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Gentle Giant - Acquiring the Taste CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.28 | 1630 ratings

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Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars One of the things you have to admire about Gentle Giant is the risk they took with what was only their 2nd album. Their debut album was more of a blues oriented affair, but they didn't want to rest on those laurels. Instead, it was the band's intention to stretch their musical style to the limits of their imagination, and that is what they did with "Acquiring the Taste". They did this with full knowledge of the risk they were taking, to risk stardom and notoriety for obscurity in order to not compromise on their vision, to push the boundaries of rock music. All of this is noted in the text on the album sleeve. That was the reasoning behind the title of the album, to "sit back, and acquire the taste".

And, that is what you have to do. In 1971, when this was released, progressive rock was young, and GG was one of the first band's to get a foothold in the genre. But, even though there were other band's expanding their horizons at the time, it was still hard to find a band that they could be accused of "ripping off". Talk about interesting harmonies, strange chords, interesting meters, and just being totally original, this band accomplished this with this album. And, thus, this is where their unique sound and style began.

Forget the fact that the album cover was deemed one of the worst record covers of all time. They weren't out to impress anyone. At best, the band pretty much avoided the limelight, and was only really able to get a cult following at the time. Now, the band is quite well respected. It's not music that will appeal to the masses, especially if they are not willing to put in the time to appreciate just what is going on here. However, the band seemed to be quite content to give their unique style in small doses. In fact, even though this album is only around 39 minutes long, it is still the longest of all of their studio albums. But, man, there is a lot going on here.

The album starts off with "Pantagruel's Nativity", one that demonstrates right off the bat that this is anything but normal. This complex piece of work is inspired by the books of Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais, a group of novels that tell the adventures of two giants. It is a bit difficult to discern where one song ends and the next begins as they are presented as a suite-style. However, the mellotron will definitely let you know that the music is progressive, and the complex folkish style runs rampant through the entire album. As a matter of fact, when the heavier guitar solo comes in later in the track "The House, the Street, the Room", it has quite an impact that doubles in power since you don't quite expect it, but it sure sound great, and it fits right in.

The 2nd half of the album doesn't let up in the progressive sound as it continues to explore strange harmonies in both the vocals and the chords. The rhythm continues to emphasize the complexities of the music, never being satisfied to settle into a constant beat like an afterthought, but actually being as complex as the music itself. "The Moon is Down" has some nice tonal percussion in it that is completely original, and this song only proves that people use the band as a "standard" when comparing other bands, as in, "hey this band has a Gentle Giant vibe to it, doesn't it?". The other thing I find interesting is really apparent in "Black Cat", which features the band's mellow sound in the vocals, which is also a trademark feel for Gentle Giant, that almost makes the band sound vulnerable in what they are doing sound-wise, but that playful passage that involves the strings and odd percussive noises, you know they are completely sure of themselves in what they are doing. I've always considered that soft singing style one of Gentle Giant's most endearing sounds, and the way it almost clashes with the complexities of everything makes them completely engaging in my opinion. The last track "Plain Truth" is probably the most rock-oriented of the tracks once the guitar riff kicks in, and is also the most repetitive riffs on the album, though the exciting violin swirls that are just as strong as the guitar riffs make this track a rousing ending statement for an excellent album.

For those that have not had a chance to "acquire the taste" of Gentle Giant, this album is one only seasoned progressive lovers should start on. Even then, it might be a bit tough to "get" from the outset. But, if you allow the music to grow inside of you, it will end up being one of your favorite albums. The array of instruments on this album is quite extensive, and only helps in making it one intriguing album. If you've been missing this album in your progressive collection, then it's about time for you to find it and discover what you've been missing.

TCat | 5/5 |


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