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Gentle Giant - Free Hand  CD (album) cover

FREE HAND

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.26 | 1000 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Octo-what?

There's an eternal debate as to the best Gentle Giant album, although most will say it comes down to Free Hand, In A Glass House or Octopus, and most times Octopus comes out on top. But to be quite honest, while that album may have been a pinnacle of experimental music with an incredibly warm and welcoming sound, this album has it beat by miles and miles when you're looking for amazing compositions and musicianship. The album maintains the typical Giant quirk, but adds a couple of layers of melody and direction that some people who criticize the band claim that they lack, yet they still have the complexities that people often give them so much credit for. Really, this is the perfect blend for Gentle Giant and it's the album that will likely appeal to the widest audience.

Each song on this album is a work of absolute marvel. Though each of the sides has its own standouts and features the songs all contain a certain amount of charm and crazy complexity to make them both incredibly catchy, memorable, and impressive. Probably the best example of this is the killer duo of songs that make up the most of the first side. On Reflection carries on the Knots style of harmonized vocals while taking the length and extending it, adding more instrumentation and melody. The secondary vocals are also quite beautiful in their delivery as the music slows down - that is, until the buildup that brings the song to a somewhat cataclysmic close. Free Hand, the title cut, is also incredibly impressive. Its melodies and hooks are such that this one will get lodged in your head, never to be removed. Not a lot of Gentle Giant songs can be called ''catchy'', but this one certainly can. Add in a certain amount of aggression and you've got yourself one killer tune.

Some of the other songs on the album are more familiar to the Gentle Giant style. The opening Just The Same is an upbeat tune with some very uplifting vocals while the instrumental Talybont revisits the Giant's love for medieval melodies in its brief existence. Time To Kill has a structure in kin with something like Pantagruel's Nativity with its subtle nuances being the most prominent (strangely) part of the song, making for a strange hook. His Last Voyage is a slow and reflective, calm piece that simmers things down for a moment while Mobile makes for a blistering closer.

There really isn't a whole lot more to say about Gentle Giant's masterpiece other than it should be in every single prog rock collection in at least one form. If you don't take my word for it then read one of the many other gushing reviews and you just may be convinced. A bright and shiny 5 stars for this marvelous work.

Queen By-Tor | 5/5 |

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