George Starostin's Reviews



Become a Certified Commentator today by following this link!

!!Before adding new comments, please check the GUIDELINES. Don't say I didn't warn you!!


Laurence Solkin <> (05.01.2003)


I saw something called "Daevid Allen's Gong" in London in 1976,  I have no idea of the line up but assume that it must have included Daevid himself. How this relates to the other Gong remnants I do not know but I think it is fair to say that Daevid himself featured in a form of Gong after 1974. I have no recollection of the gig itself for the obvious chemical reasons

Jon <> (26.03.2003)

Comparing this to Syd Barrett? Better than Soft Machine? Daevid Allen apparently worshipped Barrett, but giving Gong a 3 and Soft Machine a 1 (bearing in mind most of their catalogue is dreck) is like rating taylor over the stones. The interesting stuff about Barrett is he took songwriting and guitar playing risks (probably he didn't think they were risks, since he is mad), but Allen's guitar playing has always been canned. Don't know if you play guitar yourself, but one listen to flying teapot cured me of wanting to pursue the mystery of Daevid Allen guitar wizardry. Pretty standard fare. DON'T invest in Gong if youre looking for the same risks in songwriting/guitar playing, it's jsut a bunch of washed-out and insincere mysticism and tomfoolery. Did you hear him on Jet Propelled Photographs? That is a a series of the most banal blues-influenced solos in the history of mankind. To his credit, Daeve often acknowledges how lousy his playing was there, and though admittedly he has sharpened up pretty nicely, his playing is still as expected as... well. I don't expect anyone to bother knowing Kenny Burrell (no reason to, the pretentions don't jsutify the payoffs) but anything Daevid Allen plays is encompassed by Ken (and other jazzers) from up to ten years earlier. Not very fun to hear the same stuff again slightly worse than before. Is Gong sometimes pleasingly and exuberantly weird? Hell yes, they can be fun to listen to. Is this better or more innovative than Soft Machine? No. Should you expect Syd-qualities? No; at best comparisons could be made with "the Gnome" and some other of his fractured fairy tales, but on the whole the styles were utterly different. I totally agree with your overall ratings for both SM and SB, but let's keep things in perspective. I don't see the "resonance" stuff and whatnot here that usually comprises the rating, but I'd be interested to know how "resonant" or whatever you believe a these tracks are. Also, are you sure your facts straight about his departure from Soft Machine? Allen was denied entry into England as an undesirable, and THEN he left the band to stay in Paris. Any reasons he gives I'm sure may have some truth, but he was with the band until he was denied entry. Since one of my favorite things about early Soft Machine is the basic bass-drums-organness, they were probably both better off. My advice is get Flying teapot and then decide. Even as a sometime Jazz listener (no Cecil Taylor though, thanks) it bores the PANTS off me, and I would rate it lower than say, volume II of soft machine. If weirdness in itself is enugh for you, you might really like it though. plus the ohso exculsive customary thrill of listening to a really "obscure" band. Get some Magma! Hee hee. Also calling Soft Machine an Allen brainchild is really not accurate, nor is saying they are comparable to Syd's "darker" side. The hell? Because they play on "No Man's Land'? The arranging and songwriting styles are entirely different. Not really understanding George there. Just want to warn a few people who might order Gong albums (sometimes they are expensive here in the states) on this recommendation, because if you are expecting stuff like the Barrett solo albums or even 90% of Piper, you are in for a lot of disappointments. Though if you do want to hear some weird, not too threatening, weird, laid back weird weirdness, Gong is your band.

[Special author note: I actually don't know much about Daevid Allen's guitar playing - from around the time of Flying Teapot, it's Steve Hillage that was responsible for most of the guitar playing, and he's universally renowned as a great guitar player, far outreaching my limited understanding of any guitar techniques. I wouldn't advise using the word "insincere" either, at least not before reading up a bit on the whole "Gong mythology".]

Gilbert Stirling Lee <> (26.06.2003)

I love these people ... great musicians, yes ... great big heart far more so still. Forget Syd Barrett comparisons, forget everyday concerns; just listen, grow & then you'll know! favourite tracks include "Glad to Say' from Magick Brother, "Fohat Digs Holes In Space" & "Selene' from Camembert Electricque, "Findlays Blues" from Continental Circus ( thats some rhythm, n'est-ce pas? ), and pretty much all of Angel's Egg & You. Also try You Remixed (GAS records 2002?)for trancey stuff & Live- Floating Anarchy 77 for high speed punky psychedelia ... you know it makes sense!


No reader comments yet.


No reader comments yet.


Nick Vesey <> (22.10.2002)

My favorite Gong album, and one of my all-time favorite albums. Well, I've got Angel's Egg and You as well, still need to get Flying Teapot and the debut, and all the rest, but I'm quite content with what I have by the ol' pothead-pixies for now. This album for me is a masterpiece of bizzare music, a perfect blend of post-psychedelic expiramentation, jazz and space rock with alot of off-the-wall humor thrown in as well. Every time I put it on I'm blown away by the band's virtuosity, especially on 'Tropical Fish: Selene'. The tracks I've been enjoying the most recently are 'Dynamite: I Am Your Animal', 'Fohat Digs Holes In Space' and 'You Can't Kill Me'. I just love the the first few minutes of 'Fohat', its like spinning through space.

Jacob Wareham <> (22.12.2005)

"And when you're high, you don't have time to empathize much."-- What!? I'm MUCH more emotional when...nevermind. Hey, this is fantastic! Camembert really is an album with good moments rather than good songs, but oh, those moments! The bouncy bassline in 'You Can't Kill Me' that comes right after the chorus is, like, totally sweet man, and let me say that Gilli Smith is definitely the most skilled and stimulating Space Whisperer out there. I think my favorite part of the whole album is at the end of 'Dynamite', when the words (I think) "We can all target your son!" is repeated over and over, and Daevid is screaming like a COMPLETE MADMAN in the background, and there's a sharp, nasty wah-wah going on too, which is, like, totally wow man! This is insanity-- EMOTIONAL insanity, I tell you.


Jason Saenz <> (09.07.2004)

There is something really strange with this album, I'll tell you a short story about this album: I have a friend that told me that he was once jamming to this record and my buddy had the volume at normal range, all of the sudden Gilli starts her medusa-type singing and a glass coke bottle (wich is really thick glass) just cut itself in half, in one perfect half. I didnt really beleive my buddy and he assured me that he wasn't stoned at all (and im sure he wasnt) so he showed me the bottle and not even a glass cutter could have done that, cut in a perfect half by Gilli's voice. Now thats a powerful album if you may.


Randy Doak <> (27.10.2005)

When asked where to start with Gong, I recommend Angel's Egg first. Recorded in the out of doors in their chateau in Brittany, this album marks the beginning of the very short-lived and volatile golden version of the Gong band. With the addition of Pierre Moerlin and Mike Howlett, Gong was truly firing on all cylinders. The Flying Teapot group was ok, but lacked the crisp feel that Moelin was able to provide with his battery of drums, cymbals and mallet instruments. The warm and funky Howlett on bass was his perfect foil. You can hear and feel the center of gravity start to move away from Allen and a more collective approach begin to emerge. Hillage, who was pretty much buried in the mix on Flying Teapot has come out of his shell and provides several concise and dazzling solos and a sweeping palette of textures. Bloomdido also has some of best recorded moments ever. For Gong fans, this is the shit. Angel's Egg represented the perfect balance between Allen's inspired wierdness and the ripping musicianship of the supporting cast.


No reader comments yet.


No reader comments yet.


No reader comments yet.


Graham Clark <> (04.07.2002)


Gilli wasn't in the band when we recorded Shapeshifter in Paris. The final two tracks are bonus live tracks that were added for the American release. They were recorded considerably later, well after I'd left the band.



No reader comments yet.


No reader comments yet.

Return to the main index page