Daevid Allen

Divided Alien Playbax, Vol. 2 (Bananamoon Obscura, Vol. 9)

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While disc one of this two-disc concert from 1980 (volumes eight and nine in the Bananamoon Obscura limited series, sold separately) presents mostly the material that would become the 1982 LP Divided Alien Playbax; disc two offers more diversity. Allen is still alone on-stage, backed by pre-recorded tapes (although an uncredited saxophonist seems to join him for "Pearls"). A few remaining cuts from Divided Alien Playbax are performed, "Froghello" and "Smile" deserving special mentions. But these tracks illustrate how odd that album remains in Allen's discography. When compared to the other material, they sound closer to something from Robert Fripp's League of Gentlemen than any other Allen project. Other highlights include the longstanding solo number "Death of Rock," which would finally see a release two years later (as an EP), and the sweet "Tali's Birthday Song." "Strong Woman" is simply too pop of a song to fit in, its programmed beat sounding just too cold for our alien's warm persona. But the real disappointment though is "Opium for the People": Allen sings over a lead vocal-less mix of Gong's mid-'70s single -- and obviously can't hear the playback right, as he moves tentatively from one line to the next in the first verse, unsure as to when to come in. It might have been a fun moment to see live, but on record it seems pretty pointless. That weaker track aside, the performance is entertaining and spirited, and possibly friendlier than disc one.

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