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Gentle Giant - Free Hand  CD (album) cover

FREE HAND

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.26 | 994 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Draith
5 stars Okay, Okay, this is definitely a masterpiece of Gentle Giant's. I had a hard time deciding this for a while, but after listening to it for months, it has grown on me to the point of absolute listening pleasure with every song, and after analyzing the album itself, it is certainly another one of the genius creations of the genius band Gentle Giant, second only to In a Glass House of the band's albums I have listened to for so far (I still have yet to get Octopus). Indeed, there isn't an album by Gentle Giant I have heard yet that I wouldn't consider excellent, and this one is by far more than excellent, it's a desert island album for me. I actually received the 35th Anniversary edition album for Christmas a few months ago after asking for it from my sister, and I already knew the album quite well after my progger friend Justin let me borrow it on vinyl. It took quite a while for it to catch on to me, but I soon discovered that it accomplishes so much in its musicality, and it absolutely baffles me as a musician that other musicians can be so infinitely talented, and I am quite humbled as a multi-instrumentalist myself. Enough of my fanboyishness, on with the music.

Just the Same serves as a great opener, starting off the album just the sort of way you'd expected the band to - the snapping of fingers. The vocal lines and other melody lines are all catchy, keyboard is wonderful, especially in the middle when it serves as an atmospheric element. A classic Gentle Giant song, fun, energetic, jazzy, almost something you could dance to. The ending is great too!

On Reflection is among one of my favorite songs ever, and along with In a Glass House, my favorite Gentle Giant song. Almost the entire song is in rounds, meaning one part would start with a first melody, then that part would move to a second melody while a new part comes in with the first melody, then a third melody with the first part, the second with the second part, and the first with a new third part, and so on. Thus you end up with several melodies, at least four or five, going at once, and it sounds quite wonderfully complex. This idea is started off in the song with all vocals, and then all come together after the series of rounds singing all around! All a round! All a round! All a round! The song is all a round all around!!! Genius! pretty soon the round is done with the instruments themselves. I just love this song.

Free Hand, the album title track, is a bit more straight forward than the previous, really rocking out, in a very eclectic sense, as usual with the band. It is probably the catchiest song on the album, again almost something you could dance to. Another classic Gentle Giant song, energetic, and a bit heavier than most of their previous songs. I find it interesting how the piano starts of the song with a quite minor sounding pattern but the song overall sounds so happy and playful. It definitely gets more that way in the middle of the song, than builds back up to the rocking chorus. the drums do an awesome fill and BAM! Back into the chorus! It's just great!

Killing the Time is a bit weirder sounding than the previous few, but again has that great classic Gentle Giant sound, with the use of different sorts of instruments at different times doing different sort of rhythms and melodies and harmonies. I love how in this song they can go from using two instruments to using all of them in the same two measures and make it flow so nicely, more than many bands, even progressive, do with an entire song.

His Last Voyage is a bit of a break from the intensity of the rest of the album, being much softer, almost sort of solemn yet not... I'm quite how to describe the mood, but it perfectly musically portrays the lyrics, of an apparently old man's last voyage to the sees. The band accomplishes a unique atmosphere in the song, quite nice and calm. I especially love the effects of the reverberation with the vocal tracks and guitar, and the steadiness in the middle section of the song.

Talybont is another on of those wonderful little two minute tid-bits that you love on great album, like Madrigal on A Farewell to Kings or Reunion on In a Glass House. In this case it is an instrumental with wonderful folk sounding wind instruments and harpsichord, and sharp guitar with an echo on almost every note. Once again, a ground breaking song that accomplishes so much musicality in such a small amount of time.

Mobile, the closing song of the album, is one of those common on masterpieces where they don't do much for the album, but nor do they take anything away from the album, and is a great song in its own right. Quite catchy melodies and to me a bit reminiscent of In a Glass House (the song).

All in all, a ground breaking album, one of Gentle Giant's best received albums, as well as being one of their heaviest and most musically active, almost in a bit of an in your face way. I only wish I could have grown up in this period instead of in my musically desolate generation. An absolute masterpiece by one of the most talented groups of musical geniuses that ever existed!

Draith | 5/5 |

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