ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages

[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]


Gong - "The Radio Gnome Trilogy"

Prolusion. Here is an overview of the Radio Gnome trilogy, by GONG.

1973 - "Flying Teapot"
******

TRACK LIST:

1.  Radio Gnome Invisible 5:32
2.  Flying Teapot 11:54
3.  The Pot Head Pixies 3:06
4.  The Octave Doctors And The Crystal Machine 1:53
5.  Zero The Hero And The Witch's Spell 9:35
6.  Witch's Song / I Am Your Pussy 5:09

LINEUP:

Daevid Allen - guitars; vocals
Gilli Smyth - organ; vocals, space whispers
Tim Blake - keyboards, crystal machine; vocals
Didier Malherbe - soprano & tenor saxes, flute
Steve Hillage - guitars
Rachid Houari - drums
Christian Titsch - slide guitar 
Francis Bacon - VCS3, electric & upright pianos; bass

Analysis. Produced four years after the first production under the same name, Gong's first album of the famous Radio Gnome trilogy is the roughest, but in some ways the most balanced of the three. Produced by renowned pop impresario Giorgio Gomelsky (see productions of the Yardbirds, Blossom Toes and even Magma), "Planet Gong" introduces listeners to the story line as well as the musical style, space-fusion, to follow on the next two discs. The hero of the trilogy, Zero, is introduced as he tries sampling the various delights of the physical world in an attempt to ascertain its meaning. He is helped in this undertaking by entities from a parallel world - Pot Head Pixies from the Planet Gong, who communicate via the musicians their solutions for humanity's ailments in the form of transmissions from the Planet Gong. Simple! It's not dippy-hippy musings, but a humorous mythology with many ideas borrowed from Buddhist philosophy, presented in a light-hearted way, and with the musical acumen of a well-honed band. The first two tracks, Radio Gnome Invisible and Flying Teapot, introduce the swirling jazzy soundscapes that reappear throughout the trilogy, particularly on the last part, "You". Gilly Smythe's eerie 'space whisper' combines with Daevid Allen's glissando guitar for the otherworldly dimension, while Didier Malherbe on saxophones adds a dash of Gallic humour and depth. The final two songs, Witch's Song and I Am Your Pussy, wrap up the album with Zero struggling through inner space in his effort to find answers to life's conundrums.

1973 - "Angel's Egg"
*****/

TRACK LIST: 

1.  Other Side of the Sky 7:40
2.  Sold on the Highest Buddha 4:25
3.  Castle in the Clouds 1:09
4.  Prostitute Poem 4:52 
5.  Giving My Love to You 0:43
6.  Selene 2:09
7.  Flute Salad 2:09 
8.  Oily Way 3:37
9.  Outer Temple 1:09
10. Inner Temple 2:34
11. Percolations 0:46
12. Love Is How You Make It 3:27 
13. I Never Glid Before 5:36
14. Eat That Phonebook Coda 3:12 
15. Ooby-scooby Doomsday 5:09 

LINEUP:

Daevid Allen - lead vocals; guitars
Gilli Smyth - space whispers, vocals
Tim Blake - VCS3 synthesizer; vocals
Steve Hillage - guitars; vocals
Mike Howlett - bass; vocals
Didier Malherbe - saxes, flute; vocals
Pierre Moerlen - drums, percussion
Mirielle Bauer - glockenspiel

Analysis. The second album of the trilogy, "Angel's Egg" is the most demanding of the listener, but conceptually the most intriguing, and for true Gong heads is the quintessential disc. The story takes Zero through the most intensive of physical (read erotic) experiences to find himself selfless - in /at /on The Other Side of the Sky. Here he finds consolation, as the listener too, in realizing that there is no answer to those quandaries, but that asking questions of oneself, and one's own musical heroes, is just natural! The music is sometimes poppier than the other two albums, but is again a broad mixture of genres, from the bar room dirge of Giving My Love to You to the space-rock class of Castle In the Clouds. Production and mix are very smart, and there are doses of instrumental genius to ease the burden of the storyline, ably piloted by the second guitar of Steve Hillage. The deft drumming of regular band member Pierre Moerlin along with Didier Malherbe's cheeky saxophone takes the disc into classic space-fusion territory too.

1974 - "You"
******!

                                                               
TRACK LIST: 

1.  Thoughts For Naught
2.  P.H.P.'s Advice
3.  Magick Mother Invocation 
4.  Master Builder 
5.  Sprinkling Of Clouds
6.  Perfect Mystery
7.  Isle Of Everywhere 
8.  You Never Blow Your Trip Forever

LINEUP:

Daevid Allen - lead vocals; guitars
Gilli Smyth - space whispers, vocals
Tim Blake - VCS3 synthesizer; vocals
Steve Hillage - guitars; vocals
Mike Howlett - bass; vocals
Didier Malherbe - saxes, flute; vocals
Pierre Moerlen - drums, percussion

Analysis. The final part of the 'classic trilogy', "You" is seem by most listeners as the most rewarding listening experience of the three. The storyline continues with Zero finding himself embroiled again in the task of asking questions of the Perfect Mystery (Why becomes a tree a tree?), but offers him solace in a series of extended meditative space romps. The craft of musicians Moerlin, Malherbe, Hillage along with bassist Steve Howlett, synthesizer artist Tim Blake and founder members and writers Allen and Smythe, reaches a peak on this disc. The tracks flow seamlessly into each other, culminating as well as might be expected in such an ambitious project, with the ritual chant of You Never Blow Yr Trip Forever. The band by this time was moving away from the whimsical humour of founder member Daevid Allen, and increasingly under the jazz-rock mantle of drummer Pierre Moerlin. Such is the inevitable evolution of a band, and after Allen and Smythe's departure they produced some class music, but of a different, less eclectic and innovative nature. Considering the continuation of the original classic members' performances in the new century, this album is a good starting point for the novice to sample the extensive waters of the Gong-related musical universe - space-rockers Kangaroo Moon, original drummer Pip Pyle's Canterburesque Equip Out, Smythe's feminist diatribings in Mother Gong, and even Malherbe's sublime, ethereal, acoustic instrumental work with Trio Hadouk.

Conclusion. Go listen!

AS: January 16, 17 & 18, 2008


Related Links:

Gong


[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]

ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Стоматология на Щукинской