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Gentle Giant - Free Hand/Interview CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.24 | 38 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars All GG albums tend to be short, so it's very suitable to pair them up on CD. (And think of the 2CD compilation Edge Of Twilight: it contains the majority of FIVE albums, ie. only a few tracks missing from those albums.) Here is their pinnacle masterpiece Free Hand (1975) and its follower Interview (1976), which I would call the last good album by the band. More of its reception later.

Free Hand saw the band's unique style taken to perfection and it's brilliantly produced. I think their greatest songs are on the earlier albums (e.g. 'Schooldays', 'Pantagruel's Nativity' etc), but this album is a strong effort from start to finish (only 'Mobile' leaves me a bit cold), whereas usually there are more than one song I don't like. Even the songs that at first seem less elegant suddenly take a turn that win me over with their genuine gentlegiantness. That may mean for example allusions to Renaissance music. Multi-layered a cappella choir on the opening of 'On Reflection' is fantastic! There are more musical ideas than many groups can achieve during a long career. Simply, this album shows what progressive music can be when you have a group of musicians with amazing level of artistic ambition and talent. My favourite track is 'His Last Voyage' featuring vocals by Kerry Minnear whose gentle voice I prefer over Derek Shulman's rougher vocals. 'Talybont' is a bright little instrumental with that lovely flavour of Old Music.

Interview has notably lower rating (but naturally much higher than the following poor albums which were plain disappointments for anyone), and also the band itself felt that for the first time they didn't manage to make much progress (I think they were too harsh for themselves!). It follows quite closely the path of Free Hand, maybe slightly less inspired and more uneven, but nevertheless a solid and well produced album which I found to be much better than I expected. Individually rated, I'd probably give it four stars. The album took some ironic inspiration from the sillier aspects of music life such as foolish interviews by the music press. A stand-out track (which has nothing to do with that theme) is the ethearal 'Empty City' about an alienation of a young girl. The album may not reach the highest ladders the band had already visited on previous albums, but it is a very good prog album in its own rights. The last one by this band, sadly...

Matti | 5/5 |


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