Review Summary: Having left Gong and taken on the Spanish quintet Euterpe, Daevid Allen releases arguably his best solo album for years to come.
When Daevid Allen cut ties for the first time with Gong in 1976, he certainly had a lot more free time on his hands to continue with his solo career. Whilst his first solo album, Bananamoon
, proved ambitious but not quite as successful as the man had hoped, he would move to Deia, a remote Spanish village located on the island of Majorca, apparently at the time to have been inhabited by more that just a handful of hippies. Here he met the very talented Spanish quintet, Euterpe, and so Good Morning!
, the man's second solo album, was made.
The first thing one will notice when listening to Good Morning is how peaceful and sincere it sounds in general. The first two songs, “Children of the new World” and the title track, are both beautiful, evocative and written directly from the soul, even if Allen was completely drug-addled when writing them. Whereas the former simply takes you on a trip to an otherworldly dimension with the simplest of acoustic guitar melodies, the latter is deeper, more focused on bringing in multi-dimensional sounds to the mix in the form of a progressive/psychedelic rock style, where Allen's then girlfriend, Gilli Smyth, invokes her beautiful so-called “space whispers”, thus bringing a completely different vocal melody from any other on the album. Smyth's vocals at this time were known to be a stunning advantage for Gong in the early-to-mid 70s, but on Allen's solo work she sounds even more natural than ever before.
Despite the fact that Good Morning!
is generally peaceful when compared to Allen's work with Gong and his first solo album, there are parts where heavier instrumentation takes centre stage. The Spanish quintet Euterpe were somewhat distinctive, even for the mid 70s, and their respective talents naturally shine through on Allen's second solo album. Take the luscious “Have you seen my friend?” for example, which admittedly is only three minutes long, but has enough in these three minutes to expand into a ten-minute progressive rock epic. This isn't to say that everything sounds rushed or forced, just that the level of musical talent on display comes across as complex yet natural. Sweet, sensational acoustic and Spanish guitars collaborate on a background of wispy, spacey synthesizer noises and Allen here definitely sounds comfortable when harmonizing with the instrumentation. By the second minute into the song we are introduced to other instruments such as the charango, a (then) rare Spanish instrument which had only been played by a handful of musicians around the world. You can hear the distinctive Euterpe influences elsewhere on the album, most notably on the sexy, evocative overtones of “She doesn't she...”, a song which sounds like it was written purely for the act of having an orgasm.
There are two problems with Allen's second solo album, however beautifully written it may seem to be. It is in fact the two longest songs of the album that are deemed unnecessary, and taking these out would result in the album itself lasting no longer than twenty-nine minutes. The longest song, entitled “Wise man in your heart” is fortunately the better problem of the two. It has the same rhythm for the first nine minutes of its running time, and for some this would simply be too boring and repetitive. However, the style itself harks back to the jazz fusion experiments that Gong would take on after Allen had left the band, and one wonders whether Allen had at this point cut connections with the band like he said he did. It is slightly monotonous towards the end, granted, but has a simply evocative edge which distances itself from the album's weakest track, the closing “Euterpe Gratitude Piece”. As the title says, it is a “Thank You” from Daevid Allen to the Spanish quintet, but simply doesn't even move or explode like it is expected to. The first eight minutes or so, which is pretty much the entire song, is simply ambience and some slight laughter from Daevid Allen and his girlfriend during the recording. The remaining minute or so merely relies on a very well known Pot Head Pixie saying “RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE” numerous times, before the whole song finishes and you're left wondering why it was on there.
Despite this, Allen's second album is still a direct improvement on his debut. It may still not be perfect, but then Daevid Allen has never really strived for perfection. If you can like Good Morning!
for what it is, a beautiful, mostly peaceful albeit still experimental collection of well-written songs from the former Gong mainman, then you can surely expect good results at least. As said with Allen's debut solo album, his otherworldly music is only really for those who know Gong and Soft Machine, though if you're looking for an introduction to the strangest psychedelic music out there, you could do a lot worse than listen to Good Morning!