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


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.35 | 1722 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars A long, long time ago (OK, not that long ago in prog world but certainly feels like a long time to me), when yours truly was getting into prog, the track Experience off this album was one of the first prog tracks I heard. Needless to say, I was simply confounded by the track. I filed it for comprehension at a later date.

As it happened, my full fledged dive into prog, where I began to devour back catalogues of the who's who of prog would come about a couple of years later.

This time, I sampled Runaway before I ventured any further on Gentle Giant. I hadn't heard Experience again at all but I did remember the, er, experience rather well.

Runaway clicked where Experience didn't. Perhaps, the slight Jethro Tull-ness of the track makes it a little more accessible than many other Gentle Giant tracks. Which isn't necessarily saying much.

I have sort of said a version of this in my other Gentle Giant reviews but they are really like no other prog rock band. Broadly speaking, prog rock bands are either accessible and somewhat catchy (Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull) or not very accessible and not very catchy (King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, Magma). The former are easy into get into and the latter, it is understood, need growing into and may not be for everyone.

Gentle Giant on the other hand is rather catchy and yet not accessible!

Their tracks are short by prog standards (the longest one here clocking eight and a half minutes). They are also laden with molten hot funk grooves. They are unabashedly playful in a way that comes off as goofy. That is one of three primary sources of irritation for those who don't like the band. Number two, Derek Shulman's vocals and even many fans, including myself, make peace with his singing for what it is. Number three, the songs go through lots, and I mean lots, of changes within the five-six minute length. Long before there was Spastic Ink, there was Gentle Giant. The music changes so much it gets rather restless and that too may turn off a lot of people. Even if it doesn't, it may simply get difficult to get a handle on what's going on.

With all that said, in the intervening two years since my first experience of Experience, I had gotten a better grip over prog. So...I made headway with Runaway and then gingerly tried Experience, finding to my surprise that I rather liked it now.

In fact, Experience is probably my second favourite off the album. The first being the title track. It's vintage Gentle Giant - a violin part interlocking with a keyboard figure and then a different keyboard part comes in, paving the way for vocals. Which end with a stylish guitar groove. How they pass through all these changes smoothly is a mystery but they do it...that is, for those who do enjoy the music. At the half way mark, a much more rock-ing riff comes in, eventually leading to a country-like guitar part. And on and on it goes.

Runaway is wonderful but once you HAVE become a Gentle Giant fan, it feels almost tame in comparison to Experience or the title track! Way of Life is likewise and overstays its welcome a tad. Reunion and Inmates Lullaby are too brief to really hit home, on the other hand.

All in all, this one isn't quite up there with Acquiring The Taste, Octopus or Free Hand. It's still a very strong four, which is most everything they did from the debut right up to Free Hand.

rogerthat | 4/5 |


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