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Gentle Giant - Interview CD (album) cover

INTERVIEW

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

3.76 | 518 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

KyleSchmidlin
3 stars Gentle Giant's most transitional album, sandwiched right between the band at a peak of both commercial and artistic potential and the band taking a dramatic plunge in both categories.

Actually, there was a rebound of listenability after In'terview, but that stuff probably had just as little chance of success. I am not generally as put-off by this period of GG as most people are, nor do I think In'terview is entirely unlistenable; still, it's definitely the low point of this remarkable band.

It does contain one of the few GG songs I truly and actively dislike: the opening title track. The melody is fine, but they go just a little too far with experimentation in the middle. I still haven't come around to this. But I enjoy most of the middle of the album more than other people seem to - particularly the famous reggae experiment "Give It Back" and gorgeous "Empty City". And the closing track, "I Lost My Head", is structurally very similar to "In A Glass House" and is every bit as good. It's the last masterpiece of theirs in the traditional GG style.

What's strange about In'terview is that, for all its disjointedness and seeming inability to hang onto a groove, it actually reeks of commercialism: to my mind, more so even than "The Missing Piece". See, on "The Missing Piece" and "Giant For a Day", however questionable some of the material may have been, I find the band enjoying themselves - writing perfectly acceptable pop songs, playing them well, and enjoying, if nothing else, the professionalism of it. I don't feel as though the band enjoyed making this album; in fact, its vibe puts me off more than any of their other work. Gentle Giant are almost never deadly serious, and the few times they are the results can be spectacular ("Funny Ways", "His Last Voyage"); but where most of their previous chaotic twisting and turning was effortless and natural, on In'terview it sounds like they were looking for as many ways as possible of screwing up what may have been an otherwise fine song. Like they've got to "save face" so they did that horrible "Design" song.

That being said, the album does have its virtues. They're just harder to write about, because it's all ground they've been on before. It seems like a great final Gentle Giant purchase. I'd go in order up to Free Hand, then skip this one and continue to the end; then, go to "Civilian" and work your way back to this one; when you get here it'll sound like a return to form, even if the pop of those later albums is actually more convincing than the prog here.

Actually, that analogy works in a lot of ways. I'd be less skeptical to hear these five (or six) guys were getting back together to create more music than I would be regarding almost any other prog band. Except for King Crimson and maybe Rush, none of the old guard has any juice left in them that I can tell. But In'terview sounds, to me, like a reunion album. They knew the tricks they had to pull off: dissonant, almost unlistenable noise; odd instrumentation; toying with world music. Unfortunately, it's just not their greatest batch of songs - a common failing of a band past its prime. Most of these songs work on the basic formula of old songs. They may not exactly be rewrites, but it's easy to see "Cogs in Cogs" presaging "Another Show" (one of the best songs on here) and Knots presaging "Design" (possibly my least favorite GG song).

I actually enjoy the fact that they went on from here to do something completely different. However embarrassed by the late album fans and the band itself may feel, I feel like their exeunt is one of the few dignified ones in progressive rock. Their tampering with pop was by no means bad - it's better than Eddie Money, anyway - and by In'terview it was obvious they either had to come up with some new tricks or move on. They moved on, and so much the better.

KyleSchmidlin | 3/5 |

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