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Gentle Giant - Three Friends  CD (album) cover

THREE FRIENDS

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.10 | 861 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars With over 500 reviews to date there probably isn't much else to say about Gentle Giant's third studio album, so naturally I feel obliged to say it (after all, isn't that why the internet was invented: for superfluous opinions?)

The band's third album was their first to really exploit what would soon become the traditional Gentle Giant sound, as if anything so eclectic could be at all bound to tradition. From the first urgent notes of the six-minute "Prologue" the group is on comfortable ground, thanks in part to the addition of new drummer Malcolm Mortimer. He was hardly involved long enough to even be considered a part of the band, but Mortimer deserves some credit for keeping the overachieving Shulman brothers on a tighter leash than usual with his admirably unfussy drumming.

This was Mortimer's only album with the band, but his efforts underlined that emerging Gentle Giant groove more naturally than his predecessor Martin Smith, although without the rock-solid backbeat later provided by J.P. Weathers. It helped that the rest of the group was likewise settling into their roles, and beginning to carve a genuine style from the everything- but-the-kitchen-sink overkill of their first two albums. Compare the instrumentation here to their previous LP "Acquiring the Taste": I calculate a 75% reduction in the total number of keyboards, horns and strings, and the music is much cleaner and more creative as a result.

Side Two of the album is particularly strong, arguably the best single side of vinyl in the Gentle Giant discography. "Peel the Paint" deserves to be recognized as the band's first true classic, a showpiece for guitarist Gary Green at his Hendrix-inspired best; "Mr. Class and Quality?" was one of their most relaxed and yet rocking songs to date; and the dramatic segue to the awesome title track reveals some of the archaic Olde English power soon to become a Gentle Giant signature ("Talybont", anyone?)

The production is typically thin, with the rhythm section pushed too far in the background: business as usual in a recording studio circa 1972. Better albums were just over the horizon, but this was (pardon the expression) a Giant step in the right direction for an ambitious group just beginning to hit its stride.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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