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McDonald & Giles - McDonald & Giles CD (album) cover


McDonald & Giles


Crossover Prog

3.36 | 140 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars My prog snob doppelganger wanted to be outraged by this record. Two founding members of the first KING CRIMSON willfully split up one of the strongest rock groups ever assembled, after recording arguably the most powerful debut album of all time...for this? I hate to sound undiplomatic, but seriously: what the heck were they thinking?

On its own slim merits the new band's first and only album can still be a very pleasant experience. But it was a retrograde career move, closer in style to the benign whimsy of GILES, GILES AND FRIPP than to the sometimes malevolent darkness of the Crimson King ("it's like a pastel black", as David St. Hubbins might have said).

It's true the album was overproduced and undermixed, by the duo's own admission. But there's more than a token measure of charm in every song, and lots of musical ideas were crammed into the two longer compositions. The opening mini-epic "Suite in C" includes a horn section, real strings, and a jazzy middle interlude very much in the current Crimson vernacular, circa 1971. And the grand finale of the ambitious "Birdman" opus anticipated the rising chords in the orchestral title track of the "Islands" album, released by KC a mere eleven months later.

An even closer overlap can be heard in "Flight of the Ibis", a sibling separated at birth from the song "Cadence and Cascade", off the parallel Crimson album "In the Wake of Poseidon". Robert Fripp would later refer to the individual LPs as "two halves of a record never made", suggesting that if the often colorful but inconsequential prog-pop of McDonald and Giles had been combined with the erratic retread of "Poseidon" the results might have been stunning. Maybe so, but I doubt if a budding maverick like Mr. Fripp could have played a melody as rinky-dink as "The Inventor's Dream" without squirming on his guitar stool.

I'm also not surprised that the offspring album failed to reach an audience. It would have been a tough sell to Crimheads expecting another "Schizoid Man" or "Epitaph", and an even harder proposition for anyone unfamiliar with these two guys (and who couldn't have cared less about their girlfriends). And yet it's really not too underwhelming an album if approached without any expectations...not exactly a glowing endorsement, but here it appears I'm leaving the last word to my less generous alter ego.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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