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

IN A GLASS HOUSE

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.34 | 1105 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars In a Glass House contains longer pieces than one would expect from Gentle Giant, which proves to be, for the most part, a bad thing. Gentle Giant does an outstanding job keeping things progressive, tight, and under seven minutes. On this album, there's a lot of stuff that drags on and thus drags the album down a bit, like repetition and incongruity. The beginning and the end of this album are undoubtedly the highlights. Because of much of the middle, though, I disagree that this is their best album, but I emphasize that this is definitely worth possessing.

"The Runaway" Every time I begin this album, my wife wants to know what the hell just broke! Soon enough, the sound of glass breaking develops into a rhythm, and eventually the song proper explodes into our eager ears. Normally, Gentle Giant's music takes time to appreciate and enjoy, but right off the bat, we're treated to some of the best the band has to offer. The main riff depends greatly on a not fully distorted electric guitar and thundering bass. There is an unusually moderate amount of keyboard present for a Gentle Giant song. Kerry Minnear does an excellent job singing in the middle section, going from his usual high notes to extremely low ones. The arrangement and instrumentation are impeccable. The lyrics suggest a convict who has tired of living in his glass house, namely, a prison cell. In "The Runaway," Gentle Giant made a song that is at once full of musical complexities and yet strangely accessible; this would be a great place to start for someone new to this fantastic group.

"An Inmate's Lullaby" Perhaps one of Gentle Giant's most bizzare songs, this one is about a man in a mental institution. In a way, he is forced to inhabit a glass house, subject to people's observations and comments. The percussive music is interspersed with quaint but really creepy xylophone.

"Way of Life" A wacky rocker, Derek Shulman seems to be flat on several notes, but that might just be because the melody is such an awkward one. The musical interlude is likewise peculiar. After a third verse, there is quiet organ section during which Minnear sings softly. Despite all the preceding adjectives, "Way of Life" isn't a bad song, but isn't nearly as tight or as good as "The Runaway." It doesn't go anywhere fresh, and therefore lingers for too long. To add to the flaws of the song, the last ninety seconds consist of nothing but an organist playing the same irritating riff ad nauseum.

"Experience" The music has a renaissance feel, and changes galore. The first couple of minutes consist of Minnear singing reflectively. Later, in between a bass riff that will be the backbone for the next section, Minnear intones over a lone chapel organ. Gary Green gets a lengthy guitar solo after Shulman's rocking vocal part. The coming-of-age lyrics are some of the best Gentle Giant has written, as they describe a timeless theme regarding life.

"A Reunion" Short and sweet, the violin and cello receive an opportunity to shine, over a backdrop of acoustic guitar and well-played bass. When I hear this song, I think of it as the unlikely epilogue to a previous album entitled Three Friends.

"In a Glass House" Loaded with twelve-string guitar work and a healthy dose of ingenuity, the title track is genius, rife with time signature and tempo changes. Shulman and Minnear take turns on lead vocals. Near the end we get some resonator guitar played with a slide, unusual for Gentle Giant, who has used probably every instrument short of the kitchen sink (which they will no longer need since they broke all their glassware at the beginning of the album). The lyrics depict an interesting twist in the concept of the album: We usually think of people in a glass house as being on display at all times; what if the glass that made up the house was really mirrors? Then the person inside would be forced to reflect on himself. The very end is a short collage of all the tracks, ending with the echo of one more glass shattering.

Epignosis | 4/5 |

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