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Gentle Giant - Free Hand CD (album) cover

FREE HAND

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.28 | 1358 ratings

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steamhammeralltheway
4 stars Make it 4 and a half out of five. Free Hand is a lot more inviting to me than the two albums preceding it. "Just the same" kinds of makes me glow all over like the debut & Octopus did -- it has a couple neat hooks. I understand from my counting friends, a highly unusual tempo: 7's against the drummers' 3's.

"On Reflection" starts out like it's going to be geeky, but instead unfolds into this remarkable one complete with almost perfect harmony and very touching charm. Now I'm starting to see why people are so enthralled with this group.

The title track begins pretty mystical, and then dives into a sort of deep but playful groove, for lack of any other way to describe. Melody is catchy.

Things are still looking good on the flip to the other side of the LP. "Time to Kill" does somewhat follow a Giant formula, but has enough fresh ideas, including very rich harmonies galore, one in a low register. Very fluid & rhythmic.

Wow. "His Last Voyage" is a ballad. Giant ballads and slower numbers are to die for; this no exception. I liked the piano/guitar interplay on the solo but think it was a bit misplaced on this celestial ballad. I was glad when the echoey vocal returned.

Usually when people claim that Giant is doing a Renaissance song, they are mistaken. The twelve tone scales found in much Giant were not used in the Renaissance. (Try John Cage. Ugh!) "Talybont" is indeed a genuine Ren. song though, and a ravishing one at that. It is entirely instrumental too. Giant needs to do more of those, being so accomplished on so many instruments. There is an endearing modern section to the song with some unusual tone colors.

"Mobile," the album closer, is pretty indescribable, simple and very complex at the same time. It didn't really strike my fancy, but I get the feeling that there's a lot more there than an initial listen can grasp. On this song the Renaissance acts a backdrop for rock and funk ideas. Well the reason this album doesn't get a five is that my favorite Giant album is the Power and the Glory. That one I think is the absolute apex of Giant's career.

steamhammeralltheway | 4/5 |

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