Possibly the most extraordinary band you will ever come across, Gong were originally formed in 1967 in Paris by Australian multi-instrumentalist Daevid Allen and the wonderful but mad English vocalist Gilli Smyth. Of course this is all irrelevant as they both really descended upon the planet Earth with a band of pixies from the planet Gong.
The first two albums were released and made little impact but then they ventured forth with the first part of the Radio Gnome trilogy, “Flying Teapot”. The lineup of the band was not stable for the recording of this album, but then it never was. In all, 53 musicians have been fully fledged members of Gong and in Wikipedia the members even have their own page (sadly most of them have now passed on and returned to the planet Gong.)
Many talented musicians have lent their talents to the making of Gong music and listening to it is always a worthwhile experience, just certain precautions have to be taken first. Firstly, all children and those of sensitive natures should be sent away and those without a sense of humor should also be banished, and of course, the wearing of silver foil hats is a must.
The story of the Radio Gnome trilogy starts off on “Flying Teapot”, telling us the story of our heroes, Zero The Hero and the good witch Yoni (beware, she is not good in the Walt Disney sense of good witches but she is very adept at certain things though) and joining them are their helpful pixies.
Now, if you’re not already confused, there have been two versions of this album released with different track listings and various edits (sacrilege to the avid fan). For the sake of confusion we will stick with the original which was released on the same day as Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” on the new Richard Branson label Virgin, although it perhaps did not have the same impact, well at least on this planet anyway.
The first track “Radio Gnome Invisible” starts off with a bit of Gong speak before the song comes bouncing in supported by keyboards, guitar, drums and babble (babble consists, of hippie talk, Gong, Spanish, French and other dialects.) But even if you get it, you are lost as it whisks you from one part of the story to the next. Where the story is leading is never really made clear. I suppose that is half the fun – you can make it up yourself.
The album bounces along from track to sonic track. If you thought Hawkwind was space/rock think again. By the time it gets to the last two tracks it is clear why Yoni is a good witch (this bit does not leave much to your imagination).
The trilogy continued with “Angels Egg” in 1973 and “You” in 1974, after which both Allen and Smyth departed and left the others to carry on (Allen and Smyth would occasionally form other bands like Mother Gong).
Gong as a band are still going strong after over 50 years and released a rather good album called “Rejoice! I’m Dead” in 2016. They also appeared at The New Day Festival last month in Faversham, Kent, England.
Mott the Dog rating: 5 Stars.
Gong on this album:
Daevid Allen – lots of instruments & throat music
Gilli Smyth – purrs, growls and howls
Tim Blake – keyboards
Steve Hillage – guitar
Didier Malherbe – sax and flute
Francis Moze – bass guitar
Laurie Allan – drums
Radio Gnome Invisible
The Pot Head Pixies
The Octave Doctors & the Crystal Machine
Zero The Hero & The Witch’s Spell
Note: Written by Mott The Dog and The Pixies at Jameson’s, The Irish Pub, Soi AR , North Pattaya.