GONG — Camembert Electrique (review)

GONG — Camembert Electrique album cover Album · 1971 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Miler72
What a huge improvement over Magick Brother! This is actually the beginning of Gong as we all know and love. Tim Blake was actually to join the group at this time, but Pip Pyle didn't like his synth noodling, so it had to wait until Pip left the group. Of course you don't have Steve Hillage here, he was in a Uriel/Egg spinoff called Khan at the time (whose Space Shanty from 1972 is an essential album of Canterbury prog). Aside from Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth you have Didier Malherbe, Pip Pyle, and Christian Tritsch. This is a more aggressive and rocking than usual Gong, particularly the more polished followups on Virgin (the Radio Gnome trilogy). "You Can't Kill Me" sounds like classic Gong, but they really rock out. Quirkiness as you expect show throughout the album. "I've Bin Stone Before" is a rather obvious imitation of Bob Dylan (I'm thinking "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35"), but with added on Hammond organ. They get into space rock like "I Am Your Fantasy" with glissando guitar and Gilli Smyth giving her space whispers. "Fohat Digs Holes in Space" is another great piece of space rock with glissando guitar and repeating bass line. "Tropical Fish: Selene" certainly shows this band was starting to have greater ambitions. Although you might find some Pot Head Pixies on the album artwork, the mythology of Planet Gong had not yet been developed (that obviously would be found on the Radio Gnome trilogy). This album really blew me away and any fan of Gong should own this! It's also one of my favorites off BYG/Actuel (in fact, it was the last release on the Actuel subsidiary). The original LP also came with two inserts that included lyrics to all the songs and that typical quirky Daevid Allen artwork. Highly recommended stuff!
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