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Gentle Giant - In A Glass House CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.36 | 1540 ratings

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5 stars Review Nš 135

'In A Glass House' is the fifth studio album of Gentle Giant and was released in 1973. It became with 'Octopus' as one of Gentle Giant's most popular albums. 'In A Glass House' is another conceptual album. Its concept is very original and strange and is allegedly based around the idea that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Curiously, the album begins and ends with the sound of breaking some glasses. It was the band's most directly and psychological effort ever. 'In A Glass House' is probably their most ambitious work, with four lengthy songs as 'The Runaway', 'Way Of Life', 'Experience' and 'In A Glass House'. With it, they delivered another masterful work.

'In A Glass House' represents a very important landmark in Gentle Giant's musical career because it marks the definite departure of one of the three Shulman brothers and former member Phil Shulman. He left the group because he was burnt out and discouraged after some problems with the public, especially after the difficult live concerts done by the band when they supported a live tour of Black Sabbath, and so, he had realised that the lifestyle of a touring musician was damaging his family life. Instead of finding a replacement, the remaining band members decided to continue just as they were. So, 'In A Glass House' became the first Gentle Giant's album released by the group after the departure of Phil Shulman. John Weathers even sustained that they became a stronger band after Phil left Gentle Giant.

The line up is Gary Green (6 and 12 string guitars, mandolin, percussion and alto recorder), Kerry Minnear (vocals, keyboards, tuned percussion and recorder), Derek Shulman (vocals, alto and soprano saxophones and recorder), Ray Shulman (vocals, bass, acoustic guitars, violin, trumpet and percussion) and John Weathers (drums and percussion).

'In a Glass House' has six tracks. The first track 'The Runaway' written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman is a song with an extraordinary and surprising beginning where the band seems to break some glasses. This is a very rich song with rich varieties of styles and textures, extremely melodic but is also at the same time complex and very creative. This is an extraordinary track, one of the best tracks ever released by them and a perfect way to open the album. The second track 'An Inmate's Lullaby' written by Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman is a completely different song from its previous track. It's an avant-garde and strange song especially performed by drums, xylophone and vocals. This is probably the most experimental song on the album, it isn't particularly melodic and we need some time to be familiarized with it. The third track 'Way Of Life' written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman is a song with driving rhythm, fast tempo and tempo changes all over the track. We may say that this is another progressive experimental song with some extremely beautiful and melodic moments and at the same time it has also some strange musical parts. It's a very solid and variable song with melody and improvisation at the same time. This is a truly Gentle Giant's track. The fourth track 'Experience' written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman is another extraordinary song, very inventive and with a very complex musical structure. Basically, this is a perfect example of Gentle Giant's medieval complex sound, but the song comprises also many others and varied forms of music. The song is also rich of wonderful vocal harmonies. This is probably the most complex track on the album. The fifth track 'A Reunion' written by Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman is the smallest, simplest and most calm song on the album. It's basically a soft acoustic ballad that reminds me a quartet in the classical music. It's a fine and emotional song with beautiful melody, but it seems be dislocated on this album and is probably the weakest track on it, despite its beauty. The sixth and last track is the title track. 'In A Glass House' was written by Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman and is the lengthiest song on the album. It's another excellent composition with great harmony between all musical instruments. The chorus performed by the four singers is also of superior quality. It has also a hard rock section with a memorable guitar riff, in the second part of the song. This is a great track that closes magnificently this amazing piece of music.

Conclusion: 'In A Glass House' is a very important album after their two great masterpieces 'Acquiring The Taste' and 'Octopus'. 'In A Glass House' is also a very important album because it was their first album without the participation of one of the Shulman brothers. Phil was one of the main composers of the band. It's interesting to note that the quality of the music performed by them hadn't lost nothing and probably even improved a bit. Probably, I agree with them when they said that Gentle Giant continued with Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman writing great stuff and that probably they became a stronger band after the departure of Phil Shulman. So, 'In A Glass House' is without any doubt one of the greatest prog rock albums from the 70's. It's with 'Acquiring The Taste', 'Octopus', 'The Power And The Glory' and 'Free Hand' one of their best works, and all of them are some of the best prog rock albums ever made too.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |


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