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Gentle Giant - Gentle Giant CD (album) cover

GENTLE GIANT

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

3.91 | 1061 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Gentle Giant" is the self-titled debut full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Gentle Giant. The album was released through Vertigo/Malibu Records in November 1970. Gentle Giant was started by the three Shulman brothers, Derek, Phil and Ray, keyboard player/vocalist Kerry Minnear, guitarist Gary Green and drummer Martin Smith. The Shulman brothers had been mildly successful with their soul/pop act Simon Dupree and the Big Sound (they scored a Top 10 UK hit in "Kites" in the autumn of 1967), but were increasingly dissatisfied with the musical direction their label was pushing them in and created Gentle Giant as an adventurous new unit. A unit with no boundaries to imprison their creative minds.

Listening to the album it becomes obvious right from the start that Gentle Giant are not only boundary pushers but boundary breakers. Itīs amazing how many different musical styles and influences they are able to incorporate to their music. Several of the band members are multi-instrumentalists and we are therefore treated to the sound of electric guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar, bass, drums, percussion, cello, violin, saxophone, trumpet, various vintage keyboards and in addition to "regular" lead vocals there are also several multi layered harmony vocal sections on the album. Itīs all packed in a pleasant sounding and powerful organic sound production courtesy of Tony Visconti.

The music on the album is an eclectic blend of bluesy hard rocking riffing, semi-jazzy rythms, medieval and classical chamber music influences all packed into an light avant garde rock formula. Lead vocalist Derek Shulman has a powerful and hoarse voice which suits the music well. He is complimented by the higher pitched voice of Kerry Minnear who also often takes the lead. In addition to having two lead vocalists in the band both Phil and Ray Shulman sing backing/harmony vocals, so itīs not only the instrumental part of the music that is intriguing and varied. The same can certainly be said about the vocal side of the music. While Gentle Giant would produce much more complex material on future recordings, weīre still talking a level of complexity that few rock acts could rival in 1970. Tracks like "Giant", "Alucard", "Why Not" and "Nothing At All" are varied, technically and structurally challenging and not to forget just great fun to listen to.

"Gentle Giant" is quite the fantastic debut album. Itīs obvious that while weīre talking a debut album, weīre not talking green inexperienced musicians. These guys can play and sing on a higher technical level than most. Add to their skills that they are also very skilled composers and this album damn near got it all. Itīs lacking slightly in the consistency department and overall the album feels more like individual tracks put together to form an album rather than tracks written specifically to form a specific mood or atmosphere that would fit the concept of an album. The short closing track "The Queen" also serves as a bit of a clumsy ending to the album, so while the album certainly is great, itīs not perfect. A 4 - 4.5 (85%) rating is still deserved though. I find this one irresistably charming.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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