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Daevid Allen & Euterpe: Good Morning!

John Kelman By

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When Daevid Allen either left (or was forced to leave) his flagship band Gong in 1974 following the release of the group's classic seminal space-rock, nascent jamband Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy, where he'd go next was anybody's guess. Gong would gradually transition into a fusion group led by percussionist Pierre Moerlen, while Allen retired to his home on the Spanish island of Mallorca and, working with the Mallorcan-based Euterpe and a couple of multi-track tape recorders, recorded Good Morning!—a surprisingly relaxed album of unexpected innocence and beauty that has remained largely out of print since its release in 1976.

Thankfully Esoteric Records—risen from the ashes of Eclectic with a continued mandate to reissuing seminal British music from the late-1960s and 1970s—has brought Good Morning! back into print. With Mark Powell's usual fine attention to the remastering process, this version of Good Morning!—like many Eclectic/Esoteric remasters including Egg's 1974 The Civil Surface (Esoteric, 2007)—is definitive. It's a fact that even today's technical capabilities are limited by what originally went to tape, making Allen's DIY production all the more impressive for just how good it sounds.

Along with Euterpe, Allen is joined by longtime partner/vocalist Gilli Smyth, which means that, although Good Morning is a more acoustic affair, there's still some tie-in to the space-rock psychedelia of Gong. There's an element of absurdity (especially on the waltzing closer, "She Doesn't She... ) and no lack of hippie spirituality, but it's still more lyrically direct than anything Allen wrote for Gong. Even with the synth washes and reverb/delay, there's a folksy tinge, in particular the lyrical "Children of the New World and title track, with its warm vocal harmonies, string washes and acoustic bass. The episodic title track in particular, completely avoids standards verse-chorus-verse convention, proving Allen to be a writer capable of unexpected complexity.

With no drums to be found on most of the disc it possesses a feel that, at times, might be considered pastoral if it weren't for the copious reverb and delay that lifts the music into the stratosphere. "Spirit proves that the Canterbury scene, which also included songwriters Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt, didn't grow in a vacuum. While ultimately distanced from the scene, Allen was undeniably a key component in its germination.

"Wise Man in Your Heart, reuniting Allen with Moerlen and Gong bassist Mike Howlett, is a clear highlight—eleven minutes of transcendence that mixes Celtic-inflected melodies with a hypnotic pulse, surprising harmonic depth and jam-style electric guitar. "Euterpe Gratitude Piece is an equally lengthy synthesizer wash-driven bonus track that may predate—or, at least, coexist with—Brian Eno's earliest ambient experiments. Both are reason enough to consider Good Morning! a high point of mid-1970s progressive music. Coupled with the rest of the album it's a low-tech but surprisingly strong sounding and idea-rich masterpiece that's thankfully back in print and widely accessible.

Track Listing: Children of the World; Good Morning; Spirit; Song of Satisfaction; Have You Seen My Friend?; French Garden; Wise Man in Your Heart; She Doesn't She?; Euterpe Gratitude Piece (bonus track).

Personnel: Daevid Allen: vocals, glissando and solo guitar; Gilli Smyth: space whispers and licks. Euterpe: Pepe Milan: mandolina, charango acoustic guitars, glockenspiel; Ana Camps: vocals; Toni Pascal: Moog strings keyboard, guitar; Toni Ares: contrabass; Toni Tree Fernandez: guitars. Guests: Pierre Moerlen: percussion (7); Mike Howlett: bass (7).

Title: Good Morning! | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Esoteric Recordings


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