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Gentle Giant - Playing The Fool - The Official Live CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.52 | 425 ratings

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The Mentalist
5 stars Gentle Giant was undoubtedly the 70s prog band to end all 70s prog bands. Strangely enough they had a degree of success in the U.S., but right up until their demise, remained obscure as all hell in their native U.K. For those of you who haven't heard Gentle Giant, their music is an ingenious fusion of medieval/early renaissance; English folk, and their own original brand of angular rock music --a kind of cubist-jigsaw-puzzle- brainiac-funkster-in-medieval-jester-cloths. Sorry, that's the best description I can come up with at the moment.

'Playing the fool' is a wonderful example of just how good these guys were live. I mean, what can one say about a band whose every member sings , whose keyboard player also plays a mean vibraphone and cello; whose bass player is a first rate guitarist; violinist and recorder player; and whose lead vocalist plays sax; recorder and bass? I ask you!!! Of the many highlights on this album, the astonishing 'On reflection' must be mentioned. In a different arrangement from the 'Free Hand' studio version, the song opens with violin, cello, vibraphone and recorder which leads into. . .wait for it. . .a four-part (or is it five-part?)fugue, sung a cappella. Second time 'round, a vibraphone and violin join-in the fun. The other stand-out track is the 'octopus' suite, which consist of 'The boys in the band' 'knots' 'The advent of Panurge' and a nice arrangement of 'Raconteur troubadour' (for two acoustic guitars), all segued to form one continuous track. They even throw in a two-guitar arrangement of 'Acquiring the taste' from the album of the same name. excellent stuff. Besides all of the tricky rhythms and fancy counterpoint, there's another feature of Gentle Giant's music that must be mentioned, and that is, it rocks! Beneath all the complexity there's a solid grooving rhythm section --special mention must be given to drummer, John Wethers, who holds the whole thing together with his infectuous and, at times, almost Bonhamesque, grooves. If you're new to Gentle Giant, then, 'Playing the Fool' is a very good introduction indeed, as it includes tracks from all their previous albums up until that point in time. All in all, an essential masterpice of 70s prog-rockery, full of music that ultimately transcends genre and musical trends, and leaves one muttering the immortal words of Frank Zappa:- "YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE!" I can't think of many that could. Five festive big ones ***** from your friend and fellow lover of "The Progressive", The Mentalist. CREED! . . .And may The Progressive of the history be only not as sin but creed to you all and yours!
The Mentalist | 5/5 |


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