Gilli Smyth, aka Shakti Yoni, first met Daevid Allen in 1964 by which time she had already earned her degrees from King's College London, taught in Paris and had her first child. When Allen was barred from England in 1967 for visa irregularities, the pair returned to Paris and founded Gong. Following their stint with Planet Gong in the mid-70s, Smyth's first album, Mother, was assembled (mostly) with various Gong recordings, some dating back to the early 70s. With her non-singing space whisper, Allen's tape loops and loose backing music to her half-sung spoken word musings on all things motherhood (she had recently given birth to two sons with Allen), the blueprint for her Mother Gong works was set. In 1979, with her relationship with Allen behind her, she partnered with Harry Williamson, and lived in Devon until 1982. Williamson had previously worked with ex-Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips on a soundtrack to his father's renowned Tarka The Otter (also released as Battle Of The Birds: A Celtic Tale, with Smyth narrating), and cut a single "Nuclear Waste" b/w "Digital Love" as The Radio Actors: Sting, Mike Howlett, Steve Hillage, Steve Broughton and Nik Turner. Recorded at Dave Anderson's Foel Studio, Fairy Tales stands as the first Mother Gong album. The album sets three classic fairy tales—Wassilissa, The Three Tongues (Languages) and The Pied Piper, all recited by Smyth—to Williamson's musical backing with a host of guests, Gong-related and otherwise. Keyboardist Mo Vicarage and drummer Dino Ferari (from Nik Turner's Inner City Unit), and Automatic Fine Tuning's bassist Trevor Darks make up the core band, with guitarist Eduardo Niebla on guitar (from the Spanish band Atila). Mother Gong toured extensively, performing at Glastonbury festival in both 1979 and 1981. Smyth and Williamson would next record the Robot Women trilogy of albums, based on Ira Levin's Stepford Wives and recorded with Guy Evans, Didier Malherbe, Yan Emeric Vagh and a revolving cast of other musicians. In 1982, Smyth and Williamson would immigrate to Australia, continuing Mother Gong down under, and eventually recording again with Allen.
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Taken from The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock, here is an Album of the Week to enjoy and discuss.
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"Always ready with the ray of sunshine"