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Gentle Giant - Interview CD (album) cover

INTERVIEW

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

3.77 | 512 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Negoba
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The End of a Giant

Gentle Giant's INTERVIEW marks the last of the band's classic eight extremely progressive albums. As the genre was in decline, the band attempted to find a pop audience after this album, to no avail. Ironically, the band had achieved its greatest (at least American) success on the previous FREE HAND, an album that had combined GG's trademark complexity with a bit of levity and accessibility. Under time pressure to follow up that success, the band essentially put together FREE HAND 2. The result is predictable; another complex but (relatively) user-friendly album, with less of the fire and heart that FH displayed. But to be very clear, more of FREE HAND is a great thing, and INTERVIEW is an excellent piece of prog rock. Though I usually avoid song-by-song reviews, Gentle Giant's music really begs for the treatment. So here goes.

1. Interview - the album starts with vintage GG led by Kerry Minnear's syncopated organ. Angular melodic lines get traded from organ to voice to bass to piano until we're once again the the realm of calculated chaos that all GG fans love. Though we've heard these sounds before, this ranks up there as one of the better prototypes of the Gentle Giant sound.

2.  Give It Back - a quirky, near reggae tune adds a sense of whimsy to this album that may be part of its lighter reputation. However, the song quickly evolves in complexity peaking in a march-like bridge that uses instrumentation new to the GG repertoire. Harmony guitars, a haunting whistle (? Theremin) alternate with vibes on one of the freshest of the album's pieces.

3.  Design - by this point, GG fans expected a composed a capella piece, and INTERVIEW does not disappoint. This song is one of the most haunting of its kind, using dissonant harmony and noisy percussion in a great piece which is unfortunately a little long for the number of ideas it uses.

4.  Another Show - speeds up the pace with another typical GG groove. This song is solid enough, but shows the band starting to run out of ideas. The entire album suffers from a dearth of strong lead lines (hooks seems terribly inappropriate for this band) and this song really just blends into the background.

5.  Empty City - this is perhaps the best song on the album, starting with a beautiful acoustic guitar and packing by far the strongest emotional punch of the album. The melody line on this one sticks with me, and the balance of moods is good. This is the only song from the album I'd put on a "Best of GG" collection.

6.  Timing - a bit more poppy (by GG standards) this mid-tempo number is very well composed but lacks heart. It features a few great instrumental breaks including a nice rock solo by Gary Green, but just doesn't grab one's attention that well.

7.  I Lost My Head - for some reason this song gets extra mention compared to the other songs on this album, and I'm not sure why. It does employ a little of the Medievalism of early GG, and its light feel is pleasant enough. I actually don't like Minnear's voice on this lead (I thought it one of saving graces of IN A GLASS HOUSE). The melodic lines are good, but too much of the song seems mechanical in execution. It's actually surprising that GG hasn't fallen into this trap more often given the complexity of their music, but here they truly are too much in their head and not enough in the heart.

INTERVIEW must still be considered one of the great Gentle Giant albums, and part of the greater canon of prog. It doesn't meet the masterpiece level of some of its predecessors, but still comes highly recommended. The last great work of one of prog's greatest bands.

Negoba | 4/5 |

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