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Gentle Giant - Three Friends CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.10 | 1120 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars The first GENTLE GIANT album I ever owned, and so one close to my heart. "Three Friends" tells the story of, you guessed it, "Three Friends" as they grow up and grow apart. The story may have some holes, but not the music. The band, which now included drummer Malcolm Mortimore, was arguably at the height of their creativity (third albums are often the watershed moment in a band's discography).

Despite some dark passages, particularly the scathing "Mister Class And Quality?", "Three Friends" is an album better remembered for its sense of humor and arrangements that bring the phrase "an embarrassment of riches" to mind. As impressive a musical statement of direction as it is, building on the promise of earlier songs like "The House, The Street, The Room," "Three Friends" fails to make much of a social statement (a charge that could also be levelled against "The Power and The Glory" I suppose). In the final analysis, childhood is good and adulthood is bad; the artist, the laborer and the white-collar worker all get tarred with the same brush. Better to focus on the music: majestic, intricate, playful, grating, the sextet seems able to change gears on a whim, weaving Kerry Minnear's keyboards, Gary GREEN's guitars and Ray SHULMAN's bass into a vivid tapestry (e.g., "Three Friends"). Unlike a lot of progressive acts who were wont to combine complexity with brute force, GENTLE GIANT plays a gentle hand, letting the music speak for itself with humanity and (seeming) humility.

There are so many sublime moments on here -- the childlike break in the opening "Prologue" and the closing theme on "Three Friends" always come to mind -- you'll wonder why GENTLE GIANT never found the commercial success of YES and ELP. If you're not familiar with "Three Friends", you owe it to yourself to make its acquaintance. On a personal note, ritualistic creature that I am, I use "Prologue" to break in all my new stereo equipment since its mix of light and dark, quiet and loud is ideal for the task (and because I never tire of hearing it).

daveconn | 5/5 |


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