Gong: Access All Areas

Floating anarchy in the UK.

TODO alt text

Never exactly a stable celestial body, by 1990 the mythical planet Gong had drawn a few original wayfarers back into its gravitational pull, most notably original drummer Pip Pyle and saxophonist Didier Malherbe (aka Bloomdido Bad De Grasse); the most accomplished musician the band ever possessed.

Filmed for TV in Nottingham, at the time it was the closest to a full reunion ever tabled. Though lacking the snaking, hash-oiled fluidity of peak-era improvisational prowess, there’s still enough manoeuvrability and ad-libbing within the song structures to counter any arguments of rigidity or formula.

Tracks-wise, it’s a fairly even split between Flying Teapot and Angel’s Egg, opening with a pair from the more angular Camembert Electrique (You Can’t Kill Me, I’ve Bin Stone Before). Like fellow spaceniks Hawkwind, the band has always been fond of a reworking, both musical and titular: Outer and Inner Temple become Outer and Inner Vision, and the set highpoint – Flute Salad into Oily Way – is retitled Voix Lactee (loose trans. Milky Way).

At times, on the DVD especially, the zaniness plays scripted rather than the genuine weirdness it once was, yet Daevid Allen’s crowd walkabout in the closing mantra of I Am You is a genuinely touching moment.

Classic Rock 214: Reissues A-Z