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Magick Brother

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Album Review

In 1970, the world got its first taste of the original pothead pixie, Daevid Allen's Gong, as Magick Brother was released in France on the BYG label. Allen's wife, Gilli Smyth, penned all the tunes on the album, and Allen's now-classic "Ph.P." drawing style graces the inside of the gatefold. Leaning a little toward the pop end of the spectrum, Magick Brother is a fairly light album, devoid of the blatant psychedelic/hippie qualities which shine through so brilliantly on the later Camembert Electrique. Smyth's "space whispering" makes its debut on the opening track, though the album is not as spacy as it is ethereal. "Gong Song" is a highlight, with lyrics describing a pothead pixie who came down from the planet Gong to sing his green song — the roots of the Gong myth. Allen's guitar sound is a bit flat and hollow throughout the project, dynamics taking a back seat in most of these recordings. He relies on distortion and various guitar augmentations, but this all works quite well in the context of the collective sound. Much of the vocal harmonizing on the album is typical of many '60s pop troupes and sounds fairly dated today. Didier Malherbe's sax and flute playing spices up this mostly pop-oriented prog rock outing, helping to make this a cut above the radio norm. Although this is an interesting release, especially for its status as the first Gong project, it is not typical Gong and is not recommended as a starting point for sampling the band's recordings.

Biography

Formed: 1968

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Gong slowly came together in the late '60s when Australian guitarist Daevid Allen (ex-Soft Machine) began making music with his wife, singer Gilli Smyth, along with a shifting lineup of supporting musicians. Albums from this period include Magick Brother, Mystic Sister (1969) and the impromptu jam session Bananamoon (1971) featuring Robert Wyatt from Soft Machine, Gary Wright from Spooky Tooth, and Maggie Bell. A steady lineup featuring Frenchman Didier Malherbe (sax and reeds), Christian Tritsch...
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