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Gentle Giant - Free Hand  CD (album) cover

FREE HAND

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.26 | 999 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Chus
Prog Reviewer
5 stars I don't understand how people would rate it lower than 4 just because it entered the charts. Look at "A Passion Play" by Jethro Tull: it is their less accessible album of the 70's, yet it charted at No.1 in the States (if memory serves well). The charts are very unpredictable, because the albums enter charts for selling and not because of the general opinion of the album; that is how the charts measure popularity: by number of copies. They just got a bit more popular, that's all. This album is as complex as the rest; except that now they actually filtered a bit more their ideas to create compact compositions, and instead of dull experimentation they focused on writing actual songs with every detail carefully planned and less atonalities. They kept the assimetrical time signatures but they don't just throw them for the sake of throwing them. In short: they polished their songwritting. I sometimes wonder how they all fit together perfetly into all those undecipherable time signatures (e.g. His Last Voyage) and how could they play all of these numbers on stage without a director's aid; they really are quite disciplined, and this album shows some of the most precise playing ever by Gentle Giant. John Weathers manages to get every strange beat with groove drum playing, and not a song on this album goes unnoticed. From the cheerful "Just The Same" to the fiddling on "Mobile", every number has it's charm... no fillers at all.

The most amazing song on here is "His Last Voyage": with amazing renaissance imagery and the most jazzy intersection in the mix, it represents the eclectic and extreme style this band displays. "On Reflection" starts with blends of fugal structure (a vocal fugue, later intrumental) and later proceeds into a more mediaeval approach, it's also amazingly memorable. "Talybont" is an almost pure mediaeval fair music, only mixed with canon in the arrangements. "Free Hand" is the perfect example on how to create a musical soundscape, with every instrument serving it's part separately to create complex polyphonic music, and then the song turns into a very funky piece, then bits of jazz on the bridge. "Time To Kill" has a more soul approach, in the way Gentle Giant only knows how. "Mobile" is known mostle for the fiddles, and the electric guitar also serves as a fiddle with the wah-wah effects.

a deserved 5-star rating... If you're starting out with GG I suggest this one LAST.... Yes, the best taste for last.

Chus | 5/5 |

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