YES, this is an old album which dates from 1971 but it has been re-released in a deluxe mediabook edition. It has been out on CD for years but the sound hasn’t always been great – now it is.
So what is all the fuss about? This is one of weirdest, quirkiest albums ever created by one of the weirdest and quirkiest (at least on their first four albums) bands.
A French-English band led by an Australian, Gong is very hard band to categorise.\!q Jazzy, poppy, rocky, psychedelic certainly, this was the first official release by the band whose frontman Daevid Allen’s recent death warranted obituaries and reports in the broadsheets and on the BBC news.
The band is best-known for its Radio Gnome Trilogy – Flying Teapot, Angel’s Egg and You – which focussed on Pot Head Pixies from the Planet Gong flying around in teapots. Yes, really. It all fitted in with Allen’s vision of anti-establishment thinking and world peace inspired by musical rebellion, what he called Live Floating Anarchy.
Camembert Electrique was the precursor to this trilogy and has the same sense of fun and musical abandon, but that isn’t to say it isn’t packed with imaginative songs and excellent musicianship. Camembert Electrique is, to my mind, Gong’s most diverse and exciting album, certainly the most experimental. As a template for what Gong stood for, it can’t be beaten.
Songs like You Can’t Kill Me have a hard edge whilst others like Fohat Digs Holes in Space, I’ve Bin Stone Before and I Am Your Fantasy show – how shall I put it? – a more chemical inspiration. Tried So Hard, by contrast, is pleasant enough to be a single.
Camembert Electrique could be seen as a reflection of the time it was made but it has remained a regular seller ever since as succeeding generations get into the spirit of Gong, and it still sounds as different to anything else that an album can.
This new edition, remastered from the original master tape, coming with new sleeves notes and piccies and memorabilia, is a must for band fans and a great opportunity to sample their wonderfully wacky world for the first time.