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Gentle Giant - Acquiring The Taste CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.26 | 1381 ratings

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5 stars Review Nš 119

'Acquiring The Taste' is the second studio album of Gentle Giant and was released in 1971. The dissonant counterpoint, the nearly eponymous debut peculiarity that made them renowned, has their first appearance in 'Acquiring The Taste'. On this album, each of the six musicians, alternatively, played different instruments, with a massive use of electronic keyboards that gave a nearly symphonic feature to the album. With this album Gentle Giant begins the incredible versatility of their music which explores many various genres, ranging from jazz, blues, hard rock, experimental, classical and medieval, but always in the root of the tasteful progressive rock music.

The line up on the album is Gary Green (vocals, 6 string guitar, 12 string guitar, 12 string wah-wah guitar, donkey's jawbone and cat calls), Kerry Minnear (vocals, electric piano, organ, mellotron, vibraphone, Moog piano, celeste, clavichord, harpsichord, tympani, xylophone and maracas), Derek Shulman (vocals, alto saxophone, clavichord and cowbell), Phil Shulman (vocals, alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet, trumpet, piano, claves and maracas), Ray Shulman (vocals, bass, violin, viola, electric violin, Spanish guitar, tambourine, 12 string guitar, organ bass pedals and skulls) and Martin Smith (drums, tambourine, gongs and side drum). Paul Cosh (trumpet and organ), Tony Visconti (recorder, bass drum and triangle) and Chris Thomas (moog programmer) are additional musicians that appear on the album.

'Acquiring The Taste' has eight tracks. All songs were written by Kerry Minnear and the three Shulman brothers. The first track 'Pantagruel's Nativity' is one of my favourite songs of the album and became a classic Gentle Giants' track. It's a song with continuous music and a nice melody. It has beautiful keyboards very well combined with a powerful and great guitar work. What is most impressive on this track is the use of so many musical instruments such as saxes, vibraphone, celesta, harpsichord, tympani, trumpet, clarinet and so on. The second track 'Edge Of Twilight' is one of the most avant-garde musics on the album. It's a very dark music with short vocal line, nice to hear and with a good explorative musical work. The third track 'The House, The Street, The Room' is another avant- garde music with nice melody and the exploration of strange sounds. This is one of the heaviest songs recorded by the band that at some times reminds me the typical apocalyptic sound of Van Der Graaf Generator. The fourth track is the title track 'Acquiring The Taste'. It's a very short instrumental track, another avant-garde and explorative track with some nice and catchy musical moments despite its length. The fifth track 'Wreck' is probably with 'Pantagruel's Nativity' one of the two best tracks on the album. It's a strong song with the fantastic and typical vocal harmony of the group with great and interesting musical passages especially the keyboards and guitar passages. This song reminds me 'Argus' of Wishbone Ash. The sixth track 'The Moon Is Down' is another interesting song that starts very slow but that develops into a more energetic sound. It's another song with nice and good exploratory musical passages and with a beautiful vocal work. The seventh track 'Black Cat' is the calmer song on the album but with more experimental musical passages. It has some good and interesting musical moments but it seems to me the less inspired song of the album and the weakest song on it. The eighth and last track 'Plain Truth' is a solid rock song with the typical Gentle Giant's guitar work and also with good vocal harmonies. It's probably the most accessible track on the album, the less complex and the more traditional, and less typical of them. Still, it's a solid closer for this interesting, great and surprising work.

Conclusion: This album represents a giant's step into their music, relatively to their previous eponymous debut studio album. 'Gentle Giant' represents probably their less complex musical work and it's for sure their most hard and heavy rock album. By the other hand, 'Acquiring The Taste' represents, for me, the most experimental, most discordant and most avant-garde album, in all their musical career. This album has everything that characterized Gentle Giant's music, the fusion of several and different musical styles such as rock, blues and jazz, the influence of the renaissance and medieval music and the prolific use of multi musical instruments. It's interesting to note, that in the sleeve text, the band made their declaration with the objective of defining what they wanted to do in the music: ''Acquiring The Taste' is the second phase of sensory pleasure. If you've gorged yourself on our first album, then relish the finer flavours (we hope) of this, our second offering. It is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular. We have recorded each composition with the one thought - that it should be unique, adventurous and fascinating. It has taken every shred of our combined musical and technical knowledge to achieve this. From the outset we have abandoned all preconceived thoughts of blatant commercialism. Instead we hope to give you something far more substantial and fulfilling. All you need to do is sit back, and acquire the taste''. And this is all really true.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |


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