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Gentle Giant - The Power And The Glory  CD (album) cover

THE POWER AND THE GLORY

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.26 | 975 ratings

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Fuselage
5 stars The zenith of a band that many consider to be the apex of their milieu, 1974's the Power and the Glory seems to be a somewhat polarising affair. Hardly surprising when confronted with a barrage of eight (save perhaps Aspirations) enormously complex and adventurous slabs of prog.

I find this album is, for want of better word, a lot more mechanical sounding than for example the earthy 'Acquiring the Taste' and continues in the direction of its predecessor, a little harder rocking on the whole with slightly less of intertwining, folkish melodies. This is also probably the bleakest and most apocalyptic GG release - the sudden and twisted verse 3 minutes or so into the first track is the most ugly (in a good way) thing I've ever heard them come out with (which is reprised in Valedictory). The vocalists perform an interesting harmonised glissando here. It is after trying to jam along to this piece of music in particular that revealed the sheer amount of twists, turns and keys used throughout.

On Reflection is a little weaker to begin with (although not really when considered the band members played all of the unorthodox instruments without session musican intervention), but at least lets the album relapse into their Phil Shulman-era sound for a few minutes, until Derek comes in with the titular refrain and the tune continues with some slightly more upbeat albeit extremely elaborate arrangements. Aspirations, as I mentioned before, is probably the least complex (god I hate that term) of the lot. That does not mean it is any worse. Indeed, it's a superbly well-written mellow electric piano tune and one of the top three on the album.

Playing the Game is a tight and harmonically consonant rocker when compared to the rest of the album. Very enjoyable, if a little less remarkable. Cogs in Cogs is for me the centrepiece of the album, an absolute musical painting - the rolling, cyclic nature of the music with Derek's hollered voice commands images of massed ranks of machinery.

The next two tracks are sort of Gentle Giant by numbers, but are very strong too. The first, No God's a Man, is a pretty little ditty which culminates in a wonderful Minnear section towards the end, and the second, the more upbeat The Face features some thoughtful violin work. Valedictory is a sort of reprise of the first track, Proclamation, and serves as a wonderful bookend to the album as the opener is incredibly strong.

Not everyone would agree, but in a string of about six top notch opuses, this is probably the most refined and consistent. Highlights are Proclamation, Aspirations and Cogs in Cogs, although every track here is pretty much a stunner and for that I must award 5 stars.

Fuselage | 5/5 |

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