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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Gong

Live At The Gong Family Unconventional Gathering

Review by Gary Hill

Comparisons to Hawkwind are always on the table when talking about Gong. Both bands have similar space rock roots. I think Gong, though, incorporates more sounds along the lines of Curved Air and more jazz into their sound. Whatever you call it, though, this double CD live album of a concert from 2006 is great. I've also reviewed the video of the show in this issue of Music Street Journal.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
CD1
                   
You Can't Kill Me

Weird effects and processed voices create a trippy sort of introduction to the show. A hard rocking groove takes over around the minute-and-a-half-mark. The cut turns a bit Hawkwind-like from there. There is a much more theatrical element at play here, though. It's more like space rock musical theater. There are some leanings toward the kind of thing The Residents do at times on this, too. The instrumental sections later are packed full of space rock goodness and definitely brings it more into Nik Turner era Hawkwind zones. It get into the more theatrical and stomping before it's over.

Radio Gnome Invisible

This has a cool rocking groove. There are crazed twists and turns. Space rock and jazz elements are merged. This is another strong piece, but perhaps not as potent as the opener was. It definitely has some Hawkwind-like tendencies in place. There is a lot of world music that comes to play further down the road. That's particularly true of the instrumental movement later.

Tomorrow Afternoon

Mellower, trippy textures serve as the backdrop for female vocals. This is a shorter and less dynamic piece.

Dynamite - I Am Your Animal

Driving jazz rock meets space on this screaming hot tune. This piece has both male and female vocals and goes through some cool changes as it drives forward. Some crazed jamming takes over later in the piece.

Flute Salad
As you might guess from the title, this is a flute solo. It's also quite classy.
Oily Way
The flute continues as the driving factor here. Space rock instrumentation rises up to join around the 40-second mark. The track moves outward from there with some killer textures. Hawkwind seems to merge with Focus on this piece. The track works to some more mainstream anthemic rocking zones further down the road.
Outer Temple
The almost spoken vocals on this have more that Hawkwind meets musical theater vibe. The tune has some world music combined with the killer space rock.
Inner Temple
Coming out of the other number, this is a cool space rock jam that works really well.
Zero the Hero and the Witch's Spell
The bass is prominent as this gets started with flute providing almost a call and response or continuation of the lines. This works through some cool twists and turns with a great spacey, trippy section with female vocals really lending some serious magic. They power out from there into more space meets jazz zones.
I Am Your Pussy
I dig the driving jazz meets space concept on this track. There are some cool bits of weirdness in the mix.
Tropical Fish
Tricky jazzy space rock is at the heart of this energized piece. The smoking hot instrumental movement deftly merges both the jazz and space sides of this act. There is a drop back to pure trippy space after the halfway mark. It eventually works back out to more of the rocking stuff before it's over.
Selene
There is so much world music in the mix on this. That said, it's definitely tempered with trippy space rock. When it gradually works up to jazzier zones further down the road, the bass really has a prominent place. This evolves into more mainstream space rock as it continues its evolution.
CD2
                     
I Never Glid Before

There is a bit of an old-school rock and roll groove at the heart of this as it gets underway. Still, the more experimental space rock concepts are woven over the top. I really dig the bass work on this thing. There are hints of Roxy Music in the mix here. The guitar solo on this cut is soaring and on fire. This thing works through so many twists and turns. It's positively incendiary.

Prostitute Poem
This is strange art rock. It has plenty of psychedelia and space built into it. It is theatrical and tastefully odd. Yet it also resolves from time to time to the more melodic and mainstream.
Magdalene
Starting with mellower, world music styled sounds, this builds outward to more rocking stuff after a time. Even then, the space and artsy aspects are the driving factors.
A Sprinkling Of Clouds
There is a swirling keyboard sound at the start of that does feel like clouds moving in a sort of pattern. This grows very gradually and features some killer bass work along with the keyboards. The number has some really classic space rock textures. Guitar drives this into more rocking zones as the piece continues to grow. It eventually works toward mellower, but no less interesting space jams.
She Is The Great Goddess
Artsy, poetry based space is the concept on this short track.
Master Builder
Spacey world music is on the menu as this gets going. There is some smoking hot space rock jamming further down the musical road here. It comes out to more mainstream, almost Hawkwind-like stuff at the end.
The Isle Of Everywhere
Artsy space rock concepts open this. I love the rather funky bass work as it build. The saxophone soloing is absolutely on point. This builds in such a tasty way. It turns a bit tribal near the end, but overall the space rock tendencies rule this cut.
You Never Blow Yr Trip Forever
At almost 18-minutes long, this is the epic of the piece. While part of that is stage banter, there is still far more music on this piece than on others here. They use that extra time to really explore. This is quite dynamic and diverse. There is plenty of theatrical sound, space rock, jazzy tendencies and more. This is sort of a hodge-podge of all the influences we've heard throughout the rest of the album, in a shifting and changing slab of greatness. It's one of the highlights of the whole show.

 

 
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