen not only wrote wonderful, fun, lyrics, but he was a great singer. The singing on this album is horrendous, and the lyrics are just as bad. This album would have been better as an instrumental, at least that way it would have been listenable all the way through (even if boring). Nick Mason produced this, and I am surprised he didn't make the band re-think the singing/lyrics here. As it is, songs like "Wingful of Eyes", "Bambooji" and "Shamal", which could have been decent enough, become unlistenable. I was almost tempted to give this 1 star, but there is some good musicianship in places here, and Steve Hillage's guitar solos are always great. But to think that this followed right after You - the two albums are so completely in different leagues in every way. Daevid Allen would thankfully return to the band, and they would make some great live albums in the late 1970s (and reform in the 1990s, and continue until his death). This album functions mainly to show how much of a contribution he really made. On balance, I give this album 4.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 2 PA stars. Only for true fans of the non-Allen Gong.

 Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.24 | 926 ratings

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Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

5 stars Awesome Conclusion to the Trilogy.

Focussing a lot more on the music, this album cranks up the complexity factor, while also extending the jams considerably. Perhaps the band decided to end the trilogy with a musical bang, and to de-emphasize the story a bit, but there are fewer vocal tracks here, and much more instrumental music, all of high quality. This is psychedelic progressive rock to perfection, with complex time signatures, fantastic drumming (by Pierre Moerlen), crazy space effects (thanks to Tim Blake), humorous sax lines (Didier Malherbe), and wonderful trippy guitar solos (by Steve Hillage). The music here takes the time it needs to build, and stays around long enough for us to really get into it. Allen's vocals are great, of course, too, and quite funny at times. But they are not the focus, and only take up a small amount of space on the longer tracks, leaving the band to show its chops. The album builds on itself and flows very well, making the listening experience like a single long journey, and it is very satisfying. Musically, this is the best Gong album (while lyrically, I like Flying Teapot the best). Obviously essential. I give this 9.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 5 PA stars.

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

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