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Gentle Giant - In A Glass House CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant

Eclectic Prog

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5 stars From the sound of broken glass...turning into a superb rythmtrack...this milestone of an album..really shines...with the wonderfully madrigal vocal stylings (that only Gentle Giant can master!!) this album proves worthy of many a progfreaks praise!!! This is progmusic from heaven !!! The complex musical interludes....the brilliant singing style..the ever present super talent of the musicians involved! Never have the world of progmusic had such a superb group of excellent masters of their trade. I must admit i LOVE every single album that these fabulous musicians made...but this one are one of my favorites...along with " Octopus" " Free hand" " Interview" " the power and the glory"...yes..well many of their other outlets....ok..ok...i LOVE GENTLE GIANT..period!!!!!!! But this..this has to be their ultimate....supreme....wonderful....out of this world album!!! 5 stars...nothing less......if you are just slightly into prog..and you want something really special!!! Then go for this one...after a few spins, you will be mystified....after yet more spins you will be hooked.. by now you are (like me) forever entralled into the wonderful magical world of GENTLE GIANT!! Welcome my friend......nothing will ever be the same in your prog music vision !!
Report this review (#6105)
Posted Thursday, November 27, 2003 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album marks the most dramatic transition point in Gentle Giant's career. Elder brother Phil Shulman splits from the fold, taking his voice and saxophone with him, and from this point on the band's sound is remarkably different from that of all their previous releases. What is this difference? Well, for one thing, you'll hardly hear any more sax-driven numbers, and also gone is the playful, kitchen-sink attitude we hear on an album like "Octopus". Instead we find an extremely serious and ambitious group of musicians seemingly bent on pushing their music's complexity and intensity to its absolute limits, and as the first release in this new mode of operation, In A Glass House is often regarded as the band's ultimate masterpiece, their crowning achievement -- and one of the all-time greatest prog-rock records ever conceived. Without a doubt, this is Gentle Giant's most consistently intense (and "serious") album -- I remember being almost creeped out by it the first time I heard it, and a little unsure of what had just happened to me. With repeated listens, however, their genius begins to reveal itself; and soon I found myself revelling in every twist and turn, awestruck by their peerless intelligence and imagination, wishing they had recorded hundreds of albums. Within are most of the band's longest running tracks (around the 8 minute mark) with "Experience" being a particular favorite of mine, featuring subliminal keyboard work and haunting vocals throughout as well as a mind-bending instrumental pileup at the end that I could go on listening to forever. While it's nearly impossible to say which Gentle Giant album is the definitive best (too many flawless albums), this one will always get primary consideration.
Report this review (#6098)
Posted Monday, January 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm really speechless. Sometimes, I feel ambarassed by my lack of mind-opening. Once again, after 3 (the magic number) good listen at the album, I do not regret to have purchased this BRILLANT record. Gentle Giant is a very respectable, yet 'easy listening' prog band. But this time, it's getting crazier.

In a Glass House deserves a place in your shelf as Moving Pictures (Rush) or Close to the Edge (Yes) . Am I crazy you say? THIS IS the classic album of GG with Acquiring the Taste. And Gentle Giant is a band that brought A LOT of innovation and expertise in progressive rock. But the record is not 'Holy Grail' impossible to find now for a mere 30$, you get bonus live tracks. There's a song (An Intimates Lullaby) about a crazy guy in an asylum who soliloquys in his room, almost a nursery rhyme. The voice feels like it's recorded from a phone.

Way of life, Experience and A Reunion offers lots a 'medieval' approaches that made GG such a joy to experience. This is the kind of record that makes me realize more and more that I was born in the wrong era. God, going to college with GG being an underground extravanganza and even going tho their concerts would have been a real treat. Anyway, if you can find the record, jump on it, it's an order. This is like the summer in Quebec, catch it while you can, because if you blink it's gone for another year of waiting.

Report this review (#6093)
Posted Monday, January 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is as good as 70 s British prog gets.Insane time changes,great vocal harmonys and a wierd sence of humor.What was American rock doing at this time?What it always did singing about the chicks,how many they could do and how fast there car was.
Report this review (#6094)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rennaisance `n Roll

By their fifth album, 1973`s In A Glass House, UK art rockers Gentle Giant had acquired a reputation of mystifying audiences with their technically dazzling live performances. Individually exceptionally talented musicians, they were never a band for the masses as exemplified by Capitol Records`refusal to release In A Glass House in North America because it was deemed too uncommercial for audiences on that side of the big pond. Ironically, it became one of the more sought out import albums of all time and was arguably the band at it`s creative zenith. Exploiting their musical vituosity and borrowing from a wide spectrum of musical styles they were by far the most intricate and elaborate of the art rock bands to emerge from 60s psychedelia. They were definitely way out there blending classical, rock, and jazz with touches of medievalisms using counterpoint, unresolved musical inversions, clashing intervals and harmonic progressions to achieve discordant and inconguous eoteric sound which was difficult or even impossible to catagorize .

That all said, In A Glass House signalled a turning point for the band musically with the departure of a key member Phil Schulman who left to become a teacher and who also wanted to streamline their music to appeal to a wider audience. One of the main composers and vocalists, he brought out intimate aspects to the band with his multi-instrumental talents on trumpet, recorder, clarinet, saxophone, mellophone and percussives especially on the previous Octopus album. Instead of losing some of it`s effectivenes the music just got more intense without the additional instrumentation and became tighter ( most notably with Kerry Minear's keyboards ) and more driven than previous work. It tends to rock it out with more emphasis on electric guitar although medieval and celtic elements are still in evidence. A darker overall ambience prevailed over the work with the songs loosley tied in by an overall concept of " those who live in a glass house shouldn't throw stones". In other words a figure of speech refering to vulnerability. An Inmate`s Lullaby about a crimminally insane convict`s perspective of life within the confines of the walls of a mental institution probably best personifies this message and is played entirely on percussion instruments. The album is opened by a track entitled " The Runaway " which opens up with sounds of glass breaking which was lifted from a BBC album of stock sound effects, which lyrically and musically introduces the themes in the work describing the isolation and hell one might discover on the outside trying to wrestle free of one`s inner sanctum which features a frantic jazzy vibraphone solo by Kerry Minear which emphasizes this utter confusion. "Experience" which goes heavy on medevialsms is perhaps the most complex of all the tracks on the album both instrumentaly and vocally that deals with loss of innocence with age, which ends up rocking it out to Gary Green`s lead guitar which gets into a cool groove but despit the increased presence doesn't extend as much as on the previous albums adding to the stark nature of the album's concept. One of the prettiest songs in Gentle Giant`s repetiore, A Reunion, occurs towards the end of the album features a string quartet ( if one counts the bass guitar ) with Kerry Minear accompanying on piano and providing the vocals but unfortunately runs it's course in a little over 2 minutes. Way Of Life is as complex as Gentle Giant gets with solos and dynamic changes galore and the celtic tinged multi sectioned title track forshadows more of what is to come on The Power and the Glory, another concept album this time about power and corruption. Although not credited on the record jacket the album concludes with a phantom track unofficially entitled Index which is a brief collage of a few seconds of each individual piece.

One of the greatest art rock albums ever committed to vinyl there is something new to discover on this masterpiece with every listening. It is also provides a good example of how out of touch management can be with bands and their audiences when In A Glass House was turned down for North American release whose audiences initially missed out on one of the most unusual rock album covers ever with images of the band silouetted against a plastic transparency giving the impression that they were literally playing in a glass house. Not enough can be said here about Gentle Giant's tour de force which was a pivotal point for the band as they began veer more towards electric instrumentation. On a last note, despite the daunting complexities to be uncovered on a In A Glass House the uninitiated should not be intimidated by this. Whether or not it's one's first exposure to the band In A Glass House will take a few listens to absorbe and many reviewers warn that this is not a good introductory album, but I say throw caution into the wind and go for it if you've never experienced this unusual and often misunderstood band.

Report this review (#6099)
Posted Friday, February 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars The BEST album of GG, -with permission of the exceptional "Playing the Fool" live album- in my opinion. No doubt this is their most adventurous work to date, a step further from "Octopus" (I´m sure that "Octopus" was previous, released in the end of 1972), continuing the line traced with "Knots", and definitely representative of their sound. Vocal explorations, complex structures, superb production & sound, medieval & renaissance traces even further than Gryphon's arrangements -hear "Way of Life"- this work shows how far can a band - with rock instruments- travel to reach the essence of music. This is a band for musicians or open-minded proggers only. Don´t accept imitations!!
Report this review (#6100)
Posted Sunday, February 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
5 stars If GG had done a tour without brother Phil, buying a Moog to fill-in his parts, it was another thing to do an album without him, but again, this proved to be a non-issue with Derek playing sax and singing as had Phil. In fact this proved to be their better album (IMHO but also for many other) although this album never got a US release - something rather odd since Octopus had encouraging sales there.

This is one of the many kind of strange decisions that probably stopped GG to become a household name among rock fans. Actually, they had different labels handling the album on each side of the pond, and by now, their contract with Vertigo had run out and they had signed to Iommi's WWA label, prompting their US Columbia label to pass up on this one. By the time this album did get a US release in 78, this album had become their best-seller over there as an import. Are you sure you are following this?

Anyway, GG purist will scream scandal at this album and its so-called blatant attempt at commercialism, but if the album is more accessible (a bit easier on minds like the debut or Three Fiends) this is hardly a sell-out, being their longest record and four tracks above 7 minutes and three of those around the 8 min mark.

From the breaking of glass becoming the rhythm of the opener to the all-percussive astounding Inmate Lullaby , to the very classic GG Way Of Life , this album is strictly in line with all other albums , the main difference is the gradual decrease of acoustic instruments (a consequence of Phil's departure) , here being kept in a role of anti-climatic response to the more energetic moments of the songs. The second side is not be shamed either with the aptly-titled Experience with its constant twists and changes to the driving title track with its never-ending tempo changes with superb harmonies but the tedious but short Reunion does bring the only damper on an otherwise almost flawless album. Why Mr; Stump and Mr; Joynson do not appreciate this album to the fullest is beyond me.

Nevertheless, this album will set the template for the following albums with lesser acoustic instruments and more mechanical tempo changes (both flaws increasing with time) , but also increasing commercial success to the bring of stardom. Certainly my favourite album , this album now fetches small fortunes for a mint copy with its transparent gimmicky window-shadow trick.

Report this review (#6097)
Posted Tuesday, February 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The same year that GENTLE GIANT released "Octopus" they released in the UK only "In A Glass House" which unfortunately never saw the light of day in the US or Canada. In sharp contrast to "Octopus", this album takes on a much more accessible sound with a sharper focus on the melodic horizon. Of course all of the patented GENTLE GIANT'isms are present throughout culminating into perhaps my personal favourite GIANT song of all time "In A Glass House". "In A Glass House" is a real prog lovers album with some highly complex interludes and well thought out tempo shifts and melodic runs. I guess if SPOCK'S BEARD borrowed from any of GENTLE GIANT albums this would be it. An essential album most definitely with some totally musically all-inspiring moments.
Report this review (#6092)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Can you define Masterpiece? I personally think that in the prog world there are several definitions, depending who you are or what is your experience and background on progressive music as a whole; however, to me is either an album so creative and inovative that can not be compared with anything done before and is at the same time unique, or is an album that has reach the creative peak of one particular band... simple!!!, isn't, but really other than this? How can you define masterpiece... I am actually open to any suggestions.This is GG huge MASTERPIECE, and fulfill both of my suggested definitions... before this album, they struggled to get there, and after it they wish to come back. So much effort, dedication, perfection... few bands have reached this level, the sad thing you see, is that is short duration, showed over and over with every other band. And, come on, they knew that.. living in a "Glass House". I have found in GG, like no other band, that they may have individual Masterpieces compositions, thru out their life span... but, as an album, this hold together better than anything else done by them. This album can not be apreciated based on, this guitar sound like this, then the violin, and also the Keys and by the way the drummer, well... It will be nonsense for me getting on these type of details... for the newcomer however, try maybe "Free Hand" or "The Power and the Glory" first; since they maybe a little more accesible. But, if you still want to take the chance with "In a Glass House" let it spin several times, until you chew, chew, digest and then grow on you.... give it time and will happen, trust me... 6 Stars, ups! I mean 5.
Report this review (#6101)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars WOW What a brilliant record! This one is different from the previous albums because of Phil Shulmann´s departure.. But the band sounded more fresh in it! Jazzy, intrincate but at the same time acessible tunes, and it Rocks! I never was a huge fan of Derek´s voice, but these guys can do unbeliavable things on studio and on Stage. Unfortuantely I never attend to a concert from them! Could be a very nice and funny experience. Kerry minnear was a genious of rock keyboards, innovative, creative and inpredictable playing. In addition, last bt not least, Ray Shulmann was one of the finest bass players of Prog rock, and he was also able to play Violin.. Their live album Playing the fool is also unbeliavably good..
Report this review (#6102)
Posted Sunday, April 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars By forgetting such an heavy lack- like that one of Phil Shulman- and regarding also of a melodic jazz approach, this album remains as one of their best and most original ones!!

So without any doubt you can add another "half star" at least and-moreover-you can start appreciating a more accessible band...the breaking of a glass, becoming a rhytmical pattern in the intro of "The Runaway", is a G.G.'s trademark: the explosion of a funny glass, introduces a remarkable song, where Derek Shulman is treating us to his own style of singing!!That is a great loudness and softness in his approach, even though by alternating cleverly these music features by means also of the melodic breaks through, which make this album so creative and simple in the same time !!Afterwards, through several time changes, a "recorder" emerges from the odd guitar it is another G.G.'s trademark!!

Instead "An Inmates Lullaby" is a bit weak in my opinion, apart from a lullaby sound, which is weird but it's not enough to let us consider this song recommended (the vocalism is not so remarkable)...never mind, cause the following one- "Way of life" - is an exceptional offtune track, which is enriched by means of such a great jam by Ray Shulman on the bass line, an organ "background" and the soft vocalism by Kenny Minnear as well, who has got his own difficult task to let us forget the lack of a genius like Phil Shulman. The track "Experience" is a complex song, where the approach by Derek Shulman is as usual essential for whom is already completely into their strange old stuff, despite of a certain mellowness at the beginning, which leads us to the effort by Kenny Minnear at the vocals: well I prefer him as a keyboardist rather than as a vocalist, but never mind once again, in fact at last a string quartet introduces the pretty "Reunion", preceding the unforgettable title track with its remarkable acoustic guitars, harpsichords, Lead violins,heavy basses and electric guitars,all at one time, which make this album essential and almost perfect for their personal style (a fast tempo with complex parts, which is one of the typical music features by G.G.!!).

Let's listen to the remastered version of this important work (above all to their new change of direction in their music) !!

Report this review (#6112)
Posted Monday, May 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the definitive Gentle Giant album. Only available in the USA as an import for 20 years, this "secret" wasn't a secret at all. Cuts from "In A Glass House" were a hit on every GG tour of the states. Keyboardist Kerry Minnear and family produce this CD today-- go buy it today to understand what all the excitement was about. The best musicians ever recorded.
Report this review (#6113)
Posted Sunday, June 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I recall back in 2003 when my music teacher introduced me to this band for the first time, and this was my first taste of them. The wonderful guitar riff after the quirky glass breaking intro to "The Runaway" instantly stroke me as some of the best music I've heard so far, and to this date it still is my personal favorite GG song. This one was a change from their 'Octopus' opus in 1972 and introduced the band to a darker, more rock solid sound while not missing the adventurous stylistics from before. The strictly tuned percussion composed "An Inmates Lullaby" is a prime example on this, echoing the 'Acquiring the Taste' days very much and standing as one of the most original songs ever written. The rest of the album follows the same formula as the opening track with dynamic elements of both medevial and heavy progressive rock (save the beautiful folk tingled interlude "A Reunion"), each with a different personality and mood certainly paving the way for albums such as 'Free Hand' later on.

Gentle Giant kept experimenting with each release and this is definitely one of their very best offerings. This one, Octopus and Power & the Glory are my favorites by GG, but this is probably the best one to start with (besides the excellent Free Hand). Great stuff!

Report this review (#6128)
Posted Saturday, October 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars GG's best album. The sound is so mature, the songwriting so subtle yet sophisticated. It all hangs together with the lest amount of effort. And, the sound isn't dated! This is where most prog bands should have wound up.
Report this review (#6115)
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gentle Giant are the best modern band to date and possibly for the rest of time, they combine mind boggling musicianship and timings into music without losing any feel for the music. All of Gentle Giant's albums should have a 5 star rating except a small few, if you give each one a chance and listen to it carefully you can't find more satisfying or inspiring music in my eyes. They combine all sorts of different styles of music into most of their songs, and with every style of music they excel above most musicians i've heard.
Report this review (#6116)
Posted Friday, December 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars AHHHH...quality Giant! This is one of the best GG albums! 'The Runaway' is a perfect song and it really shows that they don't need Phil Shulman anymore (even though he is a good musican). Also the rest of the songs are excellent (except some slow parts), so IMO, this album deserves at least four and a half stars! Highly recommended!
Report this review (#6117)
Posted Monday, January 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another great album by GENTLE GIANT, our Gods and best prog band ever. Well, I can see you guys voted IN A GLASS HOUSE as the best thing the band ever did, but I still prefer OCTOPUS, or perhaps ACQUIIRNG... all records are great anyway! IN AGLASS HOUSE it´s really good... all the dark concept and the black cover... and musically... It´s a GENTLE GIANT album, for Christ´s sake! "Experience" and "Runaway" are wonderful, tasting, symphonic goodies... "An Inmates Lullaby" it´s dark and crazy... the tittle track and the musical collage on the end are both fantastic, too.... Get this (if you can find it) and get all of them, all GG records are worth the price...
Report this review (#6122)
Posted Monday, March 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Most prog fans/GG fans consider this their magnum opus. Funny how an album that was impossible to find back in the day would be considered such. Not to rub all the fans the wrong way, I consider it to be a tad cold in spots. It opens with the sound of breaking glass seguing into the beginning of 'The Runaway'. I don't know how everyone else feels, but the recording, (I have the 1st re-mastered CD) seems to have been done in a cave. There's a hollowness to the sound. Good, bad? A 70's thing? I don't know, but that coldness factors in. Up next is 'An Inmates Lullaby', drums, xylophone? and voice. One odd little song...not their best if you ask me. 'Way Of Life' comes next and again I have problems with the recording. Is it me or does Derek's voice sound disconnected from the rest of the band? And there's that hollowness again rearing it's ugly head. Man, a most frustrating album! "Experience' and ' A Reunion' are fine songs, but the last track, 'In A Glass House' is the gem of all gems. It is THEE Gentle Giant song to beat all Gentle Giant songs. It has everything you love about the band, the medieval, the R&B, and the rock all rolled up into one fantastic song. Unbelieveable! The one thing I love about them is how the time signatures are so normal sounding yet inaccessible. On a side note, I enjoy the many live recordings of the songs off of this album moreso then the album itself. How does everyone else feel? So, in a nutshell, the album is a disjointed, rough-edged, frustrating, crazy quilt, listen-many-times-to-understand classic. But be warned, for those who want to get into the band, do not and I repeat, do not pick this as your first venture into the world of GG. Try "Octopus" or "Freehand". 4.5 frustrating stars!
Report this review (#6123)
Posted Thursday, May 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I knew "Giant" as of their first record and seen them live 4 times, even spoken to some bandmembers backstage once and still got one of Ray's plectrums stashed in a box of artifacts. What can I say.... Giant is THE progband for me and IAGH is in my humble opinion their best album. The album is complex yet easy to get into and excells in both geniuos as technical performance. If I were to take only one album with me to a trip to Mars for 5 years it would be this one.. if you don't have it.. GET it.. if you have it... you are probably already of th the player to put it on..
Report this review (#6126)
Posted Thursday, May 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Technically I should be giving this album five stars -- I can't really pinpoint anything as "bad". However, I don't feel like this is a five star album, more of a 4.5 album. This album, made by the highly experimental and crazy Gentle Giant, is one of my favorites that I've heard of theirs. It's got good songwriting, great...and I mean GREAT melodies, and uses some isntruments and sounds you odn't hear too often. So, I probably should be head-over-heels in love with this album.

But I'm not, not enough to give it five stars. Sure, everything seems right, but it's prog. Huh, you say? I mean just's simply prog, nothing more and nothing less. It doesn't do anything daring, doesn't try anything too new, no real soul in it, no passion of any sort, no experimental stuff, no crazy singing...gawd, nothing. It's just prog. There's nothing wrong with just prog -- especially when it's done this well. A wide array of sounds of instruments and tight composing, it's good stuff that keeps me coming back to this album. BUT, there's nothing that screams, "This band put everything they had in them into this album", or "This is something different". It doesn't quite sound generic, in fact it doesn't sound generic at all. Once again, it's just prog. Good prog at that, but there is abslutely nothing that distinguishes it from the huge amounts of other symphonic prog bands out there.

The title track is a wonderful song with pretty nice violin and all around nice voice work and once again great melodies. It sorta gets a little boring, but it's good, I do like this track a lot. I feel the same way about Experience, which gets a little rougher in the middle in its' sound, but is still great. Way of Life starts with an awesome bass part and someone shouting GO! The vocals seem kinda dissonant when they coem in, but it works. This song also reverts into the same mode as Experience and the title track -- greatsong ,some amazing moments, but nothing you look at and realize that this band is something special. They're very good, but nothign different. An Inmates Lullaby and A Reunion are pretty worthless, but oh well. The Runaway is the same as the other three great tracks on this album, very good but nothing new.

See, I really like Gentle Giant and plan on buying much of their discography, but they will never be one of my favorites, just as this album will never be one of my favorites. It's good prog, but that's ALL it is: good prog. Nothing else. This isn't bad, but it certainly doesn't make me ecstatic and doesn't make me flip out and give it five stars.

Disclaimer: I really do like this album, honest -- but it's just that missing extra element that keeps me from giving it five stars or proclaiming Gentle Giant as great.

Report this review (#36930)
Posted Sunday, June 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars In A Glass House is what most prog bands try to step on the tier of. It's very hard to create a thoughtful and intriguing album that's melodically strong and entirely consistent throughout, and In A Glass House does that well. Gentle Giant always proves to have a strong sense of emotion and melody while being a musician's band with very intricate and dexterous compositions and In A Glass House is a prime example. There is truly not a weak song here, and each is distinctive while still carrying the heavily substanced Gentle Giant flavor.

The Runaway winds through many time signatures and melodies while proving to be instrumentally spicy and beautiful at the same time. It's like good food. The overlapping patterns are intricate but still accessible, think of Captain Beefheart songs but the textures and playing patterns seem to click more and are less demanding and more difficult.

An Inmate's Lullaby reminds one of Pink Floyd's songs about insanity but keeps an upbeat tone, leaving it beautiful and ugly at the same time, it's extremely pleasant. Derek Shulman can turn just about any lyric into something thoughtful and the rest of the band, especially Kerry can make anything melodically impressive and great sounding, and this song is especially impressive being all percussion.

Way of Life is one of the most experimental pieces, the most winding and changing on the album, but still able to improvise over with the melody, it's a very variable piece, and reaches droning at the end. It's a very solid song, upbeat almost like disco! However, let's see the Bee Gees pull that one off.

Experience is a great example of the Gentle Giant sound, medieval and complex. In so, it is one of Gentle Giant's best compositions, reaching unpredictable moments and times of virtuoso patterning by the players in just playing the melodies alone, it's truly fantastic. I'd also like to mention the wonderful vocal harmonies in this one!

A Reunion is fantastic because it's all strings besides the piano, it shows that you can make a full sound in rock this way. It's an emotional song with beautiful melody and yet another strong tune on the album.

In A Glass House is in my opinion the best on the album, it having the most engaging melodies and the best playing, the violin is excellent especially. This song also shows off Derek Shulman's powerful voice very well, I don't understand why a lot of people complain about his voice. The entire song is engaging! A great way to fade into the closing collage piece of the album.

All in all, not many albums are as strong or even as consistent in what they're trying to do, let alone consistent with songs as strong as Gentle Giant's, this is a masterpiece.

Report this review (#36931)
Posted Sunday, June 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Finally, the long awaited 35th Anniversary Edition has recently been released with a new deluxe and elegant package and bonus live track. The package is covered with an external cardboard with Gentle Giant's mascot : an old man face with bold head. When I received the CD from amazon couple of weeks ago, I was impressed with the package. The original artwork is still maintained inside the package, cover of the sleeve notes. The cover is made of plastic with a printed original artwork but it now looks like a negative film with picture in it (the artwork). It's really nice. All lyrics of the tracks are printed nicely inside the sleeve. The disc itself is printed in black. Judging from the package itself I can see that with the CD price of USD 13.99 it's worth owning this package.

Let's talk about the record. From the sonic quality I can only say that this is excellent and better than the original CD version. All detail sounds, like the opening broken glass sounds that have characterized the music of Gentle Giant, can be heard excellently. The combination of Derek's powerful voice and other instrument sounds can be heard very clear, transparent. Yes there is hiss especially during quiet passages but what can I do? It was originally recorded in the seventies - it's probably the master has it already.

The music? Well, no one would argue about the brilliance of this critically acclaimed album. Through this album the band had pushed their music much more on avant-garde style while maintaining the key ingredients of Gentle Giant's musical characteristics: excellent harmony of vocal / choirs and complex arrangements all songs featured in this album. "The Runaway" (7:15) which opens with broken glass sounds offers rich varieties of styles and textures combined with a complex rhythm section with intertwining guitar and keyboard works. It has become the band's legendary track. The less popular "An Inmate's Lullaby" (4:40) is the kind of avant-garde style played by the band combining vibraphone and vocal. "Way of Life" (7:52) is a song with hard driving rhythm, fast tempo and frequent tempo changes with guitar work during transition pieces.

"Experience" (7:50) is another excellent track with inventive keyboard combined with a complex arrangement of acoustic guitar played in speed. It's quite complex track but it's enjoyable - especially with this digitally remastered package where all details can be heard excellently. The structure of this track is also complex where it comprises many forms of music. I like especially when the music reaches in the middle of track where Derek sings in nigh register notes "Master inner voices, making any choices" followed with guitar solo and keyboard as rhythm. "A Reunion " (2:11) has a great combination of acoustic guitar, violin and low register notes yet powerful vocal of Derek. "In a Glass House" (8:26) is another great composition featuring excellent harmony between all instruments used especially acoustic guitar, violin, clavinet and electric guitar. The choirs performed by Derek, Ray, Gary and Kerry are also top notch! But the strong point of this concluding track is its net composition and precise delivery by the band members. The bonus track is actually a combination of "The Runaway" and "Experience". It's performed excellently with a live ambient from the crowd in Dusseldorm who seemed very enthusiastic with the show. Sonic quality of the live bonus is excellent.

This remastered edition is highly recommended. Keep on proggin' .!!!

Progressively yours, GW

"Now I am a man, I realise. My unworldly sins pained many lives. Yet I heard, heard with ears that wouldn't listen. And still I watched and I saw with blinkered eyes." - WAY OF LIFE.

Report this review (#38261)
Posted Saturday, July 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Overall, this album is a very solid effort from Gentle Giant. The intensity and the feeling angst that this album gives off is mainly because of the recurring theme of breaking free from capture (which would somewhat come back in Free Hand) is an overwhelming factor that could make or break the album for someone. In my opinion, this is the heaviest album they had created up to that point, long gone were the silly styles of Octopus, and now they were delving into more serious themes, while still keeping some of that silly quality. Keyboard wizard Kerry Minear holds the album together with his catchy, and ever so intricate keyboard lines that utilize so many different instruments, one would think that there was more than one keyboardist in the band. Gary Green also working heavily along side Minear, creating rich tones and sounds that go side by side with the keyboard madness. Ray Shulman keeps a subdued role in this album, not reaching his creative peak yet. But still, at that time, he was a superb bassist that played lines that were outside the proverbial box. John Weathers also gives some great performances on this album, but in my opinion had already past his peak in Octopus. And finally, Derek Shulman showing everyone who's boss with commanding vocal work and superb recorder work. In a word, musically and lyrically this album is among their best work.

Stand out tracks on this album are the opener, The Runaway, which begins with the sound of glass breaking, then becomes one of the most creative Gentle Giant riffs ever conceived. It is filled with lyrical hooks and has some great bass and guitar work. A Reunion is the softest track on the album, and is along the same lines as Knots from Octopus and later On Reflection, in the multi-layered vocal aspect. And the finale, In a Glass House features a superb solo from Green, and some intricate work from Minear, and one of Ray Shulman's best bass lines.

Overall, this album is very solid musically and lyrically. My only problem with it is that the songs tend to drag a bit, there should have been more musical ideas added, rather than the repeating of riffs. One of Gentle Giant's best, there is something on this album for everybody. 4/5.

Report this review (#39294)
Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Impressive! I don't know if this one is the best of Gentle Giant's catalogue. It's a pleasure for ears and minds, better than Octopus which is also a five rating must! Perhaps almost all the albums of GG merit 4.5 star rating (or more)!!
Report this review (#40851)
Posted Friday, July 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars the former work is completed. However, it can be said the professional advanced musical being maintained. It is a sharpened performance that calmly puts away a bold rhythm change. It is a grotesque work to mean it is already. It is a sound of a variegated keyboard and the recorder that stands out. It is a very eerie work. The masterpiece with high devised density queues up in the composition compared with the former work. It is an album that gives the refined image. Witty, dynamic work.
Report this review (#44668)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is probably as good as an album can possibly be. Gentle Giant is surely an amazing band. From the very first note, to the very last there isn't a dull moment, "filler" is not term which Gentle Giant is familiar with. The virtuosity of these multi-instrumentalists is evident but without resulting in blatant show off, there's much more focus on the instrumental interplay rather than individual solos. The way the compositions are put together is nothing less than brilliant, the way different melodies and constant time changes within songs are combined without resulting in a "messy" composition, but on the contrary, a very tight, precise cohesive piece of music is simply fantastic. The title track is perhaps the track out of 6 amazing possibilities I prefer the most.
Report this review (#45835)
Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
5 stars "In A Glass House" is arguably GG's best and most ambitious record and the outstanding gem from their in prog circles highly astonished early period. It's their highest masterpiece of all. Period: From the intro of "The Runaway" 'til the outro of the title track with the glass- breaking effects in both, the album is deep, perfectly structured and with so many changes and complex parts (which always are understandable and memorable), that this album never tunes boring. It's without doubt a definitive landmark record in classic prog, from the year 1973, where progressive rock reached it's highest creative point. "In A Glass House" is GG's "Close To The Edge", "Dark Side Of The Moon", "Selling England By The Pound" or "Thick As A Brick" if you will, but you can't compare it with one of these records, it stands on it's own as a prog masterpiece, like all of those mentioned from above.

Since some recent reviews, I specially reviewed the single tracks from one record and gave them points from 0-10. This time I make it short and give them only points, because here is so much to discover, which isn't discribable with some words. You must hear it yourself!

Extremely high recommended to all prog and Gentle Giant fans (those own it already though)!

Track ratings:

"The Runaway": 10/10 points "An Inmates Lullaby": 9/10 points "Way Of Life": 10/10 points "Experience": 10/10 points "A Reunion": 8.5/10 points "In A Glass House": 10/10 points

Record rating: 10 + 9 + 10 + 10 + 8.5 + 10 = 57.5 / 6 tracks = 9.58 = 9.5 points Gentle Giant - "In A Glass House": 9.5/10 points = 96 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music.

Report this review (#46891)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars First thing to say is that I've only had this album for about six months so its probably too early for me to be posting a review about it but I can't be bothered to wait any longer!

My first observation is that even on the remaster it all sounds a bit 'tinny' to my ears.Is this really taken from a first generation master tape? I doubt it especially as there is some obvious hiss on some tracks.

My second observtion is that none of the songs are as strong as those on other albums.Too much of this is complex for the sake of compelexity and the song gets lost along the way.

Thirdly the drums seem very weak and ordinary by great prog standards.

The main plus point seem to be that Kerry Minnear is on red hot form.Great keyboard player and multi instrumenatlist for sure.

The live bonus track seems to sucessfully summarise the album and make all that goes before redundant.

Ok its just an opinion but Power and The Glory is GG's great masterpece for me not this slightly over self conscious 'trying to be too complex for the sake of it' album.

Report this review (#49204)
Posted Thursday, September 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
Man With Hat
Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
4 stars I would describe this album as an enigma. Many people hail it has Giant's masterpiece. While it is a very strong album, i don't think it desevers that title. It is remarkable that they were able to continue so powerfully after Phil left the band. All the musicians are in top form, the songs are all well written, and the album is very coherent. Why then do i say that it should not be called a masterpiece? For some reason this one doesnt jump out and slap you in the face like The Power and The Glory, Octopus, and Free Hand (the Giant's masterpieces in my mind) did. I have listen to this album many times and everytime i enjoy it alot and love what I hear, but it just donest go.

With that said, this is a grand album! All the songs are great, and the musicians are phenominal. The album starts off running (excuse the pun) with The Runaway, one of Giant's best songs. Awesome guitar riff, great drumming, and fantastic singing. Flawless! Then comes An Inmates Lullaby. This is an interesting song told from the point of someone is obviously in need of help. Clever lyrics, and great percussion parts are featured here. A very good song. Next up is the ever exciting Way Of Life. A great song with alot of energy (especially in the begining) and wonderful music. The only thing about this song that may deter people is the ending. For one, i like it. It's progressive for one. All in all this is a standout track. Experience is a song that, to me, is just like this album: I like it, but i don't like it as much as everyone says i should. It is a good song with solid music and lyrics. Next is the soft spoken A Reunion, the only song less than four minutes. Again, a solid song with great strings and a wonderful vocal performance by Kerry. I think for this song to reach its full potential it should have been expanded more than it was. But that takes nothing away from it. Another good song. Finally comes the tour de force of In A Glass House. This is in my top five of Giant's songs. What power and sophistication is there in this song, full of life and engery that bubbles to the top and encapsulates the listener. Powerful and fantastic drumming, bass, and guitar playing combined with great lyrics make this song one not to miss. Another flawless song!

This is a very good release that should not be missed by anyone. Standout tracks are: The Runaway, In A Glass House, and Way Of Life. But even better, there are no bad songs on this album. Even though i can't call it a masterpiece this is an album that everyone needs to try. You won't be disappointed. Very highly Recommended.

Report this review (#54910)
Posted Sunday, November 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a GREAT display of prog rock at it's best. The live version of "Experience" is one for the ages. There is not 1 bad song here, although I could have done without "Lullaby". But even that tune was quite unique. I will also be checking out Red and Three Friends. 4.5 stars here
Report this review (#60572)
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I first started listening to this album the way I always listen to prog. A track or two here and there, wetting my appetite, preparing me for the coming feast. I had buoght this recently by suggestion of the forum along with Free Hand, Octopus, and the Power and the Glory. I'll be honest; up until this point, the only song of theirs I liked was Free Hand. Everything else sounded terrible to me. Eventually, I decided to jump in and finally see what they were all about. I threw on this record and started listening. It suprised me. The first five tracks were pretty good, but I wasn't quite feeling them despite having listened to them for almost two weeks singularly. Then came In A Glass House.

The opening sounded to form and I was prepared to notch my belt with another three-star album, but then the tempo changed. It went away from what the other pieces had been and became far more poignant. I listened a bit mroe intently and then, those words, those sweet words...

"Shadows fill the light until the glass house becomes the night..."

I was hooked again.

I hadn't felt that sort of power, intelligence and musical mastery since Free Hand. Suddenly, it was all coming together. It was almsot like the first time I heard And You And I or any other great Yes song. It all started clicking. The album finished and I immediately put it back on again. And again. And again. The parts came together and teh album became mroe and more clear. I must have heard the album over ten times front-to-back by now and it has successfully become one of my favorites of any genre. I revisited the other albums and they, too, became more spectacular by the moment. The other albums may be arguably more technical (I don't believe this to be so, and Weathers's drumming is only more complex on Octopus), but this was the decoder. Without this album, I could not ahve enjoyed Gentle Giant, much as Yes would have been hard to enjoy without Yessongs, Jethro Tull without Thick as a Brick or Pain of Salvation without Remedy Lane.

Altogether, while their could have been some parts tightened up, this album still is a masterpiece, even if only for it's decoding capabilities. This album has managed to usurp time from my beloved Yes and Opeth, showing testament to its... perfection.

Report this review (#60863)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'ts very hard for me to put down to words review for an album that I consider an ultimate prog-rock record,period!After 30 some years I still get same feeling of excitement every time I hear this masterpiece of modern music,and I am still listening to it a lot.With all due respect to some reviewers on this site I cannot understand anyone giving this album less than five stars,for this is a music of a past,present and future.Everything on this record is worked to perfection:masterfully composed songs,academic,yet passionate instrumental execution,top notch production and sleeve cover which is one of the best ever in all of the rock music.And now it's sonic brilliance is enhanced by remastered reissue of Derek Shulman's DRT Entertainment . Music here is so unique,no comparisons can be made to any other prog act,best way to describe it is symphonic in nature and pretty darn rocking in execution with liberal dose of neo-classical,baroque and medieval musical influences thrown in it. Although music is hard to get into,album sold over 100.000 copies as an import in US with no marketing support whatsoever,and to date remains band's best selling album.No serious record collector should be left withot this masterpiece.Most definitelythe best prog-rock record of all times.

Report this review (#61972)
Posted Tuesday, December 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I admit that it took me a while to appreciate this album, but on recent listenings I did finallyget why so many Gentle Giant fans hold it in such high esteem. I still won't call it the best Gentle Giant album ("Acquiring the Taste" gets that one), but a good album it most certainly is - in fact, it's quite easily the best of the post-Phil Schulman era. One complaint I do have about it is that the complex/dissonant and simple/melodic compositional approaches could've been mixed a little better: a lot of the time , the music is either very simplistic or totally weird, and less often a combination of the two aspects. That ,however, does not prevent "In a Glass House" from being a highly enjoyable and memorable affair.

"The Runaway" begins the album in a fine fashion. The breaking glass intro is rather corny, but it's followed by a pretty cool riff. Actually, this track features quite a collection of catchy guitar riffs, which also balance the inherent GG weirdness quite well; this factors give the track a semi-classic status.

"An Inmate's Lullaby" is a rather strange, although not in the "Knots" way - it's actually the opposite, being quite simplistic for the most part. It seems that it's simplicity and that silly xylophone motif would make it a throwaway, but there is also that haunting quality to Derek Schulman's vocals that tend to draw me in. I'm not sure whether I like this track.

"Way of Life" begins as a funky uptemponumber, and while it's rather annoying and not what GG do best, there are a lot of interesting spots. This section ends around 2:30 to be replaced by a superbly melodic theme that gradually builds up into an excellent full-band arrangement. The funky section returns after a while, followed once again by the melodic part. The outro, however, consists of a short repeated organ idea that I find pointless and unremarkable.

Next comes "Experience", which starts off in the typical GG manner - humorous and a bit cheesy sounding, yet serious and challenging in the composition department. At 2:30 a sweet choral part is introduced, which I'm quite fond of. Soon it's replaced by a rock-oriented, slightly waltzy section that finds the band in the simpler, more straightforward mode, although they still manage to sneak in some fascinating quirky motifs. The opening section returns at the end of the song before fading out.

"A Reunion" is a short song that relies largely on Ray Schulman's violin work; while it's a pleasant little number, I find it quite unremarkable, particularly in the context of the album.

The studio album concludes with the title track, which I find less interesting than the other long songs on the album, although it's still worth a spin. The best part here is the hard rock section with memorable guitar riffing that dominates the latter half of the song, as the first half is consumed by rather weak material.

Also included are the live versions of The Runaway, Experience (both combined on one track) and the title cut. I'm not a big fan of live recordings, but performing the meticulously arranged GG compositions onstage is quite a challenging task, and one has to give credit to the boys for pulling it off impressively.

Report this review (#69041)
Posted Saturday, February 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my first GG album, and it instantly catapulted me into a fan for life. I will be enjoying each a their albums, one by one, for a long time to come. But I still haven't got over this masterpiece.

The musicianship is just exquisite, with all the different time sigs. and pace changes, there really is something new with every listen. And they manage to do so much in a relatively short time span. And that before was usually a turn off for me, opting for the lengthy structures, but GG converted me, and then some.

All the songs are brilliant, but the title track I must mention because, well, it just needs to be. One listen of the 180 turn they pull in the middle of that song, and you'll be hooked (even though more than likely you already are).

Report this review (#69200)
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars 4.9

This is my very first Gentle Giant album, and, after many listens has rapidly become one of my favourite prog albums. I have never heard music so complex. In the end of 'Experience', for example, there are three melodies being played at once! One on the bass and two on synthesisers (I assume they're synthesisers). These musicians are stunning, creating coherent harmonies but still managing to direct their music in the opposite direction to what is purported. Although the music is not very accessible, in the sense that it takes quite a few listens and is an acquired taste (the vocals, certainly), it is certainly well worth the investment and is a delight to the ears. Close to perfection and undoubtedly a masterpiece of progressive music. (Oh, and the recording quality is brilliant too.)

Report this review (#75878)
Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5 stars really.

I'm impressed to see a Gentle Giant album crack the top 20! Still, this is not my absolute favorite and I wonder at its popularity amoung fans of the band. Personally I prefer ATT and TPATG to this one. Still, this is a very good album. It was the first without brother Phil, and showed the direction they would take for pretty much the rest of their career (until the dreadful final 3 albums anyway). It contains two songs that would feature in concerts for the next few years in various arrangements (though usually segueing one into the other), Experience and The Runaway. The sampled breaking glass at the beginning was an interesting thing to hear in 1973 I imagine, as the sampling era of the 80's was far off (though I suppose it wasn't really uncommon, since Floyd did qutie a bit of this throughout the 70's). The other two long songs were of equal quality, though the title track took some getting used to for me. The two short songs are decent, with An Inmates Lullaby being the most interesting in its harking back to the album ATT (my favorite GG album). I've read here that this was a more "accessable" album than previous ones, though I really have no clue in what way that could possibly be. This album has never struck me as "accessable". I have always felt that Octopus was the one that would get that label, and have always noticed that album as the one people recommend as a starting point for GG (and I would tend to agree with that). In any case, this is a solid GG album by any standard.

I unfortuneatly bought this album back in the mid 90's on the Terrapin label, and the sound quality on my copy is rather poor (very "trebley" and thin sounding). This was on of the factors that may have kept this from being a favorite of mine. I have heard the remaster though, and it does sound much better, but it has not changed my feelings for this album. Overall I would say a solid 3.5 stars. A must if you like this band, but not a place to start for the newcomer to this band I don't think.

Report this review (#76332)
Posted Wednesday, April 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars An album that's hard to get into....but so rewarding when you do.

The mood of the album is very interesting, I don't think I've heard anything like this before, it haunts me. All of the tracks are great...standouts are The Runaway and In a Glass House, I'm so happy I actually kept listening to this album until I understood it. Amazing musicianship, some of the most intricate melodies ever recorded in an album, complex time signatures, really good singing.

I can't get over how good this album is, I play it at least 5 times a week and I never grow bored of it.

For you guys that haven't tried Gentle Giant yet start with this album, and give it a couple of spins of your CD player, just stick to it....and if you finally get the music and enjoy it then go buy Octopus and work your way into their discography that way.

Report this review (#76809)
Posted Monday, May 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow, this one took my totally by surprise.

I bought this one expecting more of the same Gentle Giant that we're all used to - complex, melodic, and ultimately satisfying music. Don't get me wrong - I got that, except about ten times more from this pariticular album than others such as Free Hand and The Power and the Glory.

In a Glass House has an edge that other GG albums just don't have. What is that, you ask? First of all, if they were to ever perfect the hyrbid of chalenging and melodic music, they've done it here. You'll notice more melodies present on this album than, let's say, Three Friends or Power. It's a very welcoming style that was, strangely, only adopted for one album, but I guess all bands have to change at some point, eh?

There really isn't anything else I could say - it's all been said before. This album is a masterpiece. If every Prog band has their magnum opus, or album that truly represents the bulk of where the band's true talent lies, this would be the one for GG. A must buy.

Report this review (#83757)
Posted Friday, July 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I don't give five stars lightly. If an album is to receive five stars from me then it's got to have something extra-extra-extraordinary. Gentle Giant's (probably) most controversial masterpiece does have that. In A Glass House is a genre-defining work of art, rock, folk, conceptual art, again: you name it. ITCOCK eat your heart out!

As compositions, the songs maybe aren't as strong as on some other GG albums (mainly ATT, octopus and/or Free Hand), but as a whole In A Glass House brings progressive rock onto another, unseen level.

Again it's useless to pinpoint the best songs, because those who have the ability to admire their writing will have have their opinions, and when it comes to Gentle Giant, the question is always more about opinions than with any other band. What strikes me with IAGH is the variety of styles. Within minutes the band goes over from the most introspective (An Inmate's Lullaby) to fairly easily-approachable (A Reunion) or even to an absolute classic prog rock tune (In A Glass House).

One remarkable thing in In A Glass House is that it was Gentle Giant's first album as a quintet, without Phil Shulman's saxophones. In my opinion, that really was a tremendous loss, but Gentle Giant wouldn't have been Gentle Giant if they hadn't made that loss their gain as well. In A Glass House truly is a masterpiece of progressive music, never mind the genre, and should be a revelation to any prog rock fan.

Report this review (#83762)
Posted Friday, July 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars With a stunning few releases behind them, Gentle Giant have lost one of their most important members: the oldest of the Shulman brothers, Phil. His quirky and intelligent lyrics are forever gone, his high little voice nevermore to appear on any Giant album. But the rest of 'em pull it together, and carry on without. And what a magnificent job they do at it! Addictive riffs, unexpected sudden changes, a new experimental edge, and complexity coming out the ying-yang!

After the introduction of the first track (which consists of glass breaking, which is then turning into a rhythm) the band explodes with a mildly aggressive guitar led section, which one can comfortably head bang to, which is not a common thing with Gentle Giant. Catchy, memorable, and addictive sections fill the album, woven into the over-the-top intricacies, the incredible musicianship, and even the few beautiful moments (which, I might add, are scarce). Their arrangements can get you really baffled when trying to guess when the band will come in (particularly Experience).

With the exception of Inmates Lullaby, a song which is sort of dissonant and purposefully complex for complexity's sake (which isn't truly bad tune, just slightly annoying after a couple of listens) this album is a truly solid, amazing piece of prog. Overall, this album is very fun, and top-notch from a musician's point of view.

Report this review (#89858)
Posted Sunday, September 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars With the departure from Philip Shulman, Gentle Giant's sound suffered a little, mostly in the vocal department, but also the acoustic guitars are less present, which is a shame really.The typical GG style is still present though, with a rather frantic approach to songwriting, short fast paced melody's and rhythms alternated with short melow parts.

Most if not all GG albums are hard to really get into, and it generally requires several listenings before one can appreciate fully what is going on in the songs, this album is no exception, only it is even more difficult to get into this one.

The best songs on this album are the opening song The Runaway, the fabulous Way Of Life, the more upfront rock of Experience, and the title track. A reunion and Inmate's lullaby are rather boring, but do have some beautifull slow music present, but it breaks the tempo too much for me really to enjoy it.

The two live bonustracks are both great, showing Gentl;e Giant in a more heavy style, with some good guitar solo's, the sound production isn't very good, but certainly a nice adition to the album.

Overall I enjoyed this album, but it isn't my favourite GG album by a mile. Three stars will suffice I think.

Report this review (#92258)
Posted Wednesday, September 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One of my all-time Gentle Giant favorite releases, and just as their sophomore gem "Acquiring the Taste", "In a Glass House" is also an acquired taste, since the band chooses to create repertoire in which they can dig particular dpeths into their own complex, uncopromisng musical vision. There is also some sort of dark emotional vibe that perfectly fits both the black color's predominance and mysterious double-image cover design. The infamous broken glass effects that set the pace for the main motif and the most recurrent tempo are, in some ways, a metaphor of what the band had been going through between the completion of their "Octopus" album and the conception of this one. One of the Shulman brothers left the band, Phillip, the one who was more straightfordwardly interested in eerie harmonizations and sonic textures. Something had been broken on the road, yet the band remained undefatigueable, and that's where the solid style of drummer John Weathers feels more at home among the band's overall instrumentation. In fact, Gentle Giant starts to increase their rocking potential (to be soon enhanced in their follower "The Power & the Glory") while remaining loyal to the heritages of Medieval, Rennaisance, 20th century chamber, Celtic and jazzy things that they so amazingly combined into their signature sound. The opener 'The Runaway' bears a very appealing hook despite the complex melodic lines and weird adornments on recorders and vibes. Definitely, the inputs of Ray's bass, Minnear's keyboards (and else) and Green's guitars are being provided a major dynamics by Weathers' drumming. Next comes the segued second track 'An Inmate's Lullaby', a surreal slow piece in which the Spartan vocal leads and harmonies seem to float above the vibes, glockenspiel and tympani. This song is a perfect example of GG's clever use of apparently few tricks in order to transform them into an intrincate piece. 'Way of Life' is the most patently exciting song in the album, with again a catchy motif on guitar and organ that takes in as soon as the word 'Go!' is shouted. The use of counterpoints and countermelodies gives way to the dreamy, exquisite interlude, based on a harmonium motif and enriched by violin and recorder. The interlude is reprised for the song's last section in a majestic manner. The long minimal harmonium layers that prolong the ending were conceived as the intro theme to another track that eventually wasn't completed. That makes 'Experience' the next track, and what a lovely track it is! Dominated by Minnear on the vocal department, it bears a floating Renaissance ambience that is only interrupted by a rock-blues section in which Derek Shulman delivers on of his most explosive performances. The encore is simply delightful. After 'A reunion', a very soft ballad based on violin flourishes with Minnear in exclusive charge of vocal duties, comes the closing title track. This one begins with a section in which Celtic flavours (with the violin assuming the lead role) and playful rock alternate each other. The second section focuses on the rock thing but with a slower tempo: the appearance of dual acoustic guitars in the bridges gives some room for brief country- inspired stuff. The live rendition that appears as part of the CD reissue bonuses reveals an increased use of sonic power for thsi one, but the studio version remains captivating in its own constraint manner. The album ends with a minimum capitulation of the album's repertoire, and so it happens that we have yet another GG masterpiece in the annals of vintage prog rock.
Report this review (#97100)
Posted Saturday, November 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is, in my opinion the highlight of the Gentle Giant history. "The Runway" is one of my all-time favorites in progrock music. Though the song has many different parts, they are arranged perfectly to a masterpiece. "An Inmates Lallaby" has funny liyrics. I don't like "Way of Life" as much as others do, but "Experience" and "In a Glass house" are, like "The Runway", classics you can't hear to often.
Report this review (#100564)
Posted Monday, November 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The most challenging classic GG release.

This is a remarkable change from the jubilant Octopus. With the departure of Phil, the band took a more serious direction, creating a concept album which continues to highlight the band's creativity and talent, but also approaches a level of depth, a dramatic element to their sound which they had not explored yet.

One of the biggest changes here, besides the departure of the sax, are the lyrics, which are easily some of the most poetic lines GG wrote, especially on tracks like Experience. This is a record about growing up, and about change. Often times a band's deepest works comes when turmoil and tension are at its peak, and here GG had to take a good look at themselves and the direction they wanted to take their band.

My biggest complaint would be that this record sounds particularly dated (as in not timeless), especially the opener The Runaway. I still believe their best work was Octopus, in which the songs seem to flow like a river, and they were crafting 4 and 5 minute "epics" that reached more emotions that many songs of longer length reach. This is perhaps the deepest and most difficult of the GG records to get into, but it's a very fun ride.

Report this review (#101021)
Posted Wednesday, November 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Only Giant Could!

Blend medieval influences, rock, jazz, metal, and classical.

1973's In a Glass House has elements of all. Who could forget The Runaway, Inmates Lullably, Experience?!

The complex and technical structures and playing comes off wonderfully here, Giant at their peak. They manage to infuse so many different instruments together so perfectly, it is simply a work of art.

Essential listening for any progfan.

Report this review (#101423)
Posted Saturday, December 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This was my fist experiance of Gentle Giant and I found it quite a dissapointment. Half the time this album seems to be trying to emulate Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick (in particular the Runaway). Experiance to me just sounds like a song of the times. Whwn GG are not imitating JT they are not that bad; Way of Life, Reunion and In a Glass House are the stronger tracks as a result. This album is more just the music of the times, the songs are ok but nothing incredible, the band couldn't compose something powerful like Firth of Fifth or And You and I. An ok album that isn't really essential, Octopus and Freehand are better, but I get the general feeling that Gentle Giant is second tier prog and there are better acts out there that are more deserving to be in the top hundred than GG. If you are looking for other prog outside of Yes and Genesis, I recommend Gryphon's Red Queen to Gryphon three,Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells or Tangerine Dream's Phaedra but don't bother too much with this album unless you see it on discount or second hand.
Report this review (#114620)
Posted Thursday, March 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I would like to state my conclusion first: A very good album but not when it comes to Gentle Giant. Yes, it has its moments don't get me wrong. This selection has some fantastic prog on it, but as a whole does not stand up to other Gentle Giant works.

The First track caught my ear right away, not just because of the smashing glass, but because the jangly single coil rhythm guitars reminded me so much of early Dire Straits. This track utilizes Derek's voice to the best extent. I think he should have sung more in this fashion because it is effective and original. The synths on "The Runaway" aren't top notch but as in its entirety, this is a really great track!

Number 2, the lullaby one sounds like they were trying to be progressive just for the sake of it. It is still listenable and fun but does not hold too much water when compared with the really great Gentle Giant tracks.

Way of life sounds a little bit butt rocky at first, but I would urge you to the stay the course and hear the intricacy's of this tune. A very beautiful striving hymn-like majestic section arrives and really makes you sing along. The recorders sound fantastic and Kerry Minnears voice sounds really great. The main rock and roll part isn't much to write home about though...

Experience is classic Gentle Giant, medieval and such, however it seems I should like this track more than I do but for me its just another solid track. Good "Ba-roque and roll" short and sweet, there is nothing to not like about it! It is kind of like "For Absent Freinds" on Nursery Cryme by Genesis, folky and nice and it only takes about 2 minutes of your time!

In a Glass House seems forced at times but when it gets into that "Zeppelinish"! It rocks. Some good acoustic instrumentation and such...good tune.

I bought the cd in the mall and the version I have contains the bonus live track "experience" which is actually a combo of "Runaway" and "experience" I have to say...this track is absolutely fantastic! So much energy. Gentle Giant in a ballsy live form! This version is better than the studio version of both songs! If this track counted with the album it would raise it to 5 stars...however I don't count bonus tracks for that.

Gentle Giant fans? DEFINETLY. Get it! Others...start with "Free Hand" you wont regret that! Good album, there is better by them though.

Report this review (#121936)
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars When Octopus was released here in Quebec, In a glass house was released in England and i was really surprised when i learned that the album wasn't released here until the beginning of the 80s. I think that it's a real shame knowing that In a glass house easily became one of their greatest work. I think it is sad to say that the band got better when Phil Shulman left and maybe this album wouldn't have been that good if he stayed. <

The medieval "Experience" and the powerhouse "In a glass house" are some of the best tracks on this album. When you listen to the glass shattetering at the beginning of "The runaway", it is enough to give you goose bumps. "An inmates lullaby" is really great and and sometimes disturbing ( just read the lyrics if you have the chance ). The addition of the medley of "The runaway/Experience" is great for the remaster or to any die-hard fans.

Check it out, it's the best.

Report this review (#125702)
Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars There may have been more talented individual figures in progressive rock, more fireworks, personal virtuosity and mass appeal, but there was no more inspired or skilled a unit than these comparatively unsung heroes. An outfit so well-versed in myriad musics and so able to pull the very best from each member, that there are moments on this 1973 release that dwarf contemporaries and make Yes and Tull look like schoolchildren. Consequently, there is not a slow or insignificant moment on 'In a Glass House' and it remains the enormous masterwork it was then.

'The Runaway' is prime, definitive Gentle Giant with the brilliant counterpoint and meticulous structure they were the best at. 'An Inmates Lullaby', though bizarre, mirrors Roger Water's preoccupation with insanity that same year and tinkers along with music box chimes and some children's piano silliness. Back to the real show is 'Way of Life' which moves with smooth velocity, beautifully remastered here with all players sounding marvelous. Gary Green's weird guitar notations, John Weathers' painfully tight drums and Kerry Minnear's angles of synth and organ. Woven in and out of a cooking rock foundation are Elizabethan breaks that establish a solid thematic and rich, acoustic/electric tonal palette . This band is a glory to behold and we're left wondering why other prog acts so consistently took the spotlight of history. No matter really, Gentle Giant made great records for us to enjoy forever. 'Experience' is intriguing with its medieval psych, Derek Schulman's minstrel-on-acid vocals, deep church organ drones, Ray Schulman's childlike bass phrase and a crunchy middle section. 'A Reunion' features Ray's violin and brother co-founder Derek's sax, becoming a splendid rock-fusion number that Steve Morse had to have heard as a young composer. The title cut follows and rocks things to a close.

If it is possible for one band to have been the quintessential prog rockers with no more than a quick glance from the world, it was Gentle Giant. It doesn't get any better.

Report this review (#127671)
Posted Friday, July 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Today by chance we meet again after all this time With the unmistakable introduction of shattering glass, Gentle Giant usher in their fifth studio album. This album takes a much different direction than its predecessor Octopus. It has new influences and fresher sound. In my opinion, it is a great improvement and the new instruments and styles are a welcome addition to Gentle Giant's distinctive, quirky sound. The vocals remain the highlight, but I think that the other instruments get their part of the limelight starting here. This album is easily one of the most original works that has been created and a lot of fun to listen to due to its bouncing melodies and great rhythm section.

What I really enjoy about this album is the energy level. Songs like "Way of Life" just put me in a good mood. It steers clear of the dissonant harmonies that mark the band's later career and the interaction of the instruments has a very good effect. The instrumentation is superb on that track and the organ works so well with the guitar. This is consistant throughout the album. Another consistant element that sets this album apart is the vocal quality. From harmonies to melodies, this album has it all for lovers of great vocals. "An Inmates Lullaby" uses this to its advantage and transforms a very quiet and understated piece played mainly on a percussion instrument. It derives most of its power from the strong vocal performances. However, the key vocal piece is "A Reunion." It has to be one of the most hauntigly beautiful songs that has been made ever. Derek Shulman is top notch here as he delievers powerhouse vocals that sends this ballad soaring through the listener's mind. Therefore, the track is minimalistic in its violin- based instrumentation, yet a force-packed performance overall through Shulman's vocal passion and skill.

This album gets very creative. It experiements with time signatures, odd melodies, unusual instruments, and longer tracks. I find that "Experience" captures this creative spirit. The main melody is slightly dissonant, yet melodic. Using tones on guitar and keyboards, different sounds make different atmospheres that the song weaves through. It also showcases a dynamic quality that is hard to find, especially at that time. Similarly, "In a Glass House," the closest the band got to a true epic, uses the same dynamic and energetic style and the result is one of the most catchy songs that the band has created. The intro is a burst of chaotic frivolity with prancing violins to set the stage for this diverse song.

The album was excellent and innovative, paving the way for Gentle Giant to flourish in their new direction of shorter bursts of melodic energy. This album just totally works for me because it is so enjoyable to listen to. If you have yet to discover Gentle Giant, this is a perfect introduction to the band because they go on to develop the sound formed on this album, but this is where they set themselves apart and forged their own identity in the world of progressive rock. It's their first masterpiece and is so because it has great use of instruments (and voice) in addition to making songs that are both innovative and... for lack of a better term... a lot of fun. Recommended for the prog fan looking for sometihng to brighten his or her day due to both upbeat songs and realizing that they are listening to something that is truly great.

Report this review (#128297)
Posted Friday, July 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is pure genius. It is a very serious attempt at strange, complex, and sometimes medieval prog rock. This was my first encounter with the giant and it is still my favourite! There is so much good stuff here that it's hard to keep track of. The songs are all over the place in a good way, whirring around in an almost creepy swirl of complexity and genius. Any serious prog fan should get to know this album well, it's worth it!

'The runaway' is an awesome opener, beggining with the rhythmic sound of glass breaking. strange, yet appropriate. The song progresses into prog glory with complex melodies and varied instrumentation. There are even medieval chorus sections where recorders can be heard carrying a truly medieval melody! The keyboards sound good too! there's even a vibe solo, which adds even more of the strange gg tinge that I can't get enough of. Even the lyrics are intriguing! I honestly love everything about this song, it has everything I love about gentle giant! A truly excellent track!

'An inmate's lullaby' is done entirely with percussion, a very strange track indeed, even in gentle giant's catalogue. It has a very childish, almost disturbing percussion melody which is truly bizarre! The song is about someone in a mental hospital, and the music fits to the tee. This song shows just how strange gentle giant can get when crank up the strangeness meter. It's a highly original track that adds diversity to the album, which is always good! Indispensable!

'Way of life' is a very energetic track, opening with someone shouting 'go!'. The following opening melody is highly infectious and very catchy! this is the fastest track on the album, and was my favourite the first time I heard the album. By now, I love every track though! well, the song progresses through the fast parts to an uplifting churchy keyboard part that sounds a bit medieval. Eventually, the song returns to the opening theme and the song ends with a very mysterious 'droning' keyboard that disappears into enigmatic oblivion. At first I thought it inappropriate, but after repeated listens, I realized I liked the feeling of uncertainty it created. Another superb track!

'Experience' is one of the most complex gentle giant songs out there! I'm well seasoned in counting music measures, but this song trips even me up a bit in one part! It's very medieval sounding and very busy, and for those of you that like these qualities, this song will be a real treat! It even includes a 'rocking out' section to mix things up a bit. The vocals in this part are a little bit 'sharp' on the recording, but it doesn't bother me much any more...just don't have the radio too loud when you get to this part. There are more medieval chorus parts to be found on this song, similar to those on 'the runaway'. A gg classic, and a true progressive rock song!

'A reunion' is a very pleaseant track, perfectly capturing the feeling that one would have when meeting an old friend by chance. The violin on this track is gorgeous, and the bass is perfect. A short, yet sweet track, adding more diversity to an already diverse album. I didn't give it much merit initially because of its short length and relatively simple construction, but the fact is, this is a beautiful song! It fits perfectly on this album and i'd listen to it anytime! The lyrics are also quite good for my tastes!

'In a glass house' is yet another superb track to finish the album, and is quite propulsive. It starts out with some interesting instrumentation (violin and sax...not uncommon in their earlier career) and has the guitar playing the harmonic pitches. It's quite interesting sounding. The melody is particularly good on this song, as it always seems to get stuck in my head, never letting me forget about the album. It's a good thing to save such a memorable track for last! This track also has some 'rocking out' sections which fit here even better than they did on 'experience'. There is also some unusual syncopation and phrasing in one part which is quite fun to listen to! A varied, interesting, and uniqure track! A fine closer for a fine album!

over all, this album simply is a gentle giant masterpiece! It is unique in their catalogue and holds well as a whole album. Each piece fits well with the others and holds up well on its own. No weak points, plenty of strong ones! The definitive gentle giant album! This album is a fine place to start if you want to discover the greatness that is gentle giant! This album is the essence of gentle giant...a progressive rock masterpiece. 5/5

Report this review (#132332)
Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars In A Glass House is Gentle Giant at their best. On their earlier albums, even on the celebrated Octopus, I felt like there was still an awkwardness present in their music, perhaps due to their extremely complex arrangements. However, on this outing their sound is stripped down to the bare essentials, and I think it's better for it.

I don't mean to imply that this album is simpler or more accessible than their others, to the contrary, this is very challenging music and it took me a great number of listens to feel like I really understood it. There is a nice mix of styles present over the course of the record. An Inmate's Lullaby is a sparse, percussion driven song about a man in mental institution. The creepy/sad lyrics are really great and really make the song. Experience is a rock and roll jam, which lends some more traditional aggression to this otherwise very avant-garde record. A reunion is a medieval sounding snippet, which is very peaceful and gives the listener a chance to rest for a second.

The title track is definitely the highlight, with some of GG's best melodies and ends with a recap collage of all the other songs (Queen would use this exact same trick five years later with More of That Jazz.)

If you're a fan of the more avant-garde side of prog. you will undoubtedly enjoy In a Glass House. To this day, no other band has managed to sound anything like Gentle Giant, which in itself is unique. 4 stars.

Report this review (#132479)
Posted Thursday, August 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Well I do like this better than "Octopus" but it doesn't measure up to the enjoyment I get out of "Three Friends" and "Acquiring The Taste". It just seems like something is missing from their early days, maybe it's just that the music has become more challenging and complex. Having said all that I really like "The Runaway" , "Experience" and "In A Glass House" a lot. It's all good though.

"The Runaway" opens with the sound of someone breaking something and this continues until it is in a rhythm.The sound builds as vocals from Shulman arrive a minute in.There is some recorder, guitar and vibes to follow, actually there is a vibes solo 5 minutes in. "The Inmate's Lullaby" doesn't have a lot of melody as percussion and vocals lead the way.There are some vibes and the lyrics are quite interesting in this intricate and complex song. "Way Of Life" is an uptempo tune that has a mellow section 2 1/2 minutes in of organ, violin and Minnear's gentle vocals.Then were back to the races.The drumming is quite prominant on this track and the song ends with prolonged organ sounds.

"Experience" features fast paced vocals from Minnear with lots of keys.Some good bass 2 minutes in and a chorus that follows. Some angular guitar melodies late. Nice. "A Reunion" is ok,but it does seem very English to me, maybe it's Minnear's vocal style on this one. Acoustic guitar, bass and violin lead the way. "In A Glass House" is my favourite track on this album. It's an uptempo tune with violin and acoustic guitar. The tempo changes often and Shulman does the vocals. Nice to hear some sax as well. With Phil Shulman leaving before this recording there is far less sax melodies then we're used to with this band.

This is classic GENTLE GIANT so what's not to like ?

Report this review (#135411)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first album without Phil Shulman, but still with the other two shulmans, you might be wondering if this band will go the path of Genesis once losing their inspiration. But in fact, Gentle Giant still contained 5 extraordinary musicians capable of blowing the collective minds of their fans. The drummer was finally constant, John Weathers, the only Band member who does not sing. There is a little bit of difference in production quality between this and Octopus, which sounded very intricate and personal, whereas this one seems more distant and On-a-Pedestal.

Runaway: The next GG song in the Xylophone solo series, this song is very complex as usual, with Kerry Minnear throwing in his usual multitude of keyboard bits. Gary Green does the typical riffs and runs we are used to, and the lyrics are soft and delicate. there is a section here where the acoustic guitars sound gorgeous, and the singing is in another language, and its just great. the xylophone solo sounds better than the knots one, because its on the lower notes and not the silly high ones. concert favorite.

Inmate's Lullaby: A voice modulator to make it sound as though you are talking to the singer on a phone, and a solely percussion song. my only complaint is the tympani sounds like it needs some tuning, but other than that this is one of their most unique songs, and with gentle giant, thats saying something. the melody on the xylo/vibra phones is great, as are the backing vocals.

Way of Life: GO! Hard rocker with great bass and guitar work over a driving drum beat. the keyboards also sound heavy, if thats possible. split into sections of medieval melody and singing, this song is confusing, but in a good way. there is some very interesting work with time signatures and riffs, keeping the listener on edge. the middle part has the Madrigal singing and keyboards, giving a new mood to the song. it fades out with some dissonant keyboard chords.

Experience: Best song on the CD, very odd and not too melodic in the first half, lots of instrumentation and bouncy melodies. this song is often medleyed with runaway in concerts. the acoustic guitars are constantly running up and down as the singer sings with some introspective lyrics. the electric piano adds nice little riffs, and Kerry Minnear is brilliant as always. the bass line comes in, and the violin, keyboard and guitar add in over it. then we get taken to the bridge of choir sounding keyboards and singing. then the piano blasts in and we get treated to a classic rock-ish song, with plenty of guitar soloing and powerful singing. this gets repeated once more before the end, and Gary Green Really Shines.

A Reunion: A simple, violin based waltz-type thing, this song is a little boring. a nice melody, but it doesn't go anywhere.

In a Glass House: a great acoustic riff with harmonics kicks us off, and violin adds to the frenzy. the waltz section with some odd keyboard sounds is cool, and gives us a bouncy riffy section. the acoustic guitars show their taste as well, bubbling in here and there. the sax solo somewhere in the middle is cool, with the low keyboard notes augmenting it nicely. halfway through the song we get a section similar to the end of Experience, with heavy riffing and powerful singing, sounding not at all medieval, but mixing it up greatly. this sections switches between acoustic and electric and continues to the end. the last part is a sound or bit from each of the songs on the album, including the glass breaking from runaway.

Overall, a great album, not as complex as Octopus, but still great and classic GG.

Report this review (#155801)
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars If this is Gentle Giant's most serious album, then the band is probably just not serious enough for my tastes. There is plenty of good music on this album, but there is more than enough goofiness that really doesn't do much for me either, such as the sound effects to open and close the album and all of An Inmate's Lullaby. I realize that's all part of the Giant's uniqueness and creativity; however, this seems to be one of the kinds of prog that I have trouble really getting into.

The lone exception is the title track. With a killer opening 12-string (at least I think) riff, coupled with a captivating violin countermelody, this track wastes no time in getting started. Then the vocals come in with classic Giant irregularity, and the guys keep hitting you with great melody after great melody, until about halfway through we get an unexpectedly heavy guitar riff that takes the song to conclusion nicely. It's really an amazingly frenetic eight minutes of prog.

The Runaway, Way of Life, Experience. These songs all have plenty of good moments, but lack the energy and consistency of the title track. The Runaway is a rocker--at least by Gentle Giant standards--and is centered around the guitar lines, but also features tons of interesting synth and xylophone fills. Way of Life and Experience I have mixed feelings about--they feature so many contrasts (between light and heavy particularly), that I usually enjoy sections of each when I put them on, but rarely enjoy the entire song throughout. Despite that, they certainly bear the Giant's unique touch, including playful interplay and slightly off-key vocals.

Gentle Giant are one of those bands that are good enough to intrigue me, but in my opinion not worth the money it costs to obtain their music. Except for the title track, this album is somewhat inconsistent, but solid enough for a moderately enthusiastic recommendation.

Report this review (#157315)
Posted Monday, December 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Over the years GG has become one of my favorite, if not my favorite, prog rock band. Their fusion of rock, jazz and classical is unmatched in the prog world. That being said, In a Glass House is one of my favorite records of all-time. But it wasn't love at first listen.

It took me several tries to fully appreciate In a Glass House. Other GG records took less time for me to get. Some of the earlier ones I was able to absorb during the first spin. But IAGH was one of the more challenging ones. Why was it so difficult to appreciate during initial spins? I think I fell victim to preconceived ideas based on earlier GG records. A mistake on my part and no fault of GG.

If there is ONE lesson to learn about GG's music: DO NOT make ANY assumptions as to what the music will sound like, or SHOULD sound like. If you stick to that formula, you are more likely to enjoy GG.

In a Glass House is really no more difficult than any other GG recording. In fact, it's actually one of the easier ones to get into if one understands what they were doing. What were they doing? GG were simply making a rock record! No more, no less. Not unlike any of their other records. Part of the GG mystique is that they basked in ultra complex compositions and unclassifiable music forms. That is true in many regards, but ultimately they are a rock band; a progressive rock band. If you keep that in mind and try to not make too much of their music you will enjoy IAGH immensely.

In a Glass House contains some of GG's most accessible pieces; straight rockers that'll make you tap your foot or get up and dance (ie The Runaway, Way of Life and the title track). On the other hand, you have a piece like Experience which flirts with dissonant jazz during the intro and weaves through various chamber-like interludes and ultimately rocks hard with searing vocals bordering on Peter Gabriel-like screaming, to only come back and hit you in the face with some tricky keys glued together by a simple guitar riff. If you had to play ONE GG song for an uninitiated listener as an intro to the Giant, Experience is a perfect choice, containing most elements that made the GG so unique.

One other element that stands out for me in this record is the bass. It's very prominent in the mix, much more so than on other GG release. Kudos to Ray Shulman for driving the songs and keeping them flowing seamlessly.

In a Glass House is an acquired taste, like any and all GG records, but certainly deserves the five star rating as a prog masterpiece.

Report this review (#157330)
Posted Monday, December 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars 5/5! One of THE progressive masterpieces of all time! I have to say, In A Glass House is without any doubt the essential Gentle Giant masterpiece that all progressive fans should put in their collections ASAP. I don't typically give out fives like candy but reserve them for killer albums like this. It is by far their most ambitious album, indeed probably one of the THE ambitious albums on this site. It is almost perfectly balanced, composed, and produced. Each song is so different from all of the others on this album (and in some cases from anything the band had ever done before - which is saying A LOT) that the album abroad is neither overly repetitive nor overly random and scattered (for lack of a better word). The transitions within songs and between songs is the best of almost any album, at times both smooth and abrupt, and charming in both cases. The musical genus of this band definitely hit its apex with this very album, and as usual, they are certainly not afraid to show of their incredible multi-instrumentalist prowess. In almost no other album is music used so effectively in this way, this goal - to portray to the human mind ideas that cannot be expressed in words but must be expressed. The utilization of stereo sound techniques as well as sound effects with the microphones has never been closer to perfect in so many senses. Even listening to many other Gentle Giant albums, which are all very good, none of them come close to topping this album.

I stumbled across this album after being familiarized with Gentle Giant by Three Friends. At first, as with almost every progressive masterpiece that I encounter, I didn't know what to make of it, especially since I was quite new to prog rock at the time. Certainly the shattering of glass in the opening seconds caught me off guard... the sound of breaking glass is just so... invigorating! And now it is one of my most treasured albums in my collection. You want the best of Gentle Giant, IT'S RIGHT HERE IN THIS ALBUM! I don't typically review albums song by song but with this incredible album definitely deserves it.

1. The Runaway As I mentioned earlier, the album opens with the shattering of glass, which becomes a rhythm in 6/4, and what an awesome rhythm it is! Occasionally I'd pop it in the stereo loud, and the big crashing sound of glass would give my mom a scare thinking that there was know a huge mess of glass on the kitchen floor; it was quite hilarious really. The song itself has probably the best use of synthesizer/guitar interactions and has a certain atmosphere of sharpness to it. Indeed it is one of the more likable tracks for most non-proggers, not because it is less progressive than other songs but because the singing style is overall more clean and unobtrusive than some of the later ones. And the album is just getting started.

2. An Inmate's Lullaby One of the softer and more subtle songs of this album, the lyrics of the second track is from the perspective of an apparently handicapped person in a mental institute, and the music is incredibly successful in portraying this concept musically, especially the microphone effects in the opening vocal part. It is made with all percussive instruments many backing vocal parts. It almost sounds like music a baby would like (hence inmate's (the handicapped person's) lullaby) especially with the use of the vibraphone, a trademark in Gentle Giant's music now made for higher purposes than a showy solo. The sound utilization in this song is probably the most compact and powerful of anything Gentle Giant has ever made.

3. Way of Life This song is awesome from the word Go! No, literally, the song starts with a person yelling the word go. Anyways this is definitely one of the catchier more lively songs on the album. The bass play a very dominant role as the foundation for much of the song along with the synthesizers, and proves that Ray Shulman is one of the most underrated bassists in history. It is balanced quite well between which instrument is the most prominent in different parts, and introduces some dissonance between the vocal parts and other parts of the song (as the next song does as well).

4. Experience One of my favorite songs on the album (along with the last one of course), the instrumentation itself begins very... odd, even compared to many Gentle Giant songs, with a reverberative atmosphere, layered with a sharp synthesizer on top of the mix (forgive me for sounding like I'm describing a desert). The song definitely picks up, leading to a part with three of the member playing recorders along with a violin, one of the best sections in the entire album. The chorus is probably one of the most wonderfully obnoxious singing the band has ever had in their music. The recorder section followed by the synthesizer is also used to end the song out, which is executed with the soft dimming of organ chords.

5. A Reunion A nice short classically based song of soft and sweet sounding violins, and guitar arpeggios. It really sounds like a reunion of people with memories together long past, or something of the sort. A tid-bit of a song that only adds to an already incredible album.

6. In A Glass House Ah, the one and only album title track. This is by far one of my favorite progressive compositions of all time. Easily Gentle Giant's best written song ever, the vocal parts, the instrumentation, the balance, the prog hard rock awesomeness of the chorus, and what's more the very ending of the album that combines 2 seconds of every song in the album, then a smash of shattering glass echoing to end the album.

I recommend this album to everyone who is at all interested in Gentle Giant, eclectic prog, or anyone who like progressive music at all. Easily Gentle Giant's best written and produced albums, and one of the best albums of all progressive rock history.

Report this review (#158145)
Posted Wednesday, January 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I bought this album after I read a couple of very positive reviews and I must say I was a little disappointed. At the time, I had just purchased the three first Gentle Giant album and I guess I was expecting too much of this one, seeing it standing so high in the top of the « most popular prog album ».

It is a very good album indeed, but I don't think it is as memorable as Octopus. I have been listening to it for some time now and I can't get to remember any of the songs it features. I never feel an urge to listen to it, and that's, I think, an important part of a masterpiece.

There is some serious musicianship in it, and I have to acknowledge the evident quality of the album, but I can't honestly say that I think it is a masterpiece. My favourite piece of music on it are the title track, followed closely by The Runaway.

Still, it is a great addition to any growing collection of progressive music. A 3.5 stars really.

Report this review (#160570)
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars In a Glass House is like making a Three Friends and Octopus sandwich, eating really fast, and being left for wanting more. This dense and intricate album is phenomenal, and is probably my second favorite album from my favorite band. Great use of counterpoint and dissonance. The album feels like a complete concept with the breaking glass at the beginning and the end, but like other GG albums, it's so short. Highly recommended for any prog fan, and well deserving of five stars.

Report this review (#163154)
Posted Tuesday, March 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Pessimist
5 stars I do love this album, however it is not their best, by a long shot. I prefer Free Hand and Octopus, they have no weaknesses, however this has one, and it takes up the place of an entire song: that weakness is An Inmate's Lullaby. It is GG's strangest song, but by far the worst of their classic era, it almost tops So Sincere on the crap-o-meter. Anyway, now with the negatives out of the way, we can get down to the good stuff!

The album starts astoundingly with ear-splitting simulated glass-breaking sounds, and then into the fantastic song Runaway. This is one of my very favourite GG songs, for many reasons: the two things I love the most though arise from Minnear's brilliance on the keyboards and the marimba. First of all, the run down on the lower organ in the main theme, such simplicity and so short, but unbelievably effective, secondly, the very jazz-based marimba solo in the middle. An excellent start.

I've already said my piece on An Inmate's Lullaby.

Way of Life is the most rock n roll on the album, with a fast-paced and dare I say it, cheesy riff and progressing into some really nice changes: of these include some virtuose guitar playing from Gary Green, tight drumming from Weathers and an amazing middle section that is in the symphonic vein, with some very pleasant melody and powerful organ from Minnear. Overall I could prog-rocker, generic GG complexity and some real bite.

Experience is once again a true classic, it has two of the greatest prog riffs of all time, this really proves GG as riff writers as well as straightforward composers. Gary Green really shines on this track with a classic guitar solo to penultimate the track. I really love the simplistic bass work overlapping the main riff, 3 minutes in. The Baroque sections also have a glowing charm to them, although they can get a little boring at times. Still a commendable track, and another one of my favourites: the riffs are to die for!

A Reunion is a bit like a chamber music filler that gives you a little break between two big songs. Once again, Kerry Minnear's orchestrational skills show through here, and give you even more reason to love the guy.

In A Glass House is by far THE BEST GENTLE GIANT SONG EVER COMPOSED. There is no weak point to this song; it is just the perfect prog rocker. Shame on anyone who tries to slate it! The song is divided into two halves, the first part complex in arrangement and harmony, with clever use of violins and a 12-string, the second part consisting another great riff, and very addictive, beware! The first half is very complex, no theme is repeated more than twice, and even when it is it's tweaked slightly. This is the opposite of boring, all of the musicians are at their prime (apart from Weathers, who reaches his prime on Knots IMO) here, and it is bliss to listen to. The second half is the best bit though. Words cannot describe the genial ability of these guys: the riff is in 29/8 and you can still groove to it! Enough said, I really don't want to spoil it for you.

Overall, a very strong album with one massive hole in the middle, but that is overshrouded by the other songs. I will have to give this a 5star rating, as it would be an insult to give it any less. Buy Free Hand or Octopus before this though, easily accessible and they are generally better IMHO.

Report this review (#166238)
Posted Wednesday, April 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars In a Glass House is the fifth album from Gentle Giant. This was their break through in the United States where the album sold pretty well. It´s hard to hear why this should be the break through though as it is just as complex and challenging as the previous albums. Maybe even a bit more. For me personally this is another masterpiece album from Gentle Giant.

The music is still unmistakably Gentle Giant with the many different influences ranging from hard rock, classical chamber music, jazz, medievil troubadour music, avant garde and this time around funk. I am tempted to say that as usual Gentle Giant pull this of with ease. All sorts of different themes are thrown around and changed and used again. This is a typical feature in Gentle Giant´s music and the one I enjoy the most. I think Gentle Giant´s way of making music is close to classical music compositions with the layers of different musical themes. In a Glass House consist of six songs. Four pretty long ones The Runaway, Way of Life, Experience and In a Glass House and two shorter songs An Inmate's Lullaby and A Reunion.

A Reunion is the only song here which isn´t higly complex. instead it´s a pleasant song in the midst of complex song structures and playing. The other five songs are well structured and highly complex tracks which were up until then the best material written by Gentle Giant IMO. An Inmate´s Lullaby stand out a bit as it is very avant garde, but still beautiful and Way of Life has a funky beat while the remaining three songs are just plain beautiful and challenging. I can´t begin to describe how much I enjoy this album, but you get the picture right ?

The musicianship is astonishing as usual, and as on other Gentle Giant albums both violin and sax is also used here in addition to the more normal rock instrumentation. The xylophone is used more extensively here though than on any previous albums.

The production turned me of the first time I listened to it, because it´s much thinner and not very bass heavy than on their previous album Octopus, but it´s like I´ve grown used to this sound and it gives In a Glass House it´s identity in the Gentle Giant discography.

This is another 5 star album from Gentle Giant, and so far they have not disappointed me. As a newbie to Gentle Giant I have taken their albums from an end and started with the first one and including this album I have only given 5 star ratings as I feel Gentle Giant might be the best prog rock band ever. Every album sounds unmistabably like Gentle Giant while they still develop their style from album to album. Once more I can only regret that I haven´t discovered Gentle Giant earlier. This is highly recommendable to people who like their prog rock to be challenging yet melodic and memorable. MASTERPIECE.

Report this review (#169937)
Posted Monday, May 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Nice album for converted Giant freaks, but I'd hesitate to recommend this one to anyone just starting to explore the band. The vocals here can really be a challenge. Take 'Way of Life,' for example, where at *times* (not always, folks) it becomes so bad it is excruciating. Horribly off key to the point of it just being nearly unfathomable that this was released like this instead of reworking the tune. I've never understood why they had Derek Schulman try to sing that melody as it descends, as to my ears, it just isn't part of his possibilities as a singer. Admittedly, I find the tolerance of Giant fans in dealing with some of Schulman's vocals to be truly astonishing, but some of the stuff on this album really pushes the limits of tonation. For some reason, I don't mind his role as a vocalist during the Vertigo period, but after that, it just gets more and more difficult to accept this guy as any kind of lead singer. I suspect the production and mixing techniques were changing and he just became more and more prominent, but make no mistake, it's quite possible that Gentle Giant were never as big as Genesis or Yes or ELP because they didn't have a lead singer good enough to compete in that world. Not because they were too 'complex' (although that may not have helped) or because of some underlying 'conspiracy' by the music industry.

The vocals drag this album down, but also a tendency to get caught up in being super cute with what sometimes feels like every little idea. Giant's 'call and response' technique that they often employ in composition can be lots of fun, but I find it can also get a bit tedious. I far prefer the Vertigo years to this stuff, and I find that there really isn't enough power to much of this music. An odd decision given the fact that you have a player of Gary Green's calibre in the band, but then I suspect that this works for many Giant fans, as this album rates highly. I find it to be vastly inferior to Octopus and Three Friends, and would recommend a newbie to GG start there and work through to albums like this and 'Power and the Glory.'

One could argue that this music is also darn near 'soulless,' so if 'brain' music is your thing, you are probably okay here. Giant can write music that moves the soul, but it's rare, and not really a component of this album at all. Hence, if powerful melodies and emotional depth are big draws in the music that moves you, don't expect that itch to be scratched here.

Report this review (#184498)
Posted Thursday, October 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Though often considered Gentle Giant's best release, I find In a Glass House to be a flawed and less lovable album than Free Hand and Octopus.

Now don't get me wrong. Gentle Giant has one of the strongest discographies of any prog band I've ever run across (at least until 1977 or so). Saying that this album is more flawed and less lovable than the two aforementioned is like saying that George Harrison is a slightly less famous Beatles member. In the end, it doesn't matter, because if you enjoy about any Gentle Giant album, you need to come to this one, too. The highly experimental nature of the previous albums is starting to segue to a much tighter and more band-oriented feel on this album. In truth, a hard rock sound is starting to creep into this album, giving it both wild complexity and irresistible energy. For the most part. Most hopeless prog nerds (like myself) would look at this album first of their discography, most likely, due to the longer tracks. However, sometimes their longer compositions lose the power and effectiveness that their less meandering songs before and after this album have.

The album opens with The Runaway, a pretty good track by Gentle Giant standards, though nothing particularly inspiring or different. The xylophones on this track are pretty well written, though. And speaking of xylophones, An Inmate's Lullaby plays with some absolutely gorgeous melodies on that instrument. This track is one of the two gentle (again, no pun intended) songs on the album, featuring quiet voices and rather not aggressive harmonies. A very nice track, though it is in the end quite eclipsed by the stronger songs on In a Glass House. The side wraps up with Way of Life, a song apparently many don't appreciate so much. However, I find the band's energy and intriguing composition more than make up for the few weak vocal moments. Some spacey keyboard sequences conclude the song and the side of the LP.

The second half is much stronger, I believe. It kicks off with Experience, a less intense and much more weird song. Tightly unraveled composition (I know no other way to describe it) holds together threads that do not seem to want to fit right. It's one of Gentle Giant's trademarks, and this is one of the prime examples of this style. Wonderful piano and electric guitar in the middle and towards the end bring back the sense of drama and energy. A Reunion picks up the pieces after that song ends, providing soft orchestral backing to a quiet vocal melody, something like Think of Me with Kindness but not quite as impressive. In a Glass House, arguably the greatest song on the album, kicks off with some highly complicated guitar/bass/keys/drums interplay in the way that only this band can do. All throughout the song, complex parts are interwoven and bring out one nice track that probably is one of the most eclectic songs written by Gentle Giant in this era. And it has cowbell.

In the end, this album is wonderful. Anyone, a fan of Gentle Giant or someone completely unaware of the band, can enjoy this. I'd recommend Free Hand or Octopus first, but this is undeniably one of the better albums ever to grace the 70s.

Report this review (#184995)
Posted Wednesday, October 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I wish I could give this one 6 stars.

This one is the absolute best of GG and perhaps even thé ultimate progressive album of all times. All the genres known to man are woven into the 6 pieces that this album contains.

From rock to jazz to medieval to avant-garde to classical to country.

The 4 longer pieces are essiental in the GG catalogue. The two shorter tracks are not bad but not so very interesting if you're not into GG.

Inmates Lullaby is a weird song containg layers of tuned and un-tuned percussion and silly lyrics form the view of an idiot, verry funny imo.

A Reunion is sheer beuaty, containing cello and Kerry singing wonderful baroque vocals.

The guitars are very heavy in the mix, as are the drums, wich makes this album one of the heavier ones. Commercially not so good, because of the long songs, but artistically their best.

If you want to start with GG, start with this one!

Report this review (#189587)
Posted Monday, November 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars In a Glass House contains longer pieces than one would expect from Gentle Giant, which proves to be, for the most part, a bad thing. Gentle Giant does an outstanding job keeping things progressive, tight, and under seven minutes. On this album, there's a lot of stuff that drags on and thus drags the album down a bit, like repetition and incongruity. The beginning and the end of this album are undoubtedly the highlights. Because of much of the middle, though, I disagree that this is their best album, but I emphasize that this is definitely worth possessing.

"The Runaway" Every time I begin this album, my wife wants to know what the hell just broke! Soon enough, the sound of glass breaking develops into a rhythm, and eventually the song proper explodes into our eager ears. Normally, Gentle Giant's music takes time to appreciate and enjoy, but right off the bat, we're treated to some of the best the band has to offer. The main riff depends greatly on a not fully distorted electric guitar and thundering bass. There is an unusually moderate amount of keyboard present for a Gentle Giant song. Kerry Minnear does an excellent job singing in the middle section, going from his usual high notes to extremely low ones. The arrangement and instrumentation are impeccable. The lyrics suggest a convict who has tired of living in his glass house, namely, a prison cell. In "The Runaway," Gentle Giant made a song that is at once full of musical complexities and yet strangely accessible; this would be a great place to start for someone new to this fantastic group.

"An Inmate's Lullaby" Perhaps one of Gentle Giant's most bizzare songs, this one is about a man in a mental institution. In a way, he is forced to inhabit a glass house, subject to people's observations and comments. The percussive music is interspersed with quaint but really creepy xylophone.

"Way of Life" A wacky rocker, Derek Shulman seems to be flat on several notes, but that might just be because the melody is such an awkward one. The musical interlude is likewise peculiar. After a third verse, there is quiet organ section during which Minnear sings softly. Despite all the preceding adjectives, "Way of Life" isn't a bad song, but isn't nearly as tight or as good as "The Runaway." It doesn't go anywhere fresh, and therefore lingers for too long. To add to the flaws of the song, the last ninety seconds consist of nothing but an organist playing the same irritating riff ad nauseum.

"Experience" The music has a renaissance feel, and changes galore. The first couple of minutes consist of Minnear singing reflectively. Later, in between a bass riff that will be the backbone for the next section, Minnear intones over a lone chapel organ. Gary Green gets a lengthy guitar solo after Shulman's rocking vocal part. The coming-of-age lyrics are some of the best Gentle Giant has written, as they describe a timeless theme regarding life.

"A Reunion" Short and sweet, the violin and cello receive an opportunity to shine, over a backdrop of acoustic guitar and well-played bass. When I hear this song, I think of it as the unlikely epilogue to a previous album entitled Three Friends.

"In a Glass House" Loaded with twelve-string guitar work and a healthy dose of ingenuity, the title track is genius, rife with time signature and tempo changes. Shulman and Minnear take turns on lead vocals. Near the end we get some resonator guitar played with a slide, unusual for Gentle Giant, who has used probably every instrument short of the kitchen sink (which they will no longer need since they broke all their glassware at the beginning of the album). The lyrics depict an interesting twist in the concept of the album: We usually think of people in a glass house as being on display at all times; what if the glass that made up the house was really mirrors? Then the person inside would be forced to reflect on himself. The very end is a short collage of all the tracks, ending with the echo of one more glass shattering.

Report this review (#191559)
Posted Tuesday, December 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars While I gave Octopus a low rating, I definitely feel that In A Glass House is very much better. The feel of the music is darker on this album compared to the often too cheerful Octopus, which is apparent already by the look of the cover art. They also managed to produce lyrics that are worth taking seriously here for the first time in their career. In A Glass House is supposedly a concept album, but the concept is loose and invite you to think (instead of giggle, as was often the case on Octopus!) In A Glass House shows a more reflective, more mature Gentle Giant.

Compared to Octopus the tracks here are much longer (the title track is almost twice the length of the average track on Octopus) and allow more breaks and instrumental sections. The synthesisers sound as synthesisers should for the first time on a Gentle Giant album. Notice particularly the Moog breaks on Way Of Life.

The title track I think is a masterpiece and The Runaway is also quite excellent, even if I find the sound of breaking glass at the start annoying. I also don't like very much the repetition of short snippets of all the previous tracks at the very end of the album. But despite a couple of irritating moments, this album is really good overall.

While the music on Octopus often was extremely complex, I felt that it lacked real depth. The complexity was often of a naďve and simple kind, if that makes any sense. It was a type of complexity that jumped right out at you, and not a type of complexity that it takes several listens to reveal. I don't get that feeling while listening to In A Glass House except maybe on The Inmates Lullaby, which is slightly silly. But can get away with it here, because it tackles a serious subject after all. This is certainly not easy music to get into. I did not like it straight away when I first heard this album, it took several listens before I started to really like it, which is sometimes a mark of a good Prog album.

In a way you could see In A Glass House as the result of Gentle Giant taking all the good aspects of all their previous albums and putting them into one, leaving out much of (but not all) the bad aspects.


Report this review (#199147)
Posted Thursday, January 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here I go with In a Glass House and I want truly say this one is just next masterpiece after Three Friends. It sits exactly after the biggest disappointment of the band for me - Octopus. I consider In a Glass House as the second best album by Gentle Giant after magnificent Three Friends.

The album is concept and all the songs have the same folk prog sound. In a Glass House is the most prog folk album by GG. It proves GG to do so different kind of albums. That's why I called them an ocean. Here begins a series of albums with same conception by GG. This continues with next three albums (The Power and the Glory, Free Hand and Interview) and marks the best period in band's career. This period can be characterized with dynamic conception of the band and very varied and saturated sound, revealing the enormous musicianship potential ofthe band members. Everything here, in In a Glass House, is made with routine. The sound is constant and perfectly purposed, in difference with the last album - Octopus.

All the songs are as a whole, a big entity. There aren't ideological discrepancies between the songs, which is one of the most important moments for a concept album. As I said most of the songs are prog folk, except the last one - the homonymous In a Glass House, I consider it more like symphonic prog. So all of my thoughts suggest to me, this will be without doubt 5 stars album.

Report this review (#208472)
Posted Tuesday, March 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Making Me Work for It

Gentle Giant is not known for easy to digest music. And yet, once your brain becomes accustomed to their style, their sound can be quite enjoyable. There is a warmth, love, and humor in much of their music that draws even the novice musician in. (My 6 and 8 year old kids like GG). The album In a Glass House, however, ups the ante by being less whimsical, perhaps their most complex (which is saying something, this is GG after all), and just more work to get into. Unfortunately, there are also some recording issues that make it even harder (mainly the vocals being mixed too low and the EQ being a little too sharp (too much in the highs, not enough fullness in the lower registers))

It is not surprising that on first listen in the car home from the record store, I was pretty disappointed. That was months ago, and many listens later, I must admit that there is some very essential GG here. It's worth the work. But it's not like Free Hand or Octopus that pull you in from the first listen and then continue to reward with hearing after hearing. This one is the ultimate "grower," and deserves a track- by-track.

The Runaway - Starts with the sounds of broken glass evolving into the rhythmic backbone of the song, not unlike Money by Floyd. Lots of clucky clean electric playing - both single note lines and strumming. Derek Shulman's vocals follow rather than lead here, and there are lots of different instrumental parts including recorders, big keys, dreamy harmony vocals, and complex time signatures. Toward the middle of the song, a new lead voice comes in (Kerry Minnear) and the whole song starts to pull me in a little more. There's just more thematic anchor to the second half that then allows the freedom to explore. (8/10)

An Inmate's Lullaby - This song consists of two voices, a music-box key sound, and percussion. One of the voices is mildly distorted, the percussion employs single syncopated tympani hits, and the timing is quite complex. Simply put, this one is strange, experimental even for this band. I'm not sure it works, frankly. (5/10)

Way of Life - A relatively simple riff over almost disco drums, and then Shulman singing in quite dissonant tonality that doesn't fit his voice well. This one is almost irritating at times, though certainly ambitious. However, there are many instrumental breaks and some of them are brilliant. There is a great dark minor march riff, some symphonic keys, and then back to the dissonant dance theme. That this juxtaposition works at all is remarkable, but this may be the lowlight of the album. (5/10)

Experience - Here's where things pick up a bit. Still complex and angular, Minnear's vocals again just work better than Shulman's under the demands of the chaos. The guitars are distorted, filling out their tone, and the disparate parts just hold together better. When Shulman comes in, his vocals are effected, fuller and more up front. The song just sounds better. All the things they've been trying to do all album finally click. 9/10

A Reunion - A remarkably short, quiet and simple piece, with Minnear again taking the lead. This is a much needed chance to come up for air before the final race to the finish. Pleasant ballad but not as good as the corresponding piece on Octopus (Think of Me with Kindness) 6/10

In a Glass House - Like Experience, this song contains more of a thematic core that holds the piece together. These melodies just aren't that interesting though. Shulman takes lead vocals, and it works a little better than earlier in the album. This time, interestingly, Minnear's vocals are buried when they come in midway. This song does have a nice little slide guitar bit that comes out of nowhere. 6/10

Experience (Live) - This is a bonus track on the 35th edition, and it may have saved the disc for me. Obviously, the recording process was completely different than the album. The bass is better, the vocals sit on top of the music much better, and of course there is the live energy. Like many live GG performances, this is actually a composite, and includes at least part of Runaway as well. This live track gave me another perspective on the music and a motivation to come back for further listens. Good choice for an add-on. 9/10

This album suffers from two things - the exit of older brother Phil Shulman and overambition. In combination, these lead to a loss of the warmth and humor that serves as a foil for the complexity of the music. Luckily, the band continues to hone their sound and by Free Hand have created a masterpiece that combines the best of both worlds.

This is one of the hardest reviews I've done on this site. Over time, I've considered giving this album anywhere from 2 to 4 stars. Three seems appropriate. This is still essential for the GG fans, but is for me in the bottom tier of their classic 8.

Report this review (#210019)
Posted Friday, April 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my first review on this site, so I figure I'd start with reviewing my favorite album of my currently favorite band. I was first turned onto this band by hearing Experience on the playlist of this site. Therefore it enticed me to download the rest of the songs from this album, (don't get me wrong, I buy every album I own). But anyways, I'll review this album in my favorite way to read reviews, track by track.

The Runaway (8/10); This is a very catchy song, and I believe a great song to ease people in to Gentle Giant's style. Although it's lengthy, and the musicianship is very technical, it still retains it's identity throughout. The rhythm changes aren't as frantic as some of their other songs. I just love the funk feel to it. The xylophone solo is incredible. And I love the quieter sections with the recorders descending scale melodies.

An Inmate's Lullaby (7/10); The title of this track is the perfect description of it's sound. It's calming, but very deranged and creepy. The constant xylophones throughout, and lack of much percussion set the perfect mood for it's haunting lyrics about living life as a psychotic in an institution.

Way of Life (7/10); This song kicks off extremely funky and fast. The first riff and section is my favorite of the song. Compared to the other longer tracks on this album, it just doesn't stand out as much for me. I still like it though. It holds frantic rhythm changes. How the song returns to it's opening section is what keeps me listening to it.

Experience (10/10); The best way to describe this song is, complete and utter magic. The galloping bass drum rhythm carries you through the song like you're riding a horse though a world of color, magic, wonders, and munchkins. Haha don't ask me how I thought of that, I just get the Oompa Loompa vibe from this song (as well as Knots). But that world is brought to life by the interweaving organ, keyboards, bass, and guitar (all of which hold their own individual patterns). Another favorite section is when the bass plays by itself along with the continuing gallop rhythm, then what sounds like a distorted violin comes in over top in a completely different pattern. Amazing. Then comes the haunting church-like vocal harmony, bass guitar trade off. The perfect lead into the coolest funk sections I've ever heard, with Derek's vocals soaring above it. After this section reoccurs, the song concludes with magical melodies from the first half of the song, with a solid drum beat over top. I highly recommend this song if you decide to have a mushroom night.

A Reunion (5/10); Not that it's a completely bad song. I just don't really consider it a song. More of a vocal/violin lead into the next song.

In a Glass House (10++++/10); This is my absolute favorite Gentle Giant song (and one of my favorite songs in general). It opens with a beautiful acoustic guitar riff, and kicks into an uptempo/uplifting collage of awesome (and individual) bass, violin, and acoustic melodies. This opening section has brought me to tear up it's so good. The rest of the song continues with ever changing time signatures and rhythms, but it keeps the same mystical yet uplifting vibe. That phenomenal opening section reoccurs once more, and leads into a sexy, funky, and frantic sax charged section with some awesome vocals, and an odd time signature. After more previous sections reoccur, the song leads into it's second half; a very hard rocking odd rhythm. Derek showcases (in my opinion) his best vocals on the record throughout this part. Aside from a couple quieter breakdowns with a cool acoustic slide guitar solo, this rockin' section concludes the song, and album.

Well that about does it for my first review as a new member. I hope you found it helpful if you are a progarchives browser like I was, looking to get into this amazing band.

Report this review (#210177)
Posted Saturday, April 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is VERY close to being a 5 star album, but falls ever so slightly short of "Essential" status.

My personal opinion is that for their whole career, Gentle Giant were more or less building up to the phenomenal works of art that are "The Power and The Glory" and "Free Hand". This album sees them finding a very sweet sort of groove mere months before those seminal albums occured.

To my ears, In A Glass House sounds like a prototype for those two albums. Which is to say, they were experimenting with ideas that would not fully gel until those two masterpieces.

Still, for me, this is better than "Octopus" which I think was not their best effort. The complexity was absolutely awesome, but in my personal opinion, it came at the cost of feeling. Octopus never really rocked, never really uplifted. Even though it was technically a marvel, it always felt slightly cold to me.

That is the main problem which has been rectified for this release. GG seem to have pleased themselves with the sheer prog-chops displayed on Octopus and here they seem to concentrate a little harder on actually making their listeners FEEL something special. As I said at the very beginning, I feel tempted to award this one 5 stars, but unfortunately there are a couple of little issues I will address in the track-by-track below.

The shattering glass opening seconds of THE RUNAWAY are prog legend. What a glorious way to begin an album. From chaos comes order as the shattering becomes suddenly very rythmic. The synths slowly fade in over this and then one of my favourite GG riffs explodes into your ears. This is a great song, but I feel as though the ideas are stretched EVER SO SLIGHTLY too thin across the 7+ minutes. But this is a very minor gripe, and one which I only really noticed after hearing the song countless times. The instrumental work from all 5 men is exceptional as always. The song is, IMHO, more digestable than anything on Octopus. There is definitely a hard rock n'roll feel to this one, and I am very much a fan of that. Green's guitar work is mind-boggling as always. Very percussive mid-section will please most GG fans.

AN INMATE'S LULLABY is not such a success. It's not a bad song by any stretch of the imagination. But Derek's child-like falsetto is...well, exactly that! Not the most beautiful tone he ever achieved with his voice. Despite this, the song actually has a pretty catchy melody and some very melodious percussive work, with good backing vocals. The problem is that after about 2 minutes, the song overstays its welcome a little bit. At 4:40 this seems a tiny bit like filler.

The next two tracks are just jaw droppingly awesome. WAY OF LIFE begins with a riff so spirited and energetic that it almost sounds silly. Then you notice what they are actually playing and "silly" will be the furthest word from your mind. The band do several variations on this riff throughout the track, some more developed, some less developed. This makes the track feel extremely cohesive, which is some feat considering all the (seemingly) random changes. Minnear's keyboard really shines here as well. The ballad-like, medieval-sounding middle section contains one of my favourite GG melodies, and is very, very uplifting. It reappears at the end of the song to end on a high note.

[NOTE: Then for some inexplicable reason GG include a full minute and 35 seconds of utterly discordant organ nonsense. It's just two notes, repeatedly, the whole time. It REEKS of filler and I always have to skip it unfortunately. What a shame, as the previous 6 minutes are utterly fantastic.]

EXPERIENCE is my favourite track off the album. It begins with more medieval sounding tones and a very catchy vocal melody. A slightly confusing time signature combines with more great keyboard work to provide a unique and awesome sound. The bass lines are intrinsic to this effect, they are just awesome. Then the song starts playing a sort of cat-and-mouse game with itself. Very ethereal vocals from Kerry, accompanied by just organ, sort of stop and start with a bass line shoved in between. The bass line seems to come out of nowhere, promising menace, and then disappearing again. So it should come as little surprise when suddenly the song bursts into full-blown Rock n' Roll! Derek takes over lead vocals again and you WILL get this stuck in your head (I master inner voi-CE-HE-HE-HESSSS!!!!!)

A REUNION is a short interlude, but cannot and should not be considered filler. Though it lasts barely over 2 minutes, it has a very memorable melody and excellent violin and guitar work. The lyrics are actually quite nice as well, which isn't usually their strong suit.

So, finally, we come to the title track IN A GLASS HOUSE. More simply awesome stuff from the boys in the band. This sounds like the single proggiest country and western song of all time. That may not sound appealing, but trust me it is. The violin is played with the intensity of a country fiddler, and in the middle section the guys seem to realise the only appropriate thing to do is...whip out the slide! Hearing Green play the slide guitar over this sort of proggy goodness is very pleasant indeed. Do not fear though, the song is not limited to these sounds. The medieval, GG-ish sound is entirely present.

So, all in all a fantastic album. Really its track 2 and 3 over staying their welcome which loses the fifth star. Note: I have the recent Alucard re-issue and the live version of Experience is INCREDIBLY awesome. If you're going to buy this version, this track might just elevate the score to 5.

Report this review (#212803)
Posted Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars Two weeks ago I saw the semi-reunion gig of Gentle Giant in Gothenburg, Sweden. Before the concert I revisited Gentle Giant's discography (7 album in total, from the debut all the way to Free Hand). After listening to 6 of the albums I was finally there ... only one more album to go... I'm talking about In A Glass House, an album that I never really understood. It has always been considered the highlight of the band's catalog but never really made my jaw drop.

I finally stopped hesitating and placed the 35th Anniversary-CD into my music player. The feeling that I experienced 40 minutes later was beyond words! This time around I really appreciated songs like The Runaway, which I now consider to be one of my top 5 Gentle Giant-favorite compositions. Way Of Life is an awesome rocker but what makes it truly amazing is the middle section where Kerry Minnear takes over the lead vocals and turns this track epic! I even managed to enjoy Experience a lot more, although I still consider the second half of the track much stronger than the slow intro. An Inmate's Lullaby remains for me the weakest track. As for the title track, it has always been a favorite of mine where the band gives their all time greatest performance.

Considering that I've listened non stop to this album since my so called rediscovery of In A Glass House. I guess that it's safe to say that this release has surpassed the greatness of Free Hand and has become my favorite Gentle Giant release! But what about the reunion concert, you might ask?

Well today is your lucky day, since I am starting my Gentle Giant retrospective! As I go through every one of the seven first Gentle Giant albums and uncover my thoughts on the songs and their live versions, that I experienced just recently. The only track played at the concert from this album was (of course) the magnificent title track! This was, for me, the second biggest highlight from the set since it sounded almost as good as the studio version (minus the acoustic guitar arrangement during the intro of the track). Want to know the biggest highlight? Just keep reading those reviews of mine!

***** star songs: The Runaway (7:15) Way Of Life (7:52) In A Glass House (8:26)

**** star songs: An Inmate's Lullaby (4:40) Experience (7:50) A Reunion (2:11)

Total rating: 4,62

Report this review (#214716)
Posted Sunday, May 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Anyone who discovers Gentle Giant through IN A GLASS HOUSE and believes they are a certified prog fan will call this an instant classic. This is very easy to get into and understand because I feel there is an accessibility factor on this album; there exist tons of passages that make me think of soul music (''Experience'') and good old-fashioned hard rock (e.g. the last half of the title track). Remember though, we still have a group playing some of the most eclectic type prog here as there are some parts that are difficult to digest, so to speak.

The playing on the album is stunning; almost makes me think that these kinds of compositions come naturally to Gentle Giant. Stylistic, dynamic and technical changes can occur of what seems to be abrupt, but the way Gentle Giant does it, they make every transition sound so natural and instinctive that it just adds to the enjoyment of the music rather than sounding awkward.

I believe plenty of tracks have uptempo rock-like structures filled with complex vocal passages which is what most prog fans will enjoy hearing, and by that, I mean ''The Runaway'', ''Experience'' and ''In a Glass House'', the three tracks most likely to please the eager prog nut. I'd put ''Way of Life'' among those if those church organ bits weren't as annoying as they are. ''A Reunion'' is a very quiet, sombre track while ''An Inmate's Lullaby'' uses very peculiar percussive rhythms, giving a kind of ''avant'' feel to the track.

There are so many great theme changes, time signature patterns, moods, atmospheres, obscure sounding lyrics and nontrivial instrumentations that anyone with a remote interest in prog rock ought to pick this up. And just for a bonus, the live cut of ''The Runaway/Experience'' is fantastic. A great entry point of the ''boys in the band''.

Report this review (#217499)
Posted Friday, May 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I absolutely love Gentle Giant. And I know this album is a favorite for many here, but something about this one never quite clicked with me.

I know this is the first Gentle Giant album without Philip Shulman, and it does suffer some for lack of his voice and sax. I also think that this is Derek Shulman's worst vocal performance on any GG studio album. His voice is uncharicteristically unintelligible throughout the album, taking quite a bit away from the music.

The compositions, while good, are nowhere near the level of either Octopus which came just before this album, or The Power And The Glory which immediatly followed this one. But the band has set such a high standard for themselves, that still leaves this a highly entertaining recording.

3.5 stars, rounded up.

Report this review (#256720)
Posted Friday, December 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Gentle Giant - In A Glass house (1971)

I didn't get this one....

By now Gentle Giant had become technically unbeatable in the field. This album was the last one I found for my vinyl collection. I've listened to it for ten times now and every time it ends in disappointment. I just don't like this album, though I feel ashamed admitting it. I understand it's a technical achievement for the progressive scene, but I don't like the songs that much.

Somehow this album makes me feel uncomfortable. It starts with the unpleasant guitar amplification on the first song (did they try to get an surf rock sound?!), get's amplified by the pling plong synthesizers throughout the album and finishes with the out of pitch vocals that are hard to bear. Among the problematic parts of the album are parts of pure genius. The great spacey guitar parts in the middle section of The Runaway, An inmate's Lullaby is nice throughout and some parts of the second side are very rewarding too. But overall it just isn't as good as the other seven album from Gentle Giant's big GG8. Some emotional parts might have suited the album well instead of the continues freak parts.

Conclusion. For now three stars. I would never give up on a Gentle Giant record and I hope to rewrite/add some information and some stars in the Future. For now three stars will do. I just didn't get this one...

Report this review (#260693)
Posted Wednesday, January 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars I listened to this yesterday and it just struck me how bad the lead vocalist is. No wonder they could not have as much charting success as they wanted! It's terrible for me to think that one of their albums made the top 50 on the US album charts!

A lot of prog bands have the prog box ticked, but honestly their music is hard to sit through. Often prog bands either don't write good melodies or absolutely not hooks, and way too many prog bands have terrible vocalists; mumblers and/or production that buries the vocals deep in the mix. Why is their singer always rushing, I could hardly understand any word.

I gave this album two because this band is 2/3 about the instrumental parts, and those are just fantastic. I was so enamoured with the second track, "An inmate's lullaby", which was almost exclusively made up of percussion instruments such as Xylophone and Marimba. The other songs all featured faultless musicianship and a wide array of styles, such as folk, medieval, jazz, fantasy, even their own styles. The production was very clear and crisp, the sound quite good. There was a nice variety of styles, from slower songs to faster songs. But as soon as the singer starts singing, it ruins the music.

I suppose it doesn't matter to Gentle Giant that their lead singer is Mister Mumbles, I mean their albums probably come with a big, nice lyrics sheet and before people even listen to the music they already know the words. I've seen people reading lyrics sheets on buses and trains on their way home.

If this band didn't get any success in their time they can shift the blame from themselves for not being able to write appealing hooks and instead come out and claim that the general record buying public lacks taste. Well they do... But they weren't as tasteless in seventies, or maybe they were, Gentle Giant albums were making the charts...

Report this review (#282293)
Posted Monday, May 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars There's two of us now!

In a Glass House is Gentle Giant's first album after Phil Shulman's departure, after the Three Friends album was released in 1972. The album features a drastical musical improvement, or, at least, a very new musical direction. It can be called a combination of Rush, Can, Genesis, some jazz, some avant-garde, some Handl (the medieval one), some classical, and, blues (as usual, contributed by Gary Green).

The album starts with glass shatters, probably indicating that the character of the so-called story lives In a Glass House, as the album title suggests. The glass then evolves into a loop, later adding Kerry Minnear's usual Hammond sound, and then, BLAST, The Runaway begins. Some of you may notice I actually named myself on Progarchives after this track. Too bad Gentle Giant sort of got rid of their famous vocal harmonies (Prologue, Three Friends, Wreck, Alucard, Knots), since Phil left, and became more musically evolved, and sort of, devolved vocally, until 1975, when they released Free Hand that features vocal masterpiece, On Reflection. Oh, and I forgot to mention, the only vocal harmonies provided on the album are on this track, and 30 seconds long.

An Inmate's Lullaby is, in my opinion, the worst track on the album. It's pretty dull, boring, repetitive, odd, and annoying. In this song we discover that the Glass House is actually a loony bin, a mad house, or however you want to call it, and The Runaway is actually an escaped loon. The person whose role is sung by Kerry Minnear, is pretty creepy, judging by the lyrics. This song may sound a bit like Yes, but it's mostly Phil Shulman-era GG.

Way of Life is pretty normal, and does not really contribute to the story of the album, and also, the last 4 minutes are pretty dull, but overall, it's a pretty great track. If it wasn't so repetitive in the end I'd have liked it more. Same here regarding the music, pretty much classic GG, combined with Int'rview era GG, Yes, Triumvirat, and ELP.

Experience is a track, that I think tells the story of a man, that from a young innocent boy, became a hurtful insane person. The song starts with something reminiscent of GG in the next 2 years, then, in the heavy part, becomes very reminiscent of Three Friends and the debut, with heavy riffing guitars and Derek Shulman taking the lead vocal part. Also, the last 2 lines of the song bear a resemblence to On Reflection (Once I could rebel and consequences then had no reflection, and I am a man, And I am bound by adult age discretion. Now)

A Reunion could possibly be called my favorite song on the album, maybe after the title track. I believe the song tells the tale of two lovers that met again in the madhouse and fell in love once more. This is classic Kerry Minnear material!

And now, my final song review for the album, the title track, In A Glass House! This is by far the most eclectic song Gentle Giant have ever written! Around 10 time signatures, 265 words, and 20 chords are featured in this single 8 and a half minute track! This song is the coda, the song to end the story of this album, the song where everything comes into one! Finally, Gary Green's bluesy roots are used to their maximum, and yes, you guessed it (or not), there's a ton of mandolin parts!

So that's the end of my review. Personally, if I had to tell someone what GG sounded like, I'd come up to then, hand them a burned CD with only the final track on the album and On Reflection, and say, listen to this, it's good.

When I started writing the review I thought that I'd rate it 5 stars because it's so awesome, but this review made me understand this album still has some flaws, so, 4 stars for Gentle Giant's In a Glass House!

Report this review (#285640)
Posted Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars IN A GLASS HOUSE is Gentle Giant's fifth album, and the fully-realized product of a band at the height of their creative and musical powers. It's an essential part of their core catalog of weird and wonderful releases from their 1972 to '76 heyday.

Giant's eccentric sound (which is, of course, unlike that of any of their prog contemporaries) had firmly solidified by their fourth release, OCTOPUS. The band knew what kind of music they wanted to make, and they enjoyed the unbridled artistic freedom to do so. They certainly weren't afraid to experiment, and to combine their many musical influences, from rock, to jazz to classical and renaissance, into a new -- and frankly bizarre -- hybrid. In short, at their best Gentle Giant were true originals who fearlessly blazed their own trail,. First and foremost, they sought to please themselves with their wonderfully strange music. If some open-minded listeners actually happened to "get it" and bought their albums and attended their concerts, then so much the better, but commercial success was never the band's primary goal. To this day, Gentle Giant's vocalist and front man Derek Shulman expresses surprise that their oddball music managed to find a fairly large, appreciative fan base. A major part of their relative success had to be the times; things were different in the rock world of the early to mid 70s, and experimentation, for artists and listeners alike, was often the order of the day. It's hard to imagine a risk-taking modern-day equivalent of Gentle Giant finding major-label backing and total creative freedom, let alone a sizable and dedicated fan base.

IN A GLASS HOUSE, then, is the masterful issue of that happy marriage of utter freedom and creativity with outstanding musicianship. Because I grew up on the "left" side of the Atlantic, I never had this album "back in the day," and was unaware of it, despite my being a committed Giant follower. (IN A GLASS HOUSE was originally unreleased in North America.) It was quite a revelation for me to experience this seamless, fantastic album just a few years ago, when I bought the re-mastered 35th Anniversary Edition. (This fine edition boasts excellent sound and instrumental definition, plus a wonderful '76 live recording of "Experience." That they could routinely do this convoluted stuff note-for-note, night after night on stage further demonstrates just how consummately talented the Giant men were as musicians.) Track for track, this is undoubtedly one of the very best Gentle Giant works, and particularly strong songs such as "The Runaway," "Way of Life," "Experience" and the title track easily rate with the anything from their best albums.

Overall, IN A GLASS HOUSE just might be my favourite Gentle Giant album. It easily warrants five stars as a "masterpiece of progressive rock." Not to be missed!

Report this review (#285840)
Posted Thursday, June 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars While many fans list Octopus as the band's best, there's also a good contingent of Gentle Giant fans that rate this as number one. In a way, I can see where they're coming from - the concept and lyrics are good, the ideas are complex and twisted without becoming irritating, the arrangements are as creative and untrivial as ever, etc. Yet while after many listens I can see all these positives, this album has nowhere near the same amount of impact on me that Octopus always has, and I don't think that additional listens will change that.

The main problems stem from the fact that the band decided to abandon the "slam tons of ideas into a short time period" approach for a "let's make the songs based on these ideas long" approach. Yup, the number of tracks has been cut to six, and four of them last over seven minutes; this is hardly a bad thing in and of itself, but in terms of keeping my interest throughout, the songs don't measure up to the lengthier excursions of, say, Yes. There are simply far too many moments on this album where the arrangements, while just as impressive technically as before, lull my head into a stupor and force me to fight the urge to nod off. It also hurts that the vocal parts aren't that good even by Gentle Giant standards - except for the lovely (and perfectly appropriate) delivery that Derek gives in "Inmate's Lullaby," it seems like the band (Derek especially) just included the sung parts for the sake of including them, without bothering to put any conviction behind them (which is a shame since, as mentioned earlier, the lyrics are just fine).

Still, every track on here has decent enough 'raw materials.' They may not be put to the best use, often interrupted with quieter parts that add little to my listening enjoyment, but I would be lying if I said that, when looking at the track listing, any of the songs make me gag and lament my precious lost seconds of life. I'm not big on "Way of Life," which has a cool dancable (ha) foundation but little else (that is, little else that I like - there's a lot going on in the track, it's just that not much of it makes me care), but I gotta admit it's funny to hear such a thing on a prog album (especially when I know that the band saw it as complex prog and not as proto-disco). Aside from the pretty (but underdeveloped) "A Reunion," though, everything has at least a few solid chunks of quality. "The Runaway" starts the album on an extremely high note, with a rhythmic groove formed out of samples of glass breaking (not making this up), then turns into what could be an excellent intense piece (with great tight work from everybody) with a fine vocal melody, but is instead dragged down by the total lack of effort from the vocals and extreme excess in the mid-song jam. Cut this to five minutes from seven, and I'd be a happy man - as is, I'm just a mildly content man.

The tracks bookending the second side are also quite good, though each has passages that I definitely think should have been left on the cutting-room floor. "Experience" starts off much like something from Octopus (both in style and quality), then eventually enters a fine groove (with a great guitar and bass line), but also meanders into generic (and in this case boring) medievalism too many times for my liking. Still, what a great groove, even if Derek's voice adds little. As for the title track, it more or less bypassed me the first eight times I listened to the album, but I think that was just a function of me being tired. A lot of it seems somewhat like Gentle-Giant-By-Numbers to me (though that's not necessarily a bad thing), but it gets great in the second half, where we suddenly get this killer hard rock groove that has bits of steel guitar here and there that closes out the album.

For all of the ambiguous praise that I can give most of the album, though, there is actually one track that I can't whine about. "An Inmate's Lullaby" is a perfect look inside the mind of somebody locked away in a mental institution, with odd processed Derek vocals, the best use of vibes you'll ever hear, and just such a bizarrely pleasant atmosphere that I can't help but love it. I actually almost get the feeling that Peter Gabriel, when putting together Birdy ten years later, took a listen or two to this track (if he didn't, and I'm guessing he didn't, the resemblance is freaky) - substitute the vibes for marimbas, lay on a grumbling static synth pattern and muffle the singing, and you wouldn't be that far from that mid-80's soundtrack.

So basically, it's a good album (and just short of a **** rating from me). Unfortunately, it's a noticable slip from the band's previous accomplishments - the complexity of melodies and arrangements is just as high as ever, but the ability to make the casual listener care about it is on the decline (though not gone by any means). If you're a hardcore prog fan, you might adore it, though.

Report this review (#293821)
Posted Sunday, August 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars After my disappointment with Octopus I was slightly hesitant to continue drilling my way through the Gentle Giant discography. But the abundance of critical acclaim for second 4-album batch motivated me to do so anyway. Album number 5 on the list is an ok Giant album but it's still not as mesmerizing as Acquiring the Taste and Three Friends.

The album rocks harder then Octopus and with the opening killer track it takes a strong start. I like the samples of the glass shattering that sets the rhythm for the main riff. The weird baroque vocals are still an acquired taste and sometimes sound a bit gimmicky, just like the endless renaissance indulgences. I can't say I'm overwhelmed with powerful emotions when listening to them.

The songs go through the typical Gentle Giant motions, with lots of strange twists, angular riffs and mathematical precision. It's a very studied type of music and there's no room for sonic experimentation, noise, improvisation or other frivolous things. The resulting effect is a bit sterile and lifeless, but it's technically perfect and probable very satisfying/frustrating for the musicians amongst us.

It's excellent music but it misses something, it lacks the spontaneity and looseness that speaks to the imagination and tickles the senses. Surely a recommended title fans.

Report this review (#300092)
Posted Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A solid Giant album with a f*cking awesome(please excuse my French, but no other word seems quite strong enough) denouement in the form of the final, album-titled track, which showcases the group at their edgiest and best. Featuring a rip-snorting guitar riff from Gary Green, 'In A Glass House' must surely rank as one of the best individual pieces Gentle Giant ever concocted, coming as it does on their first genuine classic album. Of course, after 'In A Glass House' the Giant would concoct another two fantastic albums in the shape of the heavy- edged 'The Power & The Glory' and the intensely-eclectic 'Free Hand', but it is here that the group really flex their progressive muscles. With the departure of elder brother Phil Schulman, gone is the kitchen-sink humour and twee, medieval tinges that gave early albums such as 'Three Friends' and 'Octopus' their artistic bells, instead replaced with ballsy rock sections that juxtapose brilliantly with the more sedate, classically-informed moments. As an album 'In A Glass House' ranks highly, though incredibly, despite the undoubted quality on offer, the Giant would go on to better this hugely-entertaining album twice over in the following three years. Seen by many as the beginning of their golden period, this is a scintillating piece of progressive music that, technically-speaking at least, puts honoured groups such as Genesis, Pink Floyd and Yes to shame. Great stuff. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Report this review (#303895)
Posted Thursday, October 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars If I consider the score and the amount of reviews on PA for this fifth GG album, it is the best of the band. There are lots of five stars ratings and dithyrambic reviews (masterpiece, outstanding gem, powerful vocals, etc.).

Since I only moderately like their music, I was quite curious to discover this work (I only got three of their albums during their classic period and did not get into GG more than that since 2004).

What I can say is that there are indeed some good songs featured on this "Glass House" but none is getting me by the guts. It is true to say that this effort is more accessible; some songs even feature some pop moments (which is far from being the band's mould so far).

I have to say that this is even embarrassing at times. Anyway, most aspects of the classic GG are still present even if the usual complexity is maybe a bit set aside. Jazzy atmosphere, folkish ambience, medieval passages and all the likes can be discovered throughout the album. So, even if one of the brothers is missing, the global mood of "In A Glass House" is not so unconventional.

It is a good album for sure, with longer songs than usual. But no highlights as far as I am concerned. Three stars.

Report this review (#308508)
Posted Saturday, November 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm glad that Kerry sings on a good portion of this album, but generally for me, vocals have always been the weakest point in Gentle Giant's studio albums. However, GG's live video of "I Lost My Head" showcases the best vocal performance I have seen of Shulman as of yet. But I always thought that Kerry's voice suited the band more.

Musically, In a Glass House is superb. Gary Green does a very commendable job at the guitar parts, and overall, the instrumentals are very enjoyable. What I particularly like about the album is that certain songs give off a certain unusual feeling for the listener (at least for me it did). There are definitely haunting pieces in the album, and they did a great job at eliciting these sensations. In my opinion, this is the probably the best album I have heard from them so far although Acquiring The Taste puts up a very good fight.

Since I mentioned that the vocals is one of the downsides to the album, I'd like to contend to that statement a little in saying that the latter half of "Experience" features some great singing by Derek.

All in all, good band. I always thought their studio albums were too clinical for my tastes, but I enjoy their live videos far more. They are actually one of my favorite bands that performed live.

Report this review (#411313)
Posted Friday, March 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars In a Glass House is an absolute Gentle Giant masterpiece. The songwriting here is more sophisticated that is has been in the past, and the musicianship still reigns supreme, and the compositions are still incredibly complex if not more so. This music is highly eclectic and jam packed full of instruments from all eras of time, consisting of the obvious guitars and percussion but also violins, flutes and various medieval instruments. One thing that I've always loved about Gentle Giant is the absence of organ sounds, usually opting for much more interesting keyboard variations. Most of the music is full of energy, but is always wildly creative and never boring in th least.

Very highly recommended masterly crafted eclectic prog.

Report this review (#429414)
Posted Friday, April 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars While this album sadly loses the warmth and playfulness of their earlier recordings, there can be no doubt that 'In a Glass House' was Gentle Giant's finest moment. 1973, the year that gave you classics like Caravan's 'For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night', ELP's 'Brain Salad Surgery', Genesis's 'Selling England By The Pound', Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' and Yes's 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' now brings you this masterpiece album. I own the Alucard CD, which was remastered as late as 2009! The remastering is the best I have ever heard, and the songs actually sound like they were recorded yesterday. Everything is crystal clear, and there is not even any tape hiss!

Beginning with the raw sound of breaking glass, The Runaway is surely very easy on the ears for fans of Yes, Genesis and the like. The playing throughout is extroadinary, and is very close in sound to the 'natural' prog sound, whatever that is. The beat is constantly kept up, although time signatures are obviously changed. The song flows perfectly from riff to riff. This is a flawless start to an amazing album.

Gentle Giant had done 'creepy' before with songs like Edge of Twilight and Schooldays. However, An Inmate's Lullaby never fails to give me goosebumps. Utilising extremely eerie vocal effects, this song is the musical definition of claustrophobic. Though the instruments sound quiet, they feel extremely close, and often there are two people singing at the same time, making it harder to work out what's going on. The lyrics are horrifying too, and sound as if they are read by a simple person: 'Eating flowers growing in the garden where there are tasty tulips and I don't care if I wet my trousers'. The sentences all run together. Scarier too are lyrics like 'Hurt myself this morning, doctor gave me warning', and I heard someone saying I think he'll be staying'. This one could give you nightmares, which is why it is utter genious.

The antidote to this scariness is a bit of fun. The next track Way Of Life starts with someone shouting 'GO!' The 4/4 starting riff makes this track sound much lighter than the last track. Of course the song doesn't stay in 4/4 for long. This song is actually the closest I think Gentle Giant came to sounding cool! At about the 2:30 mark, the song changes to a very different sound, which will define the beautiful outro, but not before another repeat of the introduction to the song. After the outro though is something completely different. In fact the final 1:40 is just Kerry Minnear playing something ghastly on the keys, and I don't like it at all, but I don't let it ruin the otherwise fantastic song.

Experience is a track that slowly builds up to something superb. While not as instantly gripping as it's other 7 minute counterparts, this track is nonetheless enjoyable all the way through, and there's a great guitar solo towards the end of the track. If you need more reason to listen to this song, there is a section in 6 2/3 over 4, and the outro is in 9/4.

Beginning with a heartbeat - coincidentally the beginning to the Floyd album released in the same year - A Reunion is Gentle Giants chance to take a breather. This is an acoustic track, with only acoustic guitar, bass guitar and violins being used. There's nothing particularly interesting about this track, but it creates a very welcome change in atmosphere in the record.

The title track In a Glass House is my favourite on the record, simply because of the great themes used. This track uses many different genres as inspiration, and you'll hear tempo, instrumentation, time signature and mood change several times within this track. This track actually feels more like two songs joined together, at about 4:15. Both parts are very cool, but musically they don't coincide at all. Afterwards there is an outro to the album using clips from all 6 songs, and the sound of smashing glass once again.

'In a Glass House' seems extremely different to the groups earlier albums, more serious and somehow far more proggy. This fine album showcases some of Gentle Giant's best compositions, but more fantastic songs were on their way. To me though, this is their magnum opus.

Report this review (#432668)
Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ah, In a Glass House. This is Giant's 5th album, and the first after the departure of elder Shulman brother Phil. For me this is probably the masterpiece of the GG discography, and from the rhythmic loop of the breaking glass in The Runaway, the album makes a super convincing, near irrefutable argument for that sake. It's interesting that in the climate of such turmoil within the band that they managed to craft songs such as The Runaway, Experience, and the title track. The major selling point of an album like this is that it simply has it all: mind- blowing virtuosity, accessible melody, astounding innovation, and above all TASTE. This is what tends to separate Giant from some of their more indulgent contemporaries. The music is beautifully composed, arranged, and executed. It's truly a shame that more people aren't willing to give something like this time, as it can be a challenging experience. However when the cobwebs dissolve and you allow this album to be absorbed in your psyche, you will never forget it. Essential.
Report this review (#437314)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Gentle Giant has been one of my favorite re-discoveries of 2011. Brilliant composition and performance with often quirky and unsustained or more intellectual or mathematical melodies. One of the most highly acclaimed GG discs has moments of sheer brilliance, but, IMHO, not enough to be able to claim true masterpiece status.

"Runaway" (9/10) talk about some mathematically constructed music! Even the marimba solo has a 'pre-planned' feeling to it. Still, this song has a very (misleadingly) easy going feeling to it--and the vocals make for one of the most melodic and accessible songs in the GG catalog.

"An Inmate's Lullaby" (9/10) presents itself as almost a Mother Goose nursery rhyme like children's song. But it's not. It is a very jazzy percussion-oriented song. I think both Miles Davis and Harold Budd would be quite proud to have composed this song.

"Way of Life" (7/10) is a bluesy vamp with a pre-disco beat/sound (reminiscent of The Four Seasons' "O! What a Night!" and Madness' "Our House"). Rather brilliant organ and lead guitar work offer the listener an alternative to the rather poor vocals and rhythm structure.

"Experience" (6/10) is a Renaissance troubadour song using modern instruments that, frankly, doesn't work. The a cappella vocal (gorgeous!) alternating with silly bass line section (later repeated with organ alternating with same silly bass line) is an excellent example of what's wrong with this song: excellent & beautiful playing along side poor and almost laughable.

"A Reunion" (8/10) is a pretty little folksie Renaissance song. This one works.

"In a Glass House' (9/10) illustrates how GG can hit on all cylanders: amazing keyboards, J TULL-like electric guitar sections, folksy vocals and acoustic guitar picking, all woven together quite masterfully--like a church dialogue.

This album opens and closes with four stellar songs, yet somehow this fails to offset the let down of the middle two. "Runaway" and "In a Glass House" are two of my favorite GG songs, but the album cannot quite earn me the full 5 star "masterpiece" designation. 4 maybe 4.5 stars--an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

Report this review (#459478)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars The departure of Phil Shulman did mean that Gentle Giant lost his saxophone playing, but rather than simply replacing him the band took the opportunity to hone and tighten up their sound. This narrows the diversity of the tracks on In a Glass House a little compared with previous albums, but on the plus side this helps the band to focus on the album's concept, which centres around ideas of imprisonment, confinement and surveillance in society.

And really, even though there isn't any more sax playing from Phil we're still dealing with classic-era Gentle Giant, so the album covers far more musical territory than many of its contemporaries and shows more than enough variety and complexity to keep prog fans happy. One of the best things about Gentle Giant is their talent for creating compositions which are on the one hand extremely complex but yet at the same time are insanely catchy, and this skill is out in full force on this album. Ranging from the delicate and gentle to the wild and rocking, In a Glass House is yet another Gentle Giant classic.

Report this review (#508060)
Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

With this album Gentle Giant appears to have reached his stardom, and he gets high marks here on the site (being seen as the work - the band's material), it seems that this is a thought shared by many reviewers.

Well, I've never been a fan of GG, and and this album has not changed my mind, so do not expect a very positive review about it. What I can say is that a good work that depicts what I love most and hate the band. Everything you expect from GG here: dissonant harmonies, the varied use of instruments, the eclectic influences (ranging from medieval music to jazz), experimentalism, and especially anti - conventionalism.

The first thing that stands out on this album is the sound of breaking glass, a thing quite obvious if you consider that its title is "In a Glass House" . but "The Runaway," the opening track, that's not all. It really is a monster song, an epic seven minutes complex and interesting, and that is undoubtedly the best song on the album. Unfortunately the next two songs, "An Inmate's Lullaby" and "Way of Life" did not come into my heart and are obviously the weakest moments of the album.

Side two is a bit better, with the strange, but with some good moments, "Experience" , which was the band's first song I heard (here in PA!). "The Reunion" is a brief but beautiful interlude with median vocals and excellent violins . And the title - track ends the album with dignity, even if not in all its moments, being the only one who can come close to "The Runaway".

Adding, "In a Glass House" is a good album, and is probably the best among all I've ever heard of the band, except, of course, "Acquiring the Taste ', which is unsurpassed.

3 stars

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Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is Gentle Giant at their most difficult experimental and challenging best. Tight grooving rhythms topped with technical proficiency unlike any other band was capable of. Romps through guitar rock , classical renaissance voicing and madrigal singing, its really Gentle Giant performing on all cylinders. Unfortunately with all Gentle Giant albums the vocal approach is somewhat difficult to digest almost completely nixing catchy melodies for classical counterpoints it is hard to get used to. Fortunately like all other GG albums the musicianship has been stepped up once more to offer some deliciously complex arrangements and wild experimental ideas for a rock band. Love them or hate them this is an incredibly exciting album from start to finish.
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Posted Thursday, December 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a wonderful thing. I have a feeling I had known the songs before I heard them.

The runway-It's like Giants' message: "we are here and we are an interesting prog band. So listen to this f* great album" An Inmate's Lullaby- I have mixed feelings about this song. I know it's very genious, but I'm not sure in which way. Instrumentally, melodically, lyrically interesting. Like a surrealistic quiet dream. Way of life-it has parts that sound like sonnet of a criminal series, but in a whole its another typical GG song. Experience- an experimental piece. I like this, especially the singer. Reunion- short lovely song. In a glass house-true great prog song. It has only one mistake, the melody doesn't fit to the end on an album in my opinion.

The more times I listen to this album, the more stunning it becomes for me.

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Posted Thursday, June 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Many people consider In A Glass House the band's best work, and it's no surprise. This still has the Gentle Giant flavor, but it is perhaps their most listenable album out of their pre-Interview period. I would say the music is a tad more serious than on Octopus, but conversely a bit more melodic. This album is very riff based, many of which are in odd time signatures, and harmonized by complex rhythms.

'The Runaway' is probably the highlight of the album, and contains plenty of catchy melodies formed by repetitive riffs.

'An Inmate's Lullaby,' as the title suggests, is rather gentle, with melodies played by the vibraphone. Unique, but not great, and the bad vocals certainly don't add anything.

'Way of Life' is a fun track that shows full well Gentle Giant can groove. The tempo is fast, the rhythm is different, and some of the countermelodies are tasty!

'Experience' is another classic track that doesn't deviate far from the Gentle Giant sound, filled with a balanced share of catchy melodies and complexities.

'A Reunion' is a short interlude with violin that segues to the final song, 'In A Glass House,' which ends the album with a plethora of time signature and tempo changes, and some cool melodies.

I believe this album represents Gentle Giant at their best. This album should be a starting point for people to get into the band, as it has perfect balance between the complex and melodic side of Gentle Giant.


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Posted Thursday, August 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars Gentle Giant's "In A Glass House" is one of their most popular albums, and in fact receives high ratings from many reviewers. The lineup are infamous as one of the all time greats in prog history. Gary Green is awesome on 6 & 12 string guitars, mandolin, percussion, alto recorder, Kerry Minnear is brilliant on keyboards, tuned percussion, recorder, vocals, Derek Shulman is a marvel on vocals, alto sax, soprano sax, recorder, Ray Shulman is particularly great on this, playing bass guitar, violin, acoustic guitar, percussion, and John Weathers is magnificent on drums. This is one time when everything went right and, when the chemistry was evident, nothing could stop these influential pioneers of prog; these progenitors of eclectic rock.

It begins with glass smashing, as if stones were being thrown into windows in a rhythmic meter, on the warm melodic 'The Runaway', and this classic song is literally shattering the boundaries from the outset. Gentle Giant love to break walls of musical boundaries down as is evident on all of their earlier albums. The fractured guitar rhythms, percussion and keyboards are thrown about like stones exploding into shatters as they hit their target. This album certainly has it's fair share of quirky pieces such as 'An Inmate's Lullaby', a paean to a mental institution, with a ton of crazy glockenspiel, a seizure of guitar chords, and insane time sigs throughout. The polyphonic or metronomic time sigs are prevalent with some of the oddest switches in musical tempos you will hear. The music bounces all over the place and injects that whimsical sense of fun; the band never took themselves as seriously as their critics.

The quirky edge is heard on the jaunty manic phrases on 'Way of Life', that begins with the shout of "Go!" Then the band in fact do go for it with no holds barred relish. This track has that medieval flavour that the Giant loved to explore, sounding like some fairy tale at times with instruments more suited to the 18th century Elizabethan era. Then the organ and heavy guitar joins to remind us this is 20th century prog. The lyrics are as fragmented and crazy as the music; "You'll find an answer, You've got to believe in your own way of life, So you'll have to find an answer, You'll have to find a way, try to find, try to find, You'll try to question her, Does she believe in the choice of your life, So you have to try to ask her, when you are away, left behind, out of mind, away."

'Experience' opens side two with glorious fanfare, along with that weird high vocal register and some wonderful basslines. The music is a circus sideshow of keyboard whimsy and frantic guitar spasms. The sigs are twisted into shapes and turned inside out and the band keep up, tighter beyond compare. The glockenspiel is followed by courtly a capella harmonies, the trademark of Gentle Giant. The lead break is fat and muscular and I like how the more forced vocals break through the technical layers of music. This is definitely one of the best Gentle Giant songs showcasing all that they stood for in one sitting.

'A Reunion' is a short little piece infusing very calm melancholy strings and vocals; "Meeting in this way who could have known, How our destinies and ways apart have grown, Looking still the same after all these years changing only in my memories not clear, and believing all futures we would share." This makes a nice departure from the complex time sigs and is quite a serene piece with Ray Shulman's violins becoming so essential to the sound.

'In a Glass House' ends the album on a mini epic, opening with intricate phrases on bass, drums, violin, mandolin, chimes and whatever else they could get their hands on. The medieval troubadour flair is obvious and the vocals have a nice rhythm spouting imagery of some fanciful musings; "Living in a glass house shielding all that's meant for me, Can you clear the shade and can you tell me what you see, Shadow fills the light until the glass house becomes the night, dark is gleaming or am I dreaming." The instrumental break is incredible with tons of brass, woodwind and a dynamic bass punctuation. It is complex and impossible to emulate but incredibly infectious. When it breaks into the heavy guitar riff I am completely entranced by this amazing composition. This is quite possibly the greatest gentle Giant song, they saved the best for last. It features the weird little courtly moments of Elizabethan charm sandwiched in between the heavy guitar augmentations, that seems to be playing in a 29/8 time sig if that were possible, though Gentle Giant make it possible. It ends with another pot shot of glass breaking and thus a legendary album was thrown through the glass house of the musical industry to the masses.

Gentle Giant tip their hat at the establishment, the stuffy musical industry, and show it is possible to play brilliant music and still have fun. "In A Glass House" is quintessential Giant without a doubt, all killer and no filler where everything just worked. The band are obviously virtuosos and deserve their high powered reputation. This is definitely one of the best albums from their catalogue, along with "Power and the Glory", "Free Hand", "Acquiring the Taste" and "Three Friends". Masterpiece is the only way to describe it as everything on "In A Glass House" is incredible legendary prog, without a shadow of a doubt.

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Posted Sunday, November 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Is "In a Glass House" the best Gentle Giant album? For me, the three in sequence (Octopus, In a Glass House and Power and the Glory) are the most prominent of the group, perhaps with the addition of Free Hand and Adquiring the Taste, but that is one of the troubles with Gentle Giant, we are talking about a musical group that contains a multitude of playings and individual masterpieces. Gentle Giant is perhaps the band that most accomplish what progressive rock must do: expand the boundaries of rock music ... oh, wait... this are the definition themselves set to them. Damn!

Contrary to Octopus, In a Glass House appears to struggle a bit to find its way, probably because of the departure of one of the Shulman borthers. As the band was trying to re-organize (as loosing one was like loosing 5 or 6 instruments and a vocal), more steady pieces and riffs go along with the efusive and breaking rythms so caracteristic of all classic Gentle Giant. All tracks are sberb and work from one another, without leaving space to wonder what else these tracks could sound.

The most prominent for me its the title track itself. The band closed to itself, trying to think how things would turn out from now on , give us exactly the contrary (at least in the way the music is displayed): they open themselves, showing the edgy parts, the changes they have to made, presenting their "new" sound. In a Glass House is exactly how these great artist must have felt: exposed.

The nice is that they shouldnt felt that way, the album goes along their discography satnding as the masterpiece it is.

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Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Absolutely, this is the Giant at its peak. Even with the departure of one of the Shulmans, they seemed to come up revitalized from their last album at the time (Octopus). In A Glass House has elements that once again, proved that only the Giant could do an effort like this one, and this is one of the reasons that the album was not accepted by their american record label, calling it uncommercial. Let's get into reviewing the songs.

"The Runaway" starts with one of the most brilliant album openings, that has everything related to the album name. That glass shattering intro, and even the rhythm that was made up with the shattering sounds, could only be considered genious job. And when the band comes up, it comes all of a sudden with a very powerful guitar riff done by Gary Green, accompanied by a fantastic bass line provided by Ray Shulman. Derek Shulman's vocals in this track must be highlighted, too.

"An Inmates Lullaby" is a very original song that comes as a vocalized-percussion song. Its harmony is very interesting, and it develops by the use of xylophones. Fantastic song, I've never heard another band doing something like this.

"Way Of Life" might be described as a funk-medieval mix of a song, with its first part devoted to a funky riff developed by the exotic Giant ways. And so, in the middle section, we have a beautiful medieval melody provided by Kerry Minnear, that makes the song reach a peak of epicness. Just awesome.

"Experience" got the exactly name that it's worth having. It could be described as a great musical experience, with very irregular time signatures. It seems that each instrument is playing a different song! The result is awesome, proggish than ever! The middle section, powered by Derek Shulman's vocals and by Gary Green's guitar solo is just amazing. An successfully experience that provided very good results.

"A Reunion" is the shortest song in the album, but it doesn't mean that it's inferior. The main vocal melody, with Minnear's voice, fits in perfectly. Also, the cello background is just perfect, too.

"In A Glass House" is maybe the greatest song of the album, and one of the hardest rocking GG songs, in their own special manner of rocking! That opening, no other band could do something like that. This song changed my way of viewing music. It combines perfectly various elements of the distinctive GG sound.

Therefore, this album is worth having by every prog fan, and could be easily put aside with the greatest albums of the genre. 5 big stars!!!

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Posted Thursday, August 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gentle Giant was still early in the running, but they had already struck musical gold with four consecutive releases. In fact, the band was in such a flow that they cracked off two masterpieces in the same year. There was a sudden break in the beautiful funk they had developed over the last three years; the eldest Shulman brother, Phil, left the band. Without a saxophonist, they were perhaps stuck in a rut. Could it be possible for them to keep playing even after their fellow brother had quit the band?

Of course they could. The band seemed to be able to perform remarkably well without Phil, maybe even better than they had or would after it's release. It must be noted that, even though this album is excellent, it was lost in the wake of the 70's prog uprising by more well known bands (i.e: Genesis, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Jethro Tull), and this album in particular was sort of forgotten mostly due to it's inaccessibility in the US and Canada. So there was the problem of only being able to get an import from the UK, and the fact that more people were interested in Dark Side of the Moon, Selling England by the Pound, Larks Tounge's and Aspic, and maybe even A Passion Play. But I believe, and I know many others do, that this album is definitely up there with the greats.

As for this album's sound, it is quite unique. The band did try as hard as they could to be experimental, after all it was their objective to change the pop-medium of the 70's. It's a slightly strange piece of work, almost like a new drink that's hard to swallow but in the end you get used to it and love it. The 'hard to swallow' part mostly extends from the wonky time signatures and rhythm changes. But trust me, Gentle Giant is not for everyone. That's mostly why they haven't been recognized as well as they should have.

One thing I love about this album is the surprising heavy segments of the four prog epics. One that really caught my ear was the superb jazz-rocking sections from 'Experience', surrounded by graceful eclectic beating that almost seems to breathe as you listen to it. This song is one of my favorite songs EVER, mostly due to these factors. 'Way of Life' is less impressive, and seems more a mistake than a complex track that had time spent on it. 'The Runaway' is an excellent opening, taking the heavy section of 'Experience' to a whole new level. The title track finale (the most popular song from the album) is awe-inspiring. It's catchy, has some stellar a Capella, and maintains a quick thundering beat without losing a step.

The two shorter, calmer songs are 'An Inmates Lullaby', which contains some beautiful xylophone as well as some rather dark lyrics taking place in an asylum, and 'A Reunion', a medieval-style bard ditty, which is a rather surprising thing that you don't find most progressive rock bands of the 70's attempting to cross over their music.

I doubt I'm the only one to say that this album is great. Their undeniable magnum opus of the 70's rocks, and I feel it's way up there with the greats. Modern bands should take heed from the Shulmans, because they've done a mighty bang up job.

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Posted Saturday, December 6, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars IN A GLASS HOUSE was made under pressure because of the fact Phil Shulman left the group leaving the group as a quintet and also by the fact that Columbia Records dropped them at the same time due to their uncommercial sound. Luckily that meant that the band retained control of their master tapes and after not being released in North America for decades was finally remastered and available everywhere in 2004.

Luckily all the members of GENTLE GIANT were multi-instrumentalists so that didn't mean any particular sound went unrepresented although Phil was a major contributor in the horn section and although Derek Shulman picks up sax duties on a couple tracks, this album contains noticeably less horns and rocks more than any album before. The electric guitar displays some seriously heavy riffing and is the prominent feature on IN A GLASS HOUSE with the other usual suspects making their appearance such as the whacked out glockenspiel parts, organ runs, violins wending their way through medieval, classical, rock and GG-style avant-garde.

The fact that GG made yet another masterpiece that is as different from the previous albums as can be only testifies to their utter brilliance in continuing to reinvent themselves and standing tall in the face of any adversities. Their assiduousness is admirable with every detail laid out in texture, tone, tempo and tenacity. GENTLE GIANT really reaches new heights here. All that came before reaches a sublimeness despite everything leading up to this release also being brilliant albeit on a less complex level. The ability to keep a melody and mangle it with complex interludes, extremely demanding tempo shifts that change with no prior notice, instrumental parts that shouldn't work where they do and the mixing of mellow medieval segments alternating with hard rocking parts that can be folky and classical at the same time, is the reason GENTLE GIANT remains one of the most unique, talented and demanding bands of all time and despite all the complexities the melodies somehow register as pleasing to the ears all the while leaving you scratching your head wondering how they just pulled that off.

The fact is GENTLE GIANT wanted to create the absolute most original music of their day. This is a feat that many a band had in their vision but absolutely no one pulled it off with more panache and class than GG who liberally borrowed every style of music known to humankind and deftly assembled all the parts into a musical vision that was so far ahead of its time that its taken the rest of the world four decades to catch up to. Although i absolutely love every GG that preceded IAGH, it is on this release i feel that they reached the pinnacle of their progressive genre fusion powers where every note and every single phrasing is sedulously matched in an impressive piece of perfection. Mega Classic!

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Posted Friday, January 30, 2015 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'In a Glass House' - Gentle Giant (81/100)

First of all, let me say that I am beyond glad that I decided to listen to Gentle Giant's discography in chronological order. They're one of the greatest examples I can think of in progressive rock of a band that continuously attempted to reinvent and evolve their sound as time went on. With that in mind, it's easy to understand why my experience with In a Glass House would be informed heavily by recently listening to GG's earlier work. With this album (their fifth, chronologically speaking) Gentle Giant maintained the fearsome technical proficiency and general busyness that defined the predecessor Octopus and most of that which came before. However, with the departure of longtime main vocalist Phil Shulman, the band gave their style a more focused (and even more serious-sounding) tone. While Gentle Giant become ever more deserving of being called out for King Crimson-variety self-involved pretentiousness with every album they put out, the focused compositions and reined-in weirdness put In a Glass House head and shoulders above Octopus. It may not be Gentle Giant's magnum opus, but it's relatively up there.

It's really to Gentle Giant's credit that I have to keep rethinking what I thought of previous albums every time I hear another of theirs. My dominant impression of Octopus was that it was too serious, and lacked the personality needed to justify the outlandish technical direction they were taking with their music. By comparison, In a Glass House makes Octopus look as fun as delightful as Acquiring the Taste. Even so, while my initial impressions with In a Glass House were just as muted as with its predecessor, repeated listens have made me love it almost as much as the first two albums.

Yes, the wacky 'everything but the kitchen sink' mindset that Phil Shulman brought to the band is missed (and in a way, this feels less like a Gentle Giant album as a result) but the weirdness is traded off for a much-desired sense of structural focus and moderation. Even in their greatest moments (most of which may be found on Acquiring the Taste) Gentle Giant struggled with relaying sense to their often- messy compositions. In a Glass House doesn't get them out of that hole entirely, but listeners who struggled with Gentle Giant's characteristically tactless flow should find this much better suited to their tastes.

On In a Glass House moreso than ever Gentle Giant warrant a comparison to King Crimson. The heavy European Medieval influence notwithstanding, Gentle Giant's mid-era stance as a serious band taking serious music seriously closely echoes what Fripp and Crimson were doing around the same time- the jarring tranquility of "An Inmate's Lullaby" even sounds like something the gamelan aficionado Fripp himself may have concocted. In a Glass House may feel less personally characteristic and more along the lines of a garden variety prog rock record, but Gentle Giant still instil themselves in the album by means of the sheer technicality which, in keeping with their legend, is almost unbelievably tight and complex. Even the would-be 'soft' track "An Inmate's Lullaby" comes off as angular and technical, especially for a celesta and glockenspiel-directed piece. The winding Medieval spiral-staircase of "Experience" is instantly gratifying, shocking, yet takes several listens to even begin to understand. Part of the enjoyment of the album's more byzantine passages (especially when first hearing it) is that sense of being out of control. Even with progressive rock, that is a pretty rarely-found impression.

The vocals and sporadic instrumental jumbles have both been toned down, and while at first glance I thought that might have been a bad thing for the album, it's actually resulted in some of the most memorable songwriting Gentle Giant would ever do. "the Runaway", "Experience" and "In a Glass House" are full of immortal riffs I would have never expected to hear from a band like Gentle Giant. "Way of Life" feels a bit rushed for its own good, and like many 'calm before the storm'-type acoustic ditties you see on the latter halves of prog records, "A Reunion" doesn't so much affect as pleasantly occupy the listener. "The Runaway" and "Experience" are two of the best slices of traditional progressive rock you're bound to find. It should also be mentioned that while Derek Shulman sounds a little out of his class doing leads (his vocals sound workmanly at best), the notable lack of wild harmonies helps to keep the focus on the instrumentation, where (at least for a band like Gentle Giant) it probably belongs.

In a Glass House is a very stately album- far, far, far moreso than I ever would have thought to hear from Gentle Giant upon being introduced to the self-titled and the wacky Acquiring the Taste. Only a few years since the debut, and Glass Giant had a much different taste to their sound. It's just as impressive, albeit not quite as viscerally fascinating as the early stuff. In a Glass House proves once again that Gentle Giant were one of the most proficient acts of theirs or any day. I may hesitate to call it a masterpiece (I'm not convinced that GG are good songwriters so much as inventive composers) but after the relative listener's disappointment I felt hearing Octopus and even Three Friends, In a Glass House shows a band's renewed vision at the top of their form.

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Posted Sunday, February 1, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars In a Glass house is one of those records, at least for me, that hits you from a weird angle at first and then you aren't quite sure what to make of it. A strange record especially since it came out the same year as Octopus and yet sounds nothing like it. I mean, it opens up with the sound of glass shattering and then you hear that medieval-like singing. The next song is all vibes or xylophone with a weird voice singing about being contained in a cell in an insane asylum. What the hell? It seems to me that after brother Phil Shulman left, the rest of the boys were bent on producing an album more complex and downright more esoteric than all of what came before and succeeded. On a previous review someone mentioned that this album was a blatant attempt at commercialism. This is amazingly inaccurate. In fact their record company at the time (Columbia) rejected this album as being way too uncommercial. Which is the truth. It is a strange but amazing prog record through and through. In A Glass House needs repeated listenings, as all great prog albums need. (No kidding right?) The complexity in the playing, the composition, the light & shade etc. is all here. Even the thin, brittle production (like glass!) contributes to making this a prog masterpiece. Every note, beat & melody from start to finish takes you through a multitude of moods and textures. Gentle Giant were always able to make "shorter" songs sound like epics due to their compositions and off the freakin' wall instrumental interplay. On In A Glass House they do this to perfection. For me, it wan't my favorite GG album after listening to the rest but slowly emerged to become one of my all time favorite albums. Listen to this one with headphones...oh yeah!
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Posted Friday, February 26, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars "So, you think KC's Discipline is complex?" asked Gentle Giant, shortly adding: "Here, hold my beer.": 8/10

In my review of THE POWER AND THE GLORY, I claimed it was GENTLE GIANT's most complex and intricate album. Upon re-listening to IN A GLASS HOUSE, I noticed how ferociously wrong I was.

It's been quite a journey since their 1970 hard-rocking debut, well quite long enough for them to firm an identifiable sound characteristical to them. Xylophones, lush keyboards, intricate odd time signatures, songs with more layers than onions, etc.

GENTLE GIANT was respected especially for their defiant experimentation and absurd complexity. They, nonetheless, acknowledged those two traits had a limit.

Until 1973.

1973 was the year they finally saved enough money (yeah, it took them three years; they weren't really popular) to buy a sports car. Their first trip on the vehicle was used to storm past the boundary lines of what is complexity that is humanly possible to achieve. The music police just couldn't really bother chasing those transgressors, it would be a lost cause anyway. Everyone - all the witnesses - from GENTLE GIANT fans to PROG fans to PUNK fans to POP fans just stood there, staring in disbelief, thinking "Well, this time they blew it."

They really did. They took their wildest ambitions and lived them to the maximum. They took all that is holy and moderate on music and dumped it in a black hole. Experience, for instance, is terrifying. So much happening simultaneously, so many instruments playing at once, so many elaborate layers working in unison to output that barely comprehensible frenzy.

But, fear not my friends, GG manipulates complexity as proficiently as Hephestus forges an Olympic bronze dory for Ares' hoplites. Their music still sounds as music, still sound as GENTLE GIANT, still sounds as pleasant as ever. It induces to seizures, yes it does, but meh it's worth it. The GENTLE GIANT automaton was officially working at full steam: pinnacling lyricism, songwriting, and sonorous difficulty.

IN A GLASS HOUSE is a concept album like most their other albums, god those guys just loved doing this stuff and they never really failed on crafting them superbly. The melodies and songs are varied and pretty cool, such as the unsettling An Inmates Lullaby, the enjoyable Way of Life or the ridiculously difficult Experience.

Not for the faint of the heart, and in the name of all that is good not for people unaccustomed to Gentle Giant. For those who are, approach this with caution: GENTLE GIANT goes all-out berserk.

Report this review (#1693298)
Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review Nş 135

'In A Glass House' is the fifth studio album of Gentle Giant and was released in 1973. It became with 'Octopus' as one of Gentle Giant's most popular albums. 'In A Glass House' is another conceptual album. Its concept is very original and strange and is allegedly based around the idea that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Curiously, the album begins and ends with the sound of breaking some glasses. It was the band's most directly and psychological effort ever. 'In A Glass House' is probably their most ambitious work, with four lengthy songs as 'The Runaway', 'Way Of Life', 'Experience' and 'In A Glass House'. With it, they delivered another masterful work.

'In A Glass House' represents a very important landmark in Gentle Giant's musical career because it marks the definite departure of one of the three Shulman brothers and former member Phil Shulman. He left the group because he was burnt out and discouraged after some problems with the public, especially after the difficult live concerts done by the band when they supported a live tour of Black Sabbath, and so, he had realised that the lifestyle of a touring musician was damaging his family life. Instead of finding a replacement, the remaining band members decided to continue just as they were. So, 'In A Glass House' became the first Gentle Giant's album released by the group after the departure of Phil Shulman. John Weathers even sustained that they became a stronger band after Phil left Gentle Giant.

The line up is Gary Green (6 and 12 string guitars, mandolin, percussion and alto recorder), Kerry Minnear (vocals, keyboards, tuned percussion and recorder), Derek Shulman (vocals, alto and soprano saxophones and recorder), Ray Shulman (vocals, bass, acoustic guitars, violin, trumpet and percussion) and John Weathers (drums and percussion).

'In a Glass House' has six tracks. The first track 'The Runaway' written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman is a song with an extraordinary and surprising beginning where the band seems to break some glasses. This is a very rich song with rich varieties of styles and textures, extremely melodic but is also at the same time complex and very creative. This is an extraordinary track, one of the best tracks ever released by them and a perfect way to open the album. The second track 'An Inmate's Lullaby' written by Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman is a completely different song from its previous track. It's an avant-garde and strange song especially performed by drums, xylophone and vocals. This is probably the most experimental song on the album, it isn't particularly melodic and we need some time to be familiarized with it. The third track 'Way Of Life' written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman is a song with driving rhythm, fast tempo and tempo changes all over the track. We may say that this is another progressive experimental song with some extremely beautiful and melodic moments and at the same time it has also some strange musical parts. It's a very solid and variable song with melody and improvisation at the same time. This is a truly Gentle Giant's track. The fourth track 'Experience' written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman is another extraordinary song, very inventive and with a very complex musical structure. Basically, this is a perfect example of Gentle Giant's medieval complex sound, but the song comprises also many others and varied forms of music. The song is also rich of wonderful vocal harmonies. This is probably the most complex track on the album. The fifth track 'A Reunion' written by Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman is the smallest, simplest and most calm song on the album. It's basically a soft acoustic ballad that reminds me a quartet in the classical music. It's a fine and emotional song with beautiful melody, but it seems be dislocated on this album and is probably the weakest track on it, despite its beauty. The sixth and last track is the title track. 'In A Glass House' was written by Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman and is the lengthiest song on the album. It's another excellent composition with great harmony between all musical instruments. The chorus performed by the four singers is also of superior quality. It has also a hard rock section with a memorable guitar riff, in the second part of the song. This is a great track that closes magnificently this amazing piece of music.

Conclusion: 'In A Glass House' is a very important album after their two great masterpieces 'Acquiring The Taste' and 'Octopus'. 'In A Glass House' is also a very important album because it was their first album without the participation of one of the Shulman brothers. Phil was one of the main composers of the band. It's interesting to note that the quality of the music performed by them hadn't lost nothing and probably even improved a bit. Probably, I agree with them when they said that Gentle Giant continued with Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman writing great stuff and that probably they became a stronger band after the departure of Phil Shulman. So, 'In A Glass House' is without any doubt one of the greatest prog rock albums from the 70's. It's with 'Acquiring The Taste', 'Octopus', 'The Power And The Glory' and 'Free Hand' one of their best works, and all of them are some of the best prog rock albums ever made too.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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Posted Sunday, September 17, 2017 | Review Permalink

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