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Gentle Giant - Interview CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant

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4 stars There is nothing more confusing to me in the musical world than the "ho-hum" attitude many GG fans adopt toward this album. THIS IS A FLAT-OUT MASTERPIECE! Are you even listening to the same album as me? After Interview, the band's experimental bug-up-the-ass seems to have finally found its way out, never to fully return; and although they would still make great music, they would never reach the dazzling heights of albums such as this one again. So what do we have here? Easily a contender for one of their top best works, Interview contains some of their most aggressive and electrified music yet. The lead off title-track is possibly GG's most "epic" song, with the fattest bass and organ riffs I've ever heard as well as some furious piano jams and even an electric sitar section! The song's finale is yet another "head exploding moment" and must be heard to be believed. Next we get the deceptively ingenious "Give It Back" which, superficially, has an almost reggae vibe to it; however, after a few listens you begin to see just how many complex musical workouts they managed to pack into that sucker, and the melodies begin to get stuck in your head, and it's all over. A track like none other in their catalog, "Give It Back" is a unique and extremely rewarding musical gem. And then comes "Design". I bet a lot of people won't like "Design", precisely because it is the most experimental and off-the-wall recording the band ever made -- and saying that about THIS band, is really saying something! Driven solely by vocals and various percussion instruments, the boys veer from "pretty" into "uhhh..." territory and back again several times, but don't you lose focus, because half way through the track is hidden a mind-bending vocal jigsaw puzzle that ranks up with "Knots" and "On Reflection" as the band's peak in complex vocal writing. Ultimately, "Design" is one of the most adventurous pieces of music you will ever hear. The remaining tracks (I can't describe them all!) are all masterful and perfect, so just go check it out -- and please, don't ever let me hear anyone say "Up through Free Hand, all of Gentle Giant's albums are excellent..." again! NO! Happy listening.
Report this review (#6222)
Posted Saturday, January 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars One of the few reasons why GG never really achieved the success that other UK bands did (outside questionable management decision especially regarding the touring) is that they have a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot by irritating/provoking the industry. We had seen this with their relatively tasteless acquisition of their second album on top of having difficult albums on the market. Their eighth album is actually their third concept album after Three Friends and TP&TG, but this one is yet another attack on the music industry by depicting fake interviews by having to answer stupid/horrendously daft questions. This was not really a smart thing to do after the good sales of Free Hand and the absurdly cancelled British tour. To even irate further the press and industry, the "conceptual attack " is not even mean, funny or especially sarcastic but simply slightly sardonic and caustic with the interview bits barely audible, probably irritating the press even more and the chose not to even talk about it!

A lot of GG purists consider this album as the first non-classic album, but this is completely unjust, as almost every endearing qualities of the previous albums is here except maybe a real lack of power in the music, as if Green could not have found his usual guitar amp during the recording sessions and used a practice amp with two blown bulbs. The Title track is a perfect example of this, however delightful the songwriting is, something is lacking. One of the surprises is Give It Back that develops into a superb "white" reggae (around that time 10CC had also done the delightful Dreadlock Holiday) that may anger purists but I assure you that it is worthy of a Classic GG album their great percussive sound being perfectly suited for such music genre. Another Show and Empty City being the other faves of mine in this album, the overall feel of the album is leaning a bit towards pop (but GG always had this tendency as Caravan did also), but if I talked of 10CC before it is no coincidence as one could say that a majority of the tracks here, would sound close to a classic album of theirs although they would be on speed when they recorded it.

Although still loaded with crazy rythms and contrapuntal shifts, there is however a subtle shift in direction towards more straightforward songwriting but not anymore than say Three Friends, but believe me this album is still very worthy of them. I happen to like it better than Free Hand. However the following album is an all-together different story, quite mediocre (by GG standards) with just one track that would fit on this album.

Report this review (#6223)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars "In'terview" marked the end of GENTLE GIANT's early wildly progressive rock rein leaving behind a string of great albums. For me "In'terview" is another wonderful album with some superb musicanship and clever song writing. Tempo swings are abundant (as you would expect) with tons of great vocal syncopation and harmonization. "In'terview" is loosly a concept album with some interviewing actually going on in a few parts throughout the album. Too bad it ever had to end.

Report this review (#6225)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars A second "Free Hand" by design, furnished with another vocal workout, plenty of counterpoint and some added clarity. Although it's not a concept record per se, interviews are a recurring theme. Snippets of an interview inquiring about the band's style segue into the songs themselves, so in effect the music speaks for itself. There are subtle differences between "Interview" and "Free Hand"; the arrangements are leaner, more muscular, driven largely by the intricate interplay of keyboardist Kerry MINNER and Ray SHULMAN on bass. Although I found the second side of "The Missing Piece" pleasant, "Interview" is the last GENTLE GIANT record to fire on all cylinders. The vocal tapestry woven on "Design", the way "I Lost My Head" gambols into a great burst of anger, the soft and dreamy soundscape of "Empty City", these rank right alongside the best songs from their last two albums. In fact, like all good GENTLE GIANT albums, there isn't a bad song to be found. The counterpoint may be more exposed, sinews lacking the soft skin and fur of earlier works like "Three Friends", but if you revel in the band's ambitious counterpoint (and you must have to have made it this far) then you won't mind hearing Kerry, Ray and Gary Green mix it up under a musical microscope. To test yourself, try "Timing." If you like that bite, buy the whole biscuit.

This was the second GG album I owned, and at the time I thought it was heaven. As I bought more from them -- "Acquiring The Taste", "The Power And The Glory", "Octopus", "Free Hand" -- each record seemed slightly better than Interview, and it slid slowly down the ol' imaginary list. Even so, this is the last GG album to belong in the company of giants, and if you want to skip ahead to this without buying the albums before it, no harm done.

Report this review (#6226)
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars UNDERRATED!!!!! OK, What's wrong about people who says: "Up to Free Hand, all GG albums is excellent" ? The answer: THEY FORGOT INTERVIEW!!!! This album is one of the best Gentle Giant albums EVER!!! Though "Octopus", "Glass House" and "Power" are better, this is still a gem! As always with GG, the songwriting and performing is excellent, and the complex and difficult arrangements are still there, so if you are not sure about this album, i can guarantee you that you will not regret!!! My rating: Four and a half stars!
Report this review (#6232)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars i'm very close to gg. this album is really underrated; it's not brilliant as octopus but have little tresaures, like "i lost my head", "Another show" and the best, for me, "empty city": beautiful music, delicious lyrics
Report this review (#6227)
Posted Monday, May 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Being a fervent GG fan, I refuse to give 'Interview' a perfect rating, despite being a great album per se (I'm sorry if I sound a bit "ho-hum" here). It's got its stunning numbers, like the amazing namesake opener, full of tricky complexity and some terrific Derek's singing, as wella as a crafty interlude based on delightful instrumental counterparts; other highlights are the ultra-hard rocking 'Another Show', built on a frenzy 5/4 tempo (some more great singing delivered by Derek at his angriest, and Minnear's Hhammond organ goes almost metallic here!), and the extravagant vocal-percussive tour de force titeld 'Design' (extravagant even for GG standards), where you can find circus folly, Mediaeval chorale and, finally, a superb African climax that adds a neck-breaking fire to the overt display of architectural intelligence. Having properly recognized the greatness of these three fav 'Interview' tracks of mine, I must also admit that I have the impression that the musical ideas instilled in 'I Lost My Head' and 'Empty City' are - to a certain degree - recycled from previous tracks ('Peel the Paint' and 'No God's a Man', respectively): they're good tracks indeed ('Empty City' is very moving to me), but they are also signs that some kind of slight exhaustion is penetrating into the band's creative forces. The other tracks are also worth mentioning here: the blues-infected rocky 'Timing' exhibits GG's ability to merge dissonance and punchy rock effectively, while 'Give It Back', with its pseudo-reggae ambience including calypso-esque twists, portrays with unhidden irony the band's own struggle to keep their artistic integrity intact after their previous album's moderate success. As I stated in the first lines of this review, I don't consider 'Interview' a top recording in GG's gigantic career, but definitely, it's still a great effort not to be avoided by any serious prog collector.

Report this review (#6228)
Posted Thursday, May 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I picked it up after listening to Give It Back and a few other tracks from this album, and didn't regret the purchase. The faultless playing and exciting production gives you a feeling of immediacy not reached by many groups, just like most of their albums. The concept of the band members being interviewed is nicely followed through between the songs, but doesn't add anything to the overall mood. The best songs are "I Lost my Head", "Interview" and "Give It Back". Not a weak track here. Considering how the band fell from grace after "Interview" was released back in 1976, this must be seen as a valediction of sorts. I give it 4.5. An excellent album, just very underrated.
Report this review (#6231)
Posted Saturday, October 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars A friend bought this for me in 1990 - I had been a GG fan for over 12 years, but I'd never even HEARD of this album! What a thril to have a "new" GG album to listen to! And this is one of their best. Again, the first three songs are classics. "Design" is the most challenging, daring song ANY prog band every did. And GG pulls it off so flawlessly, as though they do this kind of stuff all the time. One can just begin to see the cracks in the ceiling on this album, but it's still one of their best.
Report this review (#6230)
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Let's get something straight. When Gentle Giant are at their top, it's Acquiring the Taste, Octopus, In A Glass House and Free Hand. And this stuff is so unique, powerful and even moving that 5 stars is not enough to rate it. Some albums are like that. So there's, for me, many kinds of 5 stars rating. Essential and beyond.

For Interview, I had to set aside everything I heard about it. "It's cheap! It's sold-out! The songs are unispired and lacking complexity!" Rah rah rah.... Hey come on. Think in perspective if you want to appreciate this. This is not a huge 5 stars, but still 4 stars.

Interview is the album when Gentle Giant did not improve themselves. It's the Power and Glory quality, at least. At every album, GG seemed to go further and further, peeking at many points of their careers; Free Hand being the last time. So the lastest behind this one is Free Hand, and GG is not known for changing a winning formula quickly. Progressively they became more accessible; and do not read boring. Many reviews are stating this album as a black sheep, I beg to disagree. It's a logical following to Free Hand. Less flutes, a lot less violin, colder approach BUT still are the crackpot harmonies, the complexity pattern, percussions and the quirckyness and cleverness of the old times. I Lost My Head, being one of the brightess moments of their careers. This song only should reassure you of the quality of the product.

Design and Another Show are strange indeed, but do not stand apart of the herd too much. And I like this period. Surprisingly I found this album as good as Power and Glory or Three Friends. I think watching the DVD Giant on the Box is showing a lot where the chemistry of the band was leading. Since In a Glass House, the songs are easier to for them to reproduce in concert. Some songs like Empty City are a nice break after the rockers like Timing. Man this is exceptionnal stuff comparing with so much bands of that time. This beats the heck out of MANY bad stuff done in 1976. And those bands got a better commercial reviewing than GG! So don't come to me and say that Interview is commercial stuff. Dude, come on.

Because of all the whining about this being the 'first' bad GG album privated me from a sheerful experience for a long time. Lesson? Please LISTEN before judging.

Do not fear to put some money on this. You're on solid work.

Report this review (#6233)
Posted Monday, January 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars A perfect meet of all the elements they were developing throughout the years, along seven studio albums. Here they found armony between progressive and melodic, between rock and medieval and of course, all with an interview behind as the album concept. The lyrics talk about how hard is to be a rock star and contains criticisms of the music industry. The most mature album of GG... HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Report this review (#6234)
Posted Wednesday, February 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the wonderful "Free hand" album, Gentle Giant comes back with this jewel! WOW! This record is VERY lively and addictive! If you like "Free Hand", then chances that you like this one are high. First of all Gary Green put some light distortion on his electric guitar, and Kerry Minnear exaggerated it on his now VERY dirty organ. The 2 instruments still converse in a very original and extravagant way. Gary Green tries here many sound effects on his guitar: he is always perfectly timed with the rest of the music. The patterns here are slightly more repetitive than usual, but it is not irritating at all. John Weathers plays funny melodic percussions. The musicians play relentlessly. "Design" is a vocal performance, a bit less good than the ones on "Free hand", still exploring canon textures. "Another show" is a boosted clavinet and dirty organ oriented track, where Gary Green accurately inserts his delightful electric guitar notes: with the combination of crazy percussions and elaborated bass, this track is among their most loaded one. "Empty city" is absolutely a jewel: Kerry Minnear decided to float here: it is a total success: he uses a combination of delicate and subtle floating modern synth and a tender Fender Rhodes, which accompany a sophisticated and elegant acoustic guitar: one word: subtlelty! "Timing" is a loud and prog hard rock track: Gary Green plays a visceral hard rock guitar solo here, and the electric violin sounds like Jean Luc Ponty's one; there is also the VERY dirty organ which enhances the hard rock dimension. "I lost my head" is divided into 2 parts: the first one is an excellent combination of clavinet, unidentified acoustic string instrument and vocals; the second parts has a very catchy prog hard rock mood. This album is definitely more hard rock than "Free Hand".

Rating: 4.5/5

Report this review (#6235)
Posted Thursday, February 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I remember talking to Derek Shulman and John Weathers when this album came out and they were on their first really big North American tour... (as headliners). They had hoped that this album with its streamlined, pop sound would get them airtime and take them out of the "progressive rock" pigeonhole...

The immediate problem with the album was programming and the interview snippets, which were not very interesting and made the record difficult to play on radio without editing... Many of the stronger songs were on the second side, and the band obviously heard something in tracks like "Interview" and "Give it Back" that their hosts could not.

If this is a concept album, the theme is surely how sick the band were of touring and promoting their records... quite a departure from the fantasy / literary references of their previous works... and not something that the fans were likely to identify with.

We started worrying about them at this point.

Report this review (#6237)
Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Different from some reviewers, I believe that INTERVIEW still has something of the good n' old GG days. Course it's miles away from OCTOPUS and FREE HAND, but still, there's something about it. The tittle track has the very distinctive GG sound that we know and love. Awesome organ / guitar lines and a espectacular piano instrumental part. Listen closely to this piano part; Amazing! How they get that sound?!? DESIGN it's another good track: Though a not-so-good attempt of producing another KNOTS type song, this one got something of its own. Varied percussion and vocalization, wich a lot of variations. Now, about the interview snippets? Sincerly I agree with the reviewer above. INTERVIEW was NOT the beggining of the end. MISSING PIECE was. But you should get all from GENTLE GIANT to FREE HAND first. Trust me.

- Guilherme Baldin

Report this review (#37091)
Posted Monday, June 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars In 1977 Gentle Giant looked around, saw the music scene, and one of the most beloved prog bands of all time shifted their focus to commercialized 'pop' music. Luckily, they gave their fans one more album, "Interview (1976)" before going pop. This album is horribly underrated by fans, and is the last real album by these 'Giants' of progressive rock. "Interview" is very much the successor to "Free Hand (1975)", featuring powerful, lean rock arrangements and an abundance of driving vocals from Derek Shulman. One can definitely see that the band is worn out at this point though. On every previous release they had expanded and progressed their sound, and this one remains relatively stagnant. They use more conventional instrumentation (a trend they had been moving towards since 1973), and gone are the Xylophones and Flutes, etc. Gentle Giant is powerful enough to make even boring regular rock instruments (Bass, Organ, Guitar) sound exciting and fresh the way they play. "Interview" follows a loose concept, with snippets of band interviews interspersed throughout. The prevailing theme in the lyrics is Gentle Giant's frustration with the music industry, understandable due to their boundless talent and relative commercial failure when compared to other prog-rock groups.

"Interview" begins very strongly with the song "Interview". This song is quite experimental (yet quite listenable), hard rocking, jarring and played to perfection - A summary of all Gentle Giant means to me. It is hard to single out one instrument for praise in this song, since they are all played so proficiently, but Kerry Minnear's electric piano must be heard to be believed, it is simply outstanding on this track. When you think of Gentle Giant + Reggae, you naturally wouldn't think it works, but it does! The song "Give it Back" is a perfect blending of progressive rock and reggae music, and is an album highlight. This is something I think only a few bands could pull off, Gentle Giant proving they are one of them. The next track, "Design" is very experimental, and is one of the heavily vocal tracks they usually have, in the manner of "knots" or "On Reflection". It is interesting, but not that strong, and is one of the albums weak spots, one gets the feeling they are re-treading extremely old ground with this track. The next song ("another Show") is a nice up-tempo, concise rocker, a perfect example of progressive rock in a three and a half minute song. "Empty City" is one of the album's best songs, and is one of the prettiest songs GG has recorded. It begins with a beautiful acoustic introduction with a complex vocal harmony, (this passage repeats later). The song then gets heavier, while keeping its melancholic tone, and then returns to the acoustic beginning - A truly delightful song. "Timing" is another good song, though nothing special for Gentle Giant, and has an excellent solo spot for guitarist Gary Green. We also finally get to hear Ray Shulman's violin on this track, about time! The album closes in high fashion with the wonderful "I Lost My Head". This song is divided into two sections, the opening a beautiful passage on clavinet and the latter a hard rock-prog section which repeats the basic themes stated in the opening - A great track. A good ending to an enjoyable album.

Sadly, this will be the last release of any importance from Gentle Giant, as starting in 1977, they will embark on a path into oblivion. But as for "Interview", it is recommended to fans who like their prog on the hard side (not metal) with complex instrumentation and clever arrangements. A Great Album! - 4 Stars.

Report this review (#37451)
Posted Friday, June 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The eighth work released in 1976 "Interview". In addition, masterpiece album that became smooth sound. A witty ensemble and the sound are brought up by original music. It is a work of the concept of exposing the inside of the band that operates a tour. The tune starts because it says "Where should we begin?" to the interviewer of the first.
Report this review (#44671)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Gentle Giant were one of, if the only prog band to write lyrics bemoaning the music industry and touring. Think about it. You won't find any of the big prog bands writing anything compariable. For that, I give this album an extra star. Music wise, it's a bit of a letdown from the vastly superior 'Free Hand'. Sure, it has the GG sound, quirky beats, herky jerky rhythms, Ray's booming voice and the occasional a cappella vocalization but the whole of the album seems streamlined, kinda a bastard child of the better 'In A Glass House'. I guess I miss Minnear's melotron work. One member who shines is Weathers. I tend to gravitate towards his drum work. It's just plain wonderful keeping up with the funkiness. My favorite songs are the great "Give It Back" with the awesome keyboard and xylophone play by Minnear and Weathers drums and Ray's bass break inside the 3 minute mark. One of my favorite GG tracks. The other track which just blows me away everytime is "I Lost My Head", it has everything that makes GG one of the best bands that ever was. It should have been a staple on FM radio back in the day. With Minnear's twittering keyboards, Green's acoustic guitar, and Derek's flute and delicate singing in the beginning then the blast of instruments 3 minutes in is pure awesomeness. For those two songs alone, I rate this last pure prog GG album 4 stars. Other albums by the band may be better, but it's a neccesary album for the two tracks I mentioned. Hate the cover, tho. Oh well, can't win them all...
Report this review (#50346)
Posted Friday, October 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Interview has grown over the years to be one of my very favorite GG albums; where it lacks in layered complexity, it makes up for it in flat out groove and emotion. The recording quality is stellar and reminds me a bit of "The power and the glory" sonically and in some ways musically. For those who might have a hard time digesting the more medieval/folk side of GG-I recommend giving Interview a good listen. This is one solid-rockin GG disc for sure; HIGHLY recommended.
Report this review (#64660)
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is almost perfect. All tracks are ok, with exception of "Design", a very-very-very experimental song (song?!) that don't arrive anywhere. In "Interview", we can hear an espectacular keyboard, with nice giffs from Green - in other words, a very nice music . "Give it back" is a incredible mix of rock and reggae. Is it possible in GG??!!! Yes, it is! And it is very interesting!! Great scheme, great layout. Xilophones is amazing! Well, now, let's skip "Design" (blergghhhh)... "Another Show" is a interesting music, with keyboard tone rising all the time... and drums fast! Track 5 "Empty City" is another nice composition. In the beggining, the acoustic guitar, with soft keyboard background. The voice enter with great style, in a soft melody. The variation begins, but the soft melody continues. We have here a very pleasing song, with a light and soft drum by Weathers. The track "Timing", we have, again, the acoust guitar in the begin. But now, the continuation of the melody is more "medieval", with flutes. After 3 minutes, the drums and the electric guitar begins... with vocals. Very nice time: not so fast, but not slow too. Nice melody, too, with nice guitar riffs. The last one, "I lost my head", Minnear comes, with another great keyboard. Organ (Hammond) is the main instrument is this track. After 2 minutes, we have a violin and piano conversation... a very particular GG way of make progressive rock. We have a guitar solo too... nice, but not soberb. The album ends suddenly... but in great style! Four stars...!
Report this review (#76315)
Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars There are many negative reviews about this album. They range from the argument that this is not the Gentle Giant that people love and that the songwriting is sub-par. I decided to give this album a change anyhow, and I was completely blown away. Everything I love about Gentle Giant is on this album. The complex songwriting, the brilliant vocal harmonies, the amazing skill of the musicians with the powerful voice of Derek Shulman. It's all here. Every song on this album from the brilliant, rocking opener "Interview" to the brilliant, rocking ender "I Lost My Head" is Gentle Giant at it's best. This album is where some claim GG lost it and started to sell out. But this album is far too brilliant to be a sell out, and this is where GG make their final brilliant progressive rock statement.
Report this review (#78967)
Posted Sunday, May 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This one is mostly underrated. It's as good and almost as rich as 'Freehand'. Very remarkable: GG used their own situation - revealed within an (fictitious?) interview - as the basis for the album concept. (The issue "we about us" by far wasn't that common as it is today.) GG's situation 1976 was (more or less and fictitiously in their own words): "We've (quite) consequently developed and realized our version of intensive (rock-)music'. That wasn't too easy during the past 7 years. But our strong musical convictions and intentions ("Acquiring the Taste"), our reasonable talents and skills and our diligence to work out and rehearse anything lead to music/sound we really want(ed), and which wasn't completely without countable success. But now we're probably doomed to work out and play much simpler rock songs ... if we want to earn our living by that." Well, history showed: That didn't work (after 3 more albums 'til 1980.) So, here we have a splendid retreat (from the peak) of one of the big 7 that invented real prog (KC, Yes, Genesis, ELP, GG, VdGG and JT). And it sounds fresh and vivid. Perhaps never before GG managed to merge/integrate (most of) their typical ingredients better. They play full of verve, fluently with a certain easiness rarely shown by them before. Don't miss this interview!
Report this review (#79448)
Posted Friday, May 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars IN'TERVIEW may be the most underrated album here at the archives. I don't know why. It contains all the things we love GENTLE GIANT for. What I want to say is, that the songs are still very complex, just take the killer track "Design", which is one of the best songs the band around the Shulman-brothers ever produced, while listening to it the track choked me up, progheads, this album is full of emotion, full of all the anger at the music industry and the changing times!

The opener "In'terview" is a very nice song either and it rocks a lot, "Design" is one of the most complex songs I have ever heard in my life, "Another Show" blows you away, "Empty City" is one of those melancholic songs that are able to make you cry and "I Lost My Head", the last song of this great album, is the classic-sounding song, that could also be emanated from the early albums of GENTLE GIANT (by the way, same thing with "Empty City").

Rocky tunes, melancholic ballads, complex, well thought songs, ingenious chant, you will find it all on this CD. Yes, I give this album five stars because it is still one of the best albums I know!

Report this review (#85974)
Posted Sunday, August 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album often comes in for lots of criticism, with certain Gentle Giant naming it the first album of the band's downfall. It's incredibly hard to see why. 'Interview' has all the hallmarks of classic Gentle Giant, brings in more memorability and focus, and contains some of the most astonishing musical performances in their 11-album catalog.

The interview snippets running throughout the album are amusing, a clearly tongue-in- cheek stab at the uninformed, unimaginative interviewers the band surely had to deal with all those years. Once the title track slams in with its aggressively punctuated keyboard-strikes, odd bass line and jabbing drums, it's obvious this is one seriously excellent recording/production job. Everything is crisp and punchy, everything thick and well-layered, yet there's lots of space and air in the sound with excellent separation between the instruments. And the whole is cohesive.

And you want odd? You got it. Once the title track hits the four-minute mark, you're treated to a sequence that sounds like it came from the band in the Star Wars cantina. Frighteningly understated polyrhythmic syncopation and a bizarre choice of melodies makes this an early album highlight. "Give It Back" might veer too close to reggae for some, but as with anything they do, GG puts their unique stamp on the style, giving it a strange edge with icy xylophone sounds and a few cosmic fluorishes for good measure. This might be the one song 'Interview' critics point at as the start of the band's downfall, but it would've been a highlight on any of the three forthcoming GG albums. The first side ends with "Design", a freaky alien adventure that centers on various percussive devices and their typically amazing vocal layering. "Design" is something even the most demanding RIO fan would have to applaud.

The second side brings us four very solid tracks that veer along with great momentum, bookended by the manic "Another Show" and the repetitive proto-metal riffing of "I Lost My Head". "Empty City" allows the honeyed voice of Kerry Minnear to accent the lead vocal of Derek Shulman, who puts in one of his best-ever performances here. Some wonderful instrumentation glides along a complex arrangement, its complicated structure being one of their most fascinating excursions. And they make it sound so easy. "Timing" is a track that begins simply enough, but the warps into country mode and then into psyche-Beatles mode, and then into that nervous/anxious rhythmic weirdness that is pure Gentle Giant. Which is exactly what this album is. Quintessential GG.

Report this review (#87403)
Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Less dynamics, but still good.

This album is somewhat comparable to Free Hand in style and setup, although I feel it offers a little bit less. It's still a good GG album, but none of the tracks particularly stand out. There's some traditional GG quirkiness to it, but by this point it's all but expected as an effect to the music, and one might have hoped there would have been something more to offer.

Give it Back is probably the most "odd" here, with an odd rhythm pulsating throughout the mix. As such, I think GG is the most consistent classic prog band. They came out with many solid releases, which is more to speak of than many other classic prog acts, who only had 3 or 4. The album isn't near as "meaty" as other arrangements by GG, but it's still good material. It's softer and less "grandiose" than some of the other records, and the drums and guitars feel much more back and subtle in their approach.

Not my favorite of records, but by no means was a bad release. A nice addition to a GG collection, and actually not a bad introduction to GG for those who don't like guitar-laden music. It would be the last "acceptable" record by the band as well.

Report this review (#102281)
Posted Saturday, December 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the mos underrated records from the most underrated Prog band of all (they not even close in the top ten list). It has everything you need from a prog record: excellent vocals and beautiful crafted works. My favorite by far is "Give It Back" or is It "Empty City"? An excellent choice of a band working as one to make extraordinary music. Recommended.
Report this review (#121208)
Posted Monday, May 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Gentle Giant is a difficult band to review since they are so unique. The only way I know how to describe this band's music is to compare it to their other records. The Interview album is considered by many to be the last of the "good" progressive albums which this band released. I tend to agree. Interview is a bit softer around the edges than some of the band's previous work. As a result, I don't find this album to be quite as strong as Octopus, Glass House and Free Hand. The music seems "safer" which is how I would probably describe The Power and the Glory as well. Despite that, Gentle Giant still offers a very nice album.

The highlight songs for me are Interview, Empty City and I Lost My Head. These are extremely innovative and are what progressive music is all about. I Lost My Head is my favorite and it uses all sorts of quirky sounding instruments to lay a bunch of crazy rhythms before Derek Shulman comes screaming in much like he does midway through the song Experience from the Glass House album.

Timing is a strong addition as well with its nice guitar licks and accompanying piano. It tends to be more of a rocker with the trademark Gentle Giant sounds reminiscent of A Cry for Everyone from Octopus. In summary, while I doubt too many will consider this to be the band's best album, it is a strong effort nonetheless and is highly recommended.

Report this review (#128240)
Posted Thursday, July 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I approached this album with trepidation cos every review said "beginning of the end", "a lot less creative" blah blah blah. Well, how wrong they were. This is a superlative GG album, with the exception of "Give it Back" which sounds like 10cc with the sh** kicked out of them. ( What an intriguing idea! ) Towering above all the tracks on this album, though, is the monumental "I Lost My Head", divided into it's constituent "Kerry" and "Derek" parts. Now, don't get me wrong - I love the "Derek" part. Even though you can hear the beginnings of Journey or Boston in it's gleaming prog-metal sheen it's too tricky to be simple AOR. It .... ahem! ... rocks! But it's the "Kerry" bit I really adore. It really is genius! So, three stars for "I Lost My Head", two for the rest and one off for "Give it Back".
Report this review (#153225)
Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is as complex and uncompromising as the albums preceding it. But it isn't quite as good as those. To my ears this is the point where their particular complex and quirky style was loosing its steam. They were running out of ideas, and the following albums were attempts to try new things, to freshen up the bands sound and style.

As much as I like this album, I can't shake that "stale" feeling the compositions have. You really get the sense that they could not have continued in the same style and still make great albums. But nonetheless, this album is firmly in the same style and league as the previous one. The only real exception in Give It Back, which is an interesting attempt to work a reggae beat into their style. It doesn't really succeed and is the biggest failure on the album. But still not terrible, and far from being mainstream, even for 1976.

The title track, Another Show, and the final two tracks are as vital and complex as anything they had done in the previous 3 or 4 albums, even if they are not quite at the same level (mainly because, as I mentioned, the "formula" was getting a bit old). Design is quite possibly the strangest and most off the wall thing they ever did. I'm never sure if I like it or not, but it is quite an interesting listen and certainly demonstrates that they were not making any concessions to popular music on this album. Empty City is a nice mellower track (by GG standards anyway) and I would argue is the only track that even hints at what was coming. Still a decent song though.

The concept, while certainly thin, is not really any worse than previous ones. I've never really felt GG albums were concept albums in the sense of most prog best they a common theme and little more........with the obvious exception of Three Friends. The concepts were are always somewhat vague and never really took over the album, with individual songs always working perfectly fine when detached from the album (something that can't be said about most prog concept album songs).

So this belongs quite firmly in the "full on prog" period of the band, I'd say. As the band member quotes in the liner notes of The Missing Piece point out, that album was truly where the band consciously and deliberately tried to make themselves more accessible and alter and streamline their sound to appease the record company and the pop charts. The fact that they failed miserably doesn't detract from the great music of all the albums prior to, and including, this one.

In reality, if ever I needed a half star rating system, it is with this album. A 3.5 if ever their was one; good, but also essential for anyone wanting to explore this band......but get this one last of the true prog Giant albums. But since I can't select 3.5, I'll go with 4, as this band in their prime deserved nothing less.

Report this review (#153260)
Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I remember vividly when I first purchased the cassette version of this album, I was really in love with the first opening track which was also album title Interview (6:54). The music is really wonderful with its complex arrangement combining weird but nice piano work of Kerry Minear, combined with dynamic and jaw dropping drum of John Weathers. I think the music is an excellent example of how avant-garde music can be composed in touchy package with nice melody and powerful vocal harmonies and accentuation. I like the part where piano sounds like producing notes in different direction but it still sounds magic with the other combination of vocal line, violin as well as drums. This is really a brilliant song and one of my favorite Gentle Giant songs. Well, I know most of Gentle Giant songs are very hard to digest, but not this opening track. It's really catchy, energetic and very captivating, I would say.

Another track like Give It Back (5:08) is also good but with more spins I find this track a bit boring. This also applies to Design (4:59), Another Show (3:29). But the concluding track I Lost My Head (6:58) is also interesting as it has good melody.

Overall, this is not a very strong album by Gentle Giant even though the title track is very interesting and tight in composition. In fact, I invite your opinion on how great I think this track this - are you in agreement with me? It's very powerful!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#157229)
Posted Monday, December 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Giant's 1976 release was another feat of imagination and invention for them, and more evidence of the formidable contender the entire progressive rock spectrum had become. The title cut leaves little doubt of that and even tragic 'Give it Back' is saved by neat Yes-like tidepools. A hysterical interview and weird choral drone opens 'Design' arriving at an unsettled child at his toybox. If you can hold on for 'Another Show' you'll be in for one of the best songs of the classic prog era, a track that incorporates the energy of arena-rock while retaining its class and precision. It is followed flawlessly by the hip and hot 'Empty City', whiffs of jazz fusion and typically great, masterfully intertwined vocal harmonies. Aptly named 'Timing' with its warped strings and boogie woogie splashed coldly in the face is next, and spidery parlor-rock of 'I Lost My Head' develops with piles of synths, guitars and piano.

A crew of slightly demented minstrels, brilliant but rather mad, Weathers, Green, Minnear, Shulman and Shulman matched anything the big boys had to offer and gave us a terrific and worthy follow-up to 1975's Free Hand. Perhaps just a touch more commercial than previous records but still great prog, a very strong four and 1/2 stars.

Report this review (#157352)
Posted Tuesday, January 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Interview is the eigth album from Gentle Giant. Their last album called Free Hand was very successful both artistically and to a certain degree commercially ( this is prog rock. A band like Gentle Giant didn´t sell a million copies). All seemed well within the band with a stable lineup now for the last 4 albums and lots of creative and innovative musical ideas. Interview started the downfall for Gentle Giant though and is generally regarded by the fans as a disappointment after the masterpiece that was Free Hand. I´m a bit disappointed too but still think that Interview is a very good progressive rock album.

The music is unmistakebly Gentle Giant with all the features that we know from the previous seven albums. Jazz, Rock, polyrythmic choir arrangements and avant garde virtoso playing. Many of the earlier reviews have said that Interview is like a twin album to Free Hand and the style is very similar to that great album. Gentle Giant themselves weren´t very satisfied with Interview as they didn´t feel they had developed their sound further like they had on each of the previous albums. I hear plenty of development though. Just listen to the reggae rhythm in Give It Back. That´s something Gentle Giant hadn´t done before. I don´t think there are any weak points on the album, but it is true that Gentle Giant just don´t seem as inspired as they used to. Songs like the aforementioned Give it Back, the title track and the avant garde like Design are all very good tracks though. Another Show needs to be mentioned as it is a powerful song. The remaining three songs are also very good.

The musicianship is one of the main attractions on any Gentle Giant album and as usual it´s outstanding on Interview.

The production is a bit colder than usual from Gentle Giant and does ruin a bit of the listening pleasure. It´s still pretty good though.

Interview is definitely an above average progressive rock album even though it´s not a favorite of mine from Gentle Giant. I can´t bring myself to give Interview a big 3 star rating so it´ll be a small 4 star rating. Out of the eight first albums from Gentle Giant this should be the last one you purchase though. There are traces on Inverview as to what would come on the next Gentle Giant album called The Missing Piece but no one could have imagined that the change in sound would be as significant as it would be. The downfall had started. Sadly.

Report this review (#175843)
Posted Tuesday, July 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars In my opinion all 7 previous albums by Gentle Giant are definitely better than this one. There are a few weak moments here and there. For example 'Give it Back' sounds like an out-take from a 10cc album. But, there is still enough inspired weirdness here for me to rate 4 stars with no hesitation! What a band! Eight 4 star or better albums in a row! Too bad things go distinctly downhill after this.
Report this review (#180133)
Posted Tuesday, August 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my favorite Gentle Giant album. Everyone should hear this album at some point, though if you're not familiar with Gentle Giant, I admit this might be quite an odd starting point.

1. Interview- Gentle Giant doing what they do best! Amazing musicianship here, and everyone is top notch. This is a really cool sounding piece and one of my favorites from them. Everything is great and truly creates a piece of music unique to Gentle Giant that can stand the test of time. 10/10

2. Give It Back- An avant-garde take on reggae? You heard me right. This song is actually really neat and enjoyable. This isn't too typical Gentle Giant, but they're pushing some boundaries with this one. 9/10

3. Design- Woah. Possibly the most experimental track Gentle Giant had ever recorded, and it definitely works. There aren't many instruments in this track, and after the first listen you may wonder what the hell you just heard. The vocals are FANTASTIC. A masterpiece of music. Flawless. 10+/10

4. Another Show- Another good composition that isn't really typical GG sound. The number of instruments are not as high, and the overall feel to it you can definitely tell is different. Nonetheless, a fantastic song describing the members' absolute tiring of touring. The keyboards are really good and expressive here, almost carrying that same feel to it of exhaustion. 9/10

5. Empty City- Interesting song once again and crafted extremely well. Opens with a neat guitar part, and then the song develops from there. I like how the mood changes after the first minute and a half to a more dynamic part. 9/10

6. Timing- Haha, I am notorious for loving this song way too much for some reason. Derek's vocals again are good and expressive, the instruments are great, and the band is up to par. The mood again feels a bit odd for GG's standards, which may be why this album gets way overlooked. TIIIIIIIIIIMING!! A favorite of mine, hard to be subjective here. 10/10

7. I Lost My Head- The other flawless track of the album. If I wanted to sum up Gentle Giant in one track, this is definitely a candidate. I love how the medieval-esque keyboards build up more and more with each part, then having the song explode into a rock-oriented part while still maintaining GG-style quirkiness. Great playing all around and I could listen to this song many times in a row. Fantastic work! Flawless. 10+/10

Well, if you are unfamiliar with this album or with Gentle Giant in general, you should definitely pick this up. Again, you should maybe go with Octopus or something else first if you are a newcomer as the sound is a bit atypical here in some aspects.

An experimental, groundbreaking masterpiece of music that marks the end of one of the most creative bands in the past 40 years. Essential.

Report this review (#190566)
Posted Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars If this eclectic prog giant hadn't made as many strong albums this record 'Interview' would have definitely been a must-have. As it is, I prefer at least five other records Gentle Giant made. On this album the band is carefully experimenting with adding some pop-sensibilities without tuning down much of their wildly broad-minded musical experimentation. And whilst no song sounds particularly like something they did before, the album does sound a bit like its just more of the same. Few songs stand out, though 'I Lost My Head' would surely make many fans best of compilation. Perhaps I'm missing the more psychedelic early-seventies recording style of the earlier records, whereas this record sounds crisp and clear. 'Interview' offers some very complex and well composed music, but I found myself releasing this LP from my care; for I'm not THAT big of a fan.
Report this review (#191728)
Posted Thursday, December 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Something about this album makes me think the band had interviewed Bob Marley, because if one has ever wished to know what reggae-infused Gentle Giant sounds like, this is the album to get. With the exception of a few excellent songs, this album is fairly weak.

"Interview" The title track has a reggae groove and the unmistakable voice of Derek Shulman belting out the lyrics. Quiet moments separate the loud verses from the instrumental section, which features a jumping piano solo. The section following the piano solo isn't my thing, really, but it does a good job going back to the verse.

"Give it Back" This one is even more reggae than the previous track, with those clean minor chords spanked out on the electric guitar. Even the way the singer phrases the lyrics would fool the listener into thinking this was a Jamaican progressive rock band. It has its own quirky flavor, though, especially with the synthesizer thrown in from time to time.

"Design" The band gives the reggae a rest to showcase a Minnear choir. The band tries to reproduce the zany randomness and counterpoint of "Knots," but this attempt is not as delightful. Minnear's voice is especially pleasant though, as he sings a creative melody.

"Another Show" Gentle Giant dabbles in some wild fusion here. The music is all over the place and sometimes hard to follow. I don't really care for this track much at all.

"Empty City" Beautiful acoustic guitar and subtle electric guitar make this one of the best songs here. The layered vocal work is especially strong. The piece changes often, going from quiet acoustic work to harder rock and back again multiple times.

"Timing" This is a favorite of mine on Interview. It has a grand vocal melody, and the bass work is powerful. There's an eccentric violin solo that precedes Gary Green's moment in the spotlight. The musicianship is tighter here than it is on most of the other songs.

"I Lost My Head" The mini-epic of the album, this begins with some sophisticated acoustic work. It features some memorable themes and lyrics, giving both Shulman and Minnear a chance to shine at the microphone. This song occupies the same strata with the Gentle Giant greats of previous albums.

Report this review (#194211)
Posted Thursday, December 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars So what happened to the band's inspiration after Free Hand?

After dropping jaws all over the world along with frightening many conventional listeners because of the band's insanely complex songs and off kilter structure they finally hit a wall with this release. In'terview represents the band's decline into certain madness, with every release to follow this one receiving less and less praise until the band's eventual demise. That said, it is still a very good album by any standards, and perhaps still very 'consistent' - the problem is that it's more of the same, but the same is just a little more bland. This release has no individual songs to blow your head off, nor are there any songs that wow you with their ingenuity. This is a mere collection of tunes, and Gentle Giant fans have come to expect more from the band than that.

For the most part this is a dumbed down version of the Giant. While the songs are fun and catchy, they're not quite to the level of excellence that previous albums have reached. This means that the album is, in fact, rather accessible and easy to get into, but it's probably the one that will wear off first. Weakness shows right from the first track, Interview which is a heavy and fun tune but suffers from undirected minimalism during the middle of the song coupled with a rather unchanging melody that becomes tiresome after about 6 minutes. Design is another song that suffers greatly from the dumbed down approach, the band having split the song into two parts, one of them with very little going on but the trademark vocal harmonies and the second being the more active part which still, unfortunately, fails to really impress.

Luckily, this album does have some of the better song in the Giant's discography as well. Give It Back is a very genre defining tune when 'eclectic' is used to describe it - quirky and complex, fun as well as chilling, and somehow almost emotional. It pushes you away with the bizarre synth effects only to bring you back in with rhythmic clinking and the more subdued keyboard niceties. While the song still doesn't have the same effect as, say, On Reflection it does do a good job of showing what the band is good at. I Lost My Head is the longest tune on the album and perhaps the most impressive, it's a two part mini-suite that basically shifts from slow segment to fast segment, but the melodies used within make it comparable to some of the more 'classic' songs that we've heard from the band.

The rest of the songs on the album are merely passable, some of them hardly memorable. Another Show is another fast and somewhat hard-hitting song, but it comes off as a standard rocker which is easily forgettable without a memorable chorus or some other sort of hook - it's just a bunch of heavy melodies with some random cacophony thrown in for good measure. Empty City is the generic and obligatory slow song on the album while Timing is some simple filler used to fill time.

Being an album full of peaks and valleys it's hard to recommend to the Gentle Giant beginner, but for the experienced with the band this is still a good one to get. It's wholly listenable unlike some of the later efforts which have some songs which would make proggers turn right off the band (I betcha thought they couldn't do it!), but not the first album for most to start with. Uneven is the best word for the album, although the good parts are still very good and the low parts really aren't all that bad. This one scrapes across to a 3-star rating, good, but not essential for those not interested in the band beyond the essentials.

Report this review (#198254)
Posted Friday, January 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Most fans cite 'Interview' as Gentle Giant's last great album, and I agree. Most fans, however, do not think of it as one of their best albums... i happen to believe it is. This and 'The Power and Glory' have long been my two favorite Giant records, and i believe both are masterpieces.

Some slate 'Interview' for being their first album that didn't make a huge progressive step-up from the previous album... this is somewhat true I think: Interview is indeed quite similar to it's predecessor 'Free Hand'. But what GG did do here is take all the best ideas from their previous seven albums and distill their essences and then refined and perfected those ideas in these 7 songs. This album is the culmination of all that came before... and the last hurrah for their bold unique sound.

From start to finish, there is not one bad note: 'Design' is similar to 'Knots' and 'On Reflection'... made up mostly of insanely complex interweaving vocal lines; it's simply mind-bending. 'Give it Back' is their much-maligned 'pseudo-reggae' song, but i think it's excellent and as interesting and challenging as anything else they've done. 'Another Show' is a fast aggressive song that reminds of 'Cogs in Cogs' and is one of my favorite tracks here.

The second side has always been my favorite though: 'Empty City' is gorgeous and mellow... a melancholic and atmospheric number that reminds me of the 'Acquiring the Taste' days, while 'I Lost My Head' rocks as hard as 'Valedictory' from 'The Power and the Glory'.

The only weak element of this album is the mock interview sections... they add nothing to the album and really didn't need to be there. They're only a small nuisance though, and very short so they don't lessen the brilliance of the album.

BEWARE: i advise you to avoid the 'BGO Records' 2-on-1 CD which contains the 'Interview' and 'Free Hand' albums on one disc. I own this CD and there is a terrible background hiss that is very distracting... a defect in the mastering stage I believe. Get the Terrapin Records version if you can find it.

Report this review (#202326)
Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars When I start to discover the work of a classic band that I've somehow overlooked over the years there's a certain amount of luck involved in where I begin. (That's just one of the many reasons that ProgArchives is so relevant and valuable.) The honest ratings and reviews by people in the know usually steer folks like me in the right direction. Accounting for individual taste in music, that first impression can make or break the deal for me with groups like Gentle Giant and I was fortunate enough to get my mitts on "Octopus" and then "Three Friends" in that order. I was delighted with what I heard and that's a good thing because had I picked up "Interview" initially I may never have known why they are so heralded by so many. This being their fourth LP since the departure of Phil Shulman, I find it to be lacking in the charm department that so endeared me to the two aforementioned albums. Due to the admiration evidenced by their fans, I have no doubt that the intervening records have great merit and many incidents of excellence to revel in but this one makes me wonder where the magic went.

After some muffled room noises, the album's namesake song bolts right into a rather unnerving, disjointed jumble of sounds staggering along underneath Derek Shulman's screechy vocal. The verses are separated by a mellower electric piano but the harshness of the overall atmosphere never lets up for long and it grows tiresome quickly. I can understand Derek's exasperation over still being asked repeatedly about brother Phil's departure three years earlier but there's no excuse for taking it out on the listener's ears. "Now that he's gone/turn off our faces/wait for the new man to arrive/soon the same song/sung for the next one/saying our piece/though not alive," he screams. There's a too-brief but delectably wild piano solo midway through that's intriguing but a segment consisting of strange guitarisms from Gary Green splattered over a jerky track comes stumbling right on its heels, ruining the moment. "Give it Back" follows and, while the clever 12/8 reggae-tinged pattern they establish is a nice change of pace, it still falls short of being either tantalizing or engaging. The lead break has no flow to it and the melodies have nothing memorable to offer. Once again the band's career frustrations surface in the dry lyrics. "Haven't had much in a long time/hoping that change is going to be mine." Derek intones. Sorry, boys, I'm just not feeling the love on this one.

But all is not lost. "Design" has a lot of the elements that drew me willingly into the world of GG, starting with their trademark intricate madrigal-style vocalizations that set them apart from the prog pretenders. They have the ability to display a unique knack for creative thought and imagination in their music that's astounding at times and this is one of those occasions. When John Weathers' drums and percussion leap into the fray the mood changes slightly but the song maintains its noble character as they tactfully blend the contrasting aspects of the tune into a cohesive whole. Even the tribal freak out at the end is not out of place. The wistful words capture the essence of a man who is looking back on his life. "His dreams as a boy/were of hope and intention/of making his mark/with his plans and invention/where did they go/how could he know how time goes?" he sings. Unfortunately the bliss doesn't linger as "Another Show" marks a return to the frantic frazzle, this time augmented by Kerry Minnear's drunken, slurring Hammond organ that's as bothersome as a whiny three-year-old rug rat you can't ignore. Derek's stressed out, tortured vocal doesn't do the song any favors, either, as he somehow manages to make the words about life on tour seem like he's talking about being waterboarded in an Iranian prison. "Lock the door and go/heads still in a daze/throw the keys away/lost all count of days." he complains. Hmm. Performing your art for thousands of adoring fans and getting paid for it. And I thought MY job was drudgery!

A breather is vital at this juncture and, thankfully, they supply one with the calmer acoustic guitar approach on "Empty City." The song gradually escalates into a rocker for a while but they graciously reprise the softer tones and tranquility is restored. Bassist Ray Shulman's violin lends a refreshing flavor and the ever-changing arrangement keeps the listener on his toes throughout. The subtle lyrics about a girl leaving her hometown are succinct yet simple. "Timing" is next and it's back to the buzz saw. Its edgy, brittle foundation brazenly steals from what otherwise is an energetic, smoother-moving number and now I'm starting to want to strangle the studio engineer for not clamping a muzzle on this grating endeavor. I'll admit that the faux rock & roll satire in the middle induces a grin or two but Green's shrill guitar solo is shameful. Here Derek continues his tirade about his chosen profession. "See now, like cat then mouse I move/they move, the game hasn't an end." he rues. Enough already!

At least the finale, "I Lost My Head," doesn't make you run for the Excedrin bottle. It's a very intricate acoustic-instrument-driven jazzy thing that cleverly drops into a madrigal atmosphere between the verses as smooth as a car salesman's pitch. Kerry's synthesizer sounds like a small piccolo on the interim section (cool) and the group eventually elevates the groove into something more driving as they adopt an almost Zappa-ish riff to cruise underneath the vocal. As if expressing remorse for the caustic sentiments that run through the album in general, Derek warbles "Everything's true, but everything lies/it's so hard to try to explain it." Well, mom always said if you can't say something nice then don't say anything at all. It's not becoming.

What it all boils down to is this. If you're new to Gentle Giant land then start with another album before grappling with this one. A glance at the opinions about this particular recording will reveal that some proggers truly enjoy this in-your-face extravaganza and more power to them. I don't. I read somewhere that, in hindsight, the band thought that this project signified the beginning of a downward trend in their creativity and I have to agree. It just doesn't measure up to their earlier works. 2.3 stars.

Report this review (#205690)
Posted Saturday, March 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Interview is the last album of Gentle Giant, that have to come to the attention of dying hard fans of progart (for the people with moderate views the next albums are also enough good for listening). In contrast to the previous release - Free Hand - Interview contains some better songs than it, like I Lost My Head, Interview and Empty City which could be cite by me as exceptional songs of progart music. But it contains much weaker songs, than Free Hand, which is a constant almost-masterpiece work. Moreover, the structure of this album is not very well produced; tracklisting is not very appropriate. There are interesting rege approach, but as I said the tracklisting is not very well produced. So, this album come into sixth place in my Gentle Giant's list (after Three Friends, In a Glass House, The Power and the Glory, Free Hand and Acquiring the Taste, and little above the debut homonymous album - Gentle Giant).

My final rating of Interview is 4.1 stars.

Report this review (#208492)
Posted Tuesday, March 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars This album was the first sign of a downturn in Gentle Giant's career. After four excellent releases the Giants made an amazing three album streak of essential albums, that began with In A Glass House.

After Free Hand, one may argue, that the band had already covered all the possible aspects and directions of their music and so some repetition on the later record was bound to come sooner or later. My issues with this album are quite a few staring like the lack of interesting melodies and the fact that most songs feel like rehashes of the bands previous efforts. This doesn't mean that this material doesn't have the Gentle Giant seal of quality to it, which is why I still really like this album, but ultimately I would rather listen to the first seven albums instead of this release.

Of course not everything is completely unoriginal on In'terview but the material that feels new doesn't hit it off so well with me. I feel like the band was going into a wrong direction with the sugary melody and added reggae rhythm on Give It Back. All in all this album marks the final barely exciting Gentle Giant release since the second half of the '70s seemed to be unkind to the band.

***** star songs: Interview (6:54)

**** star songs: Design (4:59) Another Show (3:29) Empty City (4:24) I Lost My Head (6:58)

*** star songs: Give It Back (5:08) Timing (4:50)

Total rating: 3,92

Report this review (#254386)
Posted Saturday, December 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This is the last of the great Gentle Giant studio albums. And there may be signs of what was to come in the lyrics. It has been a theory of mine that when a band starts writing songs about how horrible it is to be in the music industry, it's time to get out. Few bands ever continue making good music after whining about how bad their job is. Besides Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd. The offending songs here are Interview and Another Show.

Aside from that, this is a great Gentle Giant album, in the tradition that they themselves created. Varied, complex, intelligent (maybe too intelligent for some) compositions with unusual instrumentation. And extremely lush and intertwined vocal parts. It's all here.

Report this review (#257508)
Posted Wednesday, December 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The End of a Giant

Gentle Giant's INTERVIEW marks the last of the band's classic eight extremely progressive albums. As the genre was in decline, the band attempted to find a pop audience after this album, to no avail. Ironically, the band had achieved its greatest (at least American) success on the previous FREE HAND, an album that had combined GG's trademark complexity with a bit of levity and accessibility. Under time pressure to follow up that success, the band essentially put together FREE HAND 2. The result is predictable; another complex but (relatively) user-friendly album, with less of the fire and heart that FH displayed. But to be very clear, more of FREE HAND is a great thing, and INTERVIEW is an excellent piece of prog rock. Though I usually avoid song-by-song reviews, Gentle Giant's music really begs for the treatment. So here goes.

1. Interview - the album starts with vintage GG led by Kerry Minnear's syncopated organ. Angular melodic lines get traded from organ to voice to bass to piano until we're once again the the realm of calculated chaos that all GG fans love. Though we've heard these sounds before, this ranks up there as one of the better prototypes of the Gentle Giant sound.

2.  Give It Back - a quirky, near reggae tune adds a sense of whimsy to this album that may be part of its lighter reputation. However, the song quickly evolves in complexity peaking in a march-like bridge that uses instrumentation new to the GG repertoire. Harmony guitars, a haunting whistle (? Theremin) alternate with vibes on one of the freshest of the album's pieces.

3.  Design - by this point, GG fans expected a composed a capella piece, and INTERVIEW does not disappoint. This song is one of the most haunting of its kind, using dissonant harmony and noisy percussion in a great piece which is unfortunately a little long for the number of ideas it uses.

4.  Another Show - speeds up the pace with another typical GG groove. This song is solid enough, but shows the band starting to run out of ideas. The entire album suffers from a dearth of strong lead lines (hooks seems terribly inappropriate for this band) and this song really just blends into the background.

5.  Empty City - this is perhaps the best song on the album, starting with a beautiful acoustic guitar and packing by far the strongest emotional punch of the album. The melody line on this one sticks with me, and the balance of moods is good. This is the only song from the album I'd put on a "Best of GG" collection.

6.  Timing - a bit more poppy (by GG standards) this mid-tempo number is very well composed but lacks heart. It features a few great instrumental breaks including a nice rock solo by Gary Green, but just doesn't grab one's attention that well.

7.  I Lost My Head - for some reason this song gets extra mention compared to the other songs on this album, and I'm not sure why. It does employ a little of the Medievalism of early GG, and its light feel is pleasant enough. I actually don't like Minnear's voice on this lead (I thought it one of saving graces of IN A GLASS HOUSE). The melodic lines are good, but too much of the song seems mechanical in execution. It's actually surprising that GG hasn't fallen into this trap more often given the complexity of their music, but here they truly are too much in their head and not enough in the heart.

INTERVIEW must still be considered one of the great Gentle Giant albums, and part of the greater canon of prog. It doesn't meet the masterpiece level of some of its predecessors, but still comes highly recommended. The last great work of one of prog's greatest bands.

Report this review (#262491)
Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars 3,5 stars, really. Interview was the first ever album by british great proggers Gentle Giant to show some cracks. It is still very good, some would say even excellent when compared to a lot fo things other prog acts were doing at the time, but for GG standards, this one was not as good as what the group was doing up to that point, specially the previous one, the brilliant Free Hand. I read in interviews (pun not inteneded) that the band was feeling the pressure of success: constant touring and little time to write, arrange and record. Maybe this is best shown by the record´s running time, a meager 36 minutes of music.

That´s not to say Interview does not have its moments. Most of the time they still show GG´s incredible musicanship and creativity, plus their unique flair for the nice melody even inside the most avant guard framework.. I Lost My Head is a good example of this. it´s a great track and a typical GG classic: powerful, convincing and original. It´s the CD´s highlight, no doubt. The main problem here is the fact that the band was less bolder, just recycling the formula used on the other albums. The biggest novelty is the second track, Give It Back, where they recorded a kind of prog-reggae, something I had never heard of. It is quite interesting, but that´s all. It´s defintily not one of their best songs.

There was also a change of focus: there is almost no flute, cello or violin and very few sax parts. The mellotron was also retired and replaced by synths. Nothing wrong with that. But once again it seems the band was trying to to change their sound to a more simpler approach. I guess it would be ok if their songwriting was not suffering from exaustion. And, unfortunatly, their next releases would do nothing to fix those problems. The band was caught in a situation where they started to lose their older fans and at the same time were not finding a new audience.

Still, Interview is fine work. It´s was unfairly treated by fans at the time. They were expecting GG to outdo themselves as they used to so many times in the past. But in the end I found nothing really wrong with the album per se. There is not a single track where you can point mistakes or weakness. Even when they repeated themselves, Gentle Giant did it very well. Maybe my rating is a bit harsh too, but I can put it in the same league as the others. It´s slightly inferior for GG standards, like it or not. But still a worth addition if you´re a fan of this great and groundbreaking outfit.

Report this review (#282583)
Posted Wednesday, May 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Many compare this album with their previous release--Free Hand--and seem to believe that Interview is in many ways inferior. Not bad, of course, but not up to their previous standard.

In all honesty, the approach and quality of music contained within Free Hand and Interview is quite similar, and the same high points and flaws apply fairly equally to both. As with Free Hand, I just don't think anything on this album is great, even though the overall range is very solid, from good to very good.

The best tracks for me are the opener and closer, Interview and I Lost My Head, respectively. Both showcase the newer (at least in that time) Gentle Giant approach, with good melody, upbeat rocking, but still keeping some of the classic Gentle Giant texture and intricacy with softer moments and a variety of instruments and keyboard contributions from Minnear. Perhaps they are just a bit repetitive, but unlike other tracks on this album, this at least gives you a chance to "dig in" to some of the good grooves they lay down.

The rest are solid tracks but not great. Some, such as Give It Back and Another Show, just don't have much good material and never had a chance to stand out. Others, such as Empty City and Timing, have some interesting touches but could have been extended a bit in my opinion to hold together better. The by-now-standard innovative song, Design, features a dreamy chorus with Kerry's unique voice floating over, and it sounds less forced than the parallel track from Free Hand (On Reflection).

It's clear that the Giant were getting a bit formulaic by this point, but when that is largely a good formula, why complain? I find this to be a solid album with a few notable highlights. If I Lost My Head is the final "classic" Gentle Giant composition, I think they sent themselves off quite well!

Report this review (#285121)
Posted Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars All gentle Giant albums up to '77 are superb. I was all ready to stick the boot into this album, but on listening to it I now realise it's an excellent album on a par with their previous releases. All the usual vocal acrobatics - layer upon layer are present on 'Interview'. It certainly is a bit more upbeat. Maybe they were feeling the pressure to come up with something new during the advent of the 'Pistols'?

Probably not.

"Give it Back' has the same dual vocals and it has carefully executed instrumental parts as past Gentle Giant albums. If anything the production values are more polished and clear giving it a bit of a different feel from previous albums. Admittedly, it is a bit more 'rocky' therefore this one gets a very acceptable 3 stars. Still pretty damn good though, and not to be avoided by Giant fans who are unsure.

Report this review (#287526)
Posted Sunday, June 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Interview is Gentle Giant's last progressive album, and the start of a new generation for the band. Why do the good bands die out young?

Interview is Giant's seventh album, released after Free Hand, which is considered to be the band's best. The album has reached some peaks, but some things have reached their peak on Free Hand, or its predecessor, The Power and the Glory, and from there on, things started tumbling down.

A lot of the songs here are right-on progressive rock, with jazz, classical, and medieval tendencies, but songs such as Empty City and Give it Back, are leaning more towards the pop genre. It's still obvious that it's Gentle Giant, but some things are missing.

The title track is probably the best song on the album, maybe tied with I Lost My Head. It starts off with 30 seconds of the band talking and laughing, and then it kicks off with a bang, and Kerry Minnear's funky organ licks, John Weathers' groovy rhythms, and Ray Shulman's counterpointed bass fill up your speakers.

Give it Back may be in an odd time signature, but it's still pretty poppy. This album is full of Kerry, and less Gary Green. Maybe it's because of the new Hammond he got!

Design also starts with 30 seconds of the band talking, and then it evolves to that "regular" a capella song, that is now apparently featured on every GG album (or not). It seems as if they tried to rip-off On Reflection (in the same way that King Crimson's In the Wake of Poseidon seems like a total rip-off off their debut), as there is even military like-drumming!

I don't know how to describe Another Show. It's sort of all over the place. The pitch bends, the fast vocals, the reverb, the reverse echo, the time signatures, it's all too complicated for my little brain!

Now, Empty City and Timing are the weak tracks on the album. Nothing unique, should be good for fans of GG during the latter two albums.

Now, the tie for number one track of the album, I Lost My Head. The songs starts with a 3-minute long medieval section. It's pretty catchy, and it's another one of Kerry Minnear's vocal parts, which seem to extinct with every album. Kerry brings out some mean clavinet arpeggios, and then an awesome transition into the heavier part of the song, with JPW banging his gong, and Kerry playing a silky smooth piano line on his out-of-tune white piano, making it sound like a honky-tonk. The guitar and keyboard line is just too catchy, and you can't help but sing-a-long to the song. That is, after you learn its 5 or so verses!

So, despite how I worship the title track and the last song, I'm gonna give this 3/5. Still, more than half the album is average...

Report this review (#288733)
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's been about 5 years since I first listened to this disc, after reading reviews on PA, telling me how it signals the dawn of their future sellout era. Listening to it was one of those "What are they talking about?" moments. It's refreshing to see that over the years the appreciation for this work has climbed. This has been one of my favorites from Gentle Giant.

I mean was it simply the Reggae structure in Give it Back that turned people off? Despite the simplicity of the form, they syncopate it beyond the norm and break free of the form, at least in my opinion. And Green still does some tasty work, coloring outside the lines of pure reggae, as well.

Perhaps it has something to do with not preferring the Phil Shulman era to the product afterwards

Report this review (#300000)
Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars This GG album is not significantly different from the previous ones. Several songs are really working on my nerves (as usual), the jazzy atmosphere is still very much present, the complexity of the song remains, and vocals are immediately recognizable.

Some songs are heavier than usual ("Timing") but this is not the first time that such a feature can be noticed in GG music. In a word, this album does belong to the genuine GG although some fellow reviewers think differently.

I am of course not a GG specialist, nor a fan. But listening to this work is sufficient to realize this. Of course, the reggae-oriented "Give it Back" is not what one could have expected from this band and it is probably the least appealing track from this "Interview" album.

My favorite song from the whole is the closing and longest song of the whole: "I Lost My Head". It features many influences and can be considered as a fully GG classic. In all, this is a good album that I rate accordingly with three stars.

Report this review (#308522)
Posted Saturday, November 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Gentle Giant's most transitional album, sandwiched right between the band at a peak of both commercial and artistic potential and the band taking a dramatic plunge in both categories.

Actually, there was a rebound of listenability after In'terview, but that stuff probably had just as little chance of success. I am not generally as put-off by this period of GG as most people are, nor do I think In'terview is entirely unlistenable; still, it's definitely the low point of this remarkable band.

It does contain one of the few GG songs I truly and actively dislike: the opening title track. The melody is fine, but they go just a little too far with experimentation in the middle. I still haven't come around to this. But I enjoy most of the middle of the album more than other people seem to - particularly the famous reggae experiment "Give It Back" and gorgeous "Empty City". And the closing track, "I Lost My Head", is structurally very similar to "In A Glass House" and is every bit as good. It's the last masterpiece of theirs in the traditional GG style.

What's strange about In'terview is that, for all its disjointedness and seeming inability to hang onto a groove, it actually reeks of commercialism: to my mind, more so even than "The Missing Piece". See, on "The Missing Piece" and "Giant For a Day", however questionable some of the material may have been, I find the band enjoying themselves - writing perfectly acceptable pop songs, playing them well, and enjoying, if nothing else, the professionalism of it. I don't feel as though the band enjoyed making this album; in fact, its vibe puts me off more than any of their other work. Gentle Giant are almost never deadly serious, and the few times they are the results can be spectacular ("Funny Ways", "His Last Voyage"); but where most of their previous chaotic twisting and turning was effortless and natural, on In'terview it sounds like they were looking for as many ways as possible of screwing up what may have been an otherwise fine song. Like they've got to "save face" so they did that horrible "Design" song.

That being said, the album does have its virtues. They're just harder to write about, because it's all ground they've been on before. It seems like a great final Gentle Giant purchase. I'd go in order up to Free Hand, then skip this one and continue to the end; then, go to "Civilian" and work your way back to this one; when you get here it'll sound like a return to form, even if the pop of those later albums is actually more convincing than the prog here.

Actually, that analogy works in a lot of ways. I'd be less skeptical to hear these five (or six) guys were getting back together to create more music than I would be regarding almost any other prog band. Except for King Crimson and maybe Rush, none of the old guard has any juice left in them that I can tell. But In'terview sounds, to me, like a reunion album. They knew the tricks they had to pull off: dissonant, almost unlistenable noise; odd instrumentation; toying with world music. Unfortunately, it's just not their greatest batch of songs - a common failing of a band past its prime. Most of these songs work on the basic formula of old songs. They may not exactly be rewrites, but it's easy to see "Cogs in Cogs" presaging "Another Show" (one of the best songs on here) and Knots presaging "Design" (possibly my least favorite GG song).

I actually enjoy the fact that they went on from here to do something completely different. However embarrassed by the late album fans and the band itself may feel, I feel like their exeunt is one of the few dignified ones in progressive rock. Their tampering with pop was by no means bad - it's better than Eddie Money, anyway - and by In'terview it was obvious they either had to come up with some new tricks or move on. They moved on, and so much the better.

Report this review (#320216)
Posted Monday, November 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars INTERVIEW is one of the weirder albums in the Gentle Giant canon because the fans seem to disagree on what it is. There are arguments made for INTERVIEW being seen among the classic quality as the first seven albums gave us, and there are counterpoints crying that the band took a step too far in selling out and derailed their credibility for good.

I lean on the fence with INTERVIEW. I find it neither the beginning of the end nor the end of the beginning. That may be due to that I was never enamoured by the preceding FREE HAND, finding it average instead of great. INTERVIEW falls in the same ring as FREE HAND, but there are some differences.

Notable is ''Give It Back'' where we see Gentle Giant iron reggae onto their own classic sound resulting in an off pop song only GG can pull off well. Also, the closing ''I Lost My Head'' captures the classic Giant sound in seven minutes going from a delicate beginning to a crashing climax, never losing tension once.

Everything else seems to suffer the same problems as songs on FREE HAND. Gentle Giant seems to have found a system of writing songs which works for them and repeat them ad infinitum. ''Design'' has the vocal intricacies they've been postering since ''Knots'', only less successful. ''Timing'' might as well be ''Killing Time, Part 2'', and you could compare ''Another Show'' to ''Cogs in Cogs'', etc. Gentle Giant are master instrumentalists and composers, but the group really hasn't launched a great album (chronologically speaking) since GLASS HOUSE.

Fun for the fans not familiar with Gentle Giant, but I'm a bit weary of hearing the same ideas pandered across different albums.

Report this review (#400608)
Posted Monday, February 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars People generally don't enjoy Interview as much as I do, which I don't quite understand. This was my first Gentle Giant album, and I think it serves as a perfect introduction to the band. This album contains everything that has made Gentle Giant stand out in the past; complex arrangements (maybe less so), medieval inspirations, super tight musicianship, unique vocals, etc. The concept here is a bit odd, which is supposed to be some kind of musical interview. I never pay attention to the concept, really. One thing that is very interesting about this album is the second track, "Give it Back", which sounds like some kind of quirky reggae-funk song. As with other Gentle Giant releases, this album is super eclectic with tons of influences rushing through the mix.

Highly recommended and masterly crafted eclectic progressive rock.

Report this review (#429417)
Posted Friday, April 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars This follow-up to Free Hand was, according to the band, a rushed effort. One particularly striking account has Kerry Minnear sitting alone in the basement of the recording studio, hurriedly composing the last remaining vocal parts to "Design" on manuscript, which were to be immediately rushed upstairs and recorded in order to finish the track on time.

I believe this haste is evident in the final product. A minor complaint is that the instrumentation is pretty spare and gritty, and not quite as diverse as on previous efforts. Drums, organ, guitar, bass, and electric piano form the core of the sound on Interview. This is rather a pity; Ray's violin, to take the most obvious example, is sorely missed on many tracks. But more importantly, I find the compositional aspect of this record to be a little rough around the edges. Yes, the pieces are all assembled according to proven formulae, but the individual parts do not always fit as snuggly or naturally as on previous efforts, or sometimes are simply not as shrewdly-crafted as I have come to expect from this band. For example, while the Giant's polyphony is probably at its most exposed and sinewy on Interview, the individual lines occasionally lack the flow and autonomy which characterises really good counterpoint.

Take the title track. The meat of the song is very compelling, boasting a fantastically bouncy, hocketed rhythmic interplay which drives the whole thing forward. But then I consider the odd-ball midsection, which is built on top of a curiously syncopated bassline over which an electric guitar (sitar?) unfolds a disjointed counterpoint. This guitar line is, quite frankly, confusing to the ear in this context -- it's not at all clear where it's going or why it's going there. It is only at the end of the song, when this same line is reprised on synth over the main theme, does it nestle into the scenery and finally make sense. It's clear that this line was back-composed -- it was written for the end of the song and only later inserted into the middle (or had the midsection written around it). As great as the rest of the track is, the midsection strikes me as maddeningly ad hoc, serving no deeper purpose than to make the end of the song sound more impressive by virtue of the track's musical "foreshadowing". While this is a neat trick, it is not executed well.

And so it seems to be with much of the album -- though for every track, I will admit that there is at least one excellent musical idea to carry the song. From what I can tell, the second side is slightly better than the first. At least, side 2 contains the album's two utter classics in "Empty City" and "I Lost My Head". The former is a mournful, mist-soaked ballad that Kerry was apparently on a role with in those days (compare "His Last Voyage" from Free Hand) -- and there's a punchy chorus which features a really tasty sax riff counterposing Derek's surprisingly aggressive vocals. The latter is a two-part track: the band starts out with a quieter, subdued section with mediaeval inflections before segueing into a full-on funky, heavy, riff-driven rockout. If this binary construction seems familiar to some Giant fans, that's because it is -- think "Peel the Paint" or "Experience" or "In a Glass House", which were all fashioned in a similar manner. But god damn it, it's a winning scheme! Plus the melodies/riffs on this track rank up there with Giant's best.

Verdict: There is much to like here, but I can't in good conscience call this "Essential", or even "Excellent" (at least without qualification). While the playing is perfect, and there are plenty of musical nuggets floating around, many songs bear the mark of hasty construction. Only "Empty City" and "I Lost My Head" stand out as truly accomplished compositions. Hey, call me picky, but this is Gentle effin' Giant; I'm merely holding them to the standard set by their previous albums. A firm 3 1/2.

Report this review (#435574)
Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars You aint see nothing yet.

The 8th album by Gentle Giant offers a wonderful summation to the band way up to that time, and a new horizons and possibilities for future to come, which unfortunately did not implemented eventually, due to the 'prog decline' and all those depressive things? In part of the albums tracks, they might repeat on the same old tricks as before, (although I'm not sure I agree to this statement), but they are doing it better, and surpass even they own high standards. Examples: 'Empty city' is a laid back song, no rush to anyware, with so wonderful guitars from Garry, so delightful vocals from all, and such a nice flow and good ties between all phrases and sections, that the listening to this track becomes a true pleasure. 'I lost my head' provide some of the best moments of 'rocky Derek' vocals against 'delicate Kerry' vocals. A wonderful two-part song. 'Design' is just amazing with its complex vocal harmonies and counterpoint, the original percussion arrangement in non-regular parts, and the development, again never too hurry, and more mature and interesting than ever before.

The novelties presented mainly in the 'second league' songs, which lyrically discuss in the music industry and their negative feelings that concerned to being part of it. There are some recalls for funky, reggae, and a hint of disco, that ruled at that time. Obviously this is done wonderfully by the giants. As for the overall tracks level, indeed there are quality differences between the tracks, as many other GG albums, especially the second era ones. Even the giants could not reach the same high picks on every track, and this album makes no exception. Of course don't get me wrong, the 'lower level' tracks are really good, or even excellent, (except of the problematic 'Give it back'), So the final rating is 4 stars. In all, this album got its own masterpieces and gems, as well as all of other GG albums, up to 'interview'.

Report this review (#443864)
Posted Saturday, May 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Interview might have a somewhat self-referential concept - the trials and tribulations of the music industry, how very (not) original! - but it's another competent album from Gentle Giant, though I wouldn't put it on the level of its predecessor - there's no tracks on here as moving as His Last Voyage, for example, and on the whole it feels like a rougher than average Gentle Giant album without the polish or the more nuanced moments that listeners had come to expect from them.

That said, I think it's an album that has been sold short simply because it is a merely very good album coming at the end of a string of truly excellent ones. Taken on its own merits, it's an interesting showcase for the heavier side of the band and on Design and Give It Back they experiment with a few world music and reggae-influenced sounds, suggesting an intriguing new experimental direction which, in the end, they didn't take.

It's a shame really - had they stuck to their guns and not lost their nerve, continuing in the direction hinted at on this album, they might have weathered the changes in fashion admirably, but as it is their subsequent studio albums would find them struggling to find their place in the musical world - as though, for the first time in their career, they started to seriously second-guess themselves. Interview itself, then, ends up rather an oddity - a transitional album between the sound of Free Hand and a potential future sound that the group didn't adopt in the end.

Report this review (#549760)
Posted Thursday, October 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Judging from its score here at Prog Archives this 1976 album remains an undervalued gem in the Gentle Giant discography. It may have been the last (and arguably least) of a consecutive quartet of classic recordings. But in what turned out to be their final, fully progressive effort the band put all their strengths on display, and a few of their weaknesses too, which one could argue only helps make it a more balanced effort.

Certainly the lackluster cover art and layout doesn't recommend it very highly. And the album concept itself is a little strained: apparently the group wasn't getting enough love from the music press, so they designed the songs here as answers to (and a parody of) an imaginary interview, conducted by journalist Phil Sutcliffe and heard briefly between some of the tracks.

After the success of "Free Hand" the band could have easily rested on their well-earned laurels. But the punchy title track and the entirety of Side Two (the last four songs, to all you digital kids) are quintessential Gentle Giant: clever, creative, challenging, diverse, melodic, obscure, and often all at once within the space of a few bars.

The opening "Interview" pushes the aesthetic envelope with its epileptic instrumentation and in the spastic near-atonality of Gary Green's guitar solo...but it rocks. And the finely meshed chaos (not a contradiction) of "Another Show" (recalling "The Boys in the Band", from the 1972 "Octopus" album) inaugurates what may in fact be the strongest single side of vinyl in the greater Gentle Giant catalogue, next to the first half of "Free Hand" and Side Two of "Three Friends".

Only the reggae-flavored "Give It Back" and the failed experiment of "Design" don't measure up to the level of craftsmanship heard elsewhere on the album. The former, despite its attractive herky-jerky rhythms, anticipates the dumbed-down pop of subsequent Gentle Giant efforts; and the latter is an inorganic facsimile of earlier, better vocal/percussion arrangements, composed piecemeal by Kerry Minnear in the studio basement while the rest of the band was busy recording upstairs.

The production is a little rougher around the edges than usual: a sign of the times in 1976 ("Anarchy in the U.K." would hit the airwaves a few months later). Otherwise the band was clearly still at the top of its game, in style if not in sales, as they would prove with the release of the double live LP "Playing the Fool" the following year. But from any summit the only available direction is downward, and within a few short years the album would be remembered, if at all, as little more than a poignant reminder of what Progressive Rock could aspire to.

Report this review (#604731)
Posted Saturday, January 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although the opinion has already been expressed on this site, I'd like to reinforce that this album is a masterpiece. I struggle to understand some of the other reviews I've read of this album, as it is quite similar to their previous material. This is an excellent album, a good follow-up to Free Hand and a must-buy for people who are interested in Gentle Giant. However, I would not recommend it as a starting point-- I know that "Design" would have put me off the group unjustly.

The songs: INTERVIEW-- This is one of my favorite Gentle Giant songs in general. It has a good tune, but the really good part starts at when John Weathers sings. It's a dissonant, twisted, and jazzy muddle which resolves to a quiet keyboard part. I cite this, however, as a reason for this album being a bad place to start with Gentle Giant. GIVE IT BACK-- This one is a bit hit and miss for me. I kind of like the melody-- not very much, though. Fortunately, it is saved by a great instrumental section with a nice tune on a harpsichord followed by a fragmented conversation between the guitar and the marimba. DESIGN-- This is the strangest song Gentle Giant did. Now, those who haven't heard it might defend So Sincere as the deserving song for this title, however, this one's weirder. I love it, but I understand that a lot of people don't. It is entirely a capella except for some percussion, and is nearly entirely dissonant, from a theoretical standpoint. This adds to a chaotic atmosphere. ANOTHER SHOW-- Speaking of chaotic, this one is. However, that's no reason to say it's inaccessible. Although some might be turned off by the dissonance caused by the sounds of Hammond organs turning off and so forth, I quite like the tune, and think it's fairly catchy. EMPTY CITY-- This one's beautiful. I love the vocal harmonies. TIMING-- This one just doesn't do it for me, which may be explained by the abnormally usual main tune. I quite like the midsection with the solos and the violin part, but this is definitely the weak point of the album. I LOST MY HEAD-- Great beginning, okay end. I think it goes on too long, but it's another classic.

Report this review (#621706)
Posted Friday, January 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have finally got around to buying this bands back catalog, having admired them for years but never been confronted by their LP's in the shops (thank god for the internet). In a way I am happy about that as I get to enjoy this music, in some cases for the first time. Interview is an absolutely brilliant record for the most part, which is maybe a little inferior to Freehand, but only a little. Indeed I am aware that I have been playing this one more than any other beside Acquiring the taste, which is in my opinion their best record. "I lost my head" as an example is just wonderful, the way it moves from delicate, through to up temp rock, is simply a good example of why this band is now considered to be as important as the likes of king crimson. This is the last recording in which Derek doesn't irritate, I am not certain what it is but on later LP's he seems to become more prominent and less lovable. As an example of how powerful this record is, I got up at 6 this morning because I had the title track interview going around in my head, and 6 o'clock is a good time to listen to GG, when everyone else is asleep and you can enjoy the raw edge and the quite bits without interruptions. Just maybe interview isn't as fascinating as say in a glass house, but it's not a case of bad tracks, more of slightly less dense songwriting. I simple love design, but then I love all of the GG tracks of this type, and so must admit it is well trodden ground. One other observation the new remaster of Interview is loader than any other GG record I have. My speakers normally start to drive with my amp set on 3, but with Interview it's at 2. The quality has not been lost, but somehow they have wrung a great deal more volume out of the old tapes. If this record is not worth 5, then its only just shy of it.
Report this review (#780961)
Posted Monday, July 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars "Interview" is another of the better Gentle Giant albums beginning with some incredible complex musicianship on the title track, certainly one of the greatest GG songs. This is followed by reggae mayhem on 'Give It Back' that sounds great remastered. Between the songs we hear little interview snippets as transitions from track to track that work very well for a concept. 'Design' is next that brings things down for me with the almost annoying multi harmonies that permeate each album. They love to indulge in this barber shop quartet style but I am not a fan so this is an acquired taste. It is quite amusing though especially with the sproings and boings of percussion and tinkling chimes that are comical. The tribal percussion at the end is great but overall this is just too demented for its own good.

'Another Show' is next with a fast tempo and maniacal circus music intro. When Shulman's vocals come in the song becomes heavier and I like the odd signature. This is as crazy as the band like to be, just pulling out one unusual tempo after another, but this will send some running for cover. The guitar is excellent here competing with the keyboards and weird xylophone percussion. 'Empty City' follows, with dreamy acoustics to allow us to breathe. There are tons of harmonies and some nice basslines on this one, but the album is not up to the quality of previous GG. Notably the interview snippets are absent and that would have been nice to make this album more consistent.

The interview snippet does return again just before 'Timing', another track with bizarre tempo changes and a circus like musicianship. It is difficult to latch onto a melody as there are so many ideas competing against each other. It is a lot of fun to listen to all this inventiveness though, and the violin solo is wonderful, later joined by a powerful lead solo, one of the best instrumental breaks on the album. 'I Lost My Head' is a longer track at almost 7 minutes, and I love it when it finally launches into the melodic last 4 minutes with amazing vocals and guitar powering out on an odd intricate meter.

Overall this is not a masterpiece GG albums, but it has some excellent tracks especially side one, where the band seem to use all their best material on many occasions and run out of steam towards the end. The last track though here excels and is one of my favourite GG songs. It is perhaps best purchased with the box set or with the double CD package with "Free Hand".

Report this review (#842402)
Posted Monday, October 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Whoa -

Are the reviews posted to date insane or am I just more mature? More likely, a little of both. This is an excellent album, albeit disturbing, for everyone expected a Free Hand, which I believe was great but for raw feeling, this is it.

I have to laugh for "Timing" and "Another Show" are the best songs on this album, regardless of other people's panning. Primarily because they capture that aforementioned, raw feeling and do not have Kerry Minnear's bleatings. I love KM but he should have let Derek do the singing. Regardless, revisiting this album after 36+ years made me appreciate it even more. Maybe we all should.

I seek no quarrel with my fellow GG fans but after revisiting all my recordings, "Timing" just rocks, plus it follows their own admission that they were just a rock and roll band, and a good one at that.

Finally, Gary Green is playing around the globe in various venues in a band named Three Friends, he has acquired numerous, excellent, musicians and they have captured what was and what can still be. See them! I saw them in Saint Charles, Illinois, USA in October, 2012. The Spirit Lives On!


Report this review (#882315)
Posted Wednesday, December 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Many prog bands are unique, but can you be more unique than unique. Yes Gentle Giant can. Their distorted sound is so spectacular and peculiar that you wonder how they came up with it. I call their music medieval futurism. If this record was a little step towards broader popularity they did it very well with making this medieval futuristic jazz symphonic rock catchy. This review will process Gentle Giants eight record from 1976. Then Gentle Giant consisted of Gary Green, Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman, Ray Shulman and John Weathers.

It is an even disc. All track are very good. There are no boring or mainstream music on this plate and the unity is perfect. The compositions aren't the best in the bands history but still brilliant. "I lost my head" is my favourite song. Here they blended medieval with hard rock music in a lunatic way and the song has different parts perfectly moved in to each other. "Timing" is another crazy but galant composition that is both brutal and pleasant. In "Design" they have designed extraordinary vocal harmonies and "Interview" is also crazy. "Another show" has an unusual strong and good melody. There is just one "I lost my head" on this record and that makes it just a four star record but the rest is even, so even that the worst song is almost as good as the best one.

Report this review (#949304)
Posted Thursday, April 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars I have forced myself to listen to this album over and over again in varied attempts to try to like it. I love so much of Gentle Giant's oeuvre, even some of the later stuff, that I could not understand why I never really cared for this album. Sure, there are some really good songs: "Interview", "Design", "Empty City" and "I Lost My Head". In fact, the latter two tracks are multifaceted little masterpieces that stand up with the best tracks from "In a Glass House" or "Free Hand".

One problem is that there are also some not so good songs. "Give It Back" is a misguided reggae flavored attempt to sound relevant, pointing the way to a more pop sounding Gentle Giant of the future. "Another Show" and "Timing" are a couple of disposable songs where Gentle Giant seems to be trying to be "hard rocking"...and most self consciously so. At least on the next album, "The Missing Piece", they developed a sense of humor about it. In any event, the songs were still too quirky to be played on AOR radio alongside Led Zeppelin or Bad Company.

Another problem is the ridiculous concept of this concept album. The concept of the press being unsympathetic and stupid was probably not the best idea in terms of advancing their cause. It just comes off as sour grapes and passing the blame. As great as Gentle Giant was, they seemed to be their own worst enemy at times. The arrogance of this "concept" rivals the liner notes of their vastly superior second album "Acquiring the Taste". I just can't help but feel that this band was really good at shooting itself in the foot, and "Interview" was a major misstep.

While "Interview" is (for the most part) a depressing and humorless affair, it cannot be written off as a total loss. Over half of the songs are pretty good. And even the weaker songs are not terrible; they're just not that terribly engaging. Strip this album of the ridiculous concept and knock of a couple tracks...and you've got a really good EP. The bonus track version is worth hunting down for some nice live performances of cuts from this album and their 1976 concert intro.

Overall grade: It really hurts me to do this but I give it a C+. It is worth acquiring for hardcore fans, but will hardly convert any neophytes.

Report this review (#960355)
Posted Thursday, May 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Arguably the purest of all progressive rock groups, Gentle Giant may not have reaped the same commercial rewards as their brethren Yes, ELP and Pink Floyd, but god-damn, they sure made some fine prog music. Essentially, Gentle Giant's album career, which spanned just over a decade, can be split into three distinct phases. Their first four albums - which featured all three Shulman brothers - exhibited a complex sound embellished with an acoustic timbre and medieval hues. Then older brother Ray left the fold, his place going unfilled, and Gentle Giant toughened up, producing three outstanding rock-orientated albums between 1973 and 1975 in the shape of 'In A Glass House', 'The Power & The Glory' and 'Free Hand', undoubtedly their peak phase of productivity. Finally, however, as punk broke and the post-1976 musical landscape began to radically shift, the group adopted a slightly more commercial sound, producing this underrated little jewel and it's equally undervalued follow-ups 'The Missing Piece', 'Giant For A Day' and 'Civillian'. Often cast as the weak links in Gentle Giant's discography, the final four albums plus the excellent live album 'Playing The Fool' can now be acquired together as one package. Titled 'I Lost My Head', this retrospective of the group's latter years proves a truly ear-opening experience, showing that despite the external pressures and lessening progressive overtones, Gentle Giant could still create awe-inspiring music, both as quirk-pop merchants and as serious prog-rock titans. The pick of the Punch - and the album which features the track 'I Lost My Head' - 'Interview' is in fact a concept piece reflecting the individual members utter boredom with the whole media circus surrounding rock groups, the tracks separated by several 'real-life' interview segments. It may lack the youthful fire and vigour of their more expansive works, yet, conversely, there is something immensely satisfying about hearing a super-talented group such as Gentle Giant turning their attention to less esoteric material. Highlights include the aforementioned 'I Lost My Head', which grows carefully from dinky little piano jingles into a full-powered rock thumper, and the equally catchy 'Give It Back', which fires off a series of multi-layered melodies in the group's usual impressive style. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2013
Report this review (#981836)
Posted Wednesday, June 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think this album is very underrated in many ways. Maybe because it marks a more avant-garde approach than the older Gentle Giant albums, or maybe because of the complexity of the songs, that ended up putting aside great part of their melodic sense. My impression about In'terview is that it came as an innovative effort, even by Gentle Giant standards. The songs on the album show diverse natures, as could be seen in "Give It Back", with its reggae influence, or on "Timing", "Another Show" and the title track , with their very irregular time signatures. "Design" shows a very resemblance to their previously-released songs with the presence of a-capella vocals, that are "Knots" and "On Reflection", but this time the band is only playing with vocals and percussion. Prog rock on the literal sense of the term comes in "I Lost My Head", when its middle-section riff that resembles the Crimson's Schizoid Man take place. The musicians, as ever, remain with their musical abilities intact, playing majestically all kinds of instruments. Unfortunatelly, this would be the last great Gentle Giant album, once after this album, they would make albums with a more commercial appeal. This album is not a good choice for prog beginners, since it shows a band in a even more complex form. I think musicians would like this album more easily than the casual listener. But, for the ones who really appreciate Gentle Giant sound, this certainly is one of their best records, even in its most difficult songs. 5 stars.
Report this review (#1008950)
Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars You cannot cheat the listener's ear. This is as challenging as ever and incredibly complex, yet some picks are self-plagiaristic, and it sometimes feels like complexity for complexity's sake. Creative juices truly went pretty dry. The aftertaste to creating genius music has lasted for some more, anyway.

The same tendencies like in Queen's 1986s-1991 albums: repeating the same for at least several wasted minutes. Other than that, Interview and I Lost My Head can boast of the classic patterns. Another Show always sound like Scorpions to my ear. As always, lots of inspiration, influences, lots of influence for the future musicians.

Never an unbearable moment. Catchy melody and perfect linking in every song which is the trademark for both Gentle Giant and Queen. There is a suspicion, Frank Zappa being asked of his favourite bands, answered with, "I like Queen. I like Gentle Giant". I myself do not like Mr. Zappa, but the man has checked the real thing.

This is definitely a bit less creative than their first six albums, but I cannot see where it's worse than Free Hand. It's less pop than Free Hand. And it was metaphysically necessary to end the mostly a cappella songs row with the most disstructured one of Design. Never horrifying, never sadomasochistic, it's the dopeless madness, controlled madness, royal respect to the music and its listeners. As was the whole album, more or less.

Report this review (#1059407)
Posted Sunday, October 13, 2013 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Interview' -Gentle Giant (64/100)

There is a moment on Interview that, whether on purpose or accidentally, perfectly describes Gentle Giant's music to a tee. A sampled faux-interviewer opens "Design" by asking Gentle Giant to describe their music. A flurry of answers erupt simultaneously; the result is an indistinct haze of voices that would take a particularly attentive ear to get a grain of sense out of it. No matter how eloquent each member might have been answering on their own, the number of things said leaves a far greater impression than what is being said.

Gentle Giant get lauded as one of the go-to prog legends, often to the point where I've seen them namedropped amidst flagships like Yes and King Crimson. At the same time, there's a decided lack of any particular songs getting mentioned or celebrated. It's more often than not that Gentle Giant are celebrated for the sheer degree of musicianship and complexity rather than the music itself. In other words, the means are hailed as their own end.

Following a brilliant but altogether listenable debut, Gentle Giant innovated and perfected the wacky approach with Acquiring the Taste. Within a few listens, I was hooked, not because of their musicianship (although that did play into the intrigue) but the sense of pure and spontaneous creative energy that seemed to pour from every note. Possibly barring Free Hand, I haven't heard that passion from Gentle Giant since, and by the point of Interview, it's clear the flashy workhorse they had depended on all this while was losing spirit.

It's not that the band lost any of their technical chops with Interview, but the amount of actual substance behind their smoke and mirrors had grown questionable to the point the album feels like a shallow listen despite all of its apparent surface-level 'depth.' I've listened to the album several times now, and only a handful of moments ever leave an impression. Barring that, there is the vague sense of musical complexity, but Gentle Giant rarely use that capacity to powerful effect. It's akin to drinking from an expensive wine class filled with lukewarm soda water. Ultimately, the experience is tasteless and slightly difficult to swallow, and considering how fine and classy the receptacle was, you wonder why you weren't served a better drink.

Although Interview is loosely tied together by its concept (inspired by interview questions they were asked throughout their career) it comes off as fairly disorganized, even by Gentle Giant standards. They'll shift between hard rock and avant-garde without a rhyme or reason. Overwhelming (as always) acapella and abstract vocal harmonies will erupt out of nowhere, and considering Gentle Giant had been pulling that card since Three Friends, it's more annoying than innovative. Back to their usual (after the surprisingly melodic and catchy Free Hand) the melodies are only ever half-successful, even when they've left plenty of room for good hooks (see: the title track).

Even so, while the album suffers a lack of focus, there's no doubt that Gentle Giant enjoy plenty of great moments on Interview- arguably more than they did on the grossly overrated The Power and the Glory. For what is otherwise essentially a hard rock tune, "Interview" has an infectious dissonance that feels wonderfully out of place (and for once, I mean that in a good way.) "Give It Back" seems like a mixed-success- at-best attempt at a reggae groove, but some of the ideas are really promising, including a theremin motif that sounds like Kid A-era Radiohead thirty years before the fact, and a pleasant guitar lead so restrained I could have swore it was Steve Hackett playing it. At the end of the day, the most impressive feat on Interviewer is its closing number. "I Lost My Head" is one part Medieval rock, one part heavy prog, and the fusion works- by the gods, does it ever work. Maybe my endearment's partially because it sounds so much like the theme to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy programme; whatever the case, "I Lost My Head" accomplishes what the rest of the album (and some of their so-called 'peak' material) only ever managed to do half-heartedly.

To put it in the context of what came before, Interview strikes me with much of the same dryness as The Power and the Glory, and though while this one probably isn't quite as terribly unfeeling, Interview feels more inconsistent and scattered than any of its predecessors. One school of thought likes to call Interview Gentle Giant's last great album, the other likes to call it their first bad one. I'll chip in and say both schools are right. There is inspired material here, but now more than ever, it takes trudging through self-indulgent flash and fluff to get to it.

(Post-Script: After spending some more time listening to it outside of a critical context, I've gotta admit Interview's grown on me a bit. I still stand beside everything I've written, but in spite of the glaring faults and general unevenness, there's an echo of that charming feeling of spontaneity I loved on Acquiring the Taste, that The Power and the Glory went entirely without. Gentle Giant were a lot less concerned with sterile perfection here, and as a result I'll probably want to listen to it more in the future than their most soulless output. It's still a guilty pleasure by prog standards, but the change of perspective is worth noting.)

Report this review (#1362046)
Posted Wednesday, February 4, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review Nş 58

Gentle Giant was a British progressive rock group formed in 1970 and that has remained in action until 1980. The group was considered as one of the most experimental bands of the 70's and one of the bands that most contributed to the evolution of the progressive rock music. The band was known for their diverse musical influences, the varied musical skills of the band's members and also because the band's members were multi- instrumentalists. Another main feature of the band was their multiple and synchronized vocal work, which was very unusual at the time.

"Interview" is the eighth studio album of Gentle Giant and was released in 1976. Some regards it as the Gentle Giant's last great studio album, while others claim that it was the band's first album in their downward spiral toward the late 70's. It's definitely weaker than "Free Hand" is, but the first class progressive rock in the typical Gentle Giant vein can still be found here. It's a conceptual album centring on a fictitious radio interview based upon the music business. Some tracks have brief sections of diverse interviews made in studio, and even the title song has lyrics based on questions and answers between the band and the music press. Of all the Gentle Giant's albums, the sound of it is the most similar to their preceding seventh studio album, "Free Hand" released in the year before, 1975. However, this new musical work isn't as good and strong as are their previous works. However, we even can find even on their next ninth studio album "The Missing Piece" released in 1977, some very interesting musical moments too, I think.

So, because "Interview" represents really the last great Gentle Giant's studio album, it's now time to write some lines about one of the band's members, the keyboardist of the group Kerry Minnear. He is, for me, one of the greatest keyboardists of the 70's and one of the pillars of the group. He also was one of the main composers of the band and, after the departure of Phil Shulman, his musical influence in the band's music became even more evident, particularly the major influence of the medieval and renaissance music in the group. Like the similarities between Gentle Giant and Van Der Graaf Generator, reported by me when I reviewed "Free Hand", I can also see some similitude between Minnear and Hugh Banton, the keyboardist of Van Der Graaf Generator. It's true that the contribution of Banton, in terms of composition, was very small due the dominance of Peter Hammill, but his musical influence on the band is clear and central into their sound. So, I sincerely think that Minnear and Banton deserve a heartfelt tribute for what all they did in the progressive rock music. Without them, the sound of these two bands would never have been the same.

"Interview" has seven tracks. The first track "Interview" is the title track song. It's a very experimental track and represents an excellent song. This is one of my favourite songs on the album. The second track "Give It Back" is a song a little bit bizarre with a melody sometimes close to the reggae music. Sincerely, this is the album's music that I like less. The third track "Design" is a song with their typical and truly amazing vocal style of renaissance and cappella music. This is also a very experimental song. The fourth track "Another Show" is, for me, one of the best and most spectacular songs recorded on this album. It has also a great keyboard working. It's another fantastic song on the album. The fifth track "Empty City" is a song with great acoustic and electric guitar working and it's also very well accompanied by a very strong vocal working. It's a piece of music that changes very often and it's also a very calm song. The sixth track "Timing" is the most popish song on the album. It's very well composed with good instrumental work, but it isn't one of my favourite songs on the album. The seventh track "I Lost My Head" is another song with some medieval influences. It's sung by Minnear and represents a truly final classic Gentle Giant's composition. This is also one of my favourite tracks on "Interview". This is a great final song to close this very interesting album.

Conclusion: As I wrote before, some may think that "Interview" is a minor musical work in the band's career. I don't agree with that point of view. It's true that this album isn't as good as their entire previous studio albums are. But however and despite being a little more experimental than "Free Hand" is, "Interview" has all the ingredients of the Gentle Giant's music and contains also some of the most aggressive and electrified music ever composed by them. With some modesty, I think I know perfectly well what I'm talking about, because I have the vinyl versions of the two albums, since the 70's, when I bought both albums. The main problem with the album is that it's less commercial and less balanced than "Free Hand" is which it would become perhaps fatal for their future musical career. As a final conclusion, we can say that the Gentle Giant's legacy to the progressive music, began with their eponymous debut album and ended with this. During this very short period of time, we may say sincerely, that they were really Giants.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#1530210)
Posted Thursday, February 18, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars It may seem a superfluous endeavor to review an album that was released over 40 years ago but Gentle Giant's 1976 album Interview is worth a brief retrospective glance over. At the time progressive rock itself was in question as a viable commercial prospect and Gentle Giant were at the peak of their popularity. Stylistically they had pretty much exhausted the possibilities of their singular "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to composing and playing music on their previous "Free Hand" album. In recognition of this quagmire they came up with this clever psuedo-concept album that commented on how distant the music industry was from artists and their art in the form of snippets of a mock interview inserted between tracks with noted rock journalist Phil Sutcliffe playing along.

Although it includes all the idiosyncratic elements that made their music so wondrous Interview may elicit some "you've got to be kidding me" reactions for those not acquainted with some of the light-minded and whimsical musical attitudes that comprised Gentle Giant's otherwise less than straightforward technically challenging music. Interview occupies an interesting place in the epicenter of the career of this unique band. Progressive rock was in it's death throws and devotees of the Gentle Giant would notice the toned down instrumentation and more "modern" sound, retaining it's usual adventurous spirit on tracks such as the reggae infected "Give it Back" and the sometimes bluesy "Timing". The album also spawned one of the best loved Gentle Giant tracks, "I Lost My Head" as well as the discordant "Design", another fan favourite that is littered with all kinds of musical outlandishness. So Gentle Giant was still held in high regard by their fans and "Interview" even did well with the press in spite of the climate within the music industry towards outdated progressive rock "dinosaur" bands.

Gentle Giant was even an oddity within the progressive rock realm of the early seventies but attracted a curious dedicated following so it's difficult to find a yardstick with which to measure them. While Interview could have suffered under the shadow of the monumental "Free Hand".during a busy period for the band, keyboardist Kerry Minnear has insisted on more than one occasion that the band fared well under pressure and Interview is a testament to this observation. After the release of the album in the spring of 1976 further albums from Gentle Giant became somewhat more subdued and less audacious but Interview will always stand as a critical moment at the pinnacle of a remarkable career.

Report this review (#1711176)
Posted Sunday, April 16, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars Make that 4.5 stars. Interview is a concept album based around the theme of the band interacting with the media. Some tracks are prefaced by a journalist asking the band a question and the band's muffled answer, which fades into songs. The theme and its aim to be satirical are both a bit subtle if the lyrics aren't read. The lyrics are quite revealing of the band's rocky relationship with a media that wasn't ready for a rock band this accomplished and musically elaborate. Interview, released in 1977 is the band's last inspired album before they went stale on Missing Piece.

The mellifluous title track commences the album. Fitting with the theme, there is artistic spoken word interwoven with the music like another instrument. There is also some German oompah band passages. Giant is just joyously zany here. Sometimes in the past their attempts a playfulness have come off geeky. Here these efforts are far more successful.

'Give it Back' is one of the best reggae-inspired songs I've ever heard. I tire easily of straight reggae and really appreciate how Giant incorporates it into art rock. They color it with disparate elements including their famous glockenspiel, here supportive of the song, rather than silly and interruptive, as it has been on past tracks.

There are couple ballads on this albums, a good thing, because these type of pieces show Giant's best songwriting. 'Empty City,' a semi-ballad, is one of the band's most soulful songs ever. Derek's voice has rarely been this moving, even though he's a first rate singer.

'Another Show' and 'Timing' have superb melodies, "I lost my Head," too, but there the focus is more on a very complex rhythm. This song, the album closer, really makes their last good effort memorable. The whole song just oozes rhythm and Kerry delivers a chillingly beautiful vocal. If the entire Giant experience could be summed up in one song, this might be it.

Report this review (#1919680)
Posted Saturday, May 5, 2018 | Review Permalink
2 stars "Interview" is the record that marks the beginning of the end of the Gentle Giant. Quickly recorded to exploit the success of "Free Hand", it shows obvious gaps in the arrangements. And one wonders: how they thought to climb the charts with songs so ardous? In fact, compared to "Power and Glory" and Free Hand, the songs are not linear and flowing but pervaded by cybernetic, robotic, redundant cadences, which cancel every melody and every rock moment, and in fact are missing medieval moments and rock explosions. Remains a music driven by a spastic rythm.

The songs: 1) Interview is the best song, for its aggression and variety (vote 8); 2) Give It Back accentuates these robotic rhythms but keeps well (vote 7.5 / 8); 3) Design got original chorus and percussion but without adequate music, it appears unfinished and has rough lines almost unattainable (vote 7); 4) Another Show, short and fast, does not go anywhere (vote 5.5); 5) Empty city, with its relaxed rhythm, seems an instrumental piece, at first, but then develops, little and badly (vote 6+); 6) Timing at least has violins and a guitar solo, but again presents moments with unlistenable rhythms, even for the dissonance of violins, excessive (vote 6,5); 7) I Lost My Head has intimate part and then become rock, but the chords are always the same: the arrangement this time hides the poverty of writing (vote 7.5).

Interview, apart from the first two pieces, and in part the last, is a mediocre album, which brings the GG out of the progressive and close to an electronic and cybernetic rock. It remains an original Lp, but overall little more than enough.

Medium quality: 6.93. Vote 6.5 Two stars.

Report this review (#2078482)
Posted Sunday, November 25, 2018 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars Despite having the reputation as one of the most varied, original and extremely talented progressive rock bands of the entire 70s, GENTLE GIANT was unfortunately a bit too eclectic and ahead of the pack to capture the attention of the average prog fan of the day, however it did mean that the few followers they attracted were absolutely obsessed with this band and for good reason. This band sounded like no other. From its exact decade long existence that began in 1970 and ended in 1980, GENTLE GIANT released an album each year and even a second for the year 1972 which ended up with a total of 11 studio albums in that decade long run.

The beauty of GENTLE GIANT was the fact that all the members were multi-instrumentalists and the band was considered the most complex of all prog bands of the era as they performed the uncanny musical alchemy that mixed prog rock, soul, jazz, classical and most importantly crafted some of the most incredibly bizarre yet beautiful vocal harmonies ever heard with the perfect unorthodox mixtures of melody, dissonance and angular instrumental workouts. The band has become legendary for good reason but despite the plaudits of being early pioneers, the band struggled financially to carry on. But carry on they did in prog fashion at least until 1976's release of INTERVIEW, the band's eighth studio album and indisputable last leg of their prog journey before adopting a more mainstream rock switcheroo.

The band had been building momentum up to "Free Hand" which was released before but that was really the last year prog was en vogue before the changing tides ushered in the new wave, disco and punk era. INTERVIEW did not fair well in these musical eddies and got panned both critically and suffered commercially but in reality, INTERVIEW is a fascinating development from "Free Hand" in many ways although it is in many ways the very continuation of its excesses. This collection of seven tracks was presented as a concept album that engaged in a faux radio dialogue and even incorporated a bit of chit chat in between tracks and at the beginning of the album. The lyrics reflect the band's experiences within the music industry and trials and tribulations of being an "outsider" band that existed on the fringe of what was popular.

INTERVIEW has been a divisive album amongst fans with some loving the bold new statements on board musically speaking and others who deemed the album as driving off the cliff from which the band would never recover. Personally i'm on the love it side of the equation. While clearly a slight detour from the magnanimous brilliance that graced the band's first seven albums that began on the self-titled debut and culminated with "Free Hand," INTERVIEW is hardly the waste of time that so many have made this out to be. In fact in many ways, GENTLE GIANT had created a business as usual sort of album replete with all those frenetically tight-knit progressive workouts that incorporated jittery time signature antics, wildly creative vocal harmonics, polyrhythms and those utterly unique pseudo-melodies that were part jazz, part rock and part who knows what it was!

While all those scrumptious GENTLE GIANT-isms are full abundance and at times on steroids with power organ swells, guitar riffs on fire, exotic scales interwoven into the fabric of the musical tapestry, many seem to dwell on the aspects that set this album apart from all its predecessors. Perhaps the most noticeable comes on the second track "Give It Back" which to the fans' chagrin committed the crime of implementing reggae into the mix and thus receiving the wrath of those who cried that the band was going contemporary and following trends. Oh for bleep's sake. The song is brilliant. Reggae is nothing more than a form of musical syncopation and GG wove it into the proggy musical canvas like champs. It offered a slightly contemporary feel that the band eschewed on earlier albums but so what!

Overall the album is chock full of tasty knotty musical workouts, some of the most daring and energetic of the band's entire career. Take the guitar soloing on "Timing" for example. Gary Green delivers some of the best guitar work on ANY GG album and the mix of polyrhythms that incorporate piano rolls, violin screeches and multi-layered percussive tracks is stunningly brilliant in its depth. It is true that one can hear some of the poppier aspects of the future albums like "The Missing Piece" starting to come into play but at this point everything is still decked out in an over-the-top prog frosting which makes the cake that much more sweeter. My guess is that INTERVIEW comes off as a lot more abstract than the album's prior and it fails to deliver the same emotional connection for all its technical excesses may be a little show offy for some. Personally i find this album every bit as compelling as what came before. The end of a long line of great albums where the train stops, the prog band disembarks and a new mainstream musical group boards.

I will go as far as to say i enjoy this one much more than "Free Hand." It has all the elements only amplified several notches. The times were a-changing and GENTLE GIANT, despite appealing to musicians and seekers of eccentric complex prog who worshiped this band like gods, had run out of time as even the popular prog bands were waning in popularity. As far as the classics of GENTLE GIANT are concerned, INTERVIEW is the last great album to emerge from this ridiculously gifted group of English rockers. True that three more albums would be made and they weren't all that bad either for what they were, but to my ears INTERVIEW is one of the most brilliant prog albums ever made and more than holds its own in relation to the seven albums that preceded it. I seem to be in a lonely room with that opinion but i personally love the extra elements that they added. I'm actually quite fond of the reggae and new wave elements tucked in here and there. The secret to loving the heck out of INTERVIEW is by NOT comparing it with what came before. It is its own unique little slice of heaven.

Report this review (#2308950)
Posted Friday, January 24, 2020 | Review Permalink

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