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Gentle Giant - Gentle Giant CD (album) cover

GENTLE GIANT

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

3.93 | 1158 ratings

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HunterD
4 stars How can Gentle Giant's debut LP not be considered anything other than an essential entry in any prog collection? I'm not just talking about the music, I'm talking about that album cover. That dorky, smug Scottish giant, with those happy Keane-ish eyes. It's like he knows something you don't. They say to you, "yeah, this band is called Gentle Giant. I'm a big, cuddly Scot. I enjoy mandolins and Punch & Judy shows. You think that sounds lame? Joke's on you, little guy!" It's an image that, like King Crimson's schizoid man or Rush's star man, has become representative of the genre. Even before I ever listened to Gentle Giant, the cover of this record was what leaped to mind whenever I thought of seventies progressive rock. Not owning it is like not owning "In the Court of the Crimson King" or "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway." It's like loving gangster movies, but not having seen "Little Caesar." It's not the best gangster movie, but it's an iconic one, goddammit!

Okay, enough about the cover, what about the music? It certainly is GG's heaviest record, with more of a blues rock influence, but it has the eclectic elements in place that would bloom on their subsequent releases. I must admit that after hearing albums like "Acquiring the Taste" and "Octopus," I didn't spin this one again for awhile. "Acquiring the Taste" is such a quantum leap from "Gentle Giant" in terms of musicianship and progressive songwriting, that it made "Gentle Giant" seem like an album where a band is simply hammering out their sound. And yet, I missed the heaviness of the album, which is why I always feel compelled to return to it, and I always listen from "Giant" all the way to "The Queen," which is actually the only throwaway on the album, but it always lets me know I've reached the end.

This self-titled debut is nowhere near the finest work that Gentle Giant put together in their brief-but-prolific career, yet it's still a must, a perfect starting point for getting into one of the finest bodies of work progressive rock has ever offered.

HunterD | 4/5 |

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