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Gentle Giant - Free Hand CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.28 | 1364 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars 'Free Hand' is manic Gentle Giant compositions from end to end with trademark multi part harmonies and frenetic time sig changes throughout. It begins with glorious melodic mayhem on 'Just The Same' and then launches into the weird Gentle Giantism harmonies that sound like some parody of medievalism 'On Reflection'. The opening section is almost maddening in it's delirious harmonising but it soon breaks into some fabulous melodies with a nice gentle dreaminess that pleases my senses.

The best song is to follow with the title track, that I adore when I hear it on any compilation or the original album. The remaster is crystal clear and even better. The vocals of Derek Shulman are excellent throughout, strong and easy to comprehend. 'Time To Kill' is certainly a highlight with some chaotic signatures and wonderful musicianship. The pleasant chimes and acoustic guitars are a feature of 'His Last Voyage' before the very melancholy vocals echo along the melody line. The wah wah lead break is a great augmentation to the jumpy piano line. My least favourite track on the album is the sea shanty instrumental 'Talybont', but it's like a transition and fully instrumental.

The bonus tracks as with all GG remasters are very good and fill the CD nicely. On 'Free Hand' there is previously unreleased '1976 Intro Tape', just an instrumental filler really, and from the John Peel Sessions 'Just The Same', 'Free Hand' and 'On Reflection', all different versions of these gems and nicely performed. Also we have 'Give It Back (International 7" mix)', a strange reggae riff and quite out of place commercial style for this earlier album though works nicely on 'Interview', and 'I Lost My Head (7" mix)' is a very good song. All tracks are intriguing and worth a shot, though not to return to as often as side one of this release. The album is close to a masterpiece, at least side one of the original would be classed as such, but it kind of meanders along in side two, even sounding outdated, like some hippy trip to tune out to. In any case, this is one of the greatest GG albums and should be heard by every lover of eclectic prog.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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