Exposé Online banner

Gong — The Birthday Party
(Voiceprint VPGAS 101CD, 1995, 2CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 1996-03-01

The Birthday Party Cover art

Just what the world needs, another live album by Gong!?! On some terms The Birthday Party can be compared to the live albums released by their conceptually inferior contemporaries, Hawkwind, for managing to continue to release live recordings from current mock line-ups for posterity and the prime governing factor: cash! But before I jump the wagon here, let me state, I actually like this two CD release from the Gong Appreciation Society. It’s well recorded, sounds pretty good and the members are well rehearsed. The band is in fine form for a re-union: I mean we can take Pip Pyle over Pierre Moerlin, Steve Hillage is also sadly absent as well. But present and welcome additions back to (at least) this planet, are Mike Howlett ( very solid bass playing throughout the shows) and Tim Blake’s role ( in particular on the outstanding track, "Clouds Again") show a good glimpse of the jazzy/spacey elements where the group excelled. Disc One is classic Gong, Allen/Smyth going through the now, somewhat familiar Gong song cycle at an even pace. Disc Two: I don’t know much of this stuff, er... Maybe I do. I think it’s mislabeled: "Isle of Everywhere" is "Tri-cycle Gliss." Live photos from the insert look very similar to those included in the best album by the band, Gong Live Etc: the real watermark. And this set holds up pretty well to it (unlike the previous, full band re-union which did include Moerlen and Hillage by the way!). Some of this starts to blur into the Ozrics territory, but at least there is definite pacing by the songs and you can tell the difference between the beginning and ending of the disc. This would have been a fun show to attend


Filed under: New releases, Issue 9, 1995 releases

Related artist(s): Gilli Smyth / Mother Gong, Gong, Daevid Allen, Pip Pyle, Tim Blake

Latest news

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Hawkwind - Golden Void 1969-1979 – Hey look, it's another Hawkwind compilation! I hope they got paid for this one. For your information, the band is as unhappy as the fans about the crop of Hawkwind reissue albums that pop up,...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues