Expresso II (Caroline World Service Catalog)
Pierre Moerlen (drums),
Allan Holdsworth (guitar), Benoit Moerlen, Mirielle Bauer (vibes), Hansford Rowe (bass), Francois Causse (congas).
Composed by Hansford Rowe.
Recorded: London, summer 1977
Rating: 88/100 (learn more)
Gong had gone through several incarnations by the time drummer Pierre Moerlen became firmly ensconced as its leader. This changing of the guard was made clear by the band's new name (Pierre Moerlen's Gong), which did not become official, however, until after release of this album, the last under the band's Virgin contract. Always a percussive unit, Gong became even more so after the leadership change and the inclusion of a new rhythm section member. Bassist Hansford Rowe, who had recently met Moerlen, became an important cog in the Gong machinery. Allan Holdsworth was still the fusion band's guitarist. Gong's music fell under the subcategory of "European fusion," which had a bit warmer side than its U.S. counterpart.
"Soli," composed by Rowe, begins with a short bass statement followed by Holdsworth's anthem-like rejoinder. The obligatory, but good, bass solo follows. From there the tune is dominated by its rhythms, which include Benoit Moerlen's timekeeping and melodic vibraphone soloing. The vibraphone, rarely used in fusion, became a real trademark sound for this band. Over the constant chug, Holdsworth reenters with some blazing exultations. Pleasing chord changes and a softer edge, provided once again by the vibes, permeate the remainder of the song.
In 1977 the fusion revolution was just beginning to wane. But this performance is further evidence that good music was still being produced, and that Gong continued to be among the best of the European jazz-rock bands.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky