Background-"Flying Teapot" is the first instalment of the incredible "Radio Gnome Invisible" series, which tells the story of the Planet GonG, a world inhabited by creatures called Pot Head Pixies whose bizzare method of transport gives the album it's name. For those of you not farmiliar with the Gong Mythology (which is detailed in this series), a brief plot synopsis may be in order.
The story begins when the pig-farming Egyptologist Mr. Tea Being is sold a "Magik Ear Ring" by the enegmatic Antique Tea Pot Street Vendor and Tea Label Collector known only as Fred the Fish. The ear ring is capable of recieving messages from the planet GonG via a pirate radio station known as Radio Gnome Invisible. The two travel to the Hymalayas, where they meet (in a cave) the Great Beer Yogi, Banana Andana, a figure who tends to chant "Banana Nirvana Manana" and get drunk on Foster's a lot.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on Earth, the protagonist Zero the Hero is going about his everyday business when he experiences a vision which causes him to start worshiping the Cock Pot Pixie (also known as Hashman), one of the Pot Head Pixies of Planet GonG. Zero is distracted, however, by a cat, which he offers fish and chips to. The cat is actually the Good Witch Yoni, who gives Zero a potion which knocks him out, thus concluding the album.
Characters in the Mythology can easily be equated to band members: Tea Being is bassist Mike Howlett, Zero the Hero is Allen himself, Didier Malherbe (who met Allen and Smyth in a cave on Majorca) is Banana Andana, and the Good Witch Yoni Gilli Smyth.
Radio Gnome Invisible- One of the stranger tracks on the album, which has strong overtones of the band's earlier releases as well as the subtleties that the group aquires with their musical progression.
Flying Teapot- Easily the highlight of the album, this twelve minute piece makes great use of saxophone, piano, spacey effects over a great bass line and solid beat.
Pot Head Pixies- One of the more surreal songs on the album. While comparatively short, its idiosyncratic lyrics and catchy tune make it instantly likeable.
Octave Doctors- This track is the only major annoyance on the album. Lasting barely longer than a minute, it seems to have been included solely as a link between the third and fifth tracks (and as an excuse for Blake to experiment with his synthesisers).
Zero the Hero- In terms of the plotline, this is the most important track on the album, introducing us to the protagonist Zero. Malherbe's sax playing is excellent here, and the mirific ambiences seen here act as a preview to some of the atmospheres in Angel's Egg, the next instalment of the trillogy. An absolutely amazing song.
Witch's Song- Contains good instrumental parts, but Gilli Symth's lyrical parts detract somewhat from the overall quality. However, a good track with a more schizophrenic style than its predecessors, which provides a great end note for the album.
Overall- A great album -hampered only by poor sound quality and slightly weak production- which is definately the base for the success of the later albums of the Trillogy ("Angel's Egg" and "You"). Although one must listen several time in order to get used to the eccentric psychadelia of the album (and the gong Mythology, see above), it is more than worth the effort. The use of jazz-style improv, early synthesisers and a completely unique style make this an excellent addition to any progressive music collection.