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Gentle Giant - Three Friends CD (album) cover

THREE FRIENDS

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.11 | 1166 ratings

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Modrigue
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Three reasons to love this album

Not often cited by fans, "Three Friends" yet remains one of Shulman brothers and co.'s best opuses as well as their most accessible. First concept-album and first auto-production from the band, the lyrics narrate the story of three childhood friends who will later belong to different social class and cease to understand each other's way of life. A track is dedicated to each character: the worker, the painter and the white collar. Less adventurous and demanding than its predecessor, "Acquiring the Taste", this third effort includes shorter compositions with more catchy melodies. This stylistic direction might not always satisfy complex and always changing songs hardcore fans, however this time the musicians somehow take a break by proposing very pleasant and inspired spacey symphonic progressive rock.

Alternating rocking passages and mysterious aquatic keyboards sonorities, "Prologue" is quite an efficient opener. With its modified vibraphone opening, the nice and strange "Schooldays" is pure gentle giant-ish, to then turn into a calm jazzy piano tune. Now come the three songs of the friends. "Working All Day" is the worker's song and may be my least favorite of the disc. A saxophone rock piece with a cool Hammond organ solo. Not bad but fails a little to really lift off.

The painter's song, "Peel The Paint", is rather misleading. Starting discretely, the music becomes suddenly raging and heavy. There are even unexpected furious Hendrixian guitar sections! Wow! Are we still listening to GENTLE GIANT here? Surprisingly, the record concludes with its two best tracks. "Mister Class And Quality?" is the white collar's song. This powerful composition possesses catchy melodies and great instrumental sections. It rocks! The title track simply finishes the album in apotheosis. Quite atypical in the band's discography, it features a religious- like chorus offering a particular ethereal and contemplative ambiance, like if you were about to enter the heaven. Superb!

As promised, here are the three reasons to love these three friends. First, the music remains sophisticated, playful, featuring many changes, while never going too complex or elitist. Second, there are nice rocking passages and catchy melodies. Finally, the particular aquatic organ sound and floating chorus displays a specific floating atmosphere, which is rather singular for the band. Although the middle of the album may contain weaker moments, this is probably my favorite opus from the Shulman brothers and co.

A bit apart considering GENTLE GIANT's other releases, "Three Friends" is their spaciest record, as well as one of their most accessible. The one to start with for newcomers, with their self-titled debut, and an essential listen for symphonic prog rock fans!

Modrigue | 4/5 |

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