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Gentle Giant - Free Hand CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.28 | 1348 ratings

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5 stars Gentle Giant were so good it hurts. What Ray and Derek Shulman, Kerry Minnear, John Weathers and Gary Green were able to achieve musically was unmatched in the progressive rock movement. The group didn't demand attention, squeeze catchy melodies or foment heart-tugging manipulations. They just recorded some of the most accomplished music in rock history.

'Just the Same' opens on a cheerful note but gives a taste of the sophisticated architecture to come. That promise is fulfilled with the knock-out vocal arrangements in 'On Reflection', building and circulating with piano, Vibes, more vocal layers, a gingerly-sung lyric, sprinkles of recorder and violin, all leading to an immaculate rock explosion of beauty, energy and immense joy. The cocky 'Free Hand' quickly becomes a prog rock classic that matches anything Yes ever did and reveals a unit that could literally do anything, and did it with such aplomb that many contemporaries must have cried themselves to sleep after hearing this record. Gentle Giant were unafraid, and could back-up their high ambition with results. 'Time to Kill' continues in the vein of the title track with constant change, modulation, redirection and trippy high-end playfulness. The band is able to take just a few small themes deconstructed to such a degree that they become unrecognizable as related music, maintaining a connection just under the surface that strings everything together. The deep and jazzy 'His Last Voyage' gets into religious tonalities and Gregorian chants, gluing it all with some old fashioned rock 'n roll, 'Talybont' is quite pleased to see the King, giving Tull a serious run for the money and 'Mobile' is an amazing reprise with some hot fiddle.

One of those albums that, looking back, captured a moment, a quality, a time that was never seen again in modern music. Eras change and generations grow-up but Gentle Giant is somehow timeless in its uncompromising quality and standards, and rock will not soon see another band bearing such undeniable gifts.

Atavachron | 5/5 |


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