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Gentle Giant - Gentle Giant CD (album) cover

GENTLE GIANT

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

3.95 | 1254 ratings

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aglasshouse
4 stars Before I move on to reviewing more of the huge hits the band developed in the coming years, I thought it appropriate to take a closer look at Gentle Giant's stellar self titled debut.

One large thing that caught my ear was the general cohesion that the album retained that was different to a lot of other prog debuts from 1967-1970. For instance, I found it more interesting than In the Court of the Crimson King, more complex than Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and much more prog than From Genesis to Revelation (although it usually isn't called their "debut" due to how much it's disliked). The quality on this little gem is unmatched by the big six of the 70's progressive rock bands that paved the way for the genre. And the funny thing is, all of those other bands were far more well known than this obscure group of brothers, and yet their still able to top them all in my book.

Although the band doesn't acknowledge this release as much as the more mainstream hits of Interview and Free Hand, they still like to catch people off guard by playing tracks like 'Funny Ways' and 'Alucard' at live performances. Another big thing this album has that the others in the discography don't have as much (or in some cases at all) is the entirety of the Shulman brothers playing to their best. It's true that when Phil Shulman left after Octopus, the band continued with their best effort yet. So with this we can't assume that all of them together is better than when they aren't as a whole, because that's clearly not the case. Anyway, onto the songs.

One of my top picks is 'Funny Ways', which takes the brothers at an a Capella standpoint with some genius avant-garde rocking interrupting it at the right times. 'Alucard' is a jazzy, keyboard ridden piece. Even though it has a slightly droning beginning, it does pick up with reversed vocals with a soft melody where the band quietly jams until it's broken by more guitar slamming and keyboard synthesizer. 'Isn't it Quiet and Cold' is a bit stranger, using less traditional instruments as well as coming off with a cello-led folk beat. 'Nothing at All' is a space rock jam with large acoustic segments taking up most of the first three quarters. 'Why Not?' and 'The Queen' are funkier bits that sound almost Dark Side-esque, albeit with less space rock vibes.

So, as a whole, Gentle Giant's s/t debut is quite something to behold. Compared with other bands on the market that sounded like it (except for some things King Crimson put out), Gentle Giant was unique in every single way. Great album for anyone's collection.

Go give it a listen.

aglasshouse | 4/5 |

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