Live on TV 1990

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It might not be the original Gong (too many member changes for that), but the soul of the band certainly returns after 15 years for this recording, a concert for television. The material is all drawn from the past, some from the Radio Gnome Trilogy, some earlier, with only one later piece ("Gorbachev Cocktail"). But it's also performed with the same skill and self-deprecating, winking humor the band had always employed. Certainly, there's been no loss of ability in the intervening decade and a half, with saxophonist Didier Malherbe a standout. Former Pink Fairy and Pretty Thing Twink guests on snythesizer, a very good fit with this bunch of cosmic pot-head pixies. Perhaps because this is made for TV, there's not so much instrumental stretching-out; only the last two tracks give any room. But that's fine, since Gong was always a balance of playing and strong songs, and the spotlight gets to shine on the latter this time out; time hasn't dimmed their appeal one bit. Allen is in superb form, more ringmaster than bandleader of this motley and talented circus. Resurrected by the ambient movement, Gong proves there's much more to what they do than whooshy space rock. There's jazz, prog, poetry, and a wicked sense of humor tempering the mix, making them men (and women) for all seasons. A welcome return for a band who spent much of the early '70s deflating the pomposity of prog rock. Grab a cup of tea and listen.

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