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Gentle Giant - Three Friends CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.10 | 1141 ratings

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4 stars Review Nš 51

"Three Friends" is the third studio album of Gentle Giant and was released in 1972. It started to be known as a conceptual album, at the time. It was the first conceptual album made by the band and represents also one of the first conceptual albums made by any band. The concept of the album, deals with three childhood friends whose lives take them to very different places. They were separated by the fate, each following a different path. One goes into manual labour, other is a white-collar worker and the last is an artist. The lyrical insights that sketch out the characters are generally banal, with nothing of important revealed about the labourer, the artist or the businessman. But what does finally come off and is really important is the music. The album is comparatively short and drawn on an appropriately intimate scale. The pieces introduce themes that reappear throughout, all over the album.

"Three Friends" is also a special album because it marks the departure of the former drummer Martin Smith and the entry of the new drummer Malcolm Mortimore, who would playing within the band only on this album. So, the line up of this album is Gary Green (guitars and percussion), Kerry Minnear (vocals, keyboards, vibraphone, Moog and percussion), Derek Shulman (vocals), Phil Shulman (vocals and saxophones), Ray Shulman (vocals, basses, violin and 12 string guitar) and Malcolm Mortimore (drums).

"Three Friends" has six tracks. All the songs were written by Kerry Minnear, Phil Shulman, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman. The first track "Prologue", as its name indicates, is a song that opens the album, magnificently. It's a song that progresses nicely all over the theme with great individual musical performances especially with great and strong keyboard riffs and an excellent bass line. This is, in my humble opinion, the best song on the album and it's also one of the top songs of the band. The second track "Schooldays" is a very nice song with experimental vocal and musical passages. It's a song with the use of several musical instruments at the same time. It's also a song with beautiful piano working and we also can say that it represents one of the best performances of Kerry Minnear. Here, Phil Shulman sings wonderfully and it represents also one of his best vocal moments in the group. The third track "Working All Day" represents the rocker song of the album. It's a song with some similarities with "Wreck" from "Acquiring The Taste" and where we can feel strongly, I think, some musical influence of the Van Der Graaf Generator's sound, especially in the structure and in the intensity of the song. This is, in my opinion, another great song. The fourth track "Peel The Paint" is a song inspired by the classical music, in the beginning, that starts very slow and delicate, but that suddenly the music develops into a more intense and dense musical moment, with a heavy rock format. Curiously, in the heavy rock part, it's a song that reminds me strongly the Deep Purple style. I think we are in the presence of an interesting song but at the same time a strange song in their musical repertoire. The fifth track "Mister Class And Quality?" is another good song on the album. It's probably the simplest song on the album, with a nice melody and some interesting musical breaks. It's a rock song, with good musical moments, great keyboards, a good bass working and a good rock drumming. The sixth track is the title track "Three Friends". It represents, for me, the second best musical moment on the album with the opening track "Prologue". This is a song where all comes together in the music, the keyboards, the guitar, the bass and the all other musical instruments. I especially like of the keyboard working performed by Kerry Minnear. We are in the presence of another great song, a very short but a very cohesive piece of music. Despite that we are in presence of a short song, it's really a great piece of music that sounds really fantastic.

Conclusion: "Acquiring The Taste" and "Three Friends" were the albums of Gentle Giant that I met later. So, in a certain way, both are the studio works of the band that I know, less well. However, that does not constitute any problem to me, review these two albums. As I wrote before, when I reviewed it, "Acquiring The Taste" is, in my humble opinion, the most experimental, most discordant, most avant-garde and most experimental album, in all their musical career. And it was also for me, the most difficult studio work of them, to rate and review. On the contrary, "Three Friends" has for me a very fine sound and a very special taste. Everything in it sounds great, especially the guitars, the bass and the keyboards. The musical harmonies and arrangements have a distinctly medieval feel and the melodies are quite catchy. So, in my humble opinion, "Three Friends" is, in general, an underrated album. Of all eleven studio albums of the band, excluding "The Missing Piece", "Giant For A Day" and "Civilian", which are minor works, "Three Friends" and "Gentle Giant" are their simplest and most accessible albums and probably the most beautiful too.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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