Reviews roundup ~ Gong ~ The End A.D. ~ Stephan Georg ~ PAKT ~ Anyone

Reviews roundup ~ Gong ~ The End A.D. ~ Stephan Georg ~ PAKT ~ Anyone

Live At The Gong Unconvention 2006


If I counted up the number of brain cells utterly destroyed by Gong gigs over the years, it would be at least, um, 4. Maybe more. And here go a few more.

It’s hard to keep track of things in my advanced state of decay but either today is over a decade ago or this has taken 15 years to be released. Neither of these things make sense. Of course, a few other pixies have left the building over the years including Daevid Allen but back then there were still plenty of survivors around to make for a remarkable evening. Oh, hang on, it came out as a DVD! Ask yer da.

Of most note was the return of Steve Hillage and Tim Blake to play their parts in a remarkably together out of it Gong experience. Add in the likes of Theo Travis, Gilli Smyth, Mike Howlett and Didier Malherbe and what could almost pass for a greatest hits set. Bearing in mind that hits were not what Gong did. I say did. Gong are still around, with a 2022 UK tour planned, not that there are any original members left. Mind you, their last album was excellent so who knows.

This was the closing act of a weekend long immersion in the world of Gong (and I’m sure the Steve Hillage set is out there in Buy It Now world) and it really is a delight. Absolutely oodles from “Camembert Electrique” and the Planet Gong trilogy which is exactly what you want. I remember seeing them after “Zero To Infinity” was released and I didn’t half miss some of this stuff. This stuff being ‘You Can’t Kill Me’, ‘I Never Glid Before’ and ‘You Never Blow Yr Trip Forever’, the latter from my favoured “You” LP. Hillage fans may find this a tad underwhelming as it’s really the horns and drums that drive things onwards. But for those of us who yearn for the days of Bloomdido Bad de Grasse, Dingo Virgin, Bambaloni Yoni et al, this is just what we want.

It’s All In Your Head

FastBall Records

It’s a couple of years since I spoke in vaguely kind style about “Badlands” from The End A.D. As punky hardcore went it was a’right.

Now they’re back with a five track EP. I hesitate to call it a mini album as it flashes by in quarter of an hour. It’s still punky hardcore and if crashing riffs and virulent vocals are your thing, then this, quite possibly, could be your thing. I’ve had a leaf through the lyrics and they’re still very, very angry about stuff. And quite right to. They’re also still potty mouthed with Ami Friend making use of words my auld Irish mammy would have smacked me upside the head for.

Her vocals are good, going from rasps to screams, effortlessly. But it’s the riffs I like best. And they’re uniformly good. I’m probably fondest of ‘Stink’ mainly because I do enjoy a good breakdown. It’s intense from start to finish, utterly relentless. Throw in a batshit crazy cover version in the shape of ‘Bloodsucker’ by Deep Purple and this makes for 15 minutes well spent.

The Fire Still Burns

Tight Records

So, it was what, five albums with his old band Tight. And this is his third solo album. And he’s got a side project as well. He likes to keep busy does Stephan Georg.

Of course, I’ve still never heard of him but his previous solo records saw the likes of David Reece (Accept / Bangalore Choir) and Tim “Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest / KKs Priest) stepping up the mike. So it wasn’t a huge leap to work out that this might be some kind of eighties inspired power metal thing.

One spin later and I can safely say that this is most definitely some kind of eighties inspired power metal thing. David Reece is back and he’s also got Alexx Stahl from Bonfire singing which, if the sleeve notes are to be believed, must be like the best wet dream ever for Herr Georg. There’s more Bonfire with Hans Ziller popping in for a solo and somehow he’s managed to resurrect the corpse of Chris Holmes (W.A.S.P) to solo on ‘The Beast Inside’. There will be actual Hell to pay for that.

All told there are eight different vocalists here and while I understand that on some grandiose metal opera, it’s not my favourite thing. But there are some good tunes here. The opening ‘Revenge Of The Witch’, sung by Alexx Stahl is one of them. As are the two David Reece fronted tunes with ‘Valley Of The Knights’ probably the best of the two. The unknown (to me) Chris Richter does a fantastic job on ‘Words Of Evi’ which also features a great solo from the aforementioned Hans Ziller.

Of the female vocals, Lisa Mann is the winner with ‘Lonely Flower’, an excellent turn from the White Crone (yes, really) singer. And no-one was more surprised than me to realise it’s the same Lisa Mann, whose blues albums I have encountered in the past. The guitar work is excellent from start to finish and Stephan Georg has written a few good tunes to boot. I’d still rather hear one great singer from start to finish rather than vocalists ranging from great to meh. But I’m told they’re not easy to come by. Still, if eighties metal is where your heart lies, then this is well worth a listen.



That’s P for Percy Jones, A for Alex Skolnick, K for Kenny Grohowski and T for Tim Motzer.

I have seen two of these musicians live. Bass player Percy Jones with Brand X and Alex Skolnick with Testament. Which should you how messed up my brain is. The former with ex Atomic Rooster guitarist John Goodsall and former Gong Pierre Moerlen. 1997, that was. I think in Sheffield. I’d never heard Jones before. I was there for the artist formerly known as Johnny Mandala and the artist formerly known as Pierre de Strasbourg, whose post Gong Gong albums are a joy. But Jones was good as well. Rewind seven years and I was at the Hammersmith Odeon as Testament thrashed their way through the “Practice What You Preach” tour. I’ve got a horrible feeling Horse (London) opened that show, the second worst band of all time after the Selector.

Anyway, back on track and who would have foreseen that many centuries into the future Percy Jones and Alex Skolnick, alongside guitarist Tim Motzer and drummer Kenny Grohowski would gather in Brooklyn to improvise two hours of jazz fusion. Certainly not me and certainly not the blueies I was on the last time I saw Skolnick.

How you view this will entirely depend on whether you think music should have tunes and that improv is just noodling on a grand scale. Or whether you believe that improv allows seasoned masters of their craft to create entirely from their musical souls. I’m somewhere in between. After all, I have held true to my belief that ‘I Can’t Get Next To You’ by The Temptations is the greatest musical statement ever. But slap a pair of headphones on me and play ‘The Sacred Ladder’ of this here double album and I’m a happy man indeed. Granted, when the guitarists decide to ignore their actual guitars and start playing around with loops, them I’m away to put the kettle on. But when it’s good, it’s very good.

Would I have edited this down by about forty minutes? Absolutely. But that still leaves you with a helluva lot of great music. Most of which (and you may really want to know this) is on the second disc. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.

In Humanity

TogethermenT Records

I vaguely remember their last record, “On the ending earth…”. I say theirs, I mean his. Riz Story that is. Who is Anyone. There’s a sentence for ya. Who is anyone? 1500 words by Tuesday, please.

So, progressive rock then. That explains two compact discs. If memory serves I actually preferred his poppier ballads to the out and out prog. Has anything happened to change my mind? Sort of. His vocals are a lot better. Good work, fella. He used to be in a band with drummer Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), guitarist Sean Murphy and bassist Jon Davison (who ended up singing in Yes). Davison pops up on one of the tracks here. Just in case a Yes fan is wandering by.

The last one was also not as proggy as this one. It was more prog influenced alt rock whereas this one will have no trouble being filed in the neo neo prog rack. Assuming such a thing exists. I’m delighted to report that according to the promo bumph Riz Story has been working on this record for almost a decade. I may have failed to mention that this is the fourth Anyone album. God, I love promo hyperbole. I once wrote a press release for [redacted] which came out on [redacted] Records in which I claimed that every record released that year would need to be recalled and melted down, as said record redefined what we conceived music to be. They were a shit indie band but hey!

Anyway, Anyone have done good here. If you like your intricate time signatures, abrupt changes of directions and some really, really strong melodies, then this is a prog record you should be turning your attention to. ‘The Disappearing Everything’ is a relatively concise introduction to everything that is good here so give that a spin and then proceed to the checkout in an orderly fashion, I know it’s an indie release but I reckon some lyrics would definitely add to the aural immersion. But that’s economics for you.

If you remain unconvinced then here’s the man himself to draw wavering proggers into his world. “The story takes place in the future when mankind has made the earth uninhabitable and venture into the cosmos to find a planet that is even more beautiful than earth, which they immediately begin to destroy.” One hundred prog points! And a bonus point for the album lasting one hundred and one minutes. Well done that man.

St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton

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