Gone II: But Never Too Gone

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On tours when Gone was one of the "opening acts" for Black Flag, this instrumental side project of the latter group minus its mouthy lead vocalist, Henry Rollins, sometimes raised the roof, enlightening many members of the audience to the immense power of improvised music, minus any and all scandalous lyrics or obvious meaning. Recorded documentation of the group never really did Gone justice: Here was a case where having the lead guitarist also preside as record company CEO hurt rather than helped. What this group really needed was an expansive collection of its music as it lived and breathed, and not something hunched over by a nervous editor. The set is light on tracks that last long enough for the musicians to participate in anything that inventive. Ultra-short pieces can be brilliant, and are a serious challenge for the improviser. The pieces of this nature here are just piffle, and that's ironic considering that these are musicians who had already mastered the art of severely short songs in the rock genre. Too frequently, these pieces seem as if someone wanted to cut them off after one or two ideas are expressed, as if afraid of alienating the listening audience. Labels such as SST of course experienced anything but success in their efforts to introduce other styles of music to the hardcore punk audience. For the most part, that audience simply wasn't interested. Many tended to tolerate this group simply because of who was in it, a liberating relationship to have with one's audience to be sure and something that no doubt had contributed to the giddy nature of some of the pieces, such as "Turned Over the Stone" and "Adams." The reluctance to really unleash the group on album might be understandable, then, as is the scribbly packaging that subtly ties the project into the entire SST universe, probably for its own safety. All these criticisms aside, the music here will always be of great interest historically, a kind of key crack that appeared in what seemed like something of an impenetrable wall. Plus, this might be the last recording Greg Ginn made on guitar before screwing up several fingers in a basketball accident.

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