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


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.30 | 1642 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Made during the Richard Nixon scandal, this album concerns political corruption, conservative thought, and those Roger WATERs would later label "dogs". The power- hungry, the backstabbing, the unrelenting. The cover, a playing card king with shifty eyes and a half-unsheathed sword, sums it up. The album uses games, claims, power, and glory in a medieval way to represent modern politics. Not much has changed.

"Proclaimation" is a brilliant opener, with keyboard and guitar working together especially well. The politician/king has just come to power, claiming God's right to his power, and considering options. The music is light, airy and a bit nieve, as the antagonist has much to learn. However, as he decides to "hail to power and to glory's way", the music becomes sour, dissonant and lurching, a reflection of his choice's fallacy. After this, the music fades out, but soon fades back in at a faster pace. This section, a recap of the first theme, is one of the highlights of the album, everything sliding along smoothly. Unfortunately, the bonus live track of this song doesn't include this section.

The next song, "So Sincere," expands on the confused and dissonant nature heard in the "hail..." section of "Proclaimation." The music is dissonant and plodding, GENTLE GIANT at their most RIO. The lyrics are mainly sarcastic, throwing out words and their opposites, contradicting virtually every line with another. The usual political tricks and not non-untruths.

"Aspirations" is a quieter, moody, ballad-like track, with Kerry MINEAR's soft, beatiful voice providing a break from the more abrasive style of Derek SHULMAN. The lyrics are far more sincere than those of the track before it, providing a look into the childhood hopes and dreams of this man who has come to power.

I never liked "Playing the Game" as most people seem to, although it is a good track. I don't know, for some reason it just never clicked. The music has a sort of oriental feel to it, a strange backdrop for lyrics about rigging elections, equating politics to the chess game it is.

"Cogs in Cogs" is a fast-paced, hurried whirl through political beauracracy (more exciting than it sounds). One of the best tracks, it just cranks along, progressive to the bone. At one point there is a two-part vocal harmony cycle, with one vocal in 6/8 and the other in 15/8, musically depicting cogs in cogs.

My least favorite track is probably "No God's a Man," mainly because of its softer, folkier tone and the fact that I can't decipher the song's title and exactly what it's about. It would make sense if it were "no man's a God", but instead it's the reverse. Anyway, from what I gather the politician's corruption has come to light, and public opinion turns against him.

Ray SHULMAN's violin features prominently in "The Face," where the politician finally faces his corruption. He "wears the face that is sorry," seemingly apologizing for what he's done. Of course, it's just another "so sincere" lie. The music is fast and urgent, and it would make a logical conclusion for the album. The politician/king has lost, the public has turned against him, and he has resigned. The end.

But instead, GENTLE GIANT has more to say. "Valedictory," musically, is a darker, disaffected and rocking reworking of "Proclaimation." The politician refuses to give up, apparently going mad with power, stating that "things must stay, there must be no change." As YES' Jon ANDERSON and many other prog lyricists have taught us, change (progression) is the only remedy for decay and sterility. The antagonist simply doesn't get it, instead defending "power and glory's way", functioning only on conservative thought and refusal to change. The politician has been booted from office, but as power and glory rule, it only repeats. New corruption and new oppression rise from old, stubborn ideals. An endless cycle of corruption, represented by the album's circular shape (the first and last songs are very similar). The end of the album is abrupt, halfway into "hail...", something clicks and the whole thing is rewound at light speed and spins into oblivion.

The previously unreleased bonus title track is okay, but it's apparent why they left it out of the album. The music is too bouncy and poppish, and the lyrics especially are twee and insignificant. But it's still nice to hear nonetheless, but nothing special.

penguindf12 | 5/5 |


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