Review Summary: Weaker than Good Morning but still a good example of how creative Daevid Allen was in his mid-70s heyday.
You know Daevid Allen is stoned when looking at his expression on the front cover of third solo album Now is the happiest Time of your Life
. He gazes deeply out of the picture into your eyes, smiling silly and perhaps pleased that he's made you feel equally as happy as him. That said, the music largely reflects this happiness too, since the man's third solo album never quite seems to take itself too seriously. Now is the happiest Time of your Life
marks Allen's second solo album since finishing with Gong in the mid-70s, though he would soon return to the band again in the early 80s.
Unlike Good Morning
, a record which proved ambitious and strong for the first time in Allen's long-winded musical career, Now is the happiest Time of your Life
is a sometimes unbalanced mixture of nonsensical poetry readings, live recordings and semi-acoustic tunes. It's perhaps one of the weakest records of Allen's earlier solo work, thanks partly to uninspired musicianship, but is still very distinctive just like the previous two albums. The songs which actually have a direction are naturally the highlights of the album. The first two songs, aptly titled “Flamenco Zero” and “Why do we treat ourselves like we do?” both rely for the most part on Flamenco style Latin guitar performances, though Allen's harmonizing voice alone instantly makes them psychedelic and spacey at the same time. The slightly longer “See you on the Moontower” and “Only make Love if you want to” clearly hark back to the early days of Gong and Soft Machine with constant references to the “Pot Head Pixie” concept, and still manage to turn out decent. Then there's the closing song which ends the album on a completely brilliant high, the Indian-themed, percussion-based “Deya Goddess”, in which Allen himself seems to try and sing as soft as he ever could whilst being totally out of his mind on drugs.
Unfortunately, Now is the happiest Time of your Life
isn't consistent enough to be interesting, and this is in part thanks to the completely unnecessary “Poet for Sale”, an acoustic-led ballad which merely features Allen attempting to sell himself (as a poet) to an unwilling member of the public. However, it just doesn't work. The acoustic guitar is about the only instrument being played, and the fact that it sounds so one-dimensional proves that not everything Allen touches with drug-addled hands turns to musical gold. There's also the minute-long “Crocodile Nonsense Poem”, which although lives up to its name, simply consists of Allen speaking to an audience. His intense poetry reading to the audience however more than makes up for the last song, though is still unnecessary when compared to the better songs of the album.
What really stands out on Now is the happiest Time of your Life
though is one song, which stands out from the rest – The largely adventurous and ambitious “Tally & Orlando meet the Cockpot Pixie”. Here we have Allen innocently including the voices of children (possibly his own), and taking them on a journey to the Planet Gong to meet the aforementioned Pixies. It's such a thoughtful song though, and beautifully written to really come across as the fine line between a harmless nursery rhyme and an insane acid trip. So in conclusion, Daevid Allen's third solo album never really takes itself seriously, though still manages to come up trumps thanks to the man's wide-eyed, drug-addled creativity and originality. You may well listen to this for the same reason as Allen's previous two solo albums, and that is if you are truly a fan of Gong, Soft Machine, or simply strange psychedelic music in general.