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Gentle Giant - Gentle Giant  CD (album) cover

GENTLE GIANT

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

3.87 | 820 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

friso
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Gentle Giant - st (1970)

In the year 1970 the progressive movement explodes with massive releases like Tresspass, Third, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Lizard & Poseidon, H to He and this nice debut of Gentle Giant. Gentle Giant sounds original and fresh from the beginning with only minor influences in the compositions of Zappa, but that debatable. With the debut being the first of a string of eight brilliant albums Gentle Giant became one of the most important groups of the progressive rock genre. Besides being very productive, the band also proves to be highly inventive.

The members of Gentle Giant all play three instruments or more and their range of possibilities is almost limitless. The compositions are very intelligent, with the strangest of rhythms and distinctive atmospheres. Besides that, the band seems to be having fun making this kind of prog and isn't too serious.

The debut is a direct hit for me. Though some of the milder, less progressive compositions on side two have proven to be debatable, it still stands out has a very progressive album, mainly due to the first three tracks of side one an the first track of side two.

'Giant' is a brilliant and bombastic opening track with great wind-sections an original couplet theme (one line of lyrics and a long instrumental theme with plots). The instrumental sections near the end are all very well composed. 'Funny Ways' is Gentle Giant's signature ballad with a dedicated, serious atmosphere, whilst having funny lyrics "My Ways are strange! They'll never change!". The band now plays string instruments like guitar, cello and violin. 'Alucard', 'Dracula' the other way around, is another brilliant track with a very dark/atmospheric, almost Roman Empire like couplet theme with reverbs that come before the vocals. This gives the track a creepy feel, whilst the organ/guitar themes sound a bit like a freak-show. 'Isn't It Quiet And Cold?' is a song in the style of Mister Sandman, classy and well played on various classical instruments. The vocal harmonies are very strong.

On side two 'Nothing at All' stands out as one the most beautiful songs Gentle Giant ever recorded. A dedicated ballad with strong acoustic guitar parts. The instrumental parts are strong, but the drumsolo could have been a bit shorter here. 'Why Not' is a track on which the band plays a form of intelligent hard rock (perhaps a bit like Deep Purple) with some nice folky interludes. I must admit I'm not too impressed by the lyrics here. 'The Queen' is an instrumental rock version of the British anthem (I suppose..?). Again some nice Deep Purple-like guitar solo's.

Conclusion. Perhaps not the best way to start your Gentle Giant collection, but an excellent addition for every progressive rock collection for sure. No band would ever sound like Gentle Giant on it's debut. The band itself would even re-invent itself for their second offering, 'Acquiring the Taste'. This is innovation, this is originality, this is quality and that is what Gentle Giant is about. Four stars.

friso | 4/5 |

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