Psychedelic trailblazers Gong will be the subject of the new box set Love From Planet Gong: The Virgin Years 1973-75, to be released by UMC on 27 September. Coinciding with their 50th anniversary, it’s curated by former member Steve Hillage and has the full involvement of original band members.
The set covers Gong’s classic years in a package that features their first four studio albums for Virgin Records, each with bonus tracks; previously unissued full gigs, recorded as multi-tracks; their complete sessions for tastemaking BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel from 1973 and 1974; previously unreleased quadrophonic Pye and Westlake mixes of You, reformatted to 5.1 surround sound; and artwork that includes both rare and previously unseen work by the band’s late co-founder Daevid Allen.
Gong’s early work on Virgin introduced admirers of these progressive rock figureheads to the invisible, mythological universe of Pot Head Pixies, Zero the Hero, the Octave Doctors and the Good Witch Yoni. Featuring the virtuoso guitar of Steve Hillage, Gong’s space rock-inflected compositions such as ‘Radio Gnome Invisible,’ ‘The Isle Of Everywhere,’ ‘Master Builder,’ ‘Inner Temple/Outer Temple,’ ‘Shamal,’ ‘Flying Teapot’ and ‘Oily Way’ are all here for new and existing fans to experience.
The original albums have been mastered by original engineer Simon Heyworth, and the set mixed by Gong’s bassist and producer Mike Howlett. The set includes the first CD release of the Flying Teapot masters and of Shamal, from the original masters.
There are also two CDs of their full gig at Club Arc En Ciel, Roanne in 1973; one of their complete, renowned free concert in London’s Hyde Park in 1974; two of the full Marquee Club show in London in 1975, including the first live recordings of tracks from Shamal and Steve Hillage’s debut solo LP, Fish Rising; two of the entire gig at the Bataclan, Paris in 1973; and two tracks recorded at the Edinburgh Festival in 1973.
The set has notes by Gong archivist Jonny Greene, of the Gong Appreciation Society, and a 64-page illustrated lyric booklet includes the quirky, informative ‘Blue Book’ included with Angel’s Egg, plus the new ‘Green Book’ companion to Flying Teapot. Meanwhile, Hillage’s 2019 tour with Gong is set to begin in Southampton on 14 November.
Love From Planet Gong: The Virgin Years 1973-75 is released on 27 September. Pre-order it here.