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Gentle Giant - Civilian CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

2.75 | 396 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Review Nš 56

Gentle Giant was a British group in activity for a decade, between 1970 and 1980. The Gentle Giant's music always was considered very complex and sophisticated even by progressive rock standards. They were musically influenced by many styles like folk, soul, jazz, medieval and classical music. Unlike many of their progressive rock contemporaries, their influences elements range from romantic music, medieval music, baroque music and modernist chamber music.

Mainly because of that, Gentle Giant was never a very popular group at the time. On the other hand, the band never made major concessions on their music to the public and to the media. So, there has always been a certain difficulty of relationship between the group and the media. Because of that Gentle Giant always thought that only few critics seemed to have an idea, about what the band really was and what were the things that they seemed to care about.

In the late of 70's, since the end of 1976, it emerged and developed the punk rock movement and the new wave. That new musical phenomenon was specially created as an opposition to the progressive rock movement, because they considered that the progressive rock music was very complex, elitist, bombastic, sentimentalist and soft. Those new musical changes, that took place at the time, affected the musical careers of all progressive groups, in a way or another. The progressive rock has become discredited, and many of those bands were considered old dinosaurs. The media and the record labels ceased to be interested on progressive rock and adhere to this new musical fashion.

Some progressive rock bands were more affected than others, and obviously Gentle Giant was, in my humble opinion, one of the bands that were most affected, due to the complexity of their music. It's true that Gentle Giant never was a band with great popularity, but with the beginning of punk, for Gentle Giant cessed definitely the possibility of can be recognized as a great band. They lost definitely the possibility of the big recognition for that they'd worked so hard to achieve and that so they richly deserved. Gentle Giant, like other groups, consciously moved the patterns of their music towards to a less complex and more direct style pressured by their record labels and the media. So, it was in that difficult musical context that Gentle Giant created their last studio effort, this album, 'Civilian'.

'Civilian' is the eleventh studio album of the band and was released in America, in 1980. Gentle Giant, relocated the centre operations of the group to Los Angeles, California because they hoped that a change of scene probably would help them at the American market. It seemed to them, that it was the better chance to can improve the sales and therefore be supported by their record label. In short, it would be the way to survive in that new musical reality.

'Civilian' is an album with nine tracks. Let it be said from the beginning that 'Civilian' isn't a classic Gentle Giant's album, neither in sound or style. Most of the songs on the album are written much to the taste of a kind of the American hard rock new wave musical style. Some of the songs remind me the music of Foreigner, one of the most famous American rock bands of the 80's. I'm talking about the first track 'Convenience', the second track 'All Through The Night', the fourth track 'Number One' and the sixth track 'I Am A Camera', although the last of them, has a Gentle Giant's beginning. In reality, the songs are pretty good. I also like some Foreigner songs. The fifth track 'Undergroud' has also a Gentle Giant's beginning, but sincerely, the rest of the song reminds me Yes. However, this is still a good song. The seventh track 'Inside Out' is a song that reminds me Supertramp without saxophones. It's also a good song. The eight track 'It's Not Imagination', despite be a song with a simple American rock beat the keyboards remind me Gentle Giant. Finally, the third track 'Shadows On The Street', I may say that this is a very beautiful ballad that sounds a little beat to a Gentle Giant's song. It remains to me as one of the best tracks on the album.

Conclusion: We can say that 'Civilian' would be a good album if it was released by any other band and that it would to be rated with 3 stars. However, I cannot rate it with 3 stars, but only with 2. Why? Because, this is a Gentle Giant's album that doesn't sounds to a Gentle Giant's album and it has nothing to do with a progressive album. Where is the originality, the complexity, the sophistication and the diverse influences which were the foundation of their music? The main problem with 'Civilian' is that Gentle Giant changed so much that they lost their charisma, identity and their unique footprint in the world of progressive rock, to the point of being a band completely unrecognizable. 'Civilian' can reminds me everything, but very few of Gentle Giant. Even some band's members disliked the album, which caused the end of the group. So, when I listen to this album, I listen to it as if it was released by another band. Anyway, despite "Civilian", Gentle Giant is, and they will remain for the history of progressive rock music, as one of the biggest, original and interesting bands to emerge in the 70's. Even today, their music remains as refreshing as it was then.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 2/5 |


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