Taï Phong is a bit of an oddity, as it is a French band founded by Vietnamese brothers Kahn and Taï Ho Tong. The sound is comparable to Camel, and Novalis, but the most telling description is ‘France’s answer to Barclay James Havest.’
The first incarnation came together in 1972, and included an American and a German (keep telling yourself this is a French band). They were in the process of recording, when contract disputes broke out. Because the brothers refused the terms (thus leaving them without a deal), the other two members left. Soon after, they would be replaced by keyboardist Jean Alain Gardet, and the now famous (or infamous) Jean-Jacques Goldman. Yes, he is the man responsible for several of Céline Dion’s hits (does this mean that Céline is prog related? Say it ain’t so).
In 1973, they again entered the studio. However, more artistic disputes, and contract haggling, with recording executives would keep them from releasing anything for the next couple of years. By 1974, they had a contract they could live with, but still needed a drummer. They chose 17 year-old Stéphan Caussarieu. The classic lineup of Taï Phong was now complete, and would remain intact for the first two albums. This was also a potent combination of talent and ego.
After the release of 1976’s “Windows,” some of the members branched out. Jean-Jacques dabbled in some solo work, and Gardet recorded an album with Alpha Ralpha. It is during this period that trouble started brewing. “Windows” did not sell very well, and the band spent all the money from the first album on a new sound system. Goldman did not wish to perform live, which was a serious problem considering his contribution to the band’s sound. This disheartened Jean Alain, causing him to exit. The band went on tour in 1977 with bassist Michael Jones also taking over lead vocal, but it just wasn’t working. They decided to cancel any remaining shows, and just concentrate on studio work. This is the moment when brother Taï left.
After much turmoil, they released 1979’s “Last Flight,” but the magic was gone. By 1980 interest in the band was waning, and they were in yet another contract dispute. Rather than push ahead with a fourth album, the band broke up.
Over the years the interest in Taï Phong’s music went up and down. This is largely due to the song “Sister Jane” resurfacing in one form or another. In 1993, reissues of the albums breathed new life into the story. Some of the guys got together, and the obvious talk of reunion came around. The main conspirators were Kahn and Stephan.
In 1995 they began work on new material, and shopped it around. Goldman was not interested in rejoining the band, so they found Herve Acosta to fill the lead vocal spot. Angelo Zurzulo had been a replacement keyboardist in the old days, and he was also tapped for the new project. It took a while, but the result was 2000’s Sun.