Four classic albums from psychedelic trailblazers Gong’s legend-enshrining 1970s era with Virgin Records – Flying Teapot, Angel’s Egg, You and Shamal – are set for reissue in deluxe 2CD editions and digitally on 27 September.
In October 1972, Gong were one of the first acts to sign to Richard Branson’s fledgling Virgin Records label, and in late December travelled to Virgin’s Manor Studio in Oxfordshire, England, to record their third album – and their Virgin debut – Flying Teapot. As they settled in, they were played a rough mix of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, then already in production. Towards the end of their recording sessions they were joined by English guitarist Steve Hillage, whom they had met a few weeks earlier in France playing with Kevin Ayers, and who had replaced Oldfield in Ayers’ band. He arrived too late to contribute much to the album, but would soon become a key component in the Gong sound.
Flying Teapot was released on 25 May 1973, the same day as Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, and was the first instalment of the band’s ‘Radio Gnome Invisible’ trilogy, which expounded upon the (previously only hinted at) Gong mythology developed by band mainstay Daevid Allen. Flying Teapot has now been remastered for the very first time from the original Virgin masters by the original producer, Simon Heyworth, and has been expanded with a previously unreleased concert recorded at The Bataclan in Paris in May 1973 plus 5 rare out-takes.
The trilogy’s second part, Angel’s Egg, followed in December 1973, now featuring the ‘classic’ rhythm section of Mike Howlett on bass and Pierre Moerlen on drums. As with Flying Teapot, the album has been remastered from the original Virgin masters for the very first time by the original producer, Simon Heyworth, and has been expanded with a Previously Unreleased concert recorded in Roanne, France on 17th August 1973 plus the single version of ‘Other Side Of The Sky’ and 3 rare out-takes.
Gong’s next album, You, was released by Virgin Records in October 1974. It was the last album by Daevid Allen’s Gong until 1992’s Shapeshifter. Recorded at Virgin’s Manor Studios in Oxfordshire, England, side 1 was mixed at Pye Studios, Marble Arch, London, while side 2 was mixed at The Manor. It was produced by Simon Heyworth and Gong “under the universal influence of C.O.I.T., the Compagnie d’Opera Invisible de Thibet”, and also engineered by Heyworth. You has now been expanded with a live concert recorded live at Hyde Park in London in June 1974 plus an Alternate Version of ‘A PHP’s Advice’ and a rare version of ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’
You is the third of the “Radio Gnome Invisible” trilogy of albums, following Flying Teapot and Angel’s Egg. The trilogy forms a central part of the Gong mythology. The structure of the album mixes short narrative pieces with long, jazzy instrumentals (such as ‘Master Builder’, ‘A Sprinkling of Clouds’ and ‘Isle of Everywhere’), building to a climax/conclusion with ‘You Never Blow Yr Trip Forever’.
Shamal was Gong’s fourth album for Virgin Records from 1975 and it was produced by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. For this album, bassist Mike Howlett took over as lead male vocalist and Sandy Colley became his female counterpart. The album now been expanded with a second disc containing a previously unreleased concert recorded live at the London Marquee in September 1975 plus 3 previously unreleased edits.
As uDiscover Music previously reported, all the aforementioned titles are also set for release in a 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 2CD editions of Flying Teapot, Angel’s Egg, You and Shamal are out on 27 September and can be bought here.