If you feel belief (hi Pete)
I got a story to tell you
Of a band of little green men
From a far away planet
If you want to know about love
Then ask the wee geezer
He can teach you telepathy
He can read your mind backwards…
It was sad to read about the death of Daevid Allen last week. I wish I knew more about him and his music – but I don’t. The fact is, when I was at school, we had a good laugh thanks to his band, Gong. They came up with just the sort of titles and lyrics to amuse pretentious teenage boys of that era. Squeezing Sponges over Policemen’s Heads, Flying Teapot. But that was that.
Gong was prog rock. Prog rock was something you were supposed to like in our sixth form and, believe me, I tried. But for me, the LPs never did what they said on the sleeve. The fact that Mother Gong -a Gong spin-off- played at Glastonbury when we went there in 1981 was a curiosity. We would have preferred The Clash. And John Cooper Clarke was there and -my most enduring musical memory of that weekend- so was Aswad.
It all came back to my attention thirty years later when I came across a CD of Camembert Electrique in Cob Records (one of my favourite shops – you never know what you’ll find in there). The track-names rang bells. I just had to buy it and listen again: Fohat Digs Holes in Space, Tropical Fish (there’s an ear-worm to conjure with)…
I was hooked. In the decades since my youth I’d got to know Charles Mingus and Weather Report and goodness knows what else so I found myself listening to Gong with new ears.