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Gentle Giant - Free Hand  CD (album) cover

FREE HAND

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.26 | 982 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 'Free hand' is not only Gentle Giant's best known album, but also one of their definite masterpieces, as well as the perfect introduction for the newbie: some of the band's catchiest tunes are included here, yet the repertoire comprises the usual demanding level of clever complexity and undefatigable inventiveness. GG doesn't need to meander through long-side suites or three-part epics. These guys can handle tracks incapsulated under the 5-6 minute duration, and infuse them with genius and intensity; they use the structures of R'n'B ('Just the Same', 'Time to Kill'), jazz-rock ('Free Hand') and Celtic festival ('Mobile') and refurbish them through massive progressive reconstructions. Besides these pyrotechnical themes, there lie some others that are oriented toward more subtle realms: the Mediaeval vocal/instrumental polyphonics of 'On Reflection', the tender melancholy of 'His Last Voyage', and the high spirit of 'Talybont' show us that the gentle side of this Prog Giant is also filled with defiant sophistication. All these tracks (or at least, almost all of them) are highlights for their own merits. Yet, let me mention a few brilliant moments: the choral intro of 'On Reflection'; the recurring counterparts and countermelodies of the title track; the overall serenity of 'His Last Voyage' conveyed in both the vocal parts and the subdued guitar solo; the explosive wah-wah violin in 'Mobile'. Now, in general terms, Derek Shulman's voice works impressively as an integral part of GG's sound, and the ensemble's musicianship is technically superb as well as perfectly integrated. Kerry Minnear's keyboard's arsenal works as an "orchestra" in many occasions, and Weather's drumming exhibits an immaculate finesse that can't be properly grasped by words (or at least, this reviewer's words). I'll leave it to the listener to give their own verdict: mine is "masterpiece/essential".

Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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