Friday, March 13, 2015

Gong - 1969 - Magick Brother

Magick Brother

01. Mystic Sister / Magick Brother (6:16)
02. Glad To Sad To Say (2:55)
03. Rational Anthemn (4:10)
04. Chainstore Chant / Pretty Miss Tittty (5:19)
05. Fable Of A Fredfish / Hope You Feel Well (3:99)
06. Ego (3:54)
07. Gongsong (3:48)
08. Princess Dreaming (3:52)
09. 5 & 20 Schoolgirls (4:30)
10. Cos You Got Greenhair (5:02)

- Daevid Allen / guitars, vocals
- Didier Malherbe / flute, Soprano saxophone
- Earl Freeman / contrabass on 6, piano on 7
- Dieter Gewissler / contrabass on 1 and 7
- Burton Green / piano on 6
- Rachid Houari / drums
- Dave Phillips / contrabass on 3 and 8
- Gilli Smyth / space whisper
- Tasmin Smyth / voices on 1

After Daevid Allen left Soft Machine he spent a few years continuing his beatnik lifestyle traveling around Europe and getting into mischief before finally recording his first album under the GONG moniker. Despite the band name this is more of an Allen album with equal billing given to Gilly Smyth who makes her debut on this first GONG album as the trippy poet and space whisperer who graced not only the GONG albums of the Allen era but also many of the solo offerings from band's members. MAGICK BROTHER has also been released as MAGICK BROTHER, MYSTIC SISTER and was released early in 1970. The album is really an accumulation of musical ideas that had been with Allen since leaving Soft Machine and since those years took place in the tumultuous late 60s it is no surprise that this album has its sound firmly rooted in 60s psychedelia and the lyrics in that same idealist Utopian vision of the hippie movement.

This is in fact an interesting crossroads for Allen's career where he finally got to put to tape all of those latent ideas that didn't make it into Soft Machine that fully embraced the most psychedelic aspects that rock had to offer at that time and the more progressive ideas that were finding their way into the world. This album came out after all those groundbreaking releases of 1969 and the musical landscape was changing quickly but Allen was finding away to keep those space rock sounds going and evolving them into the next phase. On MAGICK BROTHER you can hear hippie peace protest songs "Rational Anthem" next to fully fueled freakouts that sound more like something on a Krautrock album and would make contemporary trippers like Pink Floyd proud. My guess is that many mind-altering substances were consumed in the making of this one. You think?!!

The album is divided into two sides. The first is "Early Morning" and the second is "Late Night" but to be honest I can't really tell any difference between the two as they both contain hippie folk type songs and freaked out bizarreness. This is one that I wasn't impressed with upon first listen coming to it after all the better releases that followed but it has grown on me and is in fact an interesting little album in its own right. I would not recommend skipping this one since it has a charm all its own and provides a glimpse of GONG's origins. The only problem I have is some of the folkier songs are a little lackluster and could have used a little more fine tuning but overall it doesn't diminish my listening experience.
 An absolutely strange UFO with very weird music well worthy of GonG but it is right now just Gong. Because if the zanyness is already present and makes for this album much of an interest , but it is not part of the Radio Gnome trilogy or linked to it. Only Malherbe , Allen and Smyth are on this album that will be present on the classic GonG.

But the main interest of the album is that I cannot think of one album that is more representative of hippydom, in fact it could epitomize it. As Daevid got thrown out of England (so called visa problems but as an Aussie and in the Commonwealth.....) , he went back to France and joined a hippy commune in Normandy and one can guess that he got those guys into this project . This album although structured reeks anarchy , but not in the same way that of Amon Djuul's first group. If this had been recorded in Germany , this would've had a chance to be classified as Polit-Rock alongside such as other left-wing activists as Kluster etc... Not that Daevid would be called left-wing but just an activist alone would fit him fine. Anyway , this album is very rough and raw to the bone (especially compared to Angel's Egg and You) but is much worth a spin but beware of your sanity. Doctor's prescription would say no more than one toke/poke a week to avoid addiction.

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