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Gentle Giant - The Power And The Glory  CD (album) cover

THE POWER AND THE GLORY

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.26 | 994 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
5 stars Hail to Power and to Glory's way!

Gentle Giant's towering triumphs can be found in their 1971 to 1976 period, which was their Midas era, where everything they touched turned to gold. The lineup on the album is the most celebrated of their history consisting of Gary Green's guitars, Kerry Minnear's keyboards, and cello, Derek Shulman's saxes, Ray Shulman's bass, and violin, and John Weathers' drums. "The Power and The Glory" is a grand follow up to "In a Glass House" and was sandwiched between that masterpiece and "Free Hand". "The Power and the Glory" has a concept that works with all the courtly Elizabethan flavours they loved to sprinkle over the pastoral fields and jumpy ravines of prog excess.

The jumpy time sig changes that are a trademark of the band are prevalent from the outset on 'Proclamation' with its romping tempo and some welcome oddities as the crowd chant "hail". Derek Shulman's vocals are always a pleasant aggrandizement of the music, but it is also nice to hear Kerry Minnear belting out some melodies on 'So Sincere.' The harmonies and quirky sig on this is classic Giant, found on all their quintessential albums. The manic keyboard treatment on this is yet another trademark Giant touch that enhances the strange atmosphere of the music. The ending of this track has Kerry's sporadic jazz piano and locks into Ray's funky bass with a wah-wah lead solo, and one can hear tambourine and a hilarious piano splash cascading in an improvised way like water trickling down the mountainside.

Next up for your entertainment is 'Aspirations' with Led Zeppelin style electric piano and echoed vocals "As the dust settles, see our dreams, all coming true, it depends on you, If our times, they are troubled times, show us the way, tell us what to do." The high register voice is another hallmark of the band, and this has a lovely cadence with acoustic expirations over a tranquil sea of keyboard, a bass and drum. The river hits some rapids as the tempo fluctuates in many directions, then it returns to the main melody. I like the serious optimistic tones in the lyrics, "in your hands, holding everyone's future and fate, It is all in you." A very nice song breaking from the frenzy of the usual instrumental freakouts and yet maintaining enough interest with some fractured tempo nuances.

This is followed in rapid succession with a classic 'Playing The Game' complete with jangling coin, odd xylophone bangs, and a fat funkadelic bassline. The melody is appealing with some of the best singing, "As I hold the key to the back door, of the world I feel my hand touching bounds never had before, I can view the power of my position and my eyes can see more than anyone in any place, I'll play the game and never ever lose." There is a ruptured medieval touch in the melody but it holds in place due to some inspired rhythms of bass and drums. It changes at 3 minutes in to a different structure, with bass heart beat and spiralling keyboards. The Giant explore different rhythms until Ray's bass locks into a cool groove to allow Kerry's keys to dominate in an extended solo.

'Cogs in Cogs' is a time sig paradise, impossible to keep up with but a delightful walk through the whimsical woods of the Giant. The band really flex their instrumental prowess with spasms of keyboards over percussion seizures. Ray's bass is all over the place and he has the time of his life keeping up with Kerry, John and Gary.

'No Gods A Man' is a keyboard frenzy where Kerry showcases his genius, on medieval piano, Moog and Mellotron. It has a measured tempo and multilayered vocals that sing three melodies at once, that are one of the landmarks of Gentle Giant. The pace locks into a slow meter and then the keys resound with power, and it continues to break so that Derek can release some more vocals into the mix. Again, this is one of the highlights of an album replete with high peaks. The counterpoint of bass is certainly one of Ray's best triumphs on the album.

'The Face' is a tour de force for Ray's violin, and Gary is having a field day with some of the oddest guitar chord switches. The vocals are forced and well performed as usual with some of the better lyrics, "Choose your way, realising our mission, figures lay, pulling strings for position, Take your bows, hear the people are calling, Play the game, Take the blame as you're falling, Time to confess, clean up the mess, stand in the white, step in the light." An instrumental break with some darkened tones comes in before we hear a slice and dice of violin serrations that are chilling. The lead guitar screams eloquently over, some of Gary's best work; it is brilliant music by the master craftsmen at work in their most creative frame of mind.

One of the heaviest songs certainly with one of the heaviest riffs is 'Valedictory', a rollicking tempo driven track with great reverb vocals belted out by Shulman. It has some odd breaks in the time keeping any respective metronome on its toes and finally having a seizure from trying to keep up. The breakdown in musical ideas is incredible, there are so many complex threads interwoven in the tapestry it can only be performed by these creative geniuses. When they were on fire the band were unassailable, and they went into battle with swords ablaze and shields held high. The keyboards spiral wildly out of control and the song literally shrivels up at the end as there was nowhere else to go.

The album closes with 'Power and the Glory', a bonus on some editions and it feels more like a song and is rather short. It is no less great though with terrific vocals and jumpy cadence. Overall the album is definitely yet another master class triumph for the giant. Hailed by many as their pinnacle though I prefer "Three Friends" or "In A Glass House". In any case it is impossible not to be left in awe at the intricacy and technical precision of the musicianship. The innovative approach of the band is staggering and it makes sense they became one of the most influential and most revered prog acts maintaining a cult status today. With albums like this there is no room to argue; they were simply barrier breaking geniuses, way ahead of their time. Hail the mighty Giant!

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |

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