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Gentle Giant - Free Hand  CD (album) cover

FREE HAND

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.26 | 981 ratings

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fuxi
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I've enjoyed most of the 1970s albums by Yes, Genesis and Jethro Tull for a long time, but last night I also listened closely to FREE HAND, probably for the first time ever, and it made me wonder if Gentle Giant were not, perhaps, more sophisticated than any of the aforementioned. The only early prog bands which truly matched GG in ensemble playing, were Frank Zappa's band circa 1974, and the early 1980s incarnation of King Crimson, with its intricate gamelan-style melodies. I simply gasped with astonishment when I heard the fugue GG pulled off in 'On Reflection'. This was so much more than the textbook fugue Keith Emerson inserted into 'The Endless Enigma'; it's an original piece of music that's vibrantly alive!

For Gentle Giant there were no experiments with pompous church organ-like sounds which some listeners may find questionable (as produced by Tony Banks on FOXTROT, or by Rick Wakeman on GOING FOR THE ONE). There is nothing solemn about this band; it really ROCKS, and lead singer Derek Shulman bears a lot of responsibility for that - he must be one of the most dynamic prog vocalists around. Shulman is also capable of moving the listener: the sweet melancholy of 'His Last Voyage' shows it makes no sense to call prog music 'sterile'.

So, hats off to Gentle Giant! On the 1998 remaster, FREE HAND is coupled with INTERVIEW, which was originally released just seven months later. Although a lesser album, INTERVIEW is still worth hearing, so the FREE HAND/INTERVIEW combi looks like a first- rate bargain.

fuxi | 4/5 |

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