Monday, October 14, 2019
Love from the Planet Gong- The Virgin Years 1973-1975
I just received this 13 CD box set with some really amazing liner notes, pictures, all the lyrics. GONG is one of those bands whose albums when released on CD in the 90s sounded terrible. There was a remaster version of some of the albums in 2004 but this is for sure the definite version overseen with some input from Steve Hillage and Mike Howlett and performed by the original engineer, Simon Heyworth.. It is a lovely set of music and my favourite era of the band for sure.
The 3 different parts that make up the box are superb. There is a hardback book with detailed descriptions of the contents of the box and a lot of Daevid’s drawings, promo pictures, adverts, etc… Very nice put together with a lot of interesting information I never knew. Then you have a soft paper insert that you are intended to take apart and cut into pieces and you can reassemble some of the original inserts that came with some of the albums as well as the white, pink and blue books that Daevid created to go with these records. I own the original white one!!! You also get all the crazy lyrics to all the songs.
Flying Tea Pot starts things off and this is the first ever remaster from the original vinyl LP master. Sounds really clear and the spaced out voices are really clear. There are not really any really interesting bonus cuts, just some edits, vocals or other mixes of tracks from the original album. Angels Egg is not remastered from the vinyl master. I guess they could not find this. Anyway, there is one very strange extra track, Ooby Dooby Scooby and a few other versions of songs on the LP. Again, this sounds so much better than my old 1990s CD…
YOU, the greatest GONG album ever appears in two versions. You get the new 2018 remaster and a quadraphonic mix on the DVD that comes only with this set!! I never knew that this was mixed for Quadrophonic back in 1974. Sadly, they could only find the side A quad mixes to make these new surround mixes so the Side B was made into a quad mix from the stereo mix using a special technique. Anyway, you get two versions of Side A as they also applied this to side A. You also get a bonus track on the stereo CD called Where have all the Flowers Gone but this is not unreleased. In fact, only Flying Teapot and Shamal bonus tracks are unreleased.
Then there are several live concert discs from this magical era of the band (many mixed by Mike Howlett) and most of these are totally unreleased and new to the world! The BBC sessions must constitute some of the most spaced out music ever played live on the radio in the UK!!! One of the tracks from the unreleased Edinburgh 73 show is below. Live at Bataclan 73 is listed as unreleased, it has been on a CD format for years but not officially. The real unique live material that has rarely or never circulated is the Club Arc en Ciel 73 (full show on 2 CDs), Hyde Park 74, and the Marquee 75 shows. Quite incredible quality most of this material as well. What an amazing and unusual band. Still impressed after all these years. Have a cuppa tea and enjoy some GONG!