Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Here & Now - Give and Take 1978

Give & Take was recorded without Daevid Allen, who had fallen ill after the release of Planet Gong's LP Live Floating Anarchy in 1978. The remaining members released it under their former name, Give & Take. Honestly, it makes no difference. If you don't look at the name on the CD and put it on, you could be tricked to believe it is a genuine early Gong album. Every element that constitutes the seminal space rock outfit's sound is reproduced to perfection: soaring guitar (courtesy of Steffy Sharpstrings, who would be drafted for the 1990s Gong reunion), sweeping synthesizers, psychedelic melodies, accelerating beats, and hypnotic pulses -- they're all there. The main difference resides in the quality of the compositions. They don't reach the same level of musical excitement; they lack Allen's cast of characters. The opener "What You See Is What You Get" is the strongest number, a tight song in two parts, first distilled from the best material on Angel's Egg and later hooking up on a riff that emulates the ground-laying space rock of You. This twin brother of a band gets suspiciously close to plagiarism in "Grate Fire of London," in which a female vocalist (either Suze Da Blooz or Annie Wombat) sings suggestive lines heavy on echo exactly like Gillie Smyth in "Prostitute Poem" (among other songs). The surprise comes with "Improvisation," an inspired, hard-driving space rock jam the likes of which Gong itself rarely recorded. Give and Take is much stronger than the group's later exercises, but it remains only an enjoyable curiosity for Gong aficionados. A long-out-of-print collector's item, this album has been reissued on CD by Tin Toy in late 2001. AMG.

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