A compilation of concerts from 73-75 and one studio outtake
Jeffrey J.Park | Massachusetts, USA | 01/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This album was not released until 1977 and is a great compilation of spirited and dynamic live performances recorded during the 1973-1975 timeframe. The live recordings were taken from concerts at (1) Salle Bataclan Paris, (2) the Edinburgh Festival, (3) Club Arc-en-Ciel (Roanne), (4) BBC Studios, and (5) the Marquee Club, while one track is actually a studio outtake from the You sessions (Where have all the flowers gone?). Fortunately, the live performances do not fall prey to the problems that plague live albums - there are no lengthy (and seemingly endless) solos and incredibly dull "note-for-note" reproductions of the studio pieces. Rather, the pieces are very lively and feature excellent group improvisations that expand the studio works far beyond their original configurations. Although the performances by all members are outstanding, I feel compelled to single out drummer Pierre Moerlen who simply blazes - his playing on this album is truly something to behold. For those folks that love the Daevid Allen lineup, I think it is worth indicating that the music is played by three different lineups, which are identified in the liner notes as lineups A, B, and C. Lineup A (Tracks 1-6 and 11) includes Allen, Smyth, Malherbe, Howlett, Hillage, Blake, and Moerlen; Lineup B (Tracks 7-10) is the same, with the exception of the replacement of Pierre Moerlen with Rob Tate, and the addition of Di Stewart (vocals/percussion); and Lineup C (Tracks 12-15) features Hillage, Howlett, Lemoine, Bauer, Moerlen, Malherbe, and Giraudy (the Shamal lineup). With respect to the different lineups, I missed Pierre's superb drumming on the Lineup B performances, and I have to say that although the players are excellent, Lineup C did not do much for me - I really missed Tim Blake's atmospheric, bubbling synthesizer work on pieces such as Isle of Everywhere and Master Builder (from You, 1974). It's not that keyboardist Patrice Lemoine is bad - it's just that instrumentation that includes only electric organ (and a virtually buried mini-moog) really does not lend that spacey effect that made the You album so amazing. Guitarist Steve Hillage however, puts in a great performance and Pierre Moerlen simply rips. One last thing - the liner notes indicate that the piece entitled "Ooby-Scooby-Doomsday or the D-Day DJs got the DDT Blues" was not included on the CD due to time limitations. This piece does, however, turn up on the remastered version of Angels Egg. All in all, I have to say that this is a good live document that more or less captures the essence of 73-75 period Gong. In spite of the fact that there may be better live recordings of Gong out there, this is certainly readily available to most people and is pretty darn cheap. Recommended."
Roll up for the magical mystery Gong!
Tom Pitsis | New South Wales | 07/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Live albums from the 70's are a hazardous affair. Think of superstar acts carefully trying to recreate their studio albums - usually painful to listen to. This, on the other hand, deserves the title "Live" in the sense that the great jazz stars often make great music when recording live. The main reasons I give this five stars is for the magical, flowing, melodic and intelligent sax playing by Didier Malherbe. Any self respecting jazz combo would kill to get a player of that callibre into their group. Moerlen, the drummer, provides breath-taking musicianship too. Daevid Allen is there to make it all structurally sound, and to provide inspiration. Funnily enough, I got into Gong through my love for Steve Hillage's (the guitarist) albums, but on this his playing is so weird and sloppy, it sounds like his PHP mind is in Mercury, while his fingers are on Pluto. (What were you on, Steve?) But that very strangeness of his playing adds yet another dimension to this wonderful album. This is the sort of stuff that makes life worth living. Wonderful."
Excellent live album, some previously unreleased stuff too
BENJAMIN MILER | Veneta, Oregon | 04/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I usually scare away from live albums. Many times it's just bands on a huge ego trip doing lengthy, boring, extended versions of their best material or biggest hits. Even as a diehard prog rock fan, although many might disagree, it's really difficult for me to sit through three discs of Yessongs or Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends... There are so much tedious and uninspired spots on those albums, but then everyone knows how big the egos Yes and ELP were at that time. To me their studio material was superior. On the other hand Frank Zappa was also able to make fine live albums that equal his studio works. And I was really surprised to enjoy Gong's Live Etc. This album was originally released in 1977. I own the LP on Virgin Records, which comes with a die-cut cover and two inner sleeves which contains collage photos of the band. All the material here was recorded live from 1973-1975, with a couple of previously unreleased studio cuts from around the same time. This is Gong from their classic era: Daevid Allen, Didier Malherbe, Gilli Smyth, Tim Blake, Steve Hillage, Pierre Moerlin, Mike Howlett, so you get excellent live versions of many of their greats: "You Can't Kill Me", "Flying Teapot", "Zero the Hero and the Witch's Spell", "Dynamite: I Am Your Animal", "Oily Way" and so much more. What I admire most is the band gave it their full here, no slacking here like too many other live albums out there. The 1973 material is in fact the earliest Gong recordings to feature then-new members Pierre Moerlin and Mike Howlett, these were recorded in May 1973, same time Flying Teapot came out (which was recorded with a different drummer and bassist), and several months before Angel's Egg. There are some previously unreleased studio cuts as well. One is "Ooby-Scooby Doomsday or the D-Day DJ's Got the D.D.T. Blues", recorded in 1973. The LP states this was Gong's attempt at a Top 40 hit, and it's pretty lame. Gong trying the blues is really a bad idea. There's a good reason why it never got released until '77. The other, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone", from 1974 isn't Gong doing a Pete Seeger song, but another Gong original. It features Tim Blake playing harmonica, and the songs sounds like a precursor to "Hurdy Gurdy Glissando" from Steve Hillage's 1976 solo album "L". The lyrics are different, there are no synths here, and Daevid Allen handle the vocals. Side four of the LP features the Shamal-lineup (Moerlin, Hillage, Howlett, Malherbe, Mireille Bauer, Patrice Lemoine, etc.) performing material from "You". Because Allen is gone, the vocals all-but vanished. And because Tim Blake is gone, a lot of the mystical, spacy electronic atmosphere is gone, replace by a more fusion-oriented sound that the band would do from here on. Mike Howlett's bass sticks out more, and the only vocals you hear is this version of Gong doing "Flying Teapot" (the LP also featured the Daevid Allen version of Gong doing that song too, which was superior). Whatever the case, Live Etc. comes to show that Gong put on great shows, so if you're a fan of their Radio Gnome trilogy, like I am, be sure to pick this album up."
Gong - 'Live Etc.' (Caroline) 4 1/2 stars
Mike Reed | USA | 08/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"'Live Etc' is an absolute must-have compilation for all true Gong fans.It features a total of fifteen live tracks of tunes that originally appeared on the band's key albums 'Camembert Electrique','Flying Teapot','Angel's Egg' and 'You'.Taken from unreleased live soundboard tapes(I assume)from shows between 1973-75.Absolute best cut here is "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" along with "6/8 Tune",that are the disc's only unreleased material.Other cosmic gems include "Dynamite/I Am Your Animal","Isle Of Everywhere","Oily Way" and "Master Builder".Duration is 78:33.Heard they wanted to add the 16th cut that was originally on the 2-lp record,but the CD simply wouldn't hold it.Talk about wanting to give your fans their money's worth.Long live the mother Gong ship!Recommended."
A worthwhile, filling earful
asherd | san fransisco, ca | 09/09/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A well recorded, energetic documentary of the 73-75 lineup of Gong. The playing is a bit sloppy at times, but real tight in general. The vocals range from acceptable to atrocious, but it's the music that matters. Steve Hillage is in top form. The tracks off the "You" album suffer slightly from Tim Blake's absence, but offer some fine playing from Hillage, and the rhythm section. A must have for Gong fans, but "You" is a better starting place."