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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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ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer
5 stars This is the album that got me into progressive rock. I remember having a weird image of prog rock - very medieval and in a way much more theatrical than it really was, a different medieval world of witchcraft in a strange, forgotten land. This album was a perfect foundation for that image. One of the moodiest albums in the history of progressive rock. A very renaissance, European feel with some blues, jazz and chamber music influences.

Gentle Giant were formed by three Shulman brothers: Derek, Phil, and Ray. They were all multiinstrumentalists and had previously played in a psychedelic pop band Simon Dupree and the Big Sound. In 1970, the siblings teamed up with a guitarist Garry Green and a classically-trained keyboardist Kerry Minnear. They also took a drummer Martin Smith onboard, previously also of Simon Dupree and the Big Sound. The very same year, the sextet signed a contract with Vertigo label to record their self-titled debut album.

The multiinstrumentalist abilities of Gentle Giant are to a high degree reflected in the music. The band's sound is varied and diverse, characterized by incredibly clever musicianship. The influences include European art music of the middle ages and renaissance, chamber music, jazz, soul, blues, and folk to name a few. All of these combined with bright sophistication create a distinct musical extract that only Gentle Giant were capable of creating.

The album opener, "Giant" is a fast-paced very melodic with influences of jazz and soul as well as a hint of English folk. "Funny Ways" is a chamber-influenced ballad, which features a cello and a violin, showing band's renaissance art music influence. "Alucard" has a heavy rhythm a la Manfred Mann's Earth Band with great horns and synths (read the title of this song backwards). "Isn't It Quiet And Cold" is at times similar to "Funny Ways" with chamber music influences being put at the first plan. "Nothing At All" is perfect in every aspect. The main theme is a beautiful, feminine, folk-esque love song with a very proggy movement in the middle with classical piano playing "disturbed" by heavy drumming. The song resolves into "Why Not?", which fuses influences of dry blues rock with intricate English folk parts. "Queen" is the shortest track of the album, driven by majestic horns. There is a rapid synthesizer passage that appears all the way throughout the album on different occasions, sometimes in the middle of the songs, sometimes at the end of the songs, giving the album a very mystic touch.

All in all, Gentle Giant's self-titled debut is an exceptional work characterized by excellent musicianship, eclecticism, and diversity. Perhaps not a must-have, but definitely a must-listen for every prog nut. Five stars!

ALotOfBottle | 5/5 |

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