Saturday, November 15, 2008
Gong - Pre-Modernist Wireless: Peel Sessions 1971-74
First off, thanks to postcooksey for shame-kicking my lazy ass into restarting this once-stagnant blog. I have a slew of to-be-posted albums on my desktop, and it is time for me to get to work on them. Here's goes.
This album, which is actually not an album at all, compiles the appearances of trans-continental prog champions Gong on the legendary John Peel show on BBC Radio. Gong, a band of tripped-out fuckheads that is almost as famous for its bizarre mythology as for the idiosyncratic music it produced, show themselves here as a capable live act, with the songs losing none of their charm whatsoever without the playground of a studio (a common trait of late-60's sike, where production techniques often masked boring, by-the-book pop numbers as bold and experimental). In fact, what this set accomplishes is to demonstrate that for all the conceptual wonder-pinnings of their long-form concept albums, Gong wrote fucking great self-contained songs that hold up even without spoken-word interludes about 'pot-head pixies' and the like (not that there's anything wrong with that!). From acid-folk ('Magick Brother') to irreverent ska ('Clarence in Wonderland') and of course the cosmic anthem "You Can't Kill Me," Gong provides one of those rare listening experiences that feel like one has been temporarily transported into the mind of a lunatic, only to discover that it's actually a lot more fun than the so-called 'real world' (a dull waste of time, this author can assure you).
For those of you unfamiliar with Gong's studio output, you can find their essential first five albums over at Black Acid; as a hint, the band generally followed the era's transition from psychedelic to progressive rock, with their early works resembling an especially spaced-out take on late-60s psych, exploding into full-blown prog with the infamous "Radio Gnome Trilogy."
It seems to be out of print but you can find "Pre-Modernist Wireless" as a $45 import on Amazon, or opt for sheer musical piracy here.