Punk was relatively kind to Daevid Allen, and he along with many of the creative elements satelliting around him, produced an acceptable form of hippy-shit that was welcomed and embraced by the new attitudes and ideologies that were inspiring and motivating the yoof.
After all, here was a character who had been actively taking part in and promoting through art and music the ideas of anarchy, chaos, guerrilla art and doing things for yourself – in the most subversive way, of course - for years.
As a consequence, Allen didn’t have to radically change, either musically or ideologically, to adapt to the new trends (notice the shortened hair and the leather jacket he is wearing on the album’s cover); in fact, the end of the seventies could be seen as a time of rebirth for his art; and being reborn, Allen felt the need to say hello to everybody; in his own inimitable way of course:
'Greetings Aliens greeting Humanoids greetings No Body ANY Body EVERY body Some body WHO CARES Whether you Stare look away clap cheer split jeer who cares wot you wear wot the style of your HAIR or if you listen what you hear – doesn’t matter – you’ll pick us up anyway Greetings Gong Freeks lunatics Oil sheiks nuke leak politics esoteric power cliques TRUTH SEEKERS Now turn the OTHER CHEEK – No time – there is NO TIME – greetings big city wet dream QUEENS with pilled UP shrilled out forked tongue PUNKS getting force fed day GLO agro robot rock n roll clone wild bionic stare and PLASTIC HAIR there is no time. Greetings sleepers workers drivelling shrinks and stoned berserkers mutants narcs and psychodelik blimps spaced out in parks like soppy hippys trying not to be too FLIPPY FLOPPY. Greetings creeps and sheep and SHIT shovelling SMACK grovelling DOPERS COKERS nose drapers and hash smokers UN-REAL DEALERS UN-CLEAN speilers SQUEALERS healers scene stealers
ALL IS SUPERFLUOUS IN THE CITY OF NO SUN'
The references in the opening preface obviously refer to New York, as does the album’s title, and indeed that is where the recording takes place.
Allen carries on with the hip contextual referencing in the next track, informing the listener that he really does know what’s been going on, namedropping Teenage Jesus, Pere Ubu, James Chance as well as CBGBs.
Bill Laswell joins Allen on this album, and his experience and superlative technique really does add something to the sound; helping not only to update it, but giving it a punky, spiky edge, allowing it to slot nicely in to the turn of the decade’s zeitgeist.
The only instrumental track on the album, 'Materialism', is a wonderful piece; Laswell showing his chops, busily playing a repeated pattern on bass in a King Crimson, Frippertronics kind of way allowing Allen to masterfully noodle over the top, reminding everybody that he could really do it – very Allan Holdsworth!
I have referred to this album as if it is Allen’s, as if it’s a solo album, and despite the fact that it has Gong in its title, a solo album is essentially what it is.
I think it’s his best.
In the main, it still sounds fresh and vital.
And due to Allen’s idiosyncrasy and eccentricity, About Time floats free of the period in which it was made; shrugging off many of the genre trappings so many artists found attractive at that time; succeeding in a way that a lot of music from this time just hasn’t.
New York Gong - About Time (1980)
Visit New York from outta space here