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Gentle Giant - Acquiring the Taste CD (album) cover

ACQUIRING THE TASTE

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.24 | 1009 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Expanding the frontiers of contemporary popular music.

Gentle Giant are into full experimental adventurous mode with their second album "Acquiring the Taste" and it is a pleasurable journey for any prog fan. The music is chaotically weird and has a slice of humour that is absurdly infectious. The fast tempo xylophone tinkling and horns battle royale on 'The House, The Street, The Room' is a case in point, and even more astounding is how it suddenly launches into a blazing wah-wah lead guitar solo and an ominous time sig with bass, keyboards and drums. This builds into a crescendo, a key change and a new verse. The vocals throughout the album are first class from Derek Shulman. The song goes back to fiddle, trumpet, xylophone and dissonant avant 12 string acoustic and plink plonk plucking at the end on clavichord and celeste.

The liner notes spell it out; "it is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular. We have recorded each composition with the one thought ? that it should be unique, adventurous and fascinating. It has taken every shred of our combined musical and technical knowledge to achieve this." And furthermore, "we have abandoned all preconceived thoughts on blatant commercialism." The adventurous approach to this music is a trademark of GG who would be known for their technical complexity and whimsical style. One never knows where the music will go next and it is a wild ride when the Giant are firing on all 4 cylinders. There is much to recommend and it continues non stop on this classic album.

'Pantagruel's Nativity' is one of the greatest GG songs and opens the album in a blaze of glory. The rhythmic changes and the melodies are killer. 'Edge Of Twilight' features some swishing harpsichord that pans from left to right speaker casuing vertiginous effects. It features a terrific medial section with sporadic kettle drum pounding and timpani with snare, as a xylophone plunks a series of notes. Kerry plays moody Mellotron and Moog synth.

'Wreck' is a fun ditty with sea faring style where Shulman sings a line which is responded with "heyeheh hold on". It is reminiscent of sea shanties like 'Blow the Man Down'. 'The Moon Is Down' begins with pastoral woodwind and then beautiful harmonies sung in an odd meter. This one has a nice bassline from Ray and his brother is fabulous on tenor saxophone. The time sig changes cadence and the harpsichord and keyboard join to create some awesome melodies. The sax solo is jazz fusion style and very welcome as is the plinking nimble fingering of guitar.

'Black Cat' is very memorable and ultra bluesy augmented by Minnear's quiet vocal tones. There are many layers of music here such as violin, guitars, claves and percussion. The violins give the impression of a cat sneaking around the halls looking for its prey. The rattle percussion and strings are effective and atmospheric. There is even the use of a donkey's jawbone according to the liner notes. The multi layered harmonies are mesmirising and typical of how Gentle Giant would continue on subsequent albums.

'Plain Truth' rocks along well with guitar and violin slugging it out. There is a great riff in 6/8 and some terrific violin with wah-wah guitar. The sigs are all over the place and then it settles into quiet guitars breaking until bass comes in and some hi hat percussion work, followed by wah- wah trilling on violin strings, then a stronger beat flows into the main motif and riff.

Every track is a genuine progressive musical excursion of unmitigated virtuosity, and the Giant are at their best here. They would continue in this vein on subsequent albums and produce some of the best albums of the 70s. This is really where it all started for the ingenius Gentle Giant and many did indeed acquire the taste.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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