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


Gentle Giant

Eclectic Prog

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5 stars This is one of the most aggressively challenging and complex progessive albums Gentle Giant ever released, which of course means it is one of the most aggressively challenging and complex albums ever made. The opening track wastes no time before descending into a menacing, claustrophobic "chorus" with crunching chords and masterful dissonant vocals, while "So Sincere" follows it up as a kind of miniature bible for GG's off-kilter approach to music making. "Cogs in Cogs" can barely contain itself as it races through dense tangles of raucous keyboard riffs and shouted vocals, when suddenly we find ourselves amidst a shifting patchwork of voices all falling in and out of time with one another like some animated jigsaw puzzle. Gentle Giant were the mad geniuses of the prog world, and this is their mad genius album -- it's hard to believe that there were still more masterpieces to come after this one.
Report this review (#6139)
Posted Monday, January 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This GG album is much more of a challange to listen to but in prog that is a good thing.For instance King Crimson Lizard or Univers Zero The Hard Quest are also not for the faint of heart but with a few listens it sinks in.
Report this review (#6140)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!

With the new template set with their previous album, GG is now really setting in their stride and reaching their cruising speed and this is translating into healthier sales. However, I find that two endearing early qualities are being progressively forgotten: the extensive use of acoustic instrument and the adventurous (albeit somewhat not always successful) tempo changes. So the more mechanical GG became, the more successful they became.

But their success may come from a small change of attitude of a part of the audiences. By 73, the general back-to-basics part of the counter-culture had really come down to the roots or traditional folk music and its pre-renaissance, medieval, Tudor and baroque eras of music and the meteoric rise of David Munrow was part of trigger of this musical current. Those factors were permitting out-of-this-world band like Gryphon, Amazing Blondel or even the Third Ear Band to rise to national attention (the phenomenon reaching continental Europe at the same time with Malicorne or Ougenweide), and also helping out GG whose medieval and pre-renaissance tastes were no secret.

Outside of those considerations for greater commercial success, one can not hide the fact that GG was down to business as usual (this is very relative because the extreme nature of their nature of their music CANNOT be casual and indulgent), and its formula now well established do point towards some kind of a well-oiled mechanical construction where creativity or inventivity play a lesser role. There are still some outstanding tracks on this conceptual album (about , you guessed it the vicissitudes of Power and this was coming during the un-related Watergate affair) such as Proclamation and the lovely Aspirations (maybe the most gorgeous slow track GG ever wrote). Other highlights are Playing The Game and the intriguing titled No God's A Man, the rest being just run-of-the-mill standard GG tracks, although Cogs and sSo Sincere are cowd favorites!

While I consider this album still a classic, I rate every album coming before it and Interview, much better, but Free Hand is actually very similar to this one and gets the same rating.

Report this review (#6143)
Posted Tuesday, February 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars "The Power & The Glory" was my first GENTLE GIANT album I ever purchased and remember being so addicted to this album playing it over and over again and again. GENTLE GIANT unleash all of their "GIANT'isms" with superb complex and highly syncopated vocal harmony and contrasts. "The Power & The Glory" delivers some pretty sporty rhythms and jazz-prog interludes. Songs are exceptionally well written offering great sound contrasts and complex mood and melodies. This is highly clever music which never remains static for too long and is always moving and changing. "Playing The Game" is perhaps my favorite GENTLE GIANT tune of all time which is the highlight on the album in my opinion.
Report this review (#6129)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Along with " Free Hand" and " Octopus" the most stunning and one of their best albums. It's difficult to indicate such a particular song within, because all the tracks have got their surprising peculiarity!! Actually there are a few (a bit "colder") harmonic passages, characterized by their usual formal perfection ;but nevertheless- in my opinion- this is one of the most progressive among their several albums and it is quite accessible too, even though they keep on maintaining their usual originality.As for the reasons above, this album is highly recommended, anyway!!
Report this review (#6131)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am SO SINCERE to have the ASPIRATION to say that I´ve made the PROCLAMATION of this as the best GG album ever.. It has the POWER AND THE GLORY....Listen to this album! It is really great fun! Very inspired and highl spirits atmosphere in this record.. ..
Report this review (#6144)
Posted Sunday, April 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars "The band's most irritating, least listenable record." So wrote Alan Niester in the second edition of The Rolling Stone Record Guide. Remembering for the moment the antipathy toward progressive rock at the time (1983), it's no wonder only "Free Hand" was deemed a record of "average worth" from the GG catalog.

Of course, The "Power And The Glory" is no "average" album; louder and heavier than previous GIANT productions, this is a concept about a man coming to power (probably written with some prime minister or past politico in mind). I used to have this one on cassette, but tapes being transitory things, I'm now left only with the cassette cover. I always enjoyed it, maybe not as much as softer works like "Octopus" and Three Friends, but moreso than any of the GG albums that followed (i.e., "Free Hand", "Interview"). "In A Glass House" is by all accounts a "difficult" album, so it may be the closest cousin to "The Power And The Glory". I have seen "Power" get low marks from some reviewers, so maybe there are GG fans who really shy away from the band's more abrasive arrangements.

I enjoy the band at both ends of the spectrum (light and dark), so it's never been a stumbling block to my enjoying this record. If you enjoy the band for their deft arrangements, they're here in spades, so enjoy.

Report this review (#6145)
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I Had No Problems To Get "Into" This Album, But It's not A 5-star. The First Side Of The Album Is Excellent. The Other Side Are A Little Bit "Weaker" In My Option. All-In-All I Think This Is A Solid Album. 4 Stars.
Report this review (#6146)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Proclamation, So Sincere and Aspirations (i.e. the first three songs) are great, but in general the rest of the album just doesn't do it for me. Maybe it's because some of the songs are more straight ahead by GG's standards, and some of the singing actually annoys me. According to the GG website, Cogs in Cogs is a fan favorite, but it's FAR from being among my favorite GG songs, which include Advent of Panurge, Knots, In A Glass House, and Proclamation.
Report this review (#6150)
Posted Monday, July 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars When I was about to wake up this morning, I don't know why I got something clear in my mind, i.e. to spin Gentle Giant's "The Power and the Glory" album after having been such a long time I never touch this album (I think partly due to abundant new prog albums are flooding all around me recently. Well, I'm now actually in the middle of enjoying The Flower King's "Adam and Eve" album loaned from my friend, Rizal, who just bought it in Hong Kong.).

What a coincidence that the first track of this album is "Proclamation" while my country is today celebrating our 59th independence day. Purely coincidence! This track is really fantastic - it has a great melody and relatively complex composition. Opened with a unique organ sound in a discrete mode, followed by single voice of Derek SHULMAN and tight bass line by Ray SHULMAN make this opening set the overall tone of the track perfectly. I like the way Derek sings her - it has a great mixture of high and low .."You may not have all you want or you need .". What a great singing!! The music flows nicely with keyboards and bass dominate the background music. This is the kind music that can lift up your emotion and energy.

The second track is almost totally a discrete music with significant influence of avant- garde music. This time, violin and cello are dominating the music with some guitar fills and piano. When the voice sings "SO SIN-CERE" I can notice that all instruments are played in multi directions but they still can maintain the overall harmony. What a brilliant composition! It's contemporary, I would say. The only thing continuous in this track is when lead guitar fills the interlude. But again, the music is back to discrete style. You may hardly like this track. But I enjoy it very much!

The third track "Aspirations" is probably the most poppy track of this album. It has a ballad style but constructed in the vein of prog. It's so nice track, relatively mellow with keyboard sound as tagline - good singing style. It's an encouraging track, lyric-wise. Look at this: "As the dust settles, see our dreams, all coming true .." what a positive message the band tried to convey!

"Playing the Game" is really prog to the corner! It has all elements that typical prog music has always had: dynamic, relatively complex, and shifting tempos. Again, it's opened by a strange keyboard sound and dazzling bass line. Whenever I listened to this track I always observe how dynamic bass guitar is played throughout the whole segments of this track. It has a relatively upbeat tempo with some nice breaks for example on the part where the voice sings a monologue "My thoughts never spoken only the visions .." And so on. Then the music is back to the original tagline melody and composition.

The 5th track "Cogs in Cogs" is another excellent track with an uplifting intro, all instruments are played simultaneously and followed by unique singing style of SHULMAN "Empty promise broken the path has not been paved anyway .." As other tracks, this track has a variety of tempo.

"No God's Man" is a mellow track in the vein of "Aspirations" but it is more complex. Great keyboards and clavinet solo, lead guitar. "The Face" is an uplifting track with great harmony of violin, cello and guitar fills. "Valedictory" is a straight prog rock heavily influenced by hard rock music, opened with a solo drum and guitar. The music then flows nicely when the vocal line is added. This time the voice is performed in a high tone. Great voice, Mr. Shulman!!! My CD has a bonus track "The Power and The Glory" - a short track with great melody and composition. The only lacking is the production quality is not as the rest of original album track.

To conclude, this album has a very strong composition, tight structural integrity (hmmm .. .such an academic statement hah?) in every track as well as between tracks in the album. Each track is well positioned in its order to ensure maximum enjoyment for its listeners. Even the bonus track is brilliantly located to conclude the album, as an "encore", I would say. Musicianship - no question about it as each individual member contributes their talent skillfully. Production quality is excellent (even though it was 1974, 30 years ago mannn!!! I even have a habit of playing this cd LOUD especially when I play Proclamation, Playing The Game and Valedictory.). It all sum up to FIVE STAR rating of this album, and I am not too naďve about it (it's been 30 years all around us). - Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Report this review (#6151)
Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I want to purchase the new DVD from GG. It's one of my projects. Before laughing out loud at the lack of challenge in my life, may I inform you to fully appreciate the DVD you must know a bit of what The Power and the Glory is about. Well, this album is much more colder than Octopus and the brasero that was Acquiring the Taste. Plus, Phil Shulman is gone. I'll miss his voice. He used to sing louder than Minnear but softer than Dereck. Oh well, it kinda shows in the writing that he's gone. A big chunk of the warmth of GG is gone...but replaced. Replaced with a more proggish approach. But a cold one. So Sincere is showing what I mean. But we are treated like kings is this record. Aspirations is a delicate and soothing song. Minnear's voice is so gentle. Plus the acoustic guitar + the light Hammond are perfect together. A great 4 minutes. After that Cogs in Cogs rocks harder. It's hard to describe GG with words, but the best is to listen carefully. After owning the first 5 albums, this one gave me more of a hard time. Still an honorable purchase, but must be tamed to appreciate. Better make some coffee right now, the night could be long....
Report this review (#6152)
Posted Monday, August 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars THE POWER AND THE GLORY is one of Gentle Giant's more "difficult" albums, there's no doubt about that. It's also one of my favourites from this highly inventive and influential English prog band.

Dating from 1974, this concept piece delves -- with fitting cynicism -- into the political experience, and the compromise, corruption, betrayal and egotism that go hand-in-hand with high office. (The cover, depicting a glowering, playing card king, is a classic.)

The opening "Proclamation," with its jazzy electric piano, and oddly-syncopated multi-instrumental "exchanges," is a real winner, while the softer "Aspirations," replete with acoustic guitar, and more great electric piano, is a fine showcase for keyboardist/singer Kerry Minnear's breathy, almost ethereal voice.

I absolutely love "Playing the Game." From start to finish, this one does it for me. From the insistent synth bass line, to the catchy melodies, to the terrific Hammond organ riffs, to the breezy, blinkered bravado of the lyrics, this is outstanding stuff. Lead vocalist Derek Shulman, in the role of the album's politico protagonist, likens politics to chess, claims the part of "king," and pompously declares that "the other pieces are there for my art and my tactics now.... I'll play the game, and never ever lose." A multi-faceted, joyous pure prog track, this is the essence of Gentle Giant -- if you don't "get" this one, you just don't like the band!

The hard-hitting "Cogs in Cogs" sees more great Hammond work (reminiscent of that on Tull's THICK AS A BRICK), and some passionate singing from Shulman, before "No God's a Man" slows things down a bit with some superlative multi-part vocal harmonies -- these guys can really sing!

Next up, "The Face" has some fine violin from bassist Ray Shulman, shining percussion and cymbal work from drummer John Weathers, and some especially cutting and powerful axe work from guitarist Gary Green. (The Hammond parts on this one also admirably conjure up comparisons to THICK AS A BRICK.)

"Valedictory" is another standout for this Giant fan. Dizzyingly-accelerating keyboard motifs, more terrific guitar, and almost histrionic vocals from Shulman bring the session to a memorable close.

I have deliberately put off mentioning the second track, "So Sincere," until now. As one of the band's least-accessible tunes, this one is almost guaranteed to make the non-initiate cringe. I enjoy "So Sincere" (it is quintessential Giant, at their most experimentally avant garde), but take my word for it -- if your non-prog-loving "significant other" or roommate walks in when this one is on, just hit the "skip" button -- and fast! This most convoluted and "weird" offering from a band that is an admittedly acquired taste is no way to introduce the neophyte to Giant's arcane mysteries and rewards. (Try them with "Playing the Game," or FREEHAND's "Time to Kill" instead.)

In conclusion, THE POWER AND THE GLORY is a stellar album from a terrific, supremely talented and important early prog act. Though perhaps not the easiest introduction to Gentle Giant, this excellent disc is yet a must for fans, and deserves inclusion in the thinking progressive rock listener's library. Complex, challenging music, certainly, and not for everyone, but for those "in the know," essential!

Report this review (#6153)
Posted Tuesday, October 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Brilliant stuff. But, only the first four songs (or album side one) work for me. If the album stopped right there, this would be the BEST prog album by any band, ever. However, some of the latter songs sound like filler. This is where GG's adventurousness really started to mature, and even make some kind of twisted sense.
Report this review (#6155)
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Probably their densest album, and a further step forward from 'In a Glass House' a year earlier. This one has more of a tense and claustophobic mood than any other Giant release and explores more avant-garde terretories in addition to the band's trademark multi-layered and complex compositions. There's a underlying beautiness throughout the whole album though with the gentle "Aspirations" really breaking the ice here. Other tracks are often more intense but very dynamic, like the hectic "Cogs in Cogs" which recalls "The Boys in the Band" from 'Octopus" in certain ways, and of course the staggering opening track that really sets the mood for the rest of the album. I don't even bother to go in details with the playing here ? it's peerless!

This is really thinking man's music and perhaps the most rewarding Gentle Giant album in the end. The compositions are dense and difficult but the album never entangle itself up (GG where masters at this technique). This ranks among 'Octopus' as my favorite GG and it might be yours as well, just give it some time.

Report this review (#6161)
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Compared to the previous album "Octopus", "The Power and the Glory" seems to have much more keyboards, partly because the clavinet can be really distinguished here, like on "No God's a man" and "The face", and that there are omnipresent distorted rhythmic organ and electric piano (Fender Rhodes). The departure of Phil Shulman significantly removed most of the brass instruments, thus allowing room for other instruments. Mostly the tracks are more nervous than ever, and the keyboards are absolutely RESTLESS! Gary Green's electric guitar is rarely hard rock here: he concentrates on accompanying and enhancing the nervous rhythm imposed by the lively and fast keyboards: so, he plays shorter and more clean notes. The bass and drums are excellent and very elaborated, but they seem to be a bit detached to the infernal duo keyboards-guitars! "Proclamation" has a psychedelic & bizarre bit, reminding some influences of the "Acquiring the taste" album. "So sincere" is strangely dissonant, which may be a bit irritating for those who like the cute melodic dissonance on Octopus, but it remains very structured. The next track, "Aspirations" is one of the most relaxing tracks from GENTLE GIANT: it seems to consist in slow Fender Rhodes notes and melodic & calm lead vocals: the track is "very" simple. The next 2 albums have a similar sound, but they are better recorded.

Rating: 4.5/5

Report this review (#6157)
Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's very hard to explain how good this album is without listening to it. For me it is the height of a combination of all the aspects of music. It is a clever balance of most types of music, rock, blues, jazz, classical etc. but each type is GENTLE GIANTs interpretation of this type of music, which makes it better. It seems there is not one part of this album which didn't have a huge amount of effort and skill put in to it, from start to finish it's a fantastic display of musical genius and precision. I've been listening to this album now for a year or two, and I listen to it alot and I still haven't listened to everything this album has to offer, it sounds slightly different everytime I concentrate on it, just showing how extremely detailed and complex this album is, as with most gentle giant albums. The production on the album only makes things even better, every instrument has clarity and a really good balance on volume, you can hear everything that is being played, which is very important to me. This band is my most influencial band, this music teaches me things which I never fully understood about music before, and alot of the lyrics are insightful and deep, they describe things which aren't easy to express with words. Every aspect of this band I love except the fact they started making music that wasn't up to their standard, after their definitive "Interview" album, which is a great shame to me. If you are open minded and not scared of something completely different from what is seen as "normal", give this band a good chance listen to their albums with alot of concentration, it rewards you the more you listen to it.
Report this review (#6159)
Posted Thursday, February 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
Man With Hat
Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
5 stars Wow, stunning album! This is the BEST album by them. It is very complex and full of the proggy juices we all love to snack on. Proclamation is one of the best songs of all time. So sincere is pure madness. The Face (not only a great name) is also on of their best songs. All the others are fantastic as well. There is NO weak spot on this album (which is a problem on a few other of thiers). Recommended ten ways to sunday.
Report this review (#6160)
Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars 4, 5 stars, really. Maybe the album featuring the best playing on any GG-release, a complete meltdown of insane, but brilliant ideas and time-signatures. Kerry Minnear, especially, visits musical territories unexplored by anyone but him. Seeing him play these tracks live on the "Giant on the box" DVD is nothing short of other-worldy. He seems to master any instrument with complete ease, and the sky really is the limit. That being said, it sometimes gets too dense for anyone but the most intelligent listener, especially on "Cogs on cogs" on "So sincere" and "the Face". Not in any way POPular music!!

Good as it is, it simply beats my musical abilities as a listener. Perhaps, some day I'll understand it!

Report this review (#6162)
Posted Thursday, April 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is 5 stars (or six if that is possible). Gentle Giant put a lot of effort into this release and it shows. I would recommend anyone who is interested in progressive rock music to purchase the dvd of this band. They show how much they love making music from the concerts filmed in LA and Germany. GG are above most other bands in musicianship with the possible exception of KING Crimson (which is really a jazz/rock band). IMO
Report this review (#37765)
Posted Monday, June 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I didn't get this album the first time I heard it. I knew the song "Proclamation" from live versions, and already liked it. The studio version blows out all live versions I've heard so far. I think this is Gentle Giant's best song. After listening to this for a few years it became my favorite GG album and one of my favorite records of all time. It is full of dissonant, polyrythmic angular chops intertwined with medieval themes, twisted into a mad frantic masterpiece of progressive rock. There is no way I could possibly give this recording less than the full five stars. Why am I writing this review? Well partly because today I picked up the new remaster and am once again blown away by the quality of this release. The sound of the remaster makes all previous CD versions obsolete, and it has a snickety little booklet too. Enjoy...
Report this review (#38133)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Made during the Richard Nixon scandal, this album concerns political corruption, conservative thought, and those Roger WATERs would later label "dogs". The power- hungry, the backstabbing, the unrelenting. The cover, a playing card king with shifty eyes and a half-unsheathed sword, sums it up. The album uses games, claims, power, and glory in a medieval way to represent modern politics. Not much has changed.

"Proclaimation" is a brilliant opener, with keyboard and guitar working together especially well. The politician/king has just come to power, claiming God's right to his power, and considering options. The music is light, airy and a bit nieve, as the antagonist has much to learn. However, as he decides to "hail to power and to glory's way", the music becomes sour, dissonant and lurching, a reflection of his choice's fallacy. After this, the music fades out, but soon fades back in at a faster pace. This section, a recap of the first theme, is one of the highlights of the album, everything sliding along smoothly. Unfortunately, the bonus live track of this song doesn't include this section.

The next song, "So Sincere," expands on the confused and dissonant nature heard in the "hail..." section of "Proclaimation." The music is dissonant and plodding, GENTLE GIANT at their most RIO. The lyrics are mainly sarcastic, throwing out words and their opposites, contradicting virtually every line with another. The usual political tricks and not non-untruths.

"Aspirations" is a quieter, moody, ballad-like track, with Kerry MINEAR's soft, beatiful voice providing a break from the more abrasive style of Derek SHULMAN. The lyrics are far more sincere than those of the track before it, providing a look into the childhood hopes and dreams of this man who has come to power.

I never liked "Playing the Game" as most people seem to, although it is a good track. I don't know, for some reason it just never clicked. The music has a sort of oriental feel to it, a strange backdrop for lyrics about rigging elections, equating politics to the chess game it is.

"Cogs in Cogs" is a fast-paced, hurried whirl through political beauracracy (more exciting than it sounds). One of the best tracks, it just cranks along, progressive to the bone. At one point there is a two-part vocal harmony cycle, with one vocal in 6/8 and the other in 15/8, musically depicting cogs in cogs.

My least favorite track is probably "No God's a Man," mainly because of its softer, folkier tone and the fact that I can't decipher the song's title and exactly what it's about. It would make sense if it were "no man's a God", but instead it's the reverse. Anyway, from what I gather the politician's corruption has come to light, and public opinion turns against him.

Ray SHULMAN's violin features prominently in "The Face," where the politician finally faces his corruption. He "wears the face that is sorry," seemingly apologizing for what he's done. Of course, it's just another "so sincere" lie. The music is fast and urgent, and it would make a logical conclusion for the album. The politician/king has lost, the public has turned against him, and he has resigned. The end.

But instead, GENTLE GIANT has more to say. "Valedictory," musically, is a darker, disaffected and rocking reworking of "Proclaimation." The politician refuses to give up, apparently going mad with power, stating that "things must stay, there must be no change." As YES' Jon ANDERSON and many other prog lyricists have taught us, change (progression) is the only remedy for decay and sterility. The antagonist simply doesn't get it, instead defending "power and glory's way", functioning only on conservative thought and refusal to change. The politician has been booted from office, but as power and glory rule, it only repeats. New corruption and new oppression rise from old, stubborn ideals. An endless cycle of corruption, represented by the album's circular shape (the first and last songs are very similar). The end of the album is abrupt, halfway into "hail...", something clicks and the whole thing is rewound at light speed and spins into oblivion.

The previously unreleased bonus title track is okay, but it's apparent why they left it out of the album. The music is too bouncy and poppish, and the lyrics especially are twee and insignificant. But it's still nice to hear nonetheless, but nothing special.

Report this review (#38258)
Posted Saturday, July 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I would have abandoned this website if The Power And The Glory had not appeared on the top 100 list. This is bar-none my very favorite album of any kind ever recorded. As a composer and songwriter I rarely find music that is beautiful yet incomprehensible. The level of complexity necessary to write a concept album in a jazz/fusion/rock musical form is unprecedented. Just as mensa has two categories of genius (genius and super genius) it is clear that Gentle Giant towers above nearly all other creative musical geniuses in the western world. Mozart is to Venice as Gentle Giant is to England.

Brothers Derek and Ray Shulman and Kerry Minnear wrote most of the music for this progressive rock band in the 70s, when it was fashionable to write great progressive music without making any money doing it. (Genesis is most famous for having lost lots of cash back in those days.) The music of Gentle Giant is based largely on the history of music in the United Kingdom, including troubador, ancient monestary style, psychedelic 60s, fusion, jazz, and some complex rock rhythms. The breadth and depth of the musical influence is stunning when you consider how catchy most of the songs are. There is no band on earth today that can claim to have influenced progressive rock more strongly than Gentle Giant.

SONG BY SONG: Proclaimation is a fast and brilliant song that sets up the theme about the hold that power has over human beings the world over. So Sincere is an unbelievably syncopated melodic tour de force that details how politicians throughout history are great liars. Aspirations talks of what drives people to seek power and glory. Playing The Game is my favorite song ever written in any genre. The bass and clever lyrics with transcedent organ and brilliant syncopated drum and synth-bells never cease to amaze me. Cogs in Cogs is a difficult piece of music that uses GGs famous "round" style, as in Row Row Row your boat. No God's a Man is also sung in round form and reminds me of an ancient troubador song with early 70s rock overtones. The Face is another difficult piece of music that is fast and whirling...a mood piece that sets a frantic emotional tone. Validictory recaptures some of the "fast and furious" themes from earlier songs. It was also the last song on the original album. The Power And The Glory is a bonus track recorded later that is a failed "pop" attempt that seems to consolidate the whole album. Some reviewers have criticized the inclusion of this song as inferior, but only in terms of the preceeding brilliance. Nor is this final song a poor piece of work; it's just simpler and more succinct.

Report this review (#39993)
Posted Friday, July 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Oh so hard for me to not give this album 5 stars since it's the re-mastered 35th anniversary edition and SO much better sound-wise then the previous edition. Cymbals are heard, with Derek's tamborine which I've never heard before so up front and clear. But the only negative tidbit shows up on the first song, "Proclamation"; the singing is so disjointed and, dare I say, a little off. Just listen to the chorus as Gary Green's guitar wails. The other song that I have a problem with is the off-kilter singing in the beginning of "No God's a Man", just all over the place, and I've played this album so many times since it's been out (1974), those parts still bug me. But fret not, it also includes some of my favorite GG songs, "Playing The Game" and "Cogs In Cogs" are just plain brillant. Being the re-mastered edition, it includes a live rendition of "Proclamation" from a German TV show in 1974, which in fact is included on the Gentle Giant DVD. Plus, included is an unreleased studio track, "The Power and the Glory", a rather straightforward rocker with their odd sound and I think would have made a great single. The packaging on this edition is top-notch with the original rounded edges (like a playing card), on the insert and lyrics. Awesome! I highly recommend this album, but if you're looking to start out try "Three Friends" or "Octopus". In conclusion, it's a tad under five stars, but just barely!
Report this review (#40218)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The sixth work released in 1974 "The Power And The Glory". In addition, it is a surprised work to progress on the music side of the complicated ensemble etc.This style culminates by "Free Hand" of the following work. Cravinet is fresh in the sound. Produce is a group. I think that this album enters easily for people who became rock lovers after 80's.
Report this review (#44669)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm only a recent convert to the music of Gentle Giant.I used to consider them a 'silly' band that just fiddles around and is clever for the sake of being clever.The lack of bombast was a real problem to me.Anyway I persevered and for the sake of this wonderfull album..I am very glad.Giant's music is unlike any other prog band and I am not qualified to analyse it.., I just know its great.

This works well as a concept album about power and corruption although every song stands up in its own right as a masterpeice.Very satisfying listening.We are not worthy!

Report this review (#45647)
Posted Monday, September 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I was more than a little surprised to see that this album was rated fourth of the Gentle Giant albums on the Top 100 most popular list. In a poll of G.G. 34 fans at of the top five G. G. songs, this album had six that made the list (tied for the most), and had more total hits than any other. It also the number two song overall ("Cogs in Cogs"). Two of the songs that had only two hits are among my favorites ("Playing the Game" and "No God's a Man". (I didn't take part in the poll.) The two songs from the original album that did not make the list are also very good ("The Face" and "Valedictory").

I think this deserves a rating of 5, because I truly believe it is one of the top 20 progressive rock albums, and is a must have for any lover of progressive rock. I think it is the only G.G. album worthy of a 5, although "Octopus" and "In a Glass House" are very close. Buy the remastered version if possible, which includes the title song.

Report this review (#58628)
Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars What an eclectic album. From the psychotic rhythyms of so sincere to the mellow 'goes down smooth' track "aspirations," to the last song "valedictory." Lots of classic Giant in this album. the keyboard playing is truly excellent, and the vocal harmonies are well done. Gentle Giant are in there own genre. what a unique sound!Enjoy!
Report this review (#68509)
Posted Monday, February 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars While many consider "The Power and the Glory" to be Gentle Giant's best work, but I find it to be the point where they started going downhill. I guess it's just a matter of personal taste - this album is in no way a "sellout" as it retains all the features that have established GG as one of the all-time greats; it doesn't copy their previous efforts either, which is something the band has thankfully always managed to avoid. Yet most of the album doesn't captivate me at all, and I can't point out a song on par with masterworks like "Alucard" or "Pantagruel's Nativity" (just to name a few).

"Proclamation" is still a good candidate for a GG classic, easily being the best track on the album. With it's funky verses and excellent RIO section in the middle, it serves as a highly impressive opener. However, with "So Sincere", the band falls prey to it's own complexity, as the song has little to offer besides highly sophisticated harmonic structures - in fact, it's a bit annoying. Same goes for "Cogs in Cogs - tons of complicated counterpoint that ultimately leads nowhere. "Playing the Game" is characterized by an atrocious keyboard melody, and even strong melodic interludes fail to prevent it from being one of Giant's worst numbers (IMO, of course). With "Aspirations", the band opts for a more laidback approach, which generally works well, thanks to a slightly haunting quality to the vocals. "Valedictory" is a slowed-down version of "Proclamation", with one of the original's less significant motifs featured more prominently in a guitar riff. The remaining tracks are really nothing spectacular, especially by GG standards.

I would certainly recommend any of their first five albums over this one , although I don't want to create in impression that it's bad, for that's not the case. "The Power and the Glory" remains interesting and original to this day, and is an important part of prog history. However, it does lack in overall quality and consistency compared to the finest efforts of that era.

Report this review (#73045)
Posted Saturday, March 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very... umm... gentle giant sounding. They definitely have quite the unique sound. Oddly timed piano lines, the distinct vocals, nice unison sections between the instruments, odd instrument sounds. Overall very good album. Highlights for me are playing the game, Cogs in Cogs with its very nice synth throughout and overlapping vocal patterns (which also appear in No Gods a Man), and The Face with its beautiful unisons and solos. Very frenetic rhythms going on throughout this album. I am not a big fan of the vocals in So Sincere.

If you like Gentle Giant or very complex prog you will like this album. This isn't for everyone though so only 4 stars here.

Report this review (#78854)
Posted Saturday, May 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album along with octopus are my GG favorites... This album has always been very good to me because it caught me right from the beginning... It has all I look for in album... Great Lyrics, Mind blowing music and a good concept. I think I liked this album from the beginning because I heard it while I was reading along the lyrics.. I think they are very accurate with the social criticism... (listen to proclamation... the opening track)..

Another thing I appreciate very much because its hard to find is the virtuosity of this musicians with a wide variety of instruments... they are an orchestra themselves! My favorte tracks on this album are PROCLAMATION, PLAYING THE GAME, and COGS IN COGS... this is an excellent album, go get it and you'll see... specially if you're into "tricky" addictive riffs, complex vocal arrangements and like to hear "full" music, with no empty spaces to be filled out... great band, great album... not their best work, but 4 stars

Report this review (#82760)
Posted Tuesday, July 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars My first encounter with Gentle Giant (back in 1991). I was already a fan of prog at that time, but I never thought prog could reach these heights!

From the opening notes of Proclamation, I knew that this was going to be a life- changing experience for me. The vocal melodies were so unlike anything I had heard before I could hardly believe my ears. Then comes the instrumental section! Crazy, hectic, original... leading up to the weird chorus of "Hail to the power and glory's way"... I though "To hell with Queen!!!" Anyway, you all know the song, and to this day it remains among my favorite GG tracks.

"So Sincere" is a quirky dissonnant tune bringing jazz and chamber music together. I clearly remember banging my head against the wall when first listening to this one. How can human beings write and play such exquisite nonsense ?

"Aspirations" shows yet another facet of GG, reminiscent of "Think of Me with kindness" and "Last Voyage", wonderfully sung by Kerry Minnear. Hauntingly melancholic and ethereal.

"Playing the Game" is probably my least favorite track from TPATG, but, that being said, is still a great enjoyable track, more straighforward than anything else on this album. Acts a breather with the information overdose displayed so far on this album.

"Cogs in Cogs" is another intricately arranged rocker, with many weird tempo changes, and the middle section "The circle turns around, the changing course is calling" is dizzying. Great track

"No God's a Man" is another oddity, with many mood changes, great vocal harmonies, and odd time signatures/tempo changes.

"The Face" could have been on "In a Glass House", it is that good. A quirky use of the violin, great bass line, very upbeat.

Album closer "Valedictory" (I first heard it on vinyl) is a reprise of "Proclamation", only more dissonant and in a slower tempo, making for a weird, eerie effect. Just makes you want to start listening to the album again, which I did, after 15 minutes to take my breath and realise what had just happened.

Like many of GG's albums (Three Friends, Octopus, In a Glass House and Free Hand) this is undoubtedly a masterpiece. Truly Giants, then and now.

Report this review (#85106)
Posted Saturday, July 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars THE POWER AND THE GLORY is the second concept-album of GENTLE GIANT. It is about corruption and violence in politics, some people assent this album would be about the Watergate affair, but that's simply not true, it's about the abuse of power in general.

However THE POWER AND THE GLORY evict strong tendencies to Jazz Rock, but of course all the music on this CD is garnished by the perfect use of complex chant for several voices, a perfect controll of each instrument by the members and strongly syncopated rhythms that make this album sound so interesting. Thus the things that mark GENTLE GIANT's works from 1970 until 1977.

I think THE POWER AND THE GLORY is technically seen the best work of GENTLE GIANT, but it is also the most experimental and debauched album and not made for the taste of everyone (of course Progressive Rock in general isn't for everybody's taste, but this may be too freaky even for some die-hard progheads).

Each song of this album is outstanding, in my opinion, especially "Proclamation", "Playing The Game", "Cogs In Cogs", "No God's A Man" and the very jazzy "The Face", that includes a lot of violin-soli. The entire album creates an alarming mood (this is not meant in a negative way, it's defintely meant positively because this mood completely detains you.)

THE POWER AND THE GLORY contains beautiful and crazy, interesting parts with complex structures who are hardly syncopated (even more syncopated than on other GENTLE GIANT-works). The parts I was talking about at last prevail on this CD.

I have bought the 35th Anniversary Edition of THE POWER AND THE GLORY where they added a live-recording to the usual tracklist and the unreleased studio song who bears the same name as the album. This Bonus Track is also very nice, but it sounds more as if it was from the THE MISSING PIECE-era, so Gentle Giant did well to put this song not on this CD.

All in all this album contains perfect musical work, but it may not be the right for everbodys taste because it is somehow one of the freakiest progressive rock CD's I know.

Nevertheless it is a masterpiece in my opinion and it deserves 5 stars!

Report this review (#86080)
Posted Monday, August 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars A nice Gentle Giant album, less complex than it's predecessors. The frantic changes are still present, but more smoothly worked out, so on casual listening you are still able to follow what's going on. so basically it's hardly a landmark album for GG, but the relative ease in which the songs develop makes for an enjoyable listening.

Try it if you like Gentle Giants music, you won't be disappointed, but don't expect fireworks. 2,5 stars really, but rounded down as a little warning.

Report this review (#92260)
Posted Wednesday, September 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is one of the harder albums to really get into. But once you do, there's loads of good stuff here. There fun rockers, complexity galore (like always with Giant), softer songs (which is nice), and some even with a bit of jazzy influence. I wasn't overly fond of Valedictory's ending, nor did I enjoy the bonus tracks. The live performance of Proclamation is terrible, and GG made a good decision on not putting the title track on the album.) Overall, though, one of Gentle Giant's best albums. Very much enjoyed.
Report this review (#93490)
Posted Thursday, October 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Maybe this is the best Giant album to start with if you are not familiar with the group. It covers nearly all aspects of Gentle Giants work. It has a little bit of a concept album with the great opener "Proclamation" and the weird but well-done reprise "Valedictory". Then we have a more complex arrangement and rhythmic diversity in "So Sincere" but also tracks for "easier access" like the ballad "Aspirations" and the power(and glory)full title track which for some reason only exists as a bonus track on the main CD release. "Cogs In Cogs" is nice, too, even though the vocals seem quit strained - not a good song to listen to if you have a bad day. Take the more positive "Playing the game" for that situation ;-) For the adavanced listener this CD is not as interesting as "In a Glass house", which had been released the year before. It's not such a superb album as some other Gentle Giant works but still one of the good ones.
Report this review (#100576)
Posted Monday, November 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Comparitively, this is one of Giant's weaker albums. They had much to live up to after releasing the masterpeice "In a Glass House". Proclamation is my favourite, a cool keyboard riff opens it, and then it unleashes into a full blown, funky-ass rocker, and it's extremely enjoyable! The rest of the album has it's highlights, but overall not as brilliant as some of their other offerings.
Report this review (#101443)
Posted Saturday, December 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Another quirky adventure.

I find this one of the most unique GG albums. As others have noted, it's one of the more difficult one's to get into, for GG standards. Of course, as with most GG records, is the intrigue of the album cover, which if nothing else have always been eye-opening.

There's some recurring elements here and there (one of the most interesting being the Flight of the Bumblebee-esque key section found in Proclamation and Valedictory). I can't help but get the feeling that Playing the Game sounds like a level in a Sonic sega game (the distorted bass sound). Most all the songs are heavily key oriented and this could be described as Minnear's album.

Cogs in Cogs has my favorite moment on the album, with the a cappella "the circle turns around, the changing voices calling" which is somewhat similar to the "all around" in the song On Reflection. It also seems GG has a mandatory Southern sounding song in every album, this one being The Face.

The album closes with one of my favorite GG songs in their collection. Shulman's voice soars and the way it sums up the album is just pure - zany, classic GG. It's also important to note that Radiohead would lift one of the guitar riffs in Valedictory for the ending to their famous hit Paranoid Android (0:40 here, 5:49 in Paranoid Android - small world huh?) Overall, the balance here is quite off, though; some of the songs are simply genius, while others I just shrug at. Regardless, another fine production.

Report this review (#102313)
Posted Sunday, December 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "You may not have all you want or you need..."

Another important record from Gentle Giant. Slightly weaker than the previous masterpiece "In a Glass House" and than the memorable follow up "Free Hand". There's a little bit of confusion all around the album's structure, in my opinion.

The opener "Proclamation" is still a wonderful highlight in their whole discography and the mellow "Aspiration" is probably one of the three GG's tracks I love the most. Nevertheless the record fails to impress me and differently to what many reviewers and opinionists say, this is not their miliar stone. Not for sure. The album appears more song-structured than any of the past, especially in its second half, from "Cogs in Cogs" on. Beautiful tracks, though with a stronger rocky vein as in "The Face".

All in all The Power and the Glory stands as a light star in my own prog cd collection as the other GG's records above mentioned plus the immortal "Octopus" that remain their most classic prog rock contribution to the world.

Not a masterpiece as I said. Still a must have, though.

4.25 stars.

Report this review (#104925)
Posted Saturday, December 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars MINOR UPDATES 05/08/07

Gentle Giant in all their glory.

So far as I am concerned, the greatest aspect of life is time. There are several reasons why I feel this way, but I will limit myself to the one reason that relates to the album in question. With time comes change. Change is inevitable, and one particular change is change in taste. My tastes have changed recently, especially within the realm of music, and this has lead to me being able to detect beauty where I previously found only ugliness. And so it has been with this album. In the time that has passed since I first bought this album, my tastes have changed almost entirely, from basic symphonic prog to more challenging sub-genres like RIO/Avant-prog and Krautrock, and also Gentle Giant (whose classification goes beyond any one sub-genre).

When I first bought this album, I mostly liked symphonic prog. At that time, symphonic prog was the most challenging music I had ever heard, and my delicate ears couldn't yet handle the amazing world of Gentle Giant. Sure, I liked Octopus and In a Glass House, but this album was in a class of its own in terms of how challenging it was. And I just couldn't tolerate it. No more. Since that time, my tastes have moved ever further from symphonic prog (though I still love it, especially when the Italians do it) and into newer, more challenging areas of prog.

The only really good way to describe Gentle Giant is to say that they are one of a kind. Of the four Gentle Giant albums I own (from Octopus through Free Hand), I cannot pinpoint two that sound alike. Each of the four is a different beast, and each is wonderful. Octopus is a fun album, putting more emphasis on vocal harmonies than on music (though the music is still excellent). In a Glass House focuses on pushing complexity to its limit (and then some), with the vocals taking a backseat. Free Hand veers towards hard rock, though still some of the most complex hard rock you'll ever find. Of these, Free Hand is excellent, In a Glass House is even more excellent, and Octopus is nearly a masterpiece. The Power and the Glory, however, puts all these albums to shame. It is simply on a different level. The vocals rival those of Octopus (including some throwback vocal harmonies), but it is the music that truly lifts this album. The music is a strange blend of Gentle Giant and RIO, and it works perfectly.

I'm not sure why, but most Gentle Giant fans pinpoint three concept albums from their discography (Three Friends, The Power and the Glory, and Interview). I view In a Glass House as a concept album about escape, making the Power and the Glory the third of four concept albums. The Power and The Glory is a satire of the Watergate scandal, using this as a springboard to condemn all abuse of power. This album features what is probably the band's greatest lyrical work, So Sincere. Every line contradicts the line preceding it in marvelous fashion as our abusive leader assures us that all he says is "so sincere." On the musical end of the spectrum, this is a keyboard-dominated album, but each instrument is given due time to shine, and shine they all do. This is, at least among the four I know (though I recently bought but haven't heard two more), Gentle Giant's greatest work, a masterpiece through and through.

The Power and the Glory opens with Proclamation, which may well be my favorite on the album. It begins with some delightful keyboards work and vocals, followed by a semi- chorus. This cycle then repeats, except with new vocal harmonies that are, quite "simply," stunning. Another keyboard section follows, leading into chanting of, "Hail to power and to glory's name." The opening section is repeated with slightly different music, now in more of a RIO vein. On the whole this is a hybrid of Gentle Giant and RIO, not completely RIO, but with considerable similarities. It can be crazy and off-putting, but only in the best of ways. As I've said, it may be my favorite on the album, but .

I may have spoken too soon. So Sincere comes on next, and it is just as good as if not better than Proclamation. While Proclamation was Gentle Giant done in a RIO style, this is RIO done in Gentle Giant style. Trying to describe this track is nearly impossible, as it is one of the craziest songs I know. Keyboards again play a large role, and while the vocals don't utilize harmonies, they are still quite effective. The lyrics, of course, are Gentle Giant's very best. The best I can do to give you a feel for what the music is really like is to say that if you tried to dance to it, even the most experienced progger doctor would think you were having a seizure. The guitar solo is, and there's no other accurate way to put it, blistering.

Unfortunately, the next two songs, while still excellent, are also the weakest two. Aspirations is a slower song with gorgeous vocals, but it never really builds. Not all good songs have to build, but the way this song goes about not building is quite annoying. Several times during the song it approaches a point where it feels like it should build, only to revert back to its old ways. I probably sound too harsh, however, because I truly do enjoy this track. A lot.

Playing the Game is a notch up from Aspirations. The opening keyboard melody is, admittedly, somewhat silly, but the rest of the song that comes in on top is anything but. It is upbeat, and the bass work is simply exquisite. The vocals are wonderfully done, and the lyrics perfectly convey a politician manipulating the system to serve his own ends. The best part, however, comes in after around three minutes, with keyboards that reach out and grab you. There are slight RIO influences here, and the buildup is wonderful, what you always wanted Aspirations to do. We're now halfway through the album, and the second half, like the first quarter, is sure to blow your mind.

Cogs in Cogs competes with Proclamation and So Sincere for the title of best song on the album. Cogs in Cogs is full of boundless energy in a way I've only ever seen Gentle Giant muster, and, like So Sincere, this song is nearly indescribable. The vocal harmonies in the middle section are exquisite, and the solo vocals in the opening and closing sections are equally as good. It's short, barely breaking three minutes, but it single-handedly proves that songs can be progressive no matter the length.

No God's a Man not only has one of the best song titles I know, but it is also a truly excellent song, another competitor for my favorite on this album full of favorites. It opens innocently enough with soft keyboards and guitar plucking, but don't let yourself be fooled, not even by the beautiful melody that comes in soon after. While not a RIO/avant track, No God's A Man packs just as much of a punch as those that are RIO/avant. The vocal harmonies are some of my favorite of the Giant's, and this song wouldn't feel out of place on Octopus (though it fits much better here, of course). The guitar solo is another winner, and once it ends (all too quickly), the music reaches a height of complexity that is simply beautiful and will appeal to all Gentle Giant fans. Now that I've discussed the music, let me explain why I love the title as much as I do. Extending the contraction yields No God is a Man. The president here is a God figure to his people. Now, remember the adage, "absolute power corrupts absolutely?" Well, this president tries to exercise absolute power, as he would if he were God, and is thus "corrupt[ed] absolutely." He acts in inhumane ways (putting focus on inhumane). Thus, any person who exercises God powers becomes inhumane, or, rephrased: No God's a Man.

The Face is another song that may well be my favorite on the album. Like Cogs in Cogs, it is frantic and full of boundless energy, never staying the same for longer than it has to. More RIO/avant elements come into play, adding to the incredible complexity already present. Guitar is as prominent as keyboards here. This is a unique song (like most sons on this album), again making it hard to describe accurately. Imagine In a Glass House (the song), one of the most complex songs I know, taken to new levels of complexity. There you have it: The Face.

I've listed several songs so far that could be my favorite on this album, but the truth is, not one of the five I mentioned actually is my favorite, for Valedictory blows them all out of the water. In many ways, it is a reprise of Proclamation, only with slightly different music (notably more complex), and different lyrics. The music has more energy than Proclamation (which is saying something). I will go so far as to say that vocals are Gentle Giant's very best, and the dominant guitar riff is one of my favorites by any band. In terms of progressiveness, imagine Genesis's Can-utility and the Coastliners, only with more changes in less time. And that gives you the amazing Valedictory, a perfect closer to this album. The album does come with a bonus track (the title track), which is a fun little number, but nothing truly special.

At this point in my review, I'll discuss the concept of the album in more detail, for it truly is one of the greatest concept albums in terms of how the concept is executed. Proclamation, which opens the album, announces (or proclaims) the ascension of a new president. This president tells of how he'll fix the problems (or rather, how nothing needs to change). So Sincere begins our president's corruption. He is deceiving the people, saying one thing and meaning another, which the lyrics perfectly convey, "every word is lies, he only tells the truth, for he believes it, means not anything he says." Aspirations tells of how the people are fooled, convinced they've found a president who will fix their perceived problems. With Playing the Game, we see how our president manipulates the political system for his own ends, trying to assure that he'll "never ever lose" an election. Cogs in Cogs continues this theme, telling of how the gears of the president's corruption machine keep on churning. Now we're up to No God's a Man, which shows how public opinion has turned against the president. In The Face, however, the president sweet talks to the people and manages to weasel his way out of the predicament, making a bunch of meaningless apologies and denying wrongdoing (think: "I am not a crook"). Finally, with Valedictory, we see the people re-unite behind the corrupt president. The cycle is set to repeat, as the reprise of Proclamation that forms Valedictory shows that we are right back where we began. There has been "no change."

And that is the marvelous album The Power and the Glory. As I have said, it is a masterpiece well worth your time. There is one last point, however, that I would like to make before concluding this review. I would like to discuss what makes music progressive. There certainly are many characteristics of progressive rock that we could all name (multi-part songs/epics, unusual time signatures, etc.), but I feel that these are mere byproducts. After all, progressive electronic along the lines of Kraftwerk is far removed from the jazz rock of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. What binds them is not similar music, it is the mindset with which the music was approached. What makes music progressive is that the band/artist behind the music puts their efforts into doing something new. The byproducts of this form what we call "prog." Thus, while bands like Spock's Beard have many prog characteristics, they are not truly progressive. Likewise, the Beatles may not be prog, but they were certainly progressive. Gentle Giant, however, got the best of both worlds. Not only were they incredibly progressively-minded, they also produced some of the greatest "prog" music we know. The Power and the Glory sits behind only Octopus in Gentle Giant's stellar discography. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#110548)
Posted Saturday, February 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Like In aGlass House I can't give above a three for this album, mainly because of the derivativeness that this and Glass House have with Yes and Jethro Tull. Although I enjoy Proclamation and Playing the Game, I feel a lot of this album is rehashing ideas from Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick and Passion Play and Yes music, you'll find in this album vocal harmonies in the song No God's a Man is a direct rip off of the Jon Anderson song We Have Heavan on the Yes album Fragile. I do enjoy Kerry Minnear's keyboards, very colourful sounding, and I think GG was a big influence on Split Enz, I only wish they couold have not walked so much in Yes and Jethro Tull's footsteps because it leaves them sounding second tier perhaps this was because after Phil Shulman had left and they were trying to find a new sound without him (that's a guess because the only Phil album I have is Octopus which in my opinion is superior to Glass House and Power and the Glory), fortunately Freehand will be where they find their feet and redeem them. I give this three stars, some good tracks but I wish this and Glass House had less of the Yes and Jethro Tull impersonations.
Report this review (#123038)
Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a concept album about coruption and violence in politics, and in that days when Watergate affair was deconspirated and shown in the press, this album was like a bright light for many peoples and listners who were totaly not agree with the goverment from that years. However THE POWER AND THE GLORY evict strong tendencies to Jazz Rock, but of course all the music on this CD is garnished by the perfect use of complex chant for several voices, a perfect controll of each instrument by the members and strongly syncopated rhythms that make this album sound so interesting. After all this is the trademark of Gentle Giant between 1970 to 1977. This is my fav album of them, so i rate with 5 stars, not only by the fact that is my fav but surly shows the peak of their inspiration and playing. What to say about the piece Aspirations, absolut magic, Proclamation shows Kerry Minnear at his best, skillfull and inspiring as always, the rest are obvious all amazing. So,with this one, Octopus, Free hand and Three friends are among the best prog albums ever, and might be very easy cornerstones of prog music and why not of your colection. 5 stars and highly recommended, to me the best Gentle Giant.
Report this review (#124741)
Posted Tuesday, June 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is more listennable and less complex than its predecessor, In a glass house, but it stays an album of Gentle Giant and cn easily live up to it's name. The main idea of the album is about power and corruption, as songs like "Proclamation", "Valedictory" and "Playing the game". The music is a cross between rock and jazz but what is more interesting in this album is the lyrics as they perfectly describes the theme of the album. Plus, you get the song "Proclamation" live as a bonus on the CD but it's a lot shorter than the original.

Hail to power and to glory's way!

Report this review (#125742)
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
5 stars I've got all of Gentle Giant's regular CD releases, and of course the LPs, but this is my first 35th anniversary edition remaster, and my third copy of the album. Having listened to the unremastered CD for about as long as I've had CDs in my collection, I find the sound quality of this one is excellent, in no small part due to Derek Shulman being at the helm.

This was one of the albums primarily responsible for turning me into a progressive music freak. A love of keyboards helped a lot too, and Kerry Minnear does some amazing things here. I love the keyboard parts in Proclamation and Valedictory with the ever escalating tempo, and those impossibly fast synthesizer runs on Cogs In Cogs. The political themes are of particular interest here, applicable to the past, the present in 1973-1974, as well as today, and you can bet the future too.

You get two bonus tracks on this release, a live Proclamation and the unreleased studio track, The Power and the Glory. Good to get that one on a CD, a copy of it was languishing in my cassette collection somewhere. That one should have been released as a single, might have garnered them more of the popular attention they deserved.

I have no hesitation rating this one as essential!

Report this review (#126123)
Posted Sunday, June 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars GG get the groove on in a fabulous stretch into funky syncopated rhythms (well at elast on side one). A wonderfully complex album to get your brain around. Preferably relaxed with a suitably complex glass or four or a bottle of your favourite tipple.

Proclamation has hints of what is to come, amongst the typically complex GG arrangements but you really know that there's a new thing happening, a flavour being tried out.

So sincere returns you to a medieval melody over a staccato disjointed backing, but even amongst this you can tell those bass fills are just straining at the leash to funk out. THis is certainly not everyone's cup of tea, and to be honest it's way too much for me.

In aspirations the gentleopening keyboard has that funky feel, but things relax and a flabby round bass sound to die for comes in. A little more jazzy in the feel: it's odd like, a bunch of gifted folk musicians had walked in on Steely Dan and combined the best of both worlds.

Playing the Game is my least favourite track. Still think that one section of bass was in the back of someone's mind when Jacko came up with Beat It.

Side two opens with a standard drab 3 chord 12 bar blues in G (yeah right fat chance!). GG blast in with a typically intense. No God's a Man slows the mood. Why do GG jsut have to better at loads of things than everyone else? Fabulous vocal arrangements. Ridiculous. Make the mainstream sound, well, pop.

I realise the musicanship is brilliant, at a different level than most bands you get the chance to listen to but this does not float my boat. It's too much at times. The funky thing happening does not add to the normal GG mix: for me it's interference. The funky side is beter integrated into the GG sound in Free Hand.

I've given 4 stars out of innate respect for GG, but this for me is more of a 3.5

Report this review (#126859)
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars this is a decent effort on gentle giant's part, but I find that in the end, it just doesn't hold up as well for me as their other albums that I own (aquiring the taste, three friends, octopus, in a glass house). This album does have it's strong points though. Unfortunately, there are weak points that I just cannot ignore. However, amidst the wreck, there are some of my favourite gg tracks to be salvaged!

'Proclamation' is a pretty solid track, offering some groovy bass and drum work to turn the funk notch up a bit. It then progresses into a different section with particularly interesting drumming, almost sounding a bit 'latin'. After that comes the part that you all love; the haunting chorus part. For me, it's okay. I think they could have done better with the vocal composition though. The song finishes with a faster version of the beggining. Over all, a solid opener.

'So sincere' is quite a tasty track (my second favourite on the album). It starts with an extremely strange intro which is syncopated in an intentionally complex way. I love it! The vocals are also sung to create a very unorthodox melody, which I love! The chorus is equally wierd, with busy keyboard parts. There is also a seamless guitar solo to add even more to the track. Eventually, it ends quite abruptly with a repeat of the into. Dilectable!

'Aspirations' is a boring track in my opinion. filler! Okay, maybe it helps with the concept, but musically, I have never been able to like it. It isn't progressive and it's annoyingly repetitive. I usually don't like when gentle giant tries to be mellow. That's not what I listen to gg for! I always skip this track.

'Playing the game' is an oriental sounding track, which I find pretty boring most of the time. It's okay, and surely adds to the overall concept, but It's just boring to my ears (and I have seasoned ears!). It does contain a nice middle section with some charming keyboards, followed by some decent soloing, but for me, this doesn't redeem the song. I guess It feels like filler to me. I do like the lyrics though!

'Cogs in cogs' is my favourite track, and an overall gg favourite of mine! The keyboard is out of control! The other day I puzzled over how one could write such a wierd melody. It's quite a long melody too! Just listen to it! The middle contains a creepy, whirring, maze of voices and keboards. The vocals are kind of buried in this part, but that doesn't detract from the song for me. It then rehashes the beggining and finishes. This song is just exploding with gg wierdness! My favourite, an awesome song by an awesome band!

'No god's a man" is another boring slow piece, and I don't call it boring just because it's slow. I find some slow music rather enjoyable, but not this. It is rather similar to aspirations, but a bit more tolerable. I just can't like this song no matter how hard I try (just like aspirations). You might like it, but this is just so far off from the interesting gg that created octopus and glass house. I always skip this song as well.

'The face' is where the album becomes interesting again. Thankfully, the album doesn't just loose it and veer off into oblivion! This song is reminiscent of 'in a glass house' from that album (previous album to this). it isn't as good as that song though...not even close! Even in my head, its melody is overshadowed by 'in a glass house'! It has time changes, varied rhythyms, and is complex, but the solo's detract from the song! horendous! I like insane violin soloing (ala larks' tongues pt. 2), but this solo ends short and falls on its face in the end. There is also a voice in the background where the solo ends that is very unconvincing and sounds forced. The guitar solo beggins with a bad feedback noise, something I heard somewhere earlier in the album. It ruins the whole solo for me. Why couldn't they have edited the sound better? Moving on, the bass player apparently misses a note toward the beggining of the song, which sticks out like a sore thumb to me. Suprised no one else mentioned it! This track is riddled with subtle 'mistakes' (I have no way of knowing whether they were or weren't intentional). A decent track, but should have been rehearsed more.

'Valedictory' is an interesting reprise to 'proclamation', this time being a bit 'heavier' with some guitar riffage. It is basically the same song played slower and cut in half timewise. It works well to close the album, completing the circle. I always like when progressive albums close the album with a repeated familiar theme (like was done on selling england by the pound). Always a good way to close an album, especially a concept album. A fine ending, but not terribly effective on its own.

In the end, this album leaves me feeling cold. I think this is the first time this has ever happened to me. I'm a fan of gg to be true, but i'm a little dissapointed with this album. It pales in comparison to its predecessor, as well as all of its predecessors. So sincere and cogs in cogs are all I really enjoy from this album. I hate to do this, but I must...3/5. It comes close to 4, but in the end, it is simply good, but non-essential. Sorry I had to do this gg, but you've had better days!

Report this review (#132475)
Posted Thursday, August 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars "The Power And The Glory" deals with the abuse of power that is often found in the world of politics. They of course take a humerous look at it, but that humour has some bite to it to say the least. This album along with "Three Friends", "Acquiring The Taste" and "Free Hand" are my four favourite GENTLE GIANT records.

The first two tracks along with the last two took a while to grow on me, while the middle four I loved immediatly and still do. "Proclamation" opens with electric piano and vocals that seem to echo. I guess that is the effect of more than one vocalist. We get a full sound 1 1/2 minutes in.This song is kind of quirky with organ and some dissonant sounds after that, including the vocal line that is repeated over and over. The song ends with the original melody. "So Sincere" opens with sax and speeds up 1 1/2 minutes in. These guys can stop and go on a dime. Very complex playing with some good guitar and piano.

"Aspirations" is a melancholic,laid back song with some beautiful reserved vocals from Minnear. "Playing The Game" is a catchy, mid-paced tune.There is a calm section after 3 minutes. The drumming and organ are really well done as the tempo picks back up. "Cogs In Cogs" is just a fantastic song. So many sounds can be heard, very complex. The synths after 2 minutes are a nice touch. "No God's A Man" is all about the vocals. Nice harmonies. "The Face" is an uptempo track led by the vocals and violin melodies. "Valedictory" is similar to the opening track. Some nice raw guitar to open and lots of piano later.

I picked up my son and a couple of his friends from bowling last night, and for the 20 minute ride home I had this just cranked. Funny, I didn't get the usual comments, maybe they were trying to catch their breath.

Report this review (#146926)
Posted Thursday, October 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another excellent GG album.

This album contains some of their best material, starting with the fantastic opening track Proclamation. This is a song you could play for someone if you wanted to show them with a single song what GG is all about. Great counterpoint and vocal melodies and harmonies, excellent playing and complex composition that still flows beautifully. The second song I used to really like because of its extreme quirkiness and complexity. But listening to it nowadays, it seems they may have gone a bit too far with the quirkiness. So Sincere doesn't really seem to have anything in the way of melody, and seems to be all about strange tempos and abrupt stops. Still, it is impressive that they could pull this one off live (and it sound a lot better live as well). I love all the Kerry Minnear lead vocal songs, and this is one of the best. A beautiful, mellow song that is almost simple by GG standards (though more sophisticated than Think Of Me With Kindness from Octopus, also sung by Minnear). Great stuff. Playing the Game is another wonderfully complex piece that GG does so well. Cogs In Cogs is an incredible song, packing so much into such a short time. One of their best rockers, while still remaining deeply complex and interesting. No Gods A Man is mainly centered around the counterpart vocals that dominate the song. Great melodies and interplay for those. The Face is perhaps the least interesting song on the album, but still pretty good. Valedictory is basically the second part of the Proclimation (duh) and wraps up the album nicely (live they combined both parts into a single song........see Playing The Fool).

The only bad thing is that on my copy, they tacked on a horrible and cheesy title track that wasn't on the original album. Wish they hadn't done that. If you have it on your copy, listen once to see how this band could actually make bad music, then just stop the CD from then on before this track can play.

I can't quite call this a masterpiece, and really only consider that to apply to my favorite (Acquiring The Taste), but this comes darn close. let's say 4.5 rounded down to 4. Essential for fans, certainly a good place to start for anyone else.

Report this review (#147255)
Posted Friday, October 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is an indecently brilliant album, even with the Shulman's pubescent voice-cracking. A gift from the Prog gods, Gentle Giant's only fault was not structuring their music for a larger audience. But if they had rearranged things just a bit, this LP might have been huge and given them that breakthrough moment. Somehow the title cut, a track that would've carried their appeal while bringing the other fantastic material along with it, was left off the original release and only made available as a single. But in 1974 it would've been a strong, radio-friendly power anthem and made for a nice inclusion, and a due moment for them and the Prog-buying public. Evidently the group wouldn't hear of it and I suppose one can only applaud their integrity.

Each piece is loaded with inventive energy and unexpected directions; the weird angles and flashes of blackness in 'Proclamation' as nu jazz dances with something else entirely. The oh-so-bizarre 'So Sincere' and its circular "everything I say is a lie" logic, Kerry Minnear's tingling keyboards and Gary Green's howling blues guitar. Soothing 'Aspirations' featuring Shulman's weary-traveler vocals. The forgettable bobbing of 'Playing the Game' gives way to a jazzy refrain buoyed by Minnear's grinding organ. And 'Cogs in Cogs' is just spectacular, everything working for them here; great beats, soaring vocals, deliriously good counterpoint and inspired, many-layered composition... spellbinding. This is where fans of Yes and even Kansas might start to find new pleasures. 'No God's a Man' drags a little but rolls along cleverly, and 'The Face' is rambunctious prog driving forward with Ray's unstoppable bass and unorthodox violin. The standard Giant reprise in 'Valedictory' and 'The Power and the Glory' is, as mentioned above, a great, catchy bit of Queen-meets-Kansas arena rock, a sure FM winner and sadly never given a chance. A spectacular album nonetheless, and continuously surprising.

Report this review (#165454)
Posted Monday, March 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Giant's most complex work and one that epitomizes Art-Rock(or as the cats at progarchives call it: Eclectic Prog). It's a VERY, VERY COMPLEX AND DEEP recording that has so much going on that it takes countless listens to fully appreciate. On this effort GG went further into dissonance than on any other record and the result was an Art-Rock masterpiece.

The second cut on the album, So Sincere, is one of the genre's most technical and complex works. IMO, this cut surpases King Crimson's most challenging pieces by a long shot(ie. Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part I). Unlike KC's most eclectic work this GG composition actually makes sense and is musical. So Sincere would serve as a case study of how to use dissonance to make music that is complex, challenging yet tolerable and listenable. Not just a mish-mash of abrasive, offensive tones for the sake of creating art- rock.

The reason this record is typically rated lower than Free Hand and In A Glass House has to do with the vocals. Derek Shulman streched the boundaries of his voice to a point that makes the record a bit of a difficult listen. Don't get me wrong; the vocals aren't bad, in fact, they are over all pretty good. Just a bit over the top in some places. When I listen to this record I try to think of the voice as yet another instrument in the mix, rather than a voice that's telling the story line. If approached from that angle I believe the music makes more sense and is a lot more congruent. Perhaps a bit more reverb on the voices, putting them further back in the mix, would have made for a better recording. At times the vocals are right up in your face, wich make them overly prominent.

That being said, and vocals aside, this is easily a FIVE STAR effort by The Giant based on the music alone. It's one of the most challenging and complex recordings in the history of progressive music.

Report this review (#165789)
Posted Saturday, April 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Power and the Glory is Gentle Giant´s sixth album. Gentle Giant is known for their brilliant musicianship and their mixing of many different genres like classical chamber music, jazz, Medieval music, Avant garde and hard rock. They have on their previous five albums succeeded very much with this concept and I think their first 5 albums are essential listening.

The music on The Power and the Glory is similar to the last album In a Glass House but generally a bit simpler. There are plenty of complex playing on The Power and the Glory though which is examplified by songs like Proclamation, So Sincere and Cogs in Cogs, but there are more almost normal pop songs on The Power and the Glory than on previous albums. All songs on The Power and the Glory are very good and most are excellent even though I find Playing the Game a bit too long and repetitive.

The musicianship is as always outstanding. Note the crazy vocal harmonies in Proclamation.

The production might be the best so far in Gentle Giant´s discography ( the first six albums)

The Power and the Glory is a wonderful album even though I don´t feel it is essential. I would purchase other Gentle Giant albums before this one if I was a new fan. The Power and the Glory deserves 4 stars for being an excellent album though. I was getting used to giving Gentle Giant five star ratings so I must say that I´m a bit disappointed that I don´t feel this is a masterpiece but you can´t win every time can you ?

Report this review (#171817)
Posted Wednesday, May 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars 'Aspirations' may well be one of the most brilliant songs Giant ever produced, but I'm sad to say that if it weren't for that particular masterpiece, I might be tempted to give this album only one star. The reason fis that I cannot imagine who, besides the most committed Gentle Giant fan, would find this music to be appealing.

Yep, this is another album that will surely appeal to Giant enthusiasts who are willing accept nearly anything the band throws at them, but unless one is impressed by complexity with all the musical appeal of nails on a chalkboard, much of this album will leave you longing for some Crosby Stills Nash and Young to clear out your head. This album, for the most part, is a perfect example of why a lack of great songs will always set an album back for me, no matter how many tricks within a compositional approach are thrown in. Make no mistake, Giant are exceptional composers, and that's on display here, it's just that by this point they are often so lost as to how to make something out of it that isn't just music for those who say: 'Oh wow, what cool little change that was!' or Did you hear that counterpoint going on in that section!?.' I suspect to an average rock listener, they'd figure that Zappa already covered similar territory years before this, so why insist on making music in this fashion? I can see past such a simple analogy, but the problem is that if someone were to actually make that analogy as a newcomer to this album, I'd *understand* it.

Some great ideas are present, but the band continues to push the limits of reason with the vocal approach. I mean, really ... 'Cogs in Cogs?' Don't people find this a bit hard to take? Hearing Derek Schulman push his pipes to the edge is not exactly a charming 'experience' to my ears. Even the repeating of 'So Sincere' 'So Sincere' during the song of the same name makes me wonder if people actually listen to this stuff and get *into* it, or just sort of made the decision that they loved Giant and *went* with it from there. There is a difference.

I understand being a committed fan and buying up the catalog of a beloved artist, but the ridiculosly high ratings for this one and IaGH make no sense to me. I do absolutely love the single, but unfortunately the Capitol release, which is the very best sounding version I have heard of this album on CD (I've also heard the One Way and the DRT, but not the Terrapin) doesn't include it as a bonus track.

Report this review (#184507)
Posted Thursday, October 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album is a relatively uninteresting Gentle Giant album, nestled among its best releases.

The real issue with this album is the songwriting. Sure, there is complexity. Sure there are some challenging ideas and some strong melodies and all that. But it just feels like a lot of it is rather Frankensteined, stitched together to try to make songs more progressive than their music really calls for. On its own, it's a wonderful album. It's a fun one with some mindbending tunes. But as far as a Gentle Giant album goes, this one is really nothing very special. The band-oriented sound of In a Glass House is temporarily lost on a few of these tracks, creating songs that do not seem to flow with the rest of the album. Instead, a more experimental tact is taken, even though in the end nothing very new is being tried. This is, in short, Gentle Giant writing songs that sound like songs Gentle Giant should write. The motivation and interest is much less keen here than on their other main releases.

The first side opens with Proclamation, one of the Frankenstein tunes in my book. A lot of neat parts went into the writing of this tune, yet it still does not seem to hold much interest or energy as a song. So Sincere does its best to change that, and its best is a rather strong best, displaying simplistic vocals over a complicated mesh of wildly arrayed music during the chorus. This is probably one of the more interesting tracks on the album. The music continues with Aspirations, a very Think of Me with Kindness sort of track, though not quite as good. Still, it's a fairly moving track with a solid chorus melody. Playing the Game rolls in next, another song stitched together but a fair bit more solid this time. There are some very nice xylophone sequences in this piece as well.

Side two kicks off with the Knots-esque Cogs in Cogs, a complicated track that is not quite as exciting as it sounds like it should be. No God's a Man carries the complex vocal interplays much better, creating a unique series of intertwining melodies like Gentle Giant at its best. The instruments, however, are not flying around and driving the energy of these songs like on other records by this band, I must add. That changes on The Face, a frenetic instrumental driven by wild guitar and a pulsating rhythm section. The album closes with Valedictory, a song that reprises moments of Proclamation, though it is just as stitched-together as the other songs referred to as such previously. It ends the album fairly well, though if you have the special edition or whatever, you get the bonus title track. This short piece is probably the most exciting on the album, with a slightly cheesy but very catchy chorus and well-aligned band.

In the end, this is a pretty good album. The fact that it's a Gentle Giant album makes it seem like more of a disappointment, though, since it does not carry as much interest or excitement as the band is usually able to make their records do. Fans of Gentle Giant will enjoy this, but listeners new to the band should go with Free Hand or Octopus instead.

Report this review (#184997)
Posted Wednesday, October 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Ahh, the first Gentle Giant album I ever bought. It was the first one released in Brazil too. It was a big moment for me, since one of my best friends, a guy five years older considered GG to be the best band in the world. So I had to agree: at 14 I used to follow his recomendations as a novice to the master. Of course we used to clash, since our tastedsnot always were the same. But I had so much respect for him and, beside, he used to let me record his imported albums collection in my small cassette recorder. Among them of course were many GG albums.

The CD itiself was the first to reach a broader audience, it was their most popular for a long time. I guess the album's subject (power and corruption in politics) also helped. While many bands were using fantasy themes or spaced out poetry for lyrics, Gentle Giant could not be talking about more down to earth issues. But the music also changed a bit: this is a far more keyboards driven album them previous effords. Like one reviewr pointed out cleverly, this is mostly Kerry Minnear's baby. The music is still complex, interesting and challeging, but for the first time it seems a bit less energetic than all their earlier records. Later the band complained the fact that the more famous they became, the more hectic was their touring and recording demands, leaving less time for writing and recording.

Whatever the reasons, Power And The Glory showed a slight decrease in quality. Nevertheless, it has many great numbers and at least three classic tracks: Proclamation, Cogs in Cogs and The Face. Agiai there are no fillers and, if not their best, this CD is quite superior to 95% of what ewas being released at the time. My CD has a non album bonus track (The Power And The Glory. Nice touch!) Compared to their other works, this one rates between 3,5 and 4 stars (rounded up to full 4 stars for personal reasons). Another fine release by one of prog's most original and influential bands ever.

Report this review (#186798)
Posted Friday, October 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Graham Green published a novel of the same name in 1940 that loosely inspired this Gentle Giant work of genius. The concept of this particular album is the cyclical nature of politics and the Machiavellian manner in which people engage in them. The music (including the way the words are sung) reflects the lyrics in an amazing way. Derek Shulman, with his authoritative and boisterous vocals, speaks for the leader, while Kerry Minnear, quiet and docile, assumes the role of the unassuming common man. This highly consistent work represents Gentle Giant at their absolute finest.

"Proclamation" This was the first Gentle Giant song I ever heard, and the first time I heard it, I thought to myself, "What the hell am I listening to?" I was so dismayed that I had bought their previous album that same day! The truth about Gentle Giant for many people though, I suspect, is that their constant eccentricity makes them quite an acquired taste (no pun intended). For a young man with preferences of symphonic and heavy progressive rock, this album took a few listens to really appreciate and enjoy. The first thing one hears on this album is the cheering of a large crowd, setting the stage for a popular leader's ascension to power over a nation, which are exactly what the lyrics describe (from the perspective of the new chief). The music relies on piano, both electric and otherwise, a grooving bass and drum pairing, and some peculiar arrangements, including something like "Flight of the Bumblebee" in the middle. After a frightening and commanding vocal section, the music becomes hushed and a bit disturbing, until the final verse comes in, much faster in tempo than the two that came prior. The song ends with further applause- the coveted approval of the people.

"So Sincere" Naturally, this was the second Gentle Giant song I ever heard, and my reaction was even more pronounced then when I'd heard the previous song. I was positive that Gentle Giant was just some weird band I would never like; remarkably, this proved not to be the case, and even this strange little number (which I had skipped over multiple times in the past) grew on me. It begins with an awkward riff that relies heavily on strings. The vocal melody is even weirder, but is an integral element of the song, which is about the genuineness of the leader. It is telling that the word "sincere" is cut off at times to produce the phrase, "so sin." The guitar solo is highly enjoyable, highlighting Gary Green's crucial role in fitting in with such unusual arrangements.

"Aspirations" The only quiet and straightforward song on the album, "Aspirations" features quiet electric piano, acoustic guitar, and Kerry Minnear's soft, lovely singing voice. The mildness with which this song is performed reflects the meekness of the populace, entreating their leader to lead them to glory, and assuring him that they are behind him. They express their complete assurance that their leader will make all their "sorrows gone forever."

"Playing the Game" The crowning moment of the record, "Playing the Game" has a couple of recurring themes that use Gary Green's guitar to great effect, one of which is situated after each verse, and one that starts off the song and serves to bridge the verses. The ascending bass played during certain repetitions of the first theme is a good approach and lends variety to a musical motif that could have otherwise become stale. Kerry Minnear has a brief and quiet vocal part as the song fades out in the middle before a bass riff explodes into an excellent organ solo. In the lyrics, the leader asserts his invulnerability, pointing out that everything else exists for his purposes. Derek Shulman gives an energetic but controlled vocal performance, demonstrating both the authority's unbridled confidence in himself and his exacting strategies.

"Cogs in Cogs" Despite the leader's efforts, he confesses that his empty promises have not paved the way, and now the cogs of discontent are turning. The music is fast paced and frantic, reflecting the mounting panic of the person in charge. The piece is tightly orchestrated, and, along with the songs immediately before and after, was one that kept me returning to this album until it all "clicked" with me.

"No God's a Man" The music features some springy clean guitar and intriguing arrangements. It is another highlight. The lyrics describe the cyclical nature of power, how, even after the rise of a great and popular leader, the vacillation of the minds of the people can quickly result in a revolution. In typical Gentle Giant fashion, the vocals overlap one another, here giving the impression of the general population (many people out on the street, for instance) speaking about their current state of affairs and being in agreement.

"The Face" A Cajun feel accompanies the beginning of this piece, with violin and tambourine, and guitar and bass accompanying. The instrumental section is incredible, yet another example of Gentle Giant's creative greatness. Green gives a respectable guitar performance, also. The words describe a leader who realizes how unpopular his direction has become, but still urges his associates to "wear the face that is sorry."

"Valedictory" This is a heavy rock number that reprises the melody from the first song. The lyrics, however, reflect the opposite idea: The leader establishing his authority in "Proclamation" is pleading with his uprising people that "things must stay; there must be no change." The very end of the song is the sound of a tape player rewinding, perhaps inducing us to return to the beginning and listen to the album again- or maybe reminding us that whoever assumes power after this leader is deposed will experience the very same cycle.

(Bonus Track) "The Power and the Glory" Typically I do not review bonus tracks, but I'll make an exception here. This short piece carries the classic Gentle Giant sound, but is much less complex. According to one source, it didn't make the album because it had not yet been written (and Ray Shulman thought it was the worst of three "atrocious" "commercial" songs they'd written for the record company). Regardless of his opinion, the song is well worth having if you can get the 35th anniversary release.

Report this review (#191356)
Posted Monday, December 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4,1 Stars, rounding to 4!

The Ecletic Prog bands, I think all of them (and should not cease to be) practice a sound bold, complex and rich in dense arrays. Some people must think that this is due mainly to the use of instruments not very orthodox and, in part, are correct. But fail to recognize the skills required of musicians who use them. The Gentle Giant, obviously with other bands, has a reputation for using this skill.

''The Power and the Glory''(1974), along with''In a Glass House'',''Octopus''and''Free Hand''are the albums that deserve attention of such prodigious band. In the album in question, two songs drew my attention by the versatility (even though all are equally good). ''Playing the Game'' stands out for its simple but addictive melody. She is a classic example of the ability which I mentioned (which can be viewed at its height in the song''In a Glass House'', in the album namesake, when they make use of instruments that simulate with melody a breaking glass). ''Cogs in Cogs'' shines, despite the short time, by approaching of the classic hard rock without escape of the paradigms of progressive Ecletig Prog.

I repeat, however, that all songs are of equal quality. Anyway, this is one of the albums I recommend for those who might wish to enter the fabulous and complex musical world of Ecletig Prog.

Report this review (#194507)
Posted Saturday, December 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars We come now to my favourite Gentle Giant album, The Power And The Glory. Here Gentle Giant tackles politics in an interesting way. The critical and subversive sentiments reflected in the lyrics appeal to me very much. The lyrics are as clever as the music.

The previous In A Glass House had been a major improvement over Octopus, which I think is a bit silly and quite overrated. In A Glass House, great though it is, has a couple of irritating moments. The Power And The Glory, on the other hand, is consistently good and only the somewhat repetitive So Sincere is not as good as the other tracks.

I especially like their newfound ability to be serious and reflective both in the lyrics and in the music. Aspirations is a perfect example of just the type of song earlier Gentle Giant albums so desperately needed. It is a great and even subtle ballad. Here Gentle Giant finally dropped their tendency to be complex all the time, which mostly left the listener bewildered and with no room to breathe. Songs like Aspirations and similar more mellow moments on this album makes the more loaded and complex passages sound all the more powerful. You don't have to be complex all the time to make good and interesting music! The Power And The Glory is therefore a more dynamic album, held together by a good concept. I think this shows a much more mature Gentle Giant and this is the peak of their career.

The music is melodic and varied and it often rocks quite hard. There are not really any specific track(s) that stands out above all the others (like the title track on In A Glass House, for example), rather the album is good as a whole and it flows better than any other Gentle Giant album.

The "hail to the power and the glory" theme introduced in Proclamations return again in Valedictory creating a unity of the whole album in a much more convincing way than the (somewhat annoying) sound of breaking glass did on In A Glass House. A great finale to a great album!

Report this review (#199276)
Posted Friday, January 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
5 stars Their Power, their Glory, and the Story:

In A Glass House had made a radical change in the composition/song-writing style with the loss of Phil Shulman, introducing more Moog and interludes of acoustic guitar and electric guitar, rather than the ''classic'' Gentle Giant sound in the style of Octopus or Three Friends, with a lot of medieval influences, as well as experimenting quite a lot. With The Power & The Glory they completely ''erase'' In a Glass House' one-time only style *forever*, which by the way, was an excellent album though a bit forced. Anyway this phase(74-76) what really sparks is the atmosphere/climax's of the compositions and moods of each, rather than the ''simple logic'' of being complex. Also this 'phase' of GG, is free of experimentalism, which this doesn't mean they're less complex, on the contrary, they've matured so much from the experimental phase of Three Friends/Acquiring the Taste, that now(well already in In a Glass House or even Octopus) they know how to write complex music without making 'stupid' mistakes(ELP rings a bell), but what really differences this album from ALL the others is that their complexity disminishes as just as a fact of ''Hey look, they can make impossible things, but the music is barely listenable'', and now is where you really enjoy the music as music, meant to express feelings and create certain climax which you can feel comfortable of, rather than listening the music because of certain solo or complex arrangement. Just a thought, though.

Now back to the review, you can think of TP&TG as Octopus but without any conventional rock cliche or something that grabs you from the first listen. The crazy, complex vocal harmonies are here, but with a listenable composition(what I said in the last sentence of the first paragraph), which really clicks after some listens, which this was not the case of Knots in Octopus. Also Kerry's organ and rhodes really shines, which will fortunately continue in their next album, Free Hand, but there will also be some stunning moog, so it's a different story, hehe. Just in case: I don't think Octopus as a bad album, I think it's superb, but just trying to let you know, somehow, which is the style of this album.

Also, as far as I'm concerned, the medieval influence, while obviously always present, sounds more electric and modern, which is far more bareable rather than the, somewhat annoying, acoustic or vocal medieval interfaces that were in their previous albums. Which this is again, part of what I meant on the last sentence of the first paragraph, Gentle Giant does not want to ''create Prog'', just their style of music which is exactly this, which in the case of In a Glass House they did create a ''true Prog album'', in the sense of FOCUSING in the mood variations, time changes, musicianship virtuosism, etc, of course this is by no means bad, something excellent for Prog fans, as I am, but sometimes you want to take a break of that type of Prog, and this album just does it for me, as Jazz and other music of the sort would do. Obviously not the whole album is like this, but in a general view that's what I think, because there still are present some 'Prog' tracks with the meaning I mentioned before, like Cogs in Cogs, So Sincere and Valedictory, but you get my point, hope so... The other tracks are what make this album so original(from their other albums).

The Power and the Glory gives you GG's complete song-writing/composition power, which can also be heard in In a Glass House, however their complete glory as amazing musicians of expressing music in a totally unique way, that no other band has done, is only in this album.

Masterpiece: not my favorite, but definitely their song-writing/expression peak.

Report this review (#202637)
Posted Friday, February 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've always said Gentle Giant are the first and the last band in this conception of making music. Of course, there are some bands trying to copy the style of GG. This album is harmony... It marks the beginning of pure art rock period for Gentle Giant (The Power And The Glory, Free Hand and Interview). The previous album - In a Glass House - is a masterpiece for me, but it's not pure art rock, it's mostly prog folk.

GG can't stop amaze me! This is probably I can say about them thing I can't say for other band. The most important is that this music in The Power and the Glory and next albums is happy. It's not full of grief and melancholy. Despite this, it's divine! It's the only one band I know to produce something perfect, without being melancholic. It's unique.

The Power and the Glory shows art rock at it's height. Only one song is quite experimental and it's So Sincere. It's very controvertial song, but everything else is superb. I would like to mention a statement. As a bulgarian I want to say, that the last song - The Power and the Glory was covered by my favourite bulgarian band FSB in 1977 for their debut album Non Stop. So I have another experience with the song.

As whole, another masterpiece for GG! 4.7 stars!

Report this review (#208481)
Posted Tuesday, March 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars The first four albums were all extremely close to 5-star masterpieces, In A Glass House finally broke through that frontier! The Power And The Glory, on the other hand, did an even more difficult job of maintaining that ground!

This was another concept album which dealt with some really universal topics that are just as important today as they were 100, 1000 or 4000 years ago! The main attraction is still the great song-structural work that is maintained throughout this album and all through the next release. Although some might argue that the band was slipping onto thin ice with this album. I personally love each and everyone of these tracks, although No God's A Man may lose it's charm after a a couple in-a-row repeated listens. Overall this album might not be considered heavy on famous composition but instead it's the great flow and delivery of separate songs that makes The Power And The Glory an essential album for me.

During the reunion concert the band gave us only a brief taste of this album by performing Playing The Game, still it was probably the third best highlight of the evening. Want to know the other highlights? Then read my other Gentle Giant-album reviews!

***** star songs: Proclamation (6:48) Playing The Game (6:44) Cogs In Cogs (3:08) Valedictory (3:19)

**** star songs: So Sincere (3:49) Aspirations (4:38) No God's A Man (4:26) The Face (4:11)

Total rating: 4,54

Report this review (#230805)
Posted Monday, August 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The congealing of a style in a rock band can be a very satisfying thing to behold. It's the stuff signature albums are made of. The stylistic congruency of _The Power and the Glory_ is complete, with none of the fishing around characteristic of virtually all of this band's other albums. Instrumental color comes from a refined palette chosen for clarity and versatility and is captured with sparkle due to the band's extraordinary studio finesse. The most convoluted passages are laid bare with scientific objectivity.

Minnear sings more on this album than any other, with two songs in a row featuring his lead vocals and another featuring his voice significantly in the "middle 8."

The high quality of each riff and the perfect placement of musical ideas inspires an admiration that can only come from witnessing something truly magisterial. Without succumbing to the pointlessly experimental, the music is consistently daring and edgy. Linearity rules, and the vertical is likely to be kind of harsh when one happens upon it.

The political theme that forms the backbone of the album is executed thoughtfully and without venom. The story charts the rise and fall of a man in power, whose two-dimensionality prohibits him from seeing past his tenets and assessing the damage of their ensuing actions.

Report this review (#240789)
Posted Monday, September 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars I always feel sorry for those who just can't get Gentle Giant, as their music was one of the hallmarks of the great progressive rock period of the seventies. And this is one of their finest albums.

A true concept album, this one follows the progression of a political leader from his rise to power, to his end, where his corruption once in office leads to public disillusion.

The bookend pieces Proclamation and Valedictory, based on the same musical theme, are amazing. The former, delicate and complex, with a nice section where the pieces of the structure of the song slowly come together, and the latter, a lumbering powerhouse with the protagonist pleading for his political survival.

In between, you get more fantastic Gentle Giant works, like So Sincere, an experimental piece that could be RIO, and Cogs In Cogs, one of the most energetic songs ever from this band.

Do not discount Gentle Giant for being too complex. You won't regret it.

Report this review (#258254)
Posted Monday, December 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gentle Giant - The Power and the Glory (1974)

Gentle Giant is back on track with the sixth album of the big GG8. I didn't like In A Glass House and I'm glad the band returned to a style I like. At this time the cohesiveness of the band was high and the compositions still very intelligent. The progress was made mainly in the technical side of the music, the atmospheric side had become less important after the third album, so it seems. This doesn't bother the music as one would expect, because the energy of this album is endless! Sophisticated yet catchy. The Power and the Glory had more short songs and no big epic, but all track a great on this one! Somehow this has always felt as the playful Gentle Giant album.

The staggering vocals on Proclamation and the dis-harmonic vocal section with heavy instrumentation in the middle section are both masterful parts of the track. The great playful key-parts are also inspiring.

So Sincere has an unbelievable strange timing and even the harmonic structure is beyong human logic, but as soon as the vocal begin a great song emerges from the chaos. Yet another playful refrein with chaotic instrumentation. So Sincere is both an progressive masterpiece as a very funny enjoyable song. Strange isn't it?

Aspirations is a great intimate song with great chord progressions. It brings the music back from energetic to soothing. This is important for the feel of the album.

Playing the Game. Another positive up-tempo track full of ideas.

Side two starts with the up-tempo and very progressive Cogs in Cogs. The musical introduction is a bit hyper, but the combination of vocals and instrumentation on the couplet theme memorable. How is this possible? The other parts of the song are also good and so this is one of my favourite Gentle Giant songs.

No God's A man. A track with great use of the odd time signatures and melodic guitar parts. The mix between sophisticated moments and melodic moments is great in this track. The vocals are good too. The Face is another track with much ideas and catchy themes.

Valedictory is the reprise of the opening track, this time in a minor key instead of a major key. The conclusive sound of the vocals make it a good ending song. The intense dis-harmonic vocal section is played again (could we ever get enough of that? No) and the album ends with a big bang.

Conclusion. Yet another perfect record of Gentle Giant. There's a lot of music on this album with a lot of ideas and a lot of inventive moments. Playful and serious combined greatly, though I normally don't like positive progressive rock (I tend to the dark side of prog). I think I can call this specific album an essential masterpiece, though most of the albums of GG are equally important for me. Five stars!

Report this review (#260698)
Posted Wednesday, January 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars The complexity continues!!

All disks of the Gentle Giant are full of things difficult to play as soon as you hear ... But, they are charming and magical ... a scale of my favorite discs, this could be the third, losing to In A Glass House and Three Friends.

But let the tracks:

"Proclamation" :beautiful open in 4 / 4 funky, with a letter citing the challenge of "offspring" disguised as a pretty smart guy in the face of the richest. The theme is suddenly interrupted by a loud "hail, the power and the glory's on its way, full of counterpoints.

"So Sincere": I swear I could not catch the rhythm of this. But the violin is the protagonist of the story, "fighting" with almost all other instruments. The deranged vocal harmony will be adjusted before your progress, pending the completion of a percussion and fun.

"Aspirations": calm, quiet, tasty. I think that is music to meditate - once used in a music class. Minnear's voice is simply fascinating, and he knows very well dominate the Rhodes. There are few counterpoints, but I imagine that the goal was not to develop this logic ... And, yes, the imagination ...

Playing The Game": interesting and, to that time, very innovative ... We see a split between Green and guitars Shulman, accompanied by the synth-bass of Minnear. Derek's voice is still nothing peculiar. A small quiet part within another funky beat.

"Cogs In Cogs": small, but has enough to be one of the best on the album. A possible counterpoint between guitar, bass and keyboard, and many "reversals of sentences" and vocal counterpoints. The synthesizers give the idea of a song for the computer game.

"No God's a Man": the absence of guitar rockers and filling very vocal counterpoint. Chorus extremely singing, rich guitars and keyboards simpletons.

"The Face": too funky, almost to the progress of "Playing The Game. This time, the guitar and violin share the stage with a bass and bold letter also challenging.

"Valedictory": theme archaic as well as one or two songs that always found in albums GG. Packed with cellos, violins, vibes and other instruments unimaginable in progressive rock.

"The Power and The Glory" based on the closing theme song, however, much more objective.

4.5 stars. Well, great, great ... almost perfect!


Report this review (#265742)
Posted Friday, February 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the Best Firing on all Cylinders

POWER AND THE GLORY is the 6th album by masters of complexity Gentle Giant. It is the second since the loss of eldest brother Phil Shulman, an event that breaks their classic albums neatly in half, with a definite evolution in the band's sound. While the group seemed to searching a bit on their first album without big bro (IN A GLASS HOUSE), by POWER AND THE GLORY, the band had settled into their new sound and really rediscovered their mojo. There is a palpable energy in this album, which was perhaps the last one where the band is really pushing the boundaries of their creativity. The following FREE HAND is a masterpiece where the band produces a refined package of their trademark moves, but during P&G, many of those techniques are still being created.

The departure of Phil Shulman is most obvious musically in the lack of medieval flavors and an increased quirky complexity that would form the themes for some of Gentle Giants most iconic songs. "Playing the Game" is the one single song that best exemplifies the band, and is a clear centerpiece for an album with no weaknesses aside from its bonus tracks. "Cogs in Cogs" follows and is nearly as perfectly GG at their best as the song before. While "Playing the Game" has a more signature riff, "Cogs" features the vocal interplay that Gentle Giant does better than perhaps any rock band ever. The opener "Proclamation" also is a vocal extravaganza, and unlike compositions on later albums, the songs are much more than variations on the band's vocal zenith "Knots." Even "The Face," which is a more typical GG song where the songwriting is a little less sharp, has a violin / guitar solo which is one of the best in the band's discography.

P&G also features perhaps the best Kerry Minnear ballad, the beautiful "Aspirations." Derek Shulman's vocals and the recording quality are substantially better than GLASS HOUSE, and the overall energy is more powerful and charged. The theme of human power and its misuses seems to inject the band with a focus and bite that really isn't matched as consistently on any of their other albums. The only weakness on the album is the choice of bonus tracks. Rather telling is that the live version of "Proclamation" really adds nothing to the album and is distracting when the flow of the album clearly had a purposeful beginning and end. (This is in contrast to GLASS HOUSE's live track which showed just how much potential the songs had despite the album's cold and poorly executed studio recording.) In addition, P&G includes a bonus title track which was actually a joke attempt to making a poppy song. (Alas, the boys would succumb to this idea but not as a joke later.)

All in all, this is the post-Phil band firing on all cylinders, still creatively active, and one of the best albums by one of the best bands in the prog genre. Easily a masterpiece, POWER AND THE GLORY is an essential piece of any prog library. If I could only own two GG albums, I would pick OCTOPUS and this one.

Report this review (#275409)
Posted Monday, March 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The power of the Giant continues, as Power and the Glory offers many similarities to previous albums: at least two or three killer and completely unique songs, with plenty of vocal harmonies, syncopation, and catchy melodies.

Highlights: Valedictory/Proclamation, Cogs in Cogs, Playing the Game. Cogs offers what some Giant fans crave, with its vocal rounds and general complexity and unpredictability. I don't care for the song that much, but I sure like the creativity and thought that went into it. Playing the Game may be the album highlight for me, with a deceivingly catchy groove that you may mistake for Steely Dan if not paying enough attention. That title is ironic, because it really is true that the Giant can outplay the best at their own game! Playing the Game is just incredibly toe-tapping, and the xylophone syncopation really just puts it into its own league.

Proclamation and Valedictory work more as a sequence than individual songs, as there are really three variations on the central melody. The album opens with the funky syncopation between keys and vocals, and the intro track revisits this theme toward the end, only with speeded up tempo. Then Valedictory varies the theme by rocking out generally trashing (in a good way!) the initial theme. Here is Giant at its best: catchy melodies, wonderful musicianship (I love Weathers' work on drums here), frantic playing (i.e., the frenzied acceleration of Proclamation), and general creative weirdness (the bizarre keyed and tempoed "hail to power and to glory's way" chant in Proclamation/Valedictory).

Overall, plenty of great stuff to keep a discriminating progger's ear at attention, with the best material on this album stacking up comparably against the Giant's best on any album.

Report this review (#282274)
Posted Sunday, May 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Looking for something angular, precise, quirky, challenging, shiny, heavy and original? If so, witness the power and the glory of Gentle Giant! It just doesn't get any better than this!

Conversely, if you are looking for something smooth, loose, intuitively melodious, warm, easy and comfortable, it doesn't get much worse. But seriously, rating Gentle Giant down for not being warm or easy is like rating "Filet Mignon" down because it isn't as cold or as sweet ice cream. It is to 'miss the point' entirely.

Gentle Giant packs more musical ideas into a 3 to 6 minutes song than most bands include in an entire album side. This album is the perfect antidote to the "same old ? same old" musical blahs.

Complex rhythms demand your attention as the melody jaunts in pleasantly unexpected directions on the opener "Proclamation". Our political protagonist appears to be campaigning, taking credit for the good things that have happened even while using fear of the unknown as motivation for his continuation of power.

The bold harmonic vision of "So Sincere" is as challenging as it is rewarding. It is in this song that we discover how insincere our politician is. The chorus' repetition of the phrase "So Sincere" is as sarcastic as its last line is interrupted as the truth is suddenly made clear on the last line: "So Sin".

The frame of reference shifts for "Aspirations". Kerry Minnear, singer for the majority of the subtle and beautiful vocals in the Gentle Giant canon, provides lead vocals on this song of optimistic, if misplaced, hope in this leader.

Our politician is self aggrandizing and overconfident as complex rhythms and counterpoint rule the day on the song "Playing the Game".

It is only right that "Cogs in Cogs" should exude an unusually angry energy, for this is the song in which our politician falls from the public grace. Because the song's omniscient narrator wisely refrains from providing too much detail surrounding a specific offense or shortcoming, the cautionary tale remains applicable to any number of historic circumstances.

Derek shows that he can sing softly too as he laments that "No God's a Man". Despite our naďve desire to believe that the people leading us are somehow super-ethical, super- caring, super-human, their "truth is only halfway true, the man is only a man". Our politician is instructed to publicly weep, to accept (some measure of) responsibility, and to issue apologies.

And so he "shows the face that is sorry" taking blame even as he "takes his bows". The people are calling but no longer are they calling for his punishment. We end with Valedictory. Our protagonist is campaigning again. "Yes, this problem is partly my fault but I still have the power and influence to right the ship. You must believe me when I tell you that I may have been misguided at times, but all my mistakes were made for you and with the best of intentions. We can make it through this together?"

Beware: Some CD reissues include a "title track" which was not on the original album. The World Wide Associates record company was demanding a marketable single-from the band. In temporary acquiescence, GG recorded three songs which Ray Schulman later would describe as "atrocious". Reportedly, "The Power and the Glory" was the worst of the three ? so according to "Murphy's Law", it was naturally the song that WWA most enthusiastic embraced. It was even temporarily released as a single ? until Gentle Giant's remorse led them to demand that it be taken off the market.

Report this review (#282697)
Posted Wednesday, May 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gentle Giant is back with a masterpiece, yet again!

Gentle Giant's The Power and the Glory is considered one of their best and an album to change progressive rock's sound in general. The complexity of this album can not be described in words as it is not something ordinary, it's insane! This album is their 2nd album without Phil Shulman, which could be somehow described as a barrier, stopping them from making real music (notice how they've changed from Three Friends to In A Glass House), no offense to the man.

All the songs on this album are medium length, at least for a prog album, with songs from 3 to 5 minutes, with the exception of Proclamation and Playing the Game which are both around the 6'45 mark, but don't let the lengths confuse you! This album is as prog as prog can get! Just listen to tracks So Sincere and Proclamation on youtube, and understand, that this is the enlightenment prog's been waiting for!

On musical terms, I prefer Free Hand, but on terms of technicality, composition, and insanity, I'd pick this one up!

The top tracks, in my opinion, are So Sincere, Proclamation, The Power and the Glory (available only on select editions), and Valedictory. If you're a beginning progger pick up Free Hand or Acquiring the Taste (to, acquire the taste, of course), and if you're heavy into prog, and I mean heavy, but have yet to have picked up a Gentle Giant album, pick this one up.

You can read my Free Hand review here:

Report this review (#285634)
Posted Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars The zenith of a band that many consider to be the apex of their milieu, 1974's the Power and the Glory seems to be a somewhat polarising affair. Hardly surprising when confronted with a barrage of eight (save perhaps Aspirations) enormously complex and adventurous slabs of prog.

I find this album is, for want of better word, a lot more mechanical sounding than for example the earthy 'Acquiring the Taste' and continues in the direction of its predecessor, a little harder rocking on the whole with slightly less of intertwining, folkish melodies. This is also probably the bleakest and most apocalyptic GG release - the sudden and twisted verse 3 minutes or so into the first track is the most ugly (in a good way) thing I've ever heard them come out with (which is reprised in Valedictory). The vocalists perform an interesting harmonised glissando here. It is after trying to jam along to this piece of music in particular that revealed the sheer amount of twists, turns and keys used throughout.

On Reflection is a little weaker to begin with (although not really when considered the band members played all of the unorthodox instruments without session musican intervention), but at least lets the album relapse into their Phil Shulman-era sound for a few minutes, until Derek comes in with the titular refrain and the tune continues with some slightly more upbeat albeit extremely elaborate arrangements. Aspirations, as I mentioned before, is probably the least complex (god I hate that term) of the lot. That does not mean it is any worse. Indeed, it's a superbly well-written mellow electric piano tune and one of the top three on the album.

Playing the Game is a tight and harmonically consonant rocker when compared to the rest of the album. Very enjoyable, if a little less remarkable. Cogs in Cogs is for me the centrepiece of the album, an absolute musical painting - the rolling, cyclic nature of the music with Derek's hollered voice commands images of massed ranks of machinery.

The next two tracks are sort of Gentle Giant by numbers, but are very strong too. The first, No God's a Man, is a pretty little ditty which culminates in a wonderful Minnear section towards the end, and the second, the more upbeat The Face features some thoughtful violin work. Valedictory is a sort of reprise of the first track, Proclamation, and serves as a wonderful bookend to the album as the opener is incredibly strong.

Not everyone would agree, but in a string of about six top notch opuses, this is probably the most refined and consistent. Highlights are Proclamation, Aspirations and Cogs in Cogs, although every track here is pretty much a stunner and for that I must award 5 stars.

Report this review (#289275)
Posted Monday, July 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars An observation I have made about most of the "classic" prog bands is that they always seem to have a minor (but still quite good) album sandwiched between two HUGE masterpieces that set the hardcore progheads a-raving. Case and Point: "Trilogy", "Starless and Bible Black", "The Snow Goose", "Waterloo Lily" and "Time and a Word" are all underrated or forgotten when compared to their predecessor and ancestor albums. In that lovable, cuddly giant's case it's "The Power and The Glory". While not displaying any of the fiery flashiness of "In a Glass House" or the charming balance of dissonance and accessibility of 'Free Hand", "The P and the G" still manages to charm me to death with it's endlessly inventive amount of ideas as well as being the world's first perfectly coherent prog concept albums. (Sorry all fans of Slippermen, armadillo tanks, flying teapots, or the asinine lyrics of Jon Anderson)

So wot's the er.. deal with the concept, you enquire? Well, the lyrics of each song take an aspect of the always askew world of politics and present them in a very original and uncliched fashion making them very enjoyable. The course of the album seems to closely follow the high and low points of a hailed leader's rein; it starts with a lot of arrogantly cajoling promises ("Proclamation") and ends with a total suppression of the tyrannical leader. ("Valedictory") When it comes to lyrics, this album is a total success. The band was obviously very well read (Kind of like Mr. Joe Strummer of The Clash but.... shhh, don't tell their fans!) and present us with some very realistic and hard hitting statements that can very much be applied to the skeevy politicians of today.

In contrast, the music isn't as impeccable. The virtuosic instrumental dissonance, waves of Gregorian vocal harmonies and hyper-spazzy tempo changes; all unmistakable trademarks of this band in its heyday are present but these parts alone (Amusing as they are) are not enough to make me want to squander up some cash for a GG record. However, the often brilliant and untrivial vocal and instrumental melodies, the captivating atmospheres as well as the incorporation of the above elements to create the ones I just mentioned are what make me consider these guys worth an investment. This album itself is quite intent on making the former well known to us and sadly the latter often gets shoved aside in favor. However, a great deal of these songs do possess charms that simply need to be uncovered to be appreciated and sometimes I think that this album's 'underrated' status is often unjust.

The album's opening track "Proclamation", for instance, is a perfect example of how the endless twistedness of GG can unravel itself to reveal a product of unmatched genius. The song itself is a healthy marriage between GG's brand of oddball prog rock and some cool funk elements that truly create something thats both 'danceable' and 'artsy'. The leader's false alluring promise of "It can change, it can stay the same" also makes for a highly infectious chorus and damn is that electric piano the living, breathing sonic manifestation of groovy.

Other highlights of tonight's show include the jazzy, multipart "Playing the Game" which contains a clever middle-eastern sounding riff, positively gorgeous, chiming keyboards that pop up after Derek Shulman sings each verse, and a great engaging vocal melody to boot. The slightly unmemorable but perty ballad, "Aspirations", which mostly benefits from being sung by the heavenly, lulling vocals of keyboardist, Kerry Minnear, is another plus for this album. With a lot more patience and (quite possibly) a slightly masochistic complex, one can also find a lot of enjoyment in "No God's a Man" and "The Face". The former is a twisted, slow and raving medieval hymn that has a few dark, folksy guitar parts that sound like they were inspired by Genesis' "Entangled". The latter is mainly a vehicle for some aggressive violin soloing but the frantic melody that presents a musical analog to political paranoia is great and the song is quite aware on how to completely rock out too.

Now let us discuss the material that often makes people green and their heads throb. (This message was lovingly directed at the likes of George Starostin and John Mcferrin who condemn these following songs like 13th century murderers.) I have very mixed feelings on the 4/4, three minute "So Sincere" which has a song structure quite similar to a majority of the material on "Please, Please Me" by The Beatles but is several spectral dimensions apart from that said entity. While I do think the Minnear/Shulman sung melody of this song is quite a good anthem for the crooked political jargon that this song is about, the instruments in the song are simply farting in (mainly) incoherent patterns that totally drive me up the wall. The other frequent scapegoat is the berserk, keyboard driven rocker "Cogs in Cogs". This one is pretty stupid for the likes of GG but eh.. I do like the hectic-ness of it all.

"Things must stay, there must be no change." Valedictory is how we end our venture with the political leader having botched everything up and most likely being carried off to the guillotine. The song takes elements from "Proclamation" but is in many ways different especially with the ultra ballsy, electric guitar riff that opens the piece. I also like how the song ends with a tape loop being played in reverse; either a reference to the Watergate tapes (The whole Nixon scandal seems to be what many fans believe was GG's inspiration for this album) or simply that the whole course of political events will most likely repeat themselves again and again. It's really a neat concept for a band that seemed so utterly disconnected from everything else. It's a shame they couldn't configure their music to be the perfect companion to their best concept.

Album Grade: B and basically a 3.5 when it comes to stars.

Report this review (#297505)
Posted Sunday, September 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Sixth album in the Gentle Giant saga and again it doesn't differ much from any of the preceding ones. GG have a very personal approach but the lack of evolution in sound and style makes most of their albums redundant for casual observers. The Power and The Glory is no exception and while it pleases the fans a lot, I can't hear how it adds anything to what I already know of the Giant. Just a couple of nice songs maybe?

We start off with a nice series of killer tracks. Proclamation, So Sincere and Aspirations shouldn't be ignored on any GG compilation, all of them excellent compositions executed to perfection. From then on it quickly slides down. Playing the Game and Cogs are still quite acceptable but the remaining songs reveal how Gentle Giant's gimmicky style is a creative dead-end if the needed song excellence is not present.

The Power and The Glory has some filler and some excellent material, but even at its best moments it can't convince GG has anything to say they didn't say before. So it's just another nice album for fans of the band.

Report this review (#307983)
Posted Tuesday, November 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Lots of reviewers are writing that this album is complex and they are right. I would like to add that it is very difficult to apprehend and almost impossible for me to step in and enjoy this work.

It is not as such that it is so different from some prior GG releases; but at least during some of them, there were some melodic passages, fine polyphonic vocal harmonies which are all absent here. Let's put it frankly: this "Power and the Glory" is only meant to GG fans. Even old freaks like I am and who has tried to follow their path was totally out of duty while attempting to do so.

To get an idea of how this complex music sounds, you just need to a listen to "So Sincere". It is a real and difficult exercise. Ouch! It bloody hurts! The sweet and jazzy "Aspirations" almost sounds as a jewel compared to this poor song.

This album is orphan of great songs IMHHO. The only good moment I have experienced is "No God's A Man"; and as a whole it can't rate pretty high on my scale. But since the beginning of my GG reviews, I have always said that very few of their music was able to rave me. So it was some thirty five years ago; so it is by now.

Two stars for this "Power & The Glory". No glory at all as far as I am concerned. All tastes are in nature.

Report this review (#308520)
Posted Saturday, November 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars To me this is the last great GG album. With the following albums start a decline that is very noticeable once Missing Piece came out. When I got my CD copy in the late 1990s, it was the only GG release available. At least in my area. That CD version did not have the bonus title track. I did end up hearing that song. Although a good song, it really does sound like something the band came up with at the last minute to please the record company.

A concept album about power and the perceived glory that comes with it. The medieval influence is not as strong here as on earlier albums. "Proclamation" is not only one of the best songs on the album, but one of the band's best songs. It begins with crowd noises and then a jazzy melody on Wurlitzer along with Derek Shulman's vocals. Everything starts to pick up after the drums make their entrance. After 2 minutes it goes into a great instrumental section with organ and fast piano. Then a symphonic rock section. After it goes back to the Wurlitzer melody with weird sounding keyboards. Then drums came back and the tempo increases. Ends with crowd noises.

"Aspirations" is pretty much a straight forward ballad sung by Kerry Minnear. "Playing The Game" is another highlight. Great synth bass at the beginning and throughout the song. Some kind of glockenspiel sound in the verses. A classical sounding guitar figure after the verses. Halfway through the song it changes to a part with Wurlitzer and Kerry, instead of Derek, doing the vocals. Later a great funky part with an organ solo. After that goes back to the beginning section.

"Cogs In Cogs" has the band playing two different time signatures at once. One of the band's more complex songs. In the middle is a great part with counterpoint vocals. The whole song has a great guitar sound from Gary Green. "No God's A Man" has some more nice counterpoint vocals. "The Face" has a good violin solo over clavinet and guitar. "Valedictory" is a more straight forward rockin' version of "Proclamation".

One of the best GG albums, although I do prefer what they did when Phil Shulman was still in the group. The next two albums sound similar to this but not quite as enjoyable. 4 stars.

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Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Terrible! is the only word used to describe this album.I never thought I'd use a rating so low in some album, but that moment came with "The Power and the Glory, " by Gentle Giant.I always heard the vocals matching the band, but here they are not legal. "So sincere" is perhaps one of the worst (if not the worst) music I ever heard in my life.All the other tracks are bad, except "No God's a man" a very nice track, the vocals here are legal,the instruments are in tune and everything works perfectly.This music is the only reason I give 2 stars is not for her I would give just one star on this album.
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Posted Sunday, January 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars A *** album: nothing more, nothing less. The good news is that the band seemingly looked into a crystal ball and saw that, almost thirty years later, I would be sad about them abandoning the approach of Octopus for the epics of In a Glass House, and thus went back to the "cram ideas into little spaces" approach I like. The bad news is that the band was pissed that I didn't worship all of the hard work they put into Glass House, and out of spite made the songs more dissonant and twisted than the band had ever done before. A concept album tracing a ruler's rise to and fall from power, it unfortunately intersperses some excellent numbers with some of the worst, most pointlessly complex and discordant tracks in my whole collection.

Among non-Prog Archives people I know that are familar with Gentle Giant, the trendy choice for the worst track here is "So Sincere," and I heartily agree with that mob. I read an interesting comment on the George Starostin site that said the track reflects "twisted logic and disingenuous political rhetoric," and thus matches the subject well with the loose, non- sensical structure and melody. Well, he may be right. And I just can't get myself to care (even though juxtapositions between subject matter and song approach often float my boat) - this is four minutes of pure discodant torture, almost sounding like a bad parody of the best Octopus moments. If you like it, good for you - as for me, I have enough things in this world to give me horrid headaches. Along those lines, I'm also not fond of "Cogs in Cogs" at all. Honestly, it sounds like something Genesis would have come up with on a really, really, really, really bad day, with the guitars buried in the background (playing some nice lines here and there) while Kerry wanks all over the place with keyboards that don't help much at all.

Fortunately, apart from those two monsters (and the slightly boring but not bad "No God's a Man"), the rest of the album is much more pleasant and interesting to my ears. The standout for me is the most 'normal' of these, the GORGEOUS keyboard-based ballad "Aspirations." Yup, my pop-sellout-whore ears are once again drawn to one of the band's high quality ballads, with Kerry wooing us with his delicate angel voice in a still decidedly untrivial vocal melody, with all sorts of moody electric piano tinklings and the band allowing itself some actual resonance.

That I love the 'simple' song of the album, though, in no way means that I'm snubbing the more complex stuff. "Proclamation" is a terrific, herky-jerky way to start things off - that dissonant electric piano riff, with a dissonant vocal melody to match, manages to be disturbingly catchy in its own prog-funk way, and all the usual wanking doesn't hurt things at all. I could take or leave the ULTRA-discordant sung mid-section, but I have to admit that it fits the flow of the song well, making it a sort of dialogue between the new ruler and his pious followers. Similarly, "Playing the Game" has its own catchy vibes-and-guitar duet theme (with a funk effect on the bass), with another great (and unintentionally poppy) vocal melody to match, with some more lovely atmosphere spread here and there. And finally, aside from the closing "Valedictory" (a good reprise of "Proclamation"), there's "The Face," where the violin-guitar duels of yore rear their head once more. Possibly the best jam of the album, possibly not, but a decent enough way to wind things down, even if the jam is a little overlong.

So in short, I actually like this album a lot more than I originally thought I did, but it's still well below the standard GG had previously established in my mind. The balance of complexity and listenability that they'd mastered well in the beginning was getting dangerously skewed here, and that they avoided total disaster here is a testament to the innate talent of the band, even if it wasn't always used in its best way.

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Posted Sunday, February 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I'm sad to see this band not getting its due--sliding down the ratings/charts--because it is a very influential and well-emulated and -referenced band and their virtuosity as musicians is quite undeniable. While their songs don't always please or make it easy for the listener, I truly admire their compositional intelligence, skill, and courage--they were always pushing the envelope. Even this more sedated, straightforward version of GG is outside the norm of pop or even prog music. For these reasons I could never imagine giving them less than three stars and maybe even four stars. They are an excellent albeit challenging musical experience--but, like Caravan, Gong, VDGG, echolyn, and maudlin of the Well, one that every so-called 'prog lover' should try to experience. IMHO, GG is the most intellectual band out there! What Magma is to the spiritual side of prog rock music, GG is to the mental side.

1. "Proclamation" (8/10) has a great jazzy beginning followed by some very enjoyable two-line concurrent singing. The song continues to develop but never quite strays into the dissonance or freneticism of their previous catologue of unthinkably complex song structures.

2. "So Sincere" (7/10) begins in such a cool Avant/RIO way but then diverges at the 1:25 minute mark into the B part--which turns out to be the chorus. I find it quite abrasive. Reminiscent of the choruses of Ancient Greek stage plays. The bridge to the part in which an electric guitar solos is also quite irritating and the actual solo is almost embarrassing when compared to the virtuosity demanded of normal GG song structures. A weird song--too weird for my tastes.

3. "Aspirations" (10/10) is an unusual GG song for its simplicity, slow pace, and pop-ness. It is, like a MAMAS & THE PAPAS song, quite gorgeous.

4. "Playing the Game" (8/10) is straightforward and melodic enough to, at times, even conjure up some BURT BACHARACH familiarities. Part 2 of the song, instrumental in its start, becomes somewhat JETHRO TULL & BRIAN AUGER-play-GENESIS-like! Again, GG seems sedated, more conscious of listener accessibility--which obviously helps this album gain its (much deserved) popularity. But,, at the same time, it is also somewhat sad in that they have had to seemingly 'dumb down' or 'dilute' their music in order to try 'please' or 'access' the masses--gone is the 'challenge' their music put before the listener to 'rise' to their level of sophistication. 'Yeah!' But. 'Too bad!'

5. "Cogs in Cogs" (7/10) is very sophisticated rock--almost jazzy--but, truly, rooted in rock and roll. Quite similar to parts of TODD RUNDGREN'S UTOPIA's "The Ikon."

6. "No Gods a Man" (10/10) hits the mark for me because of its accessibility. (Probably due to its rather subdued pace and the presence of some great melodies.) I love the CSN&Y-like vocals.

7. "Face" (7/10) is filled with some GG 'challenges' but is still much more straightforward and even tempoed than their previous three albums. Vocals are much more accessible, too.

8. "Valedictory" (7/10) has a bit of a FRANK ZAPPA/MOTHERS OF INVENTION feel to it--bluesy, loud and in your face.

9. "The Power and the Glory" (7/10) is a fairly straightforward song which sounds as if it comes right out of the ANDY PARTRIDGE/XTC catalog. In fact, I wonder if Andy was highly influenced and inspired by GG.

Not many bands have had the run of excellent album releases that GG did in the 1970s and this album is right in the middle of it (#5 of 7). Were I attuned to lyrics, this album might rate higher for me, but as it is, I consider it as a 4.5 star near-masterpiece of progressive rock music.

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Posted Thursday, March 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gentle Giant is one of my favorite bands of all time, and I wasn't entirely sure about that until I first heard "The Power and the Glory". From the staccato organ that opens the album and that funky bass that plays 'till the end of this album, I knew that this was the band that represented what my opinion of the best of progressive rock should sound like.

I won't go into the tracks individually, because there is too much to say about each one. Every track has Gentle Giants trademark bizarreness and complexity, and strong elements of funk and jazz, accentuated by the medieval themes that Gentle Giant fans have come to love. Every member of the band is at the absolute top of their game on this album, and it comes through indefinitely.

Masterpiece of eclectic progressive rock, without a shadow of a doubt.

Report this review (#429415)
Posted Friday, April 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars My first impression of THE POWER AND THE GLORY was that I was listening to yet another Gentle Giant album and wasn't thoroughly impressed. Then I realised that this album does not sound as plasticised as future Gentle Giant albums do. This is where Gentle Giant takes the masterwork of IN A GLASS HOUSE, and tweaks the music to align more with the more popular prog sound of the time, yet still retaining that GG quirkiness that makes fans very happy.

The first five tracks are of similar quality to that of the previous two albums, or are slightly weaker at worst. ''So Sincere'' has a cold, calculated feel to it that strives to be too complex for its own sake, yet it works to an extent. The out-of-their-gourd complexity sounds more natural and meaningful on the very playful ''Cogs in Cogs''. And lest I forget about the classics of ''Proclamation'' and ''Playing the Game'', two tracks that harbour that classic GG sound that we all think of?

The last three tracks seem too tacked on with nice moments coming on enough to make me smile, yet not often enough to keep my interest. The whole album serves as a big dividing wall between my ears and Derek Shulman's voice; Derek's singing gets irritating far too often to the point where the album's closer is ruined by just that. The moments that Kerry Minnear has to sing aren't often enough for me, especially with ''Aspirations'' having some of the best GG moments.

It seems that Gentle Giant needed to broaden their fan base to ensure they had some success, so the quirky, eclectic nature of albums like OCTOPUS and ACQUIRING THE TASTE are thrown out into a more streamlined prog sound that appeals to more of the prog masses. It is still a very good album that one ought to discover early in their GG exploration phase and not six albums in like I did.

Report this review (#480730)
Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gentle Giant once again repeat their trick of producing a progressive rock album which manages to both be incredibly complex and intricate and yet, on the other hand, insanely catchy. Tracing the story of a naive and idealistic politician who eventually ends up selling out to the establishment and abandoning his promises of reform, the album traces the central character's career from the opening Proclamation (whose opening crowd noises suggest the candidate's election on a wave of public approval) to the closing Valedictory (whose megaphone noises at the start and the tape effect at the close suggest that the candidate has become a thing of the media, with no real connection to humanity beyond press releases and soundbites), and is a great listen every step of the way. Kerry Minnear's keyboard work and the percussion of John Weathers deserve particular note this time around. Yet another five-star classic from the Giant.
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Posted Saturday, September 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars The British group's sixth studio release and a fan favourite amongst the group's cult following, 'The Power & The Glory' would find this most intriguing of progressive rock outfits and it's phenomenally-talented line-up of brothers and multi-instrumentalists producing some of the most complex, dissonant and ambitious material of their whole careers. With a discography that can basically be divided into three distinct stylistic phases(we'll come to that later) 'Gentle Giant' have throughout their decade-and-a-half existence shaped some of the most fiendishly intricate music of the entire progressive rock genre. Centred around the three Schulman brothers, Gentle Giant's origins can be traced back to the summer of 1966 when they were originally known as the orchestrally-flavoured, psych- tinged pop-act Simon Dupree & The Big Sound. Based in the Southern coastal town of Portsmouth, the group, like many others before and after them, began their musical life as a covers band, playing soul, R'n'B, and pop covers of the day at small clubs and bars. Their big break came when they were spotted by talent-scouts from EMI's off-shoot Parlophone Records, who subsequently offered the group a short-term recording deal during the final months of 1966. Positioned as a straight pop act just as psychedelia was starting to grow in popularity, Simon Dupree & The Big Sound briefly flirted with chart success when their trippy single 'Kites' reached the top ten of the UK singles chart in 1967. It would subsequently be followed by two further singles but both failed to scale the lofty heights reached by 'Kites, leading to a change in musical direction spearheaded by the three brothers at the group's core. Surrounded by music from a young age Phil, Derek and Ray Schulman could very well be described as musical prodigies though somehow that accolade doesn' seem quite lofty enough. Each brother was a capable vocalist and proficient on a number of instruments, with Phil Schulman, the oldest of the trio by a good ten years, a consumate saxophonist and trumpeter, middle brother Derek handling bass duties and lead vocals, and baby-brother Ray a highly capable violinist and guitarist. Feeling restricted by the limited pop format being forced upon them by their label, Simon Dupree & The Big Sound was subsequently dissolved in 1970 and their deal with EMI/Parlophone terminated. Impressed by the emerging progressive sounds of King Crimson and Yes and wanting to flex their considerable instrumental muscles, the brothers started to piece together a new outfit dedicated to producing only original music. After many auditions(including working with a then little-known pianist called Reginald Dwight) the trio hired Gary Green(guitar, flute), Kerry Minnear(keyboards, bass, cello, vocals) and Martin Smith(drums), named their fledgling group Giant and signed to entertainment svengali Tony Visconti's newly-minted Vertigo imprint. During the summer of 1970 Giant entered London's Trident studio's to record what would become their eponymously-titled debut album, though thinking that the name 'Giant' was more suitable for heavy rock group, Visconti persuaded the brothers to insert the moniker Gentle and thus the final piece of the puzzle had been located. Gentle Giant were born. The group's first album displayed the impressive instrumental chops of not only the brothers but also of their new found bandmates, with 'Gentle Giant' exhibiting a folk-tinged and slightly medieval sound. A moderate success in the UK, 'Gentle Giant' was followed by the similarly-styled efforts 'Acquiring The Taste'(1971), 'Three Friends'(1972) and 'Octopus'(1972), before Phil Schulman, tired of the relentless merry-go-round of writing, recording and touring, decided to quit. After determining not to replace their big brother, Gentle Giant started to develop a harder, darker and less whimsical edge that relied less on acoustic instruments and saw heavier guitars added to the mix. The first album developed without Phil was 1973's 'In A Glass House', a radical slice of symphonic prog showcasing a new found confidence that saw the group's already highly-complicated style take on an even more complex angle. 'In A Glass House' would mark the beginning of a new phase for Gentle Giant, the group's second phase, with their new, diamond-sharp style making better- known and more commercially-successful contemporaries such as Pink Floyd, Genesis and Van Der Graaf Generator seem tame and mundane in comparison, no easy trick. Following on in 1974, 'The Power & The Glory' arguably represents Gentle Giant at their creative, if not commercial, peak. Recorded in London's West End, at Advision studios, and produced by the group themselves, album number six eschewed almost entirely the whimsical story-telling that had been such a feature of the group's earlier material, with the quaint medieval undercurrent that characterized critically-lauded albums such as 'Acquiring The Taste' and 'Octopus' replaced by a dense tapestry of experimental instrumental passages, grazing guitar riffs and fiendishly complicated time signatures layered over one another with frightening dexterity. Indeed, although there were only five members in the group, the music often made it sound like there were many more. Nominally a concept album-of-sorts, 'The Power & The Glory' is based on that age-old moral warning: 'Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely', as the eight individual tracks chart the various quandaries facing a political figure who initially tries to use his power for good but ultimately begins to abuse his status the more prominent he becomes. This cautionary journey is described such tracks as the rambling opener 'Proclamation', the album's longest piece at just under seven minutes, the awkwardly- structured 'So Sincere' and the almost anthemic 'Playing The Game'. Introduced by the sound of a vast, roaring crowd, 'Proclomation' features a delicate keyboard melody slowly building up, in typical Gentle Giant style, to something much more grand as incongruous percussion skitters around the tune's edges with jazzy intent. It's a difficult, jerky piece, almost tuneless in some of it's darker moments, that never really settles into a single rhythm, though Gary Green's menacing guitar breaks give follow-up 'So Sincere' slightly more focus. The album really bursts into life, however, on the awesome 'Playing The Game', a stone-cold Gentle Giant classic featuring an outrageously catchy central riff conjured up between a clipped vibraphone chord, impressively byzantine guitar licks - again courtesy Green - and some lightly funk-dipped drum rhythms. In what seems to be a stylistic theme running through all of 'The Power & The Glory', 'Playing The Game' momentarily interrupts it's slick flow to allow a brief, almost ethereal respite of vocal harmonies before the vibrant guitar licks reappear accompanied by a hail of impossibly- intricate drum rolls and chord changes. Finally, on the album's metallic closer 'Valedictory', bar-room pianos, echo-drenched vocals, chiming guitars and dancing synth runs combine for a last, epic assault of experimental discordia and progressive noodling, closing the album with a sense of unease that is merely amplified by the group's absolute refusal to settle on a single chord, melody or rhythm for a few seconds without injecting it with their brazen and highly-creative habit of multi-layering almost every decible with a opposing line. The effect can be somewhat jarring, yet the sheer complexity on offer can also be truly awe-inspiring. Although, commercially speaking, Gentle Giant failed to hit the heights of their more popular contemporaries, the group's music is considered by many fans and critics to be amongst the most important and influential within the progressive rock genre, with 'The Power & The Glory' finding the remaining Schulman brothers and their talented accomplices at their most deliberately ambitious. Showcasing a highly-evolved tapestry of sounds and colours, this is music-making in the boldest sense of the term, unafraid of commercial constraints or stylistic trends. Despite the occasional indulgence this is an enthralling ride of an album that, even within the paradigms of prog, somehow defies description. It's certainly rock, but not as we know it...
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Posted Friday, November 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Gentle Giant has an own distinctive styl and they were so good in it that they were never beaten on their own territory. This styl is build on melodies with many silent intervals. These silent intervals are sometimes just empty and other times they are filled with other instruments also playing melodies with many silent intervals. The result is a lot of "pling-plong" layers which create the total melodie line. Because Gentle Giant was also very fond of odd timeschedules the effect is often really complex and/or bizar.

On "The Power and The Glory" Gentle Giant is playing the styl described aboth very consequently. This is a truly eclect prog record with almost no relation with other styles like folk, symhoprog, etc. The moods differ from chaotic, sinister, majestic to paranoia. Let's give an example: So Sincere starts with a sinister minimalistic violin melodie (with several silent intervals as described aboth). These violin melodies form the base for the couplets. The refrains however turn to total paranoia with a lot of instrumentation which fit in strange chaotic way, while played very tight. The change in atmosphere is gigantic (which is normal with giant's and here we just deal with the gentle kind) from minimalist and sinister to maximalistic (does this term exist?) and happy/chaotic/paranoia.

Some of the songs are great and some are just good. This record will take some time to understand, but it's worth some time.

Report this review (#707373)
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Power And The Glory is my favourite Gentle Giant album. I would recommend it as an excellent starting point to explore the band. Most of their albums were of superb quality come to think of it, such as the moodier "Glass House". This one rocks with a bit more energy, although they never really ran short in that department! What a tough job it is describing GG's sound. Many reviewers have pretty much hit the nail on the head. Quirky, catchy, peculiar, crafty and complex are some good adjectives I suppose. Best songs on here are "Proclamation", "Playing The Game" and "The Face". Be sure to play this album as loud as possible!
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Posted Saturday, August 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars Hail to Power and to Glory's way!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Power and the Glory is exactly what it says it is. Gentle Giant was growing steadily, starting from already excellent Acquiring the taste. After each album, the listener would be willing to say: This is it, it can not become any better! But it did! Unfortunately, it stopped doing it after The Power and the Glory. Absolutely massive work of multiple geniuses, of witch the band consist! Most surely must have of all must haves! So, how was it for a sell speach? I do it easily, because this is it, truely! 5 stars at least, and I would love to have a plus sign as well :-)
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Posted Saturday, December 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars If not as great as 'Octopus' or 'In a Glass House', is their most successful approach into a commercial sound and still countersign a concept album into the proggest way. Funny, clever and gigantic.

The uproar brush its entrance on a echoed moog and Shulmman voice with a "Proclamation", about his current life and how luck could change that situation, slowly but firmly it goes growing in rhythm and instrumentation, the hums move forward to the expectation of some nice news. Before long here and there the tempo changes among dynamic keyboards burst onto a dark ironic hail, devoted hooraying for risk of the bet and 'the power and the glory way' that carries that lucky odd game.

As the number runs, strings in jazzy the mood calm down and recites a strange apology for the character himself, 'So Sincere' takes the feelings going up and then down and up again trying to hide emotions that betray his game.

Abruptly all turns to the moog whispering in calm reflection and claims for the revision of "Aspirations" of being human and right and the duty of every man to lead its own way. Soft, sweet, is almost a ballad for the lost man. A haunting song.

Then comes the reason for this album and the first track I've heard from here. After all the Cartesian spirits from the former, the medieval sound, so moody into the band beat, returns and offers a less somber tune as this character risk for once and starts "Playing the Game" without losing all the prog features, this track turns into a more jovial and accessible sound. Perhaps trying to reach for a new target. Or maybe they've just having a laugh for a while.

A more dense and way progger fierce the instrumental intro of "Cogs in Cogs" breaks from the fade of the former and actives the business machinery of money and vicious circles. Clearly the rhythm goes more enthusiastic and kind of aggressive. The man's frustration around this treacherous world is almost palpable. There is a point (a fascinating melodic interlude with some vocal out tempos) where the character could analyze the vicious circle from outside before being voraciously turn back in the wheel.

Again those medieval strings lead the path out of the machinery and into the loneliness, a contemplative loneliness where "No God's a Man" and still every man must face their own fates. Smooth and a little dim.

So "The Face" opens with a great, really great violin intro. The moog escort subtle and straight, and guitars turn into a rocker side. Push throughout a new chance, another attempt for the success, where strategy and tactic could be the best weapons for the use. Easily the most dynamic track of the album. Frantic and ravenous keeps moving from beginning to end. Clearly an understated piece.

"Valedictory" closes the album reprising with a harder strength over the first track, like a wheel turning over its own origin start. With a slower rhythm and a noisier sound the character accepts his fate into the vicious circle, surrendered before 'The Power and the Glory' he'll never reach.

A bonus track from the 35th Anniversary edition is "The Power and the Glory" has a merry yet ironic attitude towards the dangers of defiance and risky style of life. The song is clearly part of the story with the character take the risk for a happy run, but musically contrasts with the resting atmosphere aiming for a happy ending of sorts and being a little more quickly, it feels like was done in a rush. Not a bad song at all, yet not entirely round. For any newbie into the knowledge of this magnificent band, this could be the perfect start. Is more accessible than others works, after and before, and yet it captures the progressive essence of the band. Let's make it a lucky shot.

Report this review (#912716)
Posted Monday, February 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars The Power and the Glory' is probably Gentle Giant's most complex, and consequently the hardest to get into. Though I believe this album represents the band's sound and style just as well as Octopus.

'Proclamation' starts off promising, but the terribly dissonant vocals near the end really hamper it. Still, this is probably my favorite track from the album.

'So Sincere' is a very avant-garde type track that seems to go all over the place; definitely not my favorite.

'Aspirations' is probably the most poppy song on the album and also the most listenable, though not as complex as the others. I especially like the floating keyboards which give a loose jam feel.

'Playing the Game' is a fun song based on a pretty catchy riff, and is probably the most straightforward song on the album.

'Cogs in Cogs' is another highly regarded song from the band. The song is in a few odd times like 7/8 and 15/8, and changes frequently. But it is fairly catchy considering.

The remaining 'No Gods A Man,' 'The Face' and 'Valedictory' are classic Gentle Giant tunes, and nothing out of the ordinary really happens in either.

While this is not nearly as good as their previous In a Glass House, I would rate it above others like Octopus, due to its insane complexity, but also relative listen ability. Regardless, this is still a difficult album for me to get into, and takes a very special mood for me to enjoy it fully.


Report this review (#915400)
Posted Monday, February 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars To me this is the best LP of their carreer. The power and the glory is a concept album based on the life of a monarch who first gain in popularity with his political power but then he found himself to abuse the power and become as others in the past making his promises of a brighter futre vain. To many, this is considered the most complex Gentle Giant LP making it one of the most hard-listening album of their discography. I personally think that this could be a great starting point for everyone who want to start to discover their music, infact songs like Proclamation, Aspiration, Playing the Game, Cogs in Cogs and The Face presents all the good characteristics of their music: complex melodies, polyphony, hocketing, polymetrics, and so on. So, let's begin analyzing all the tracks.

Proclamation is the S**t! Sorry for swearing, but this track is so awesome that you cannot find a better word necessary to describe its coolness! It begins with a syncopatic jazzy riff played with the Rhodes piano, then all the instruments comes in and it's delirium. Later the tempos and riffs changes and it becomes even better than the beginning. Then the song stops and you'll going to hear Derek Shulman singing "hail to power and to glorious way, day by day" under unusual chords and harmonies creating a dark and hypnotic atmosphere... Just awesome! Then the songs goes back to the initial style but with different tempo, the songs fade out and so you heard one of the most awesome song of progressive rock history!

So sincere it's another great track, definitly more relaxing than the previous... at least in the beginning! Very different from the first one, it starts out smoothly with saxophone and violins and then slowly the other instruments comes in. There's a great guitar solo played by Gary Green and a fast and funky piano passage after it, played by Kerry Minnear of course. The song is very nice and smooth, and it relly has that experimental Gentle Giant feeling!

Next is Aspiration, an even softer track than the previous. It really looks like a love song, but it just give that impression. The lyrics are more like a pray, an adimrational speech to the monarch; it is surely a satirical and ironical lyrics, the people have so much trust to the monarch they give him, as the lyrics suggest, future and fate. The music keeps the same tone for al the song, there's no much to say about but it is really enjoyable.

Next song is Playing the Game, and this in set in a more Gentle Giant style since the beginning: Polymetric, sounds experiments, influence from medieval music, all good stuff. The song changes in the middle part in a more softer way but then it hits you with a great Hammond solo, one of my Kerry Minnear favourites. The song is simply a great classic, one of the best in Gentle Giant's repertory.

Cogs in cogs is actually the shortest song of the LP (with exeption of the power and the glory which was not included in the original release), but I think is one of the most complex the band ever created. In 3.08 we hear everything these guys can do. If you want to hear a 100% Gentle Giant song, you can put this song on and see what their music is all about. The beginning looks like a mess but everything is played in an astounding precision and that's was one of the best things the Gentle Giant was the best at, as in the polymetric in the middle part; not only two voices plays in different tempos but so is the bass and the organ. Every second of this song is simply a masterpiece.

No Gods of Man is another calm song of this LP, I personally think it's the weakest, but still an ok song. We hear different instruments in the beginning, such the vibraphone and the clavinet which a dominant sound in this song and set the tone for the rest of the time. The music is nice and calm and it has that distinctive medieval influence that many Gentle Giant songs has. This is a song that you surely you want to check out.

The Face is one of my favourite of this LP. It starts out with a violin intro with the guitar and keyboard playing in the pauses making a great syncopatic melody. The song has a very adrenalinic tempo and great solos in the middle part, expecially the electric violin one. The singing is awesome too, and the monarch has reach the limit of its power.

Valedictory is the last track of the LP and it recovers some of the riffs of Proclamation. The promisses made (and that's probably why the recall of Proclamation) have not been kept and the monarch tries to redeem himself telling that he is the same person as before though the power abuse. As the song goes the theme gets claustrofobic, riff changes and they get even claustrofobic. The hammond does a great job in this tracks, there is some great passages and i personally love its sound in this song. Then... HAIL! And the LP is over.

This LP is a classic and it's my personal favourite of their discography. It has everything that Gentle Giant music is all about and though it could be an hard-listening for newbies it still my personal raccomandation... for most of the songs in. Gentle Giant music is very intresting and for a full comprehension of their music you should listen the entire discography. This album is not an easy listening one but if you want a general idea of Gentle Giant's music, pick up this one!

Report this review (#965315)
Posted Sunday, May 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars My favourite Gentle Giant album by far and away, "The Power And The Glory" is so musically exciting and unique compared to all of their early works which I often switch off listening to. There is such a refined signature sound that runs through all of the pieces. It fits all of the disparities you hear on the album, and is seriously indescribable. The band's extreme talents all work together, augmenting these incredibly intricate pieces as they are. Undoubtedly a masterpiece.

"Proclamation" starts with that recognisable funky offbeat keyboard, layered on with Derek's deliciously peculiar melodies, teamed with quite a harsh delivery. Despite what my family thinks, the song has excellent melodies throughout, and keeps on building with electric and bass guitars that ingeniously fill the gaps between the keyboard riff, as if to give it a delayed sound. This creates a superb effect, and adds to the dissonant middle section, where everything comes together to punch you in the face! The best track on the album and an outstanding track almost beyond belief! "So Sincere" then enters with similarly brilliantly sagacious lyrics and distinctive chord progressions to the opener, shining a whole new light on this chaotic all-instruments-everywhere in the chorus. Very innovative techniques and another tremendous track!

"Aspirations" retreats more towards acoustic guitars, with more "singable" melodies (all of which beautiful) and a great contrast to the first insane 10 minutes. The lyrics and vocals are much gentler, and the instruments still fill the gaps with some funky rhythms, and occasional intriguing chord progressions. Another very creative piece of songwriting. "Playing The Game" is immediately brought in with some very intriguing effects and music, soon getting you into another groove with a return of Derek's vocals. Once again, the melodies keep this signature sound but are somehow very different to all the other tracks on the album. All sorts of musical excellence is hurtled towards you, which you are able to intercept after a few listens. If this album does sound a little "perplexing" to begin with, still give a couple more tries - you won't regret it, especially if you're at all into King Crimson or VDGG. Anyway, the track becomes much more depressed on the flip of a coin, with a wonderful keyboard solo leading you back into the familiar verses to end it.

"Cogs In Cogs" introduces some more odd time signatures and percussive keyboard techniques, forming a very active song that works fantastically live and in the studio. Very heavy and each instrument hits the offbeat notes so definitely! "Cogs In Cogs" probably shows their greatest talents on the album, additionally including inspired melodies and a quirky dissonant feel for a piece with major arpeggios playing on low down on the song. A little too short compared to the other tracks, but nonetheless one of Gentle Giant's best. "No God's A Man" then brings in some nylon guitars to the mix, and carries a very flowing, airy atmosphere compared to their more manic pieces. Very gentle on the ears, with some more harmonies that really push the boundaries of even progressive music! Fantastic instrumentation by each member, with some great acoustic pianos and occasional electric guitar outbursts, plus many other of these strange tools making a one-off appearance on the track.

"The Face" immediately enters with another symphony of crazy melodies, with an excellent inclusion of the violin too. Has a great feel and structure too, and quite underrated in my opinion, although the vocal melodies are perhaps a little repetitive for such a track. Otherwise, yet another flawless piece, remaining the album's standard unbelievably high. "Valedictory" then reprises the distant "Proclamation", almost forgotten by the absolute overload of music crammed into just over half an hour. A little more melodic, and less dissonant than the opener, with a slower tempo - qualities which help prove it as a grand closing track. Perhaps could have been a teensy bit more adventurous and outgoing for Gentle Giant, but essential to the album and brings it all home brilliantly.

A(+): A very underrated album by the general public, and to an extent, even progressive fans! Combining funk, rock, and 20th century classical elements, it sticks to the true meaning of progressive music in a year when Yes and ELP were becoming more distant from real experimentalism. A must-have for every prog rock fan.

Proclamation: ***** So Sincere: ***** Aspirations: ***** Playing The Game: ***** Cogs In Cogs: ***** No God's A Man: **** The Face: ***** Valedictory: ****

Report this review (#987950)
Posted Friday, June 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gentle Giant's sixth album is another strong candidate for their best album. They put out six masterpieces in a row in my opinion( Acquiring The Taste - Freehand) bookended by two very good albums (Gentle Giant and Interview) That's a good thing. Especially if you are just getting into the band, there is plenty of great material to enjoy.

The Power and the Glory continues the leaner, tighter approach since Octopus thanks to John Weather's tight drumming. Since Phil Shulman left the band, Kerry Minnear's complex keyboard compositions took a larger role. The music did not lose it's complexity one iota.

Proclamation kicks off this concept album about over-controlling leaders with a quirky, funky keyboard intro as Derek Shulman portrays the leader essentially telling his followers who's in charge for better or for worse. An epic tune.

So Sincere, with it's jagged quirky meter it always amazes me how John Weathers can always find the pulse and effortlessly anchor the band's complex arrangements. A true talent. The lyrics describe a leader's truthful demeanor as he spews his lies and empty promises.

Aspirations is a slower, mellower tune with Kerry Minnear leading the way with his Fender Rhodes keyboards and lead vocals. This song is about the people's faith and hope in their leader's promises to lead them out of troubled times and to make good on his promises.

Playing the Game is a mid tempo rocker with great melodies and rhythms throughout. The leader outlines the extent of his seemingly limitless power and reveals the fact that he'll do some good to gain the trust of his followers, have the people do as he says, then continue with his deceitful ambitions and split when the going gets bad. That this is the recipe for winning the game.

Cogs in Cogs is a very intense workout vocally and instrumentally. Amazing ensemble playing GG is known for and they played this live! The lyrics describe how the people are disillusioned and restless as they realize the empty promises of their leader.

No God's a Man. Some people say this is a weak track. Not me. Yes it is slower but the contrapuntal instrumental intro giving away to the well placed vocals is amazing and extraordinarily sublime. Then comes the many changes adhering to the theme morphing back into the verse. An amazing tune. The lyrics deal with the people realizing that the leader is just a man and never deserved the high praise he was given and to not expect anything radically different from future leaders.

The Face, a scorching complex rocker telling the leader to own up to his own actions or to put on the proper face when addressing the people. Excellent violin and guitar solo in this one.

Valedictory. Sounding similar to Proclamation indicating the leader's tenure gone full circle. Giving his farewell speech, he puts some blame on the followers for the state of the nation deflecting blame from himself and that "Power and Glory's Way" will prevail no matter how you rearrange it or whomever takes his place.

So there it is. One of my all time favorite albums. probably not the best GG to start with but a masterpiece that belongs in any comprehensive progressive rock collection.

Report this review (#1030005)
Posted Friday, September 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
Second Life Syndrome
5 stars Gentle Giant is often forgotten by many of the die-hard 70s progheads. Even worse, some of them just plain hate this interesting group. I myself find that I like the mighty GG even better than some of the standard prog masters, such as Yes or Genesis. The reason for this is that GG is just so dang strange sometimes. GG just has a way of taking the oddest time signatures and grooves, and making them work. They might take a few spins to sound right, but it'll happen.

I've decided to listen through the GG discography, and so far I've loved Octopus way more than I expected. I loved it so much that I didn't think it possible that the next album would be even better. I was wrong. "The Power and the Glory" is a better album, and I feel it is more cohesive and structured, too. There are a couple reasons for this.

First, this is a concept album. Now, I'm a sucker for concept albums, so that may haze my judgment. But with a concept in play, the album is so clear and concise. The theme for this album is a social commentary on unjust rulers. As this is very relevant still today, I quickly identified with the lyrics, which is always important to me.

Secondly, I feel that the musicians were just on point here. There was obviously much inspiration. All the instruments come together, complement each other, and also have the same tone. Case in point, "Playing the Game" has an awesome guitar line that is perfectly supplemented by a killer funky bass line. I could listen to this tune all day! I'm afraid to say it, but it almost sounds a little like proggy disco at times. I know that most people are probably gagging at the thought, but I think it works. Each and every song, however, is unique and seriously good. My favorites besides "Playing the Game" are the bold "Proclamation", the quiet "Aspirations", the melodious "No God's a Man", and also the folksy "The Face".

With Haken's "The Mountain" bringing some more attention to Gentle Giant (seriously, everyone is talking about GG), I think it's high time that these awesome artists receive more recognition. Funky, technical, melodic, folksy, eclectic, and so much more; GG is definitely my favorite 70s prog band.

Report this review (#1052366)
Posted Thursday, October 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars

"Hail to Power and to Glory's way."

This is my very first music review. I've recently started purchasing my favorite prog albums, and this one was my first acquisition. I didn't choose randomly, because this is easily among my top 10 favorite prog albums of all time.

When I rate an album, I consider four major aspects. The first and most important aspect is coherence, general impression and atmosphere, since we are talking about a prog album. This doesn't mean that only a concept album can be outstanding from this point of view. The order of the songs, the length of them, the changes in mood and tempo are important here. The songs shouldn't be too similar, because many similar songs won't crate a coherent piece of art, that should be listened in whole, they are only tracks in a playlist. The second aspect is the individual quality of the songs. Sometimes a great song can make an album. Good songwriting is essential. Songs shouldn't only consist of different passages glued together, changing rapidly, even if progressive music always aspired to break the barriers of conventional songwriting. The third aspect is how many times do I want to re-listen the album. This is purely subjective, and hard to explain the differences. Sometimes I consider an album better than the other in terms of quality, but still listen to the other much more frequently. Maybe I can identify myself better with the one I listen the most. The fourth aspect is not the fourth because it's the least important, but because it has an impact on all previous three aspects, and I want to mention it separately. It's originality and uniqueness of the sound. Bands with a unique style have advantage here.

Now, after I explained my rating method, I can finally get to business. The Power And The Glory is my favorite album from Gentle Giant and it fully meets all my requirements. It is a concept album, based on the career of a politician, who supposedly wanted to use political power to do good, but when he got it, eventually started to abuse it, like all the other politicians he fought against. Politics isn't a frequent subject for prog rock, and Gentle Giant managed to fill this gap really well. The lyrics are very true, and sometimes make you smile with a bit of humor.

In terms of music, IMO this is the most complicated album by GG, the hardest to get into, not as if the others were easily accessible. Proclamation starts off the album well, not sparing the audience at all, with the dissonant vocals. So Sincere is the most weird song on the album, I really like the lyrics, and the way it's presented. Aspirations is one of my all time favorite songs, and even my friends, who don't like prog rock, like it. This giant is gentle, indeed. This song is calm and beautiful, the atmosphere matches the lyrics excellently, and I like to sing along, but unfortunately I have a terrible voice. The next four songs present the evolution of the character and the increasing dissatisfaction of the people. Valedictory closes the album. It is very similar to the first track, and this way emphasizes how the main character became the exact opposite of himself, the circle is closed, an other individual will replace him, who'll probably walk the same path. We also get a bonus track at the end, a song released as a single. Here the guys created a bit more conventional song. It kind of summarizes the concept.

At first I didn't really enjoy The Power And The Glory, but in time it grew on me. These kind of albums are one of the best, eventually. I give it 5 stars in each category.

Report this review (#1197559)
Posted Tuesday, June 24, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Many have written about this album and this band before me so I am not breaking new land, but for me Gentle Giant isn't directly new but still unexplored. Gentle Giant has been one of these bands I recognize as important even if I have been more into other bands. That is perhaps changing now. I decided to begin review records from the magical year of 1974, now celebrating their fortieth birthday.

In ten years this English band released eleven studio albums of which the most are worth hearing. "The Power and the Glory" was their sixth album and followed "In a glass house". GG's music is essential for prog listeners because their music explains without words exactly what prog is. They defined it(together with others) and they got successors. On "The Power and the Glory" the band had refined their sound and become a bit more straight. To be honest I think some earlier records are more interesting with a bigger variety of instruments. Though is it too much to say Gentle Giant had compromised with their sound. That began with "The missing piece". Still cello, saxes and violins were in use together with crazy guitars and keyboards.

An extraordinary cover hides extraordinary music, nine songs of huge interesting. "Proclamation" is a typical Gentle Giant fanfare which shows the beginners a fantastic world but my favourites here are "Aspirations", calm and harmonic and "No God's a Man" which is more crazy. Listen to the record carefully and enjoy every note, it is worth that. Let the music make you believe you are the king on the front page. As so many others have said this is a very good record!

Report this review (#1298264)
Posted Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'The Power and the Glory' - Gentle Giant (61/100)

It doesn't matter whether we're talking about progressive rock released in 2014 or 1974- technical chops only go so far. If an album's to leave a lasting impression, it needs a heart to go along with its head. Gentle Giant have always had at least one of those, but my impression of The Power and the Glory is less coloured by the overabundance of one than it is by the apparent lack of the other.

From the self-titled to Acquiring the Taste, from that to Three Friends, from Octopus to In a Glass House, Gentle Giant defined themselves as a band in stylistic transit, evolving at the risk of alienating fans of their past work. I don't feel that same degree of evolution on The Power & the Glory, Gentle Giant's sixth album, released in the dead-centre of their arguable 'peak' era. After stripping the superfluous arrangements and focusing their sound on In a Glass House, I think Gentle Giant had finally found a sound that favoured consistency over constant reinvention. While it's sometimes described as the most complex and challenging Gentle Giant's music ever got, The Power and the Glory's obvious technical merits are shadowed in part by its considerably more 'glorious' antecedent. To be certain, the music Gentle Giant made at this stage in their career is a mite too unfeeling and angular for my own tastes, but The Power and the Glory has enough meat on its bones to make for a challenging listen for its prospectively adventurous audience.

This marks the second time Gentle Giant would dive into 'concept album' territory, following Three Friends; considering the band drew their bread and butter from every progressive rock cliche and expectation (and amping them up to 11), the concept route is so fitting I'm surprised they only went for it thrice (including the less-narrative-but-still-conceptual Interview two years later). The Power and the Glory wraps itself around the concept of an inevitable abuse of power, in spite of the best intentions someone may have had during the time they spent acquiring it. It's the most intellectually promising subject matter Gentle Giant would ever tackle, far moreso than the relatively simple narrative for Three Friends. I actually think Three Friends succeeded far more as a concept album than this however; The Power and the Glory is a more consistent record musically and lends itself to greater depth, but the conceptual simplicity of Three Friends is part of what made it work in the first place. Released in the recent wake of the Watergate Scandal, The Power and the Glory may have been a more relevant concept, but the album's lyrical exploration feels pretty dry and static. Lyrics were never Gentle Giant's strength anyway.

...neither were vocals, for that matter. While Three Friends offered some of the most layered and sporadic vocal arrangements I've ever heard in rock music, the departure of lead singer Phil Shulman post- Octopus resulted in Gentle Giant downsizing the role vocals played in their music. The Power and the Glory is the most straightforward album Gentle Giant had done up to that point, and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. Nothing on The Power and the Glory impresses me as much as Three Friends' vocal schizophrenics, but leaving more attention for the instrumentation was both a safe and effective decision for them to make. Derek Shulman sounds like a poor man's Peter Gabriel. Kerry Minnear- the more interesting of the two lead voices- still sounds like a poor man's Peter Hammill. When they do attempt the lavish vocal harmonies (see: "No God's a Man") it is needlessly cluttered, not impressive. Gentle Giant's vocals are decent for the most part ("So Sincere" is a dreaded exception to this rule) but I don't think they ever fully recovered from Phil Shulman's absence as vocalist. Given the aforementioned downsizing, I think they felt the same way.

Unsurprisingly, Gentle Giant's dense and complex musicianship (their defining characteristic) takes centre-stage, although now more than ever, the effect of their work depends on the holistic arrangement over individual riffs and performances. If there's anything in particular that's made The Power and the Glory less effective than In a Glass House, it's the absence of singularly memorable ideas. I do love "Playing the Game" for its quaint Genesis-style melodic phrasing and exotic riff, but for the most part, it feels like Gentle Giant had become too erudite for their own good by this point. I hate to be the kind of mouth- breather that can't get beyond lamenting how great they were with Acquiring the Taste, but come on; there was a passion and organic quality in the first years of their career, and somewhere along the way, they lost it. The Power and the Glory continues the pattern of angular rock riffing, overzealous arrangements and (dare I say) pretentious attitude that became so much a part of their format that The Power and the Glory feels much less adventurous than it first seems or undoubtedly considers itself to be.

It's a good thing Gentle Giant would return to a more playful context with Free Hand.

Report this review (#1360747)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gentle Giant were sort of the "odd-man-out" group when it came to popular 70s progressive rock bands. While maintaining a solid fanbase, they never really achieved the stardom that bands such as Rush or Yes received; when you start listening to the band's music, it quickly becomes evident why this was the case. In the liner notes of their second album Acquiring the Taste, the band stated: "It is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular." During their prime, they'd follow this quote and shun the commercial world as the commercial world generally shunned them in return. It's really quite unfortunate though, as the group made some of progressive rock's finest works; they'd mix technicality and multi-faceted arrangements with an emotional weight and depth rarely seen in progressive rock. Nowhere does that seem more wonderfully represented than in their 1975 masterpiece The Power and the Glory.

The record is a concept album about a man who wants to use his political power in a beneficial way. However, as he becomes more power-hungry and dictatorial, the man ultimately becomes no different than the leaders who came before him. It's a pretty typical concept, but it also allows for Gentle Giant to get creative with their themes and musical settings. For instance, the opening track "Proclamation" has a very frantic discordant section in the middle, suggesting panic stemming from either the previous leader or the position of this new leader in the story. Also, every song references the previous song by title; so for instance, "So Sincere" would put "Proclamation" somewhere in its lyrics, "Aspirations" would put "So Sincere" somewhere in its lyrics, and so forth. It's a clever way to tie each song and theme together, all leading to the climactic "Valedictory" which displays the complete reinvention of the main character; the song is essentially a more distorted and dark version of "Proclamation," leading the story and album to come full circle. A great concept indeed.

Musically, Gentle Giant were better than ever here. You've got the typical sudden changes and instrumental shift displayed in other albums by the band, but there's a greater sense of cohesion at the same time. The concept and certain compositional choices led to this album being a bit more streamlined than In a Glass House (contrary to popular belief, this album is not as complex as you might think), but in a good way. While technically challenging numbers such as the multi-layered violin-led "So Sincere" or the incredibly nimble, dissonant-sounding (for the most part anyway) "Cogs in Cogs" are on the album, a song like "Aspirations" is a completely different tune. Instead it's a heartfelt ballad that's very quiet and keyboard-driven; also unusual for Gentle Giant is how the 4/4 time signature is the main beat of the song. Almost as if it's... conventional??? Well, it doesn't go that far; there are still a few odd breaks and diversions here and there that add the band's unique touch to the music. You've also got "No God's a Man" which goes for a similar slow pace with occasional instrumental diversions, as if separate musical "conversations" are putting their stamp on the atmosphere of the song. And that's what makes this album work so well... it has a very healthy mix of simplistic accessibility and complex multi-faceted technical moments. It's a perfect combination of the two, and the band are very keen on not giving the listener too much of either at a time. For every "So Sincere," there's an "Aspirations" to follow. It's so pleasing to the ears to hear two musical thoughts collide into one cohesive whole. "Playing the Game" and "The Face" have a tendency to be a bit weaker and less played (by me, at least) than other songs on the album, but they have their own share of highlights too. The 6/8 portion of "The Face" is a great shift from the main 4/4 melody played during the verses. The violin's a highlight here just as it was in "So Sincere," working well as a lead instrument against the complex rhythm parts.

This is an amazing record. Not only is it a very technically accomplished progressive rock effort, but it also has a cleverly-executed concept and numerous emotional moments to balance out the virtuosity. It may be a bit tough to find this in stores, but I'm sure it's pretty cheap online. No matter how you get it, just get it. If you like progressive music, you won't be disappointed in the slightest.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

Report this review (#1445961)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review Nş 34

After thirty-three reviews on Progarchives, finally comes the moment to make my first review of a Gentle Giant's album. "The Power And The Glory" represents, for me, one of the best musical works of the group and it's one of my favourites, too. This is an album that I know since the 70's and it's also one of the band's albums that I listen most.

"The Power And The Glory" is their sixth studio album and was released in 1974. This was their third conceptual album, taking the power and corruption as the linking theme. The concept was focused on an individual person, who wants to do the good using the political power. He finds himself tended to abuse the power, as all of those who have come before. Finally, he becomes in what he always fought against. He becomes in a corrupt person as many others.

It seems that "The Power And The Glory" is the group's favourite album and it's also, perhaps, one of the most difficult and complex Gentle Giant's albums, despite the usual complexity of almost of all their albums.

The line up on "The Power And The Glory" is Derek Shulman (lead vocals and tenor saxophone), Gary Green (vocals, electric and acoustic guitars,) Kerry Minnear (lead vocals, Hammond organ, piano, minimoog, clavinet, electric piano, mellotron, marimba, vibraphone and cello), Ray Shulman (vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, violin and electric violin) and John Weathers (drums, tambourine, sleigh bells and cymbals).

"The Power And The Glory", on my 35th anniversary edition, has ten tracks. It has all the original eight tracks and plus two bonus tracks. All the music and lyrics were written by Minnear, Shulman and Shulman, except "Aspirations" which was written by Ray Shulman and Minnear. The first track "Proclamation" is one of the two lengthiest tracks on the album and remains as a brilliant opening track. It's a song with the typical Gentle Giant's relatively complex musical arrangements, and it has a great melody. This is one of my favourite themes of them. The second track "So Sincere" is a more complex and dissonant song than the previous one. It's a more experimental and avant-garde song with some jazz influences. We may be able to say, that it has a certain nonsense and it's a rather exquisite song. The third track "Aspirations" is a calm, relaxing, melancholic and ethereal ballad, probably one of the most beautiful and well constructed songs from the band, in a more classic progressive vein. The fourth track "Playing The Game" is the other lengthiest track on the album, and it's a dynamic and a relatively complex theme. It's a really multi-faceted and pure progressive song, in the Gentle Giant's most pure musical style. The fifth track "Cogs In Cogs" is the smallest track on the album, and is another excellent song with very complex multi-part vocal harmonies. It's a track with a very intricate orchestral arrangement. The sixth track "No God's A Man" is another song with some intricate, complex and intriguing arrangements, with also multi-part vocal harmonies. It's a complex song with many mood and tempo changes. The seventh track "The Face" is a song with an incredible instrumental section, and is probably the most spectacular and creative on the album. It's a great example of the creative genius of the group. The eighth track "Valedictory" is the reprise of the melody from the first song on the album. It's a more rock version, heavy, dissonant, and a little bit darker than "Proclamation" is. This isn't surprising, because the lyrics reflect the opposite idea of the previous song.

Normally I don't review bonus tracks. So, I will not review one of the bonus tracks, the "Proclamation ? Live". However, I'm going to make an exception with the other bonus track "The Power And The Glory". "The Power And The Glory" is the song which gave its name to the album and it seems that it didn't originally appeared on the album because it hadn't been written yet, when the album was released. It's really a good song, a short theme with the classic Gentle Giant's sound, but it seems to be much less complex than the typical work of the band. This song came out as a single, and so, no wonder that it be a much more simple musical work, than what the band was accustomed to do.

Conclusion: "The Power And The Glory" is one of the best albums from one of the best bands in the progressive rock universe, and an essential masterpiece in any progressive musical collection. Some may say that "Octopus", "In A Glass House", "Acquiring The taste" or "Free Hand" are better than "The Power And The Glory" is. I really don't know if it's true and sincerely I don't think that it be really relevant. What I really think is that it's more a question of personal taste. What is really true and relevant is that "The Power And The Glory" has its share of classic Gentle Giant's songs, and remains as one of the best progressive rock music albums ever made. This is a truly amazing album, not only in its very technically accomplished progressive music, but also in its clever concept. It has numerous emotional and virtuoso musical moments and remains as a must have for all progressive fans in any musical collection.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#1485605)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2015 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars GENTLE GIANT were on a roll pumping out one eclectic masterpiece after another and that certainly did not change with their sixth album THE POWER AND THE GLORY. The band remains as musically inventive and utterly unique for the times and was so far ahead of their time that 21st century music lovers are finally catching up to their challenging style of mixing, melding and fusing musical elements into a musical category that immediately screams GENTLE GIANT. This is actually a concept album about the age old tale of someone gaining political power in order to change things for the better only to be tempted by the dark side and falls into the trap of becoming exactly the opposite of the original vision. A grand concept that continues their line of intelligent story lines that are accompanied by some of the most challenging progressive rock music ever laid down to tape.

This is another album that flows by all too fast for me since this band has become one of my absolute favorites of all time. Too weird for some but fir me by the time i'm done with this album i want more and including more technical wankery included in the mix, but i never feel cheated listening to this in the least bit. While "Proclamation" begins the musical journey with the classic progressive keyboard riff, it takes no time at all for their unique brand of melodies that are certainly an acquired taste to take root.

What amazes me about this band is how they can take a simple melody and twist it here and tweak it there and stretch it a little in the middle and overdub a counterpoint and create a mad tornado of sounds that swirl around in a seemingly chaotic manner but somehow make it fit together to keep an overall melodic and rhythmic flow albeit an overtly complex one. "So Sincere" has to be one of the most twisted examples of how to get from London to Paris via all seven continents! Indeed one of my favorite tracks that i wish more tracks on here would repeat the formula of but even less frantic tracks that are more designed for a smooth emotional connection like "Aspirations" are so well crafted and beautifully constructed that i become the helpless fish taking the bait.

Ironically the song that has the same title as the album was released as a single but not included on the original release of the album but has since been included as a bonus track on newer remastered editions. It seems this band is finally getting the respect it deserves as the Steven Wilson remixes are sending them up the charts over 40 years after their release. This is excellent news because as much music as i consume, no one comes close to the melomania i feel when i listen to a GENTLE GIANT album like THE POWER AND THE GLORY. This is just perfect music for my tastes and like the whole string of albums up to and including "Interview" only get better after every listen. This album is yet one more pičce de résistance that 70s prog rock has to offer.

Report this review (#1507343)
Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars After their successful work In A Glass House, Gentle Giant started shifting towards more avant-garde territories. The band didn't estrange their signature "Britishness", however, characterized by English middle-age or renaissance art music influence. At the turn of 1974, Gentle Giant recorded Power And Glory, the concept album dealing with corruption and ruling with medieval context as a metaphor. It was released a few months after Watergate Scandal, which made the subject matter even more ambiguous.

The music of Power And Glory shows a group in their creative peak. I firmly believe this is Gentle Giant's Close To The Edge. The band fuses English folk music with than pioneered avant-rock influences retaining the classic Gentle Giant sound. The elements of what we now call symphonic prog are still very much present.

As always, the band's musicianship is excellent. Kenny Minear's phenomenal minimalistic keyboard playing is now enriched with a jazzy bass electric piano sound. Gary Green's dark overdriven guitar sound plays a prominent role on various rhythm parts, while on some parts he imitates traditional folk instruments like lute. Ray Shulman's signature bass tone appears once more with Derek Schulman's one-of-a-kind vocals. The new drummer John Weather has a dynamic, precise and accurate playing style and deals perfectly with rhythm changes.

The album consists of ten songs, all fairly short but with a great variety to them without standing in different musical territories. "Proclamation" and "No God's A Man" are probably the most representative of the album, but all of the songs play a crucial role in the album's overall feel.

In conclusion, Power And Glory is a very accomplished work. Musicly, it is a highly eclectic and a very rewarding journey. Furthermore, it showcases Gentle Giant's erudition through the lyrics and the conceptuality. This is an essential progressive rock album, so obviously it belong in every progressive rock fan's collection. Highly recommended, five stars!

Report this review (#1529927)
Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2016 | Review Permalink
Eclectic/PSIKE/JRF-Cant Teams
5 stars "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely"

Even prior to the statement attributed to Lord Acton in his 1887 letter to Archbishop Mandell Creighton, the premise behind this statement was, and continued to be used to tell many a tale. And of course it is no secret how many times it plays out in real life. The point being, this is the premise behind Gentle Giant's outstanding 1974 concept album, The Power and the Glory. As a concept it is clear that they can lay no claims to originality. However, the manner in which it is presented musically and lyrically is unrivaled and unique.

Not being in any regard a language specialist or connoisseur, it is difficult to properly relate the manner in which the story is so poignantly delivered with precision and brevity. The band had previously demonstrated a love for the alliterative ruminations of RD Laing; using a lot of the same words in rounds to say what could likely be said with a couple short sentences. In The Power and the Glory, the lyrical patterns use some of the Laing influenced metrics, but with more being said with far fewer words. In particular, So Sincere, with its in-line antinymn contradictions. It is one of the few albums that I have been truly able to feel the lyrical content as an essential. That point has been solidly driven home by the recent re-master that include a Bluray disc with video lyric presentations. The word are often in a jumble and seemingly pulled at random or displayed in reverse. A brilliant underscore of the concept as it pertains to double talk in political speaking or drawing example to fit a narrative. Again, its an outstanding bit of lyrical brevity to convey a grand process.

Musically The Power and the Glory is deeply complex. It is an essential complexity that drives the album's theme home. The opener Proclamation uses oddly metered instrumentation in a talkback style that seems to mimic a public discourse that escalates in speed and intensity to eruption of the ultra-dissonant "Hail..." chant. So Sincere uses a freely dysjunctional rhythmic pattern with the previously mentioned use of in-line antonyms to further keep the listener off balance in analogy of political subterfuge. Every little subtlety is a mechanism for storytelling. It is no doubt challenging to the listener to be present in the story. And it is a level of challenge that is well documented in making some uncomfortable. Surely it is not too much to expect that the given subject does come with a little discomfort.

The presentation has been further augmented in recent years by a 5.1 remaster by the 5.1 master of re-master, Steve Wilson. It is for that reason that I have chosen to engage in a review of this already thoroughly reviewed masterpiece. For many years it occurred to me that The Power and the Glory was absolutely made for a surround mix. And, indeed, Mr. Wilson has once again hit the mark. That aforementioned talkback sequences with each instrument coming in one-by-one leading into the final verse of Proclamation was everything I had imagined. The mix adds another amazing element to one of my favorite works of all time.

The Power and the Glory was one of the most routinely bashed albums among mainstream critics in the mid- 70's. And with good reason, its an album that is not a passive listening concept. For my part I find every aspect of this album a delight. From the talent of the players and their individual multi-instrumental capabilities to the completeness of concept, it is a 100% essential piece to any prog collection. 5 stars.

Report this review (#1698746)
Posted Sunday, March 5, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the most complex albums Gentle Giant released, which of course means one of the most complex albums released: 10/10

I'll begin this review with a note (which includes two recommendations): this review is mostly a meta-musical (or 'musicological' if you like fancy names) & contextual analysis than an album review properly said. If you're looking for some commentary about the history of the album or maybe what it represents in GENTLE GIANT's history, it's spot on; if instead you're looking for an album review properly said I highly recommend reading corbet's (who succinctly describes the record) and Peter's (where the concept is greatly explained as well as what each song sounds like) reviews. The review title is actually a paraphrase excerpted from corbet's review which in my opinion explains pretty briefly... everything a newbie needs to know about GENTLE GIANT.

The Shulman brothers' multi-instrumentalist upbringing was fruitful, as in 1970 they founded the legendarily innovational GENTLE GIANT. Throughout their career, they consistently progressed on their musical approach, every time exponentially increasing the complexity. Phil Shulman left the band prior to an Italian tour in 1973. As Gary Green recalls it, "There was too much stress being on the road and the family. Plus the brothers were having a bit of a difficult time". Coincidentally or not - in no way I'm undermining Phil's importance to the band - it was precisely after his departure that GENTLE GIANT released one hell of a complicated production: IN A GLASS HOUSE, followed by their most groundbreaking and challenging release, THE POWER AND THE GLORY, and paradoxically, the decline of the insanely ingenious era of the band.

GENTLE GIANT were the masters when it comes to conceptual albums: they are able to weave connections between the subjective idea the album proposes and the materialistic evidence. It's a no-brainer that the band members had ease in constructing the most unimaginable sounds, so it probably wasn't difficult technically to create the aforementioned link. The way each song develops, as well its position and significance to the album, is carefully constructed - for instance, you'll see a shift in the music when the conceptual mood swings, this example being particularly visible on Proclamation.

I mentioned the tranquility the band had with constructing technically complex songs. Well, if you think about it, the explanation is rather simple. All members were excellent musicians - the Shulman brothers were raised in an environment where they contacted countless instruments and developed musical ability since always; Kerry Minnear was graduated from the Royal College of Music with a Composition degree (sounds classy! Because it is); John Weathers (the drummer and only lad with a fixated role) was a seasoned and virtuoso player; and Gary Green was... just plainly badass, really - therefore there were fewer moorings that chained their music to mediocrity (or simplicity); if something insane was brought up, everyone could play it. In this way, the multi-instrumentalist ambitions could soar sky-high without fears of the personnel being unable to reach the equally skyrocketed demands. Spoiler: the ambitions DID soar sky-high.

Well, in this album GENTLE GIANT constantly sculpts their music on the most bizarre, unintuitive but still amazing shapes, with terrifying odd time signatures that are actually common time and chaotic polyrhythms that feel as fluid as common time. We observe constant experimentation without losing enjoyability, in a form that, although completely chaotic, is still easily identifiable as music, with normal instruments, normal sounds, made by normal people, to normal people. It feels natural, and not some sort of madman's highly pretentious crazy wankery. Since ACQUIRE THE TASTE it was widely known that GENTLE GIANT's objective was to "expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular. We have recorded each composition with the one thought - that it should be unique, adventurous and fascinating". No release is truer to their motto than this one, and for that matter, I consider this their magnum opus l album and the highest point of their career. Indeed, the climax.

... but climaxes are followed by calmness; in the same way the tranquility of open, blue skies, soothes the oceans after a devastating storm. Their following release, FREE HAND, is much more commercially attractive and different from THE POWER AND THE GLORY. I'm not arguing the album is bad, but just that it's pretty much the post-climax conclusion, or, to make myself short, not as good. Their creativity peak was over, and the successful syncretization between radio-friendliness and relative experimentality connoted that they were looking for 'em pounds - something that Gary Green agrees on me. However, this is a tale for some other moment...

Report this review (#1732027)
Posted Saturday, June 10, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is an album that uses a formula that many have used years later, for the worse more often than the better. Many bands in the progressive genre tend to try to blend as many different instruments as possible, but not really caring as to what is being played on said instrument, resulting in pretentious music. This is an album that uses the formula correctly, but doesn't get too chaotic for its own good. Rather, it takes a unique approach to each instrument while still blending them together to create a common enough atmosphere to create emotion. "Proclamation" has a rather nightmarish atmosphere while maintaining a groovy-enough rythym to keep a casual listener interested.

Speaking of casual listeners, there is even a dance-type song on here (The Face), though it is so oddly structured and disjointed that one cannot think of any movement to make. But it is still highly enjoyable, due to the melody that is played on a violin that resembles funk, but keeps the classical touches of old. In fact, there are often different genres that are reflected by each instrument on an independent bases, but they all keep the progressive rock overtones to keep things to their roots without going into an over-convoluted mess.

Gentle Giant has been known for their "medeval" approach to vocals, but that aspects comes much more into play here than it does on any other album. In fact, the accent of the vocals almost sounds Scottish, which makes sense, considering the vocal melodies quite strongly resemble medieval Scottish music (there are no bagpipes on the album), while still maintained a blues/soul-rooted twist. They are also rather intricate, making a fair amount of use of the vocalist's range is quite a short amount of time, without sounding like Opera or ancient Middle-Eastern music (not bashing those genres at all).

While their previous album, "In a Glass House" may have been more complex, the melodies on each album were a bit derivative at times and they didn't branch out into other genres like this album does. This is a difficult album to listen to at first, but as times goes by, the album can be appreciated for the masterpiece that is is. This is an absolute landmark in progressive rock history from an underrated band that deserved credit that some other bands simply did not. There are no flaws what so ever, and there is no moral flaw in buying it with your money (or streaming for free).

Report this review (#1738843)
Posted Wednesday, June 28, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm so glad I have known about this amazing album for over a year. It is so strong, and to me speaks the beautiful essence of Gentle Giant. I think one thing that makes this click and others fall is that there is very little disorienting atonal/ 12 tone work here. Most 12 tone work by any artist is jarring because the scale has little emotional appeal. Music majors forced to endure it report torture. I am in almost total agreement, unless the band is going to take special effort to shape it as on "Edge of Twilight" (Acquiring the Taste).

Power's opener, "Proclamation" is a multi-faceted, high developed epic with a number of memorable passages featuring different instruments and rhythms. It kind of unravels like a twisting, winding road with many surprises. A more perfect song by any band would be hard to find.

"So Sincere" rolls out moodier than anything Giant has ever done. This is a needed change of pace. This is probably one of their most psychedelic songs and one with a high amount of counterpoint. Really it's too intricate to properly describe in words..

"Aspirations" is my favorite Giant song, a ballad of course. They are the masters of those. I don't usually pay lyrics any mind, but this one is too angelic to ignore. The delicate vocal (Kerry) coupled with the electric piano accompaniment and the heavy, heavy bass and drums make this one of prog's true gems.

Just when you thought things were too good to be true already, arrives "Playing the Game." Again it's hard to describe, being such a unique one. There's a nifty riff working it's way throughout, I'm not even sure on what instruments: guitar? synthesizer? And there's also a subtle secondary "answer" on a different type of synthesizer. Thus closes side one, a sterling piece of work.

I'm not sure if I ever heard side two prior to this review. The complexity of "Cogs into Cogs" is pretty mind-blowing, on top of which emerges an excellent and quite nuanced melody. The band is so mature and committed at this point.

"No God's a Man" starts with an interplay of Renaissance and jazz elements. Again it's understated in contrast to all the in- your-face annoyance this band has served up over the years.

"The Face" is particularly creative and melodic. It is a little more uptempo and rich than what Gentle Giant has ever before offered. The Renaissance flavor is very strong. But then it moves in a rocky, totally unprecedented direction, very smoothly of course.

"Valedictory" is a boogie rocker but with that Gentle Giant whimsy fans know only too well. The song is actually a spacy reprise of "Proclamations." After all, Power and Glory is a concept album. And then, rather than ending, the song self-destructs. There you have it: one of the greatest all-time art rock achievements.

Report this review (#1919673)
Posted Saturday, May 5, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first song, a masterpiece, sliding, simple in the arrangement, resumes the discourse undertaken in Octopus with Advent of Panurge (which however lack the variety of the arrangement and the volatility of the music), extending the time and adding an excellent electronic interlude. This leaves a foretaste of a great album: it will not be like that. The second song is the most difficult to perform, almost a piece of avant-garde, with odd rhythms, dissonances, choirs, counters; a huge job for the voices and the rhythm. Its complexity satisfies the intellect but makes physical pleasure of listening difficult. The third piece is a slow, romantic, sung with the delicious and suffused voice of Minnear, far too monotonous in structure and music: it does not come close to Think of me with Kindness of Octopus: the pathos and the crescendo are missing. So far we have heard three extreme songs in the arrangements, very different from each other. The fourth song, which has an intermezzo for a time not medieval but only slow, has a pleasant and smooth progress but it seems that the GG have settled down to reproduce the same rhythm from slow going up to exasperation without asking themselves any development and variation.

1) Proclamation 8,5; 2) So sincere 7,5; 3) Aspirations 7+; 4) Playing the game 7+;

The second side opens with a whimsical song, fast at the edge of the paroxysm, almost hard but for the rhythm and the electronic keyboards, not for the guitar that in the whole album is in the background. No God's a Man resumes the bland pace of Playing the Game, but it is anything but smooth, a continuous go stop start again, with continuous variations that are wrapped around themselves giving the impression of not knowing where to go: less successful piece. In an album where there is not a slow song with strings, comes The Face, a sort of interesting rock (that resembles Proclamation) as forced and compulsive at the end that sounds asphyxiating: its best is where the violin it plays a dissonant music, then giving way to the guitar, for the best instrumental moment of the album. Valedictory takes up the initial theme, making it even more electronic and paroxysmal, and proceeds in a crescendo screamed at the limits of the voice of Shulman up to curl up on itself. Second side with three songs out of four with highly anxiety-inducing, almost frantic, which makes the side hard to hear.

5) Cogs in cogs 7,5; 6) No God's a man 6+; 7) The Face 7+; 8) Valedictory 7,5;

Medium quality: 7,375. Vote: 7,5/8.

Overall it is a more than discreet album, which abandons the long, convoluted and pretentious songs of Glass House to chase a smooth and (quite) simplified sound; presents an initial isolated peak, and which continues based on already tested instrumental numbers, alternates slow pieces to other frenzied or dissonant: in the first side we find more varied atmospheres, in the second side songs too screamed and frantic, and the frame, the beginning and closing, touch an electronic hard rock.

Three stars.

Report this review (#2083063)
Posted Wednesday, December 5, 2018 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars GENTLE GIANT fans are nothing if not an attentive lot, as this isn't the sort of music you can just allow to wash over you and come out cleaner for it. So I'm somewhat surprised that, though most acknowledge that the original closer "Valedictory" reprises the melody of the opener "Proclamation", I haven't found any references to the penultimate cut "The Face" also being eerily similar. Well, I guess the eerie part is a given with the Giant, but, hey, if I had stumbled on a hook like that I'd probably install it everywhere whether people were asking for it or not. And I'm guessing some Giant fans look down their noses at a hook.

"Proclamation" itself outshines most everything in the band's discography, exploiting the herky jerky rhythms for which the band is known to stunning effect and, in parts, rocking very hard but with a rare focus. Here and elsewhere, the clavinet and especially the electric piano of Kerry Minnear hold tcourt, and gently brush the gorgeous and surprisingly accessible ballad "Aspirations", This is followed by "Playing the Game", another standout with...gasp..another earworm?

There was a time I just would have thought this was a slightly less oily release but I'm ready to proclaim that, if only on the "Power and the Glory", I almost sort of "get" GENTLE GIANT., or at least I can use some type of cheap translate app to approximate that self satisfied feeling of intellectual superiority that comes with such potency. Sure, "So Sincere", "Cogs in Cogs" , and "No God's a Man" are annoyingly smarmy, but if they weren't, I don't think fans would go to bat for "Power and the Glory" like they do. And that's their job, not mine. Nifty.

Report this review (#2407352)
Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2020 | Review Permalink

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