Pioneering psychedelic progressive rock band Gong will be releasing a 13-disc boxed set titled “Love From The Planet Gong: The Virgin Years 1973-75.” The collection is curated by Steve Hillage and released with the full involvement of original members.
Released to coincide with Gong’s 50th Anniversary, the anthology includes the band’s classic years in a remarkable package that includes: their essential first four Virgin studio albums plus bonus tracks; previously unreleased, multi-tracked full gigs, the complete John Peel Sessions from 1973 and 1974; previously unreleased quad Pye and Westlake mixes of ‘You’ re-formatted to 5.1 surround-sound, and artwork including rare and previously unseen work by the late Daevid Allen.
Gong was a psychedelic rock band formed in the late 1960s when Australian musician Daevid Allen was refused entry back into Great Britain following European tour dates with Soft Machine. He decided to stay in Paris, where he began working together with Gilli Smyth and various musicians on what would eventually be recognizable as Gong.
The first recordings from the band were Magick Brother, Mystic Sister in 1970. Followed by albums such as Camembert Electrique, Flying Teapot, Angels Egg and You. These last three albums followed the fortunes of Zero The Hero and told the tale of the pothead pixies and was told over the course of the three albums and became the Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy.
Following the release of You in 1974, Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth left Gong and Steve Hillage became the band leader. He also left in 1975 to pursue a solo career. Gong continued in a jazz fusion-oriented direction under Pierre Moerlen, which was very different from the original musical concept of the band.
Gong returned years later and recorded several albums until the death of Daevid Allen. The band continued with a post-Daevid Allen lineup.
Gong Expresso continues the legacy of Pierre Moerlen’s Gong, which was one of the spin offs of the original 1970s progressive band Gong. The major difference here is that Gong Expresso leans much closer to classic jazz than fusion. Canadian guitarist Julien Sandiford is a talented young musician, whose style is closer to Wes Montgomery than fusion guitarists. It’s much laid back and sometimes ventures into smooth jazz.
Veterans Hansford Rowe (USA) and Benoit Moerlen (France) still have the cutting edge drive of Gong with formidable electric bass and vibraphone work, supported by the powerful drums of Francois Causse (France).
It’s good to see yet another incarnation of Gong, who are taking the Gong brand in new directions.
Psychedelic rock collective Gong has released its first album since the death of its founder Daevid Allen. It’s hard to know who’s a member of gong at any given time, as the lineup changes frequently. This time, Gong has added guitarist and vocalist Kavus Torabi (Knifeworld), a multi-faceted musician who is involved in many different progressive music-related projects in the UK.
This version of Gong begins the album with three songs that seem to me like late 60s psychedelia. What I liked about Gong in the 1970s was its progressive rock spirit and the first three cuts on this album deliver a more rudimentary rock form with psychedelic outbursts here and there.
Things get much more interesting on track 4, “Model Village,” where the band adds trippy electronics, exotic flutes, laid back dreamy vocals and sound effects. It’s certainly a more progressive sound. This track also features an important Gong pioneer, French wind instrument master Didier Malherbe, who plays Armenian duduk.
The exploratory psychedelia continues on “Beatrix” with some jazz leanings.
On “Visions” the band takes into space music with mesmerizing gliss guitar and ebow intertwined with soprano sax.
Next comes ”The Unspeakable Stands Revealed” where the band goes into progressive psychedelic jam rock mode, delivering notable gliss guitar, regular electric guitar and soprano sax interplay.
Track 8, “Through Restless Seas I Come” slows down the space and takes you into the dreamtime zone with the mix of electronic, vocals and evocative duduk.
On the last track, “Insert Yr Own Prophecy” the band kicks up the rock side of things and develops into a great jam-like piece.
The lineup on ‘Rejoice! I’m Dead!’ includes Kavus Toravi on vocals and guitar; Fabio Golfetti on guitar and vocals; Dave Sturt on bass and vocals; Ian East on sax and flute; and Cheb Nettles on drums and vocals. There are also guest appearance by former Gong musicians Steve Hillage on guitar; Didier Malherbe on duduk; and Graham Clark on violin.
“Rejoice! I’m Dead!” is available on CD, a double LP and as a limited edition deluxe 3 disc hardback book edition featuring 44-page book, CD, DVD-AV & Bonus CD; and digitally as well.
English musician, spoken word singer and poet Gilli Smyth passed away August 22, 2016 in Australia. Gilli Smyth was the co-founder of psychedelic progressive rock bands Gong, Mother Gong and Planet Gong.