Daevid Allen, originally with SOFT MACHINE in 1967-68, formed GONG when he got stuck in France after a Soft Machine Gig. GONG has a strange mythology evolved from one of Daevid's strangest LSD trips, revolving around PHP (pot head pixies), and the OCTAVE DOC (who knows?), which results in a psychedelic trilogy of GONG albums, that tell the story of ZERO THE HERO. So, RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE Part 1 is the FLYING TEAPOT album, "Angel's Egg" is part two, and YOU is part three. Do you need to listen to all three albums, to get the plot or musical leitmotifs? Haha, are you SERIOUS? Tho there is a small thread of coherantcy within the RADIO GONG Trilogy, what you REALLY want the YOU album for, is the incredible, etherial, cosmic music that the album contains. It brings together the SPACE WHISPER of Gilli Smyth, the slide guitar effects, and freaky theories of Daevid Allen, the lead guitar playing of STEVE HILLAGE, Mike Howlett on bass, Malherbe's beautiful and spacey Flute and Sax playing, along with a synth player, a percussionist, etc. to get these 10 minute astral journeys in the music, which are as close as music can come to turning into a spiritual UFO. That sound, is much closer to what you might hear in the KOSMISCHE music that was coming out of Berlin at the time. (GONG, tho a French band, had at least half their members from Britian, and ALWAYS sang in English.) What would have been the first side of YOU, had many short songs, four of which were less than 3 minutes long, most of them only two minutes long. BUT, you do have a couple of spaced out semi-instrumental songs like MASTER BUILDER and A SPRINKLING OF CLOUDS on the "first side". The intelligiblity of the lyrics is too heavy to understand, so the booklet that comes with the CD, has many written bits to connect the songs' concepts together. This album truly shines, on the second side of the album, which was only made up of two songs, ISLE OF EVERYWHERE and YOU NEVER BLOW YOUR TRIP FOREVER, both over 10 minutes long. I can never get enough of these long, etheric songs. Its not that I dont like Daevid Allen's lyrics, or Gilli's space whispers. ITs just that those LSD inspired concepts, really DO date some of this material. It's cute, its funny, its deep in its own allagorical way, but its DEFINATELY hippie dippie. But the long instrumental parts are NOT dated. It has bits of new age sound, jazz sound, and a bit of rock still struggling to break thru here and there. At the end of YOU, we bid farewell to ZERO THE HERO, ie Daevid Allen, and GONG loses about half their musicians, as the drummer takes over to create SHAMAL. (The next great GONG album is the first solo album by Hillage, FISH RISING, since most of the GONG gang play on it.)
For those who have NO idea what the GONG sound is, this is a great place to start. If you are more inclined to enjoy a more tightly constructed album, with narrative lyrics, etc, then you might enjoy "CAMBERT ELECTRIQUE" as a first purchase, or "FLYING TEAPOT". Many people connect this band with the CANTERBURY sound, since Daevid Allen was in SOFT MACHINE for its entire developemental period. However, Daevid Allen lost control of GONG, and he and Gilli quit the band during the recording of the first album of the trilogy. He returned to the band, but not truly as leader. GONG in its 73-74 heyday, simply contained too many top notch musicians, who had too many good ideas, to remain in one single configuration. GONG is a hybrid in many ways, and perhaps that is the secret to its mysterious hold it has on those who discover the magic of its music from this period. Anybody into TRANCE music, freak folk rock, or maybe even the etheric sound of King Crimson around 1974, or the ENO/Fripp sound, would DEFINATELY enjoy this album. Anyone who wants to take a vacation to the International Space Station, but only wants to stay for 20-40 minutes, would also love the album. YOU is one of my all time favorite albums, certainly my favorite by GONG. It always sounds new, no matter HOW often you play it.