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Gentle Giant

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3 stars If this reviewer were writing this review exclusively for Gentle Giant freaks ( and he is one ) he would have to give it a hands down no contest 5+++++++ stars. Crammed on to two CDs is about two and a half hours of studio run throughs, alternate takes and false starts as well as studio chit chat amonst the members plus a cool booklet. It covers pretty much everything from 1970 to 1980 including an untitled track which didn't make it on to the final Civilian album. Perhaps meaningles to those not acquainted with the esoteric music of Gentle Giant this one is really for the hardcore fan. You will have to make a date with yourself in order to listen to and appreciate this Frankenstein in it's entirety. This reveiwer burned a mini Best of Under Construction CD for his personal use due to to the long running time. Under Construction 2 is also on the way for you maniacs out there who just can't get enough of this phenomenal Progressive rock group.
Report this review (#6308)
Posted Tuesday, March 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An excellent collection of rare Gentle Giant material spanning over their career, with stuff like unreleased songs and live tracks, demo's and out-takes and other stuff that should be of interest to any Gentle Giant fan. It's interesting to hear how they "constructed" the songs here (hence the title "Under Construction") and in total, you get nearly 150 minutes of GG rarities that is definetely worth the price you pay for it if you are interested to hear how this band constructed their songs and other rare material from them. Many songs here, notably the unreleased songs from their debut LP days, have excellent sound quality as well, though not always. Defenetely a must for fans!
Report this review (#6309)
Posted Friday, April 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 'Under Construction' is a well crafted compilation of unreleased Gentle Giant tracks, demos, and live recordings. Dan Bornemark and Dan Barrett did an excellent work in matters of sound and editing. The title 'Under Construction' already is carefully chosen : this record gives an insight of the Gentle Giant music in progress.It gives a good understanding of the way Gentle Giant composed their music and at the same time an overview of their entire catalogue from 1970 to 1976. CD 1 consists of unreleased studio and live material plus a sample archive(27) of isolated tracks from the mastertapes( isolated instrumental or rhythm tracks, highly interesting for understanding the way Gentle Giant constructed their music in the studio). Tracks 2 to 6 are unreleased studio tracks from February 1970 prior to the release of the first record. These tracks are not just leftovers but already typical Gentle Giant compositions. You find here already the composition skills of Kerry Minear, the blues guitar work of Gary Green and the instrumental skills of the 3 Shulman brothers : the birth of the Giant.Tracks 10 to 13 come from the Düsseldorf concert 23:09:1976( the same concert as the first side of 'Playing the fool'). CD 2 contains mainly demos and outtakes.The most interesting tracks are the Kerry Minear demos,stripped down acoustic piano arrangements, where you can hear the influence of Maurice Ravel and Gabriel Faure on Kerry's composing, for example in 'Schooldays'. The Set ends as it started with 'Freedoms Child' a beautiful unreleased Kerry Minear composition. If you are already familiar with Gentle Giant this record will give you a great inside look of the Giant's machinery. If you don't know Gentle Giant start with the other records and come back later!
Report this review (#55814)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I can't really understand how anyone could give this 5 stars. It is definelty NOT a masterpiece, since it contains outtakes, live stuff, and sound samples. It is not really even a normal album, let alone a masterpiece. Personally, I like it, but don't listen to it much (and I only listened to the entire thing once.....many tracks don't lend themselves to repeated listens). It is a very cool inside look at Gentle Giant, as you even get some brief insights into their creative process. For die hard fans, the live Interview and Timing (with violin solo) are worth the price of this alone. The unreleased songs are decent, but very much in the vein of the first album. Which to me, is not very characteristic of the bands body of work. So I can't recommend this to anyone other than fans and collectors of the band who must have everything (like me :)

So don't take my 2 stars to indicate this is bad. If you are a fan of the band, it is probably worth owning. If you are new to the band or a casual fan, you want to avoid this. The "Collectors/fans only" description this site gives for 2 stars is exactly what this collection is.

Report this review (#55850)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Giant Fun.

This has immediate sentimental value for any fan of GG. The best part is that theirs loads of it, so it's a minefield just to get through it all. Hearing a band in the studio with the creative process in full swing is really exciting, especially if you are a musician and understand the experience of it all.

The band is quite professional, but they obviously had fun, and enjoyed putting this compilation as can be noticed by the tongue in cheek humor in several of the out takes. It's also interesting from a fan standpoint to see how much some of the songs changed and evolved to their final format. It becomes clear fairly quickly how strong a grasp these guys have on musical concepts, enough to be baffling, even after knowing a great deal of their discography.

A fun little CD to have, but in all honesty I wouldn't touch it unless I was an avid fan of the band. If you're looking to experience some great GG material, I'd suggest their early to mid-70's material (the bulk of their work) and come to this CD once you are familiar with their discography.

Report this review (#106486)
Posted Monday, January 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars UNDER CONSTRUCTION is a nice double-CD which contains much unreleased material of GENTLE GIANT, many demos, some studio-outtakes and four old songs which were recorded in a pretty good quality, a song by drummer JOHN P. WEATHERS and a tune out of the CIVILIAN-era, but more about that later. It is a must for the real GENTLE GIANT fans and includes a detailed booklet with old photos and lots of informations about the band and the stuff you can find on this CD. But those who have not experienced this great band better should buy the 12 original albums. This CD is for fans only.

Disc 1 contains many unreleased tracks, most of them in good quality and two live recordings out of the IN'TERVIEW-era ("In'terview" and "Timing"). Especially four songs are pretty interesting. They were recorded in the late 60s:

"Freedoms Child" is a beautfiul tune with vionlin (some may find it a bit cheesy, I do not share their opinion) and was considered for GIANT FOR A DAY (though it is as already said before much older), "Hometown Special" with its hammond organ and its guitar solo in the middle section sounds most like the later GENTLE GIANT stuff, "Weekend Cowboy" is a beautiful tune that is sung by PHIL SHULMAN (and it is the only track in which the giants play the mouth organ, I think) and "Bringing Me Down" is heavily influenced by Soul music and contains a great organ solo in the middle section of the song..

Other mentionable songs on this CD are a "Nothing At All"-demo which is slightly a bit different to the album version that appeared on the band's self titled debut album, the "DVS Guitars" (Derek Victor Shulman guitars), fragments of the title "Robin Hood" which has actually never been finished, an ureleased Civilian track, "You Haven't A Chance" by JOHN P. WEATHERS and the both live tunes out of the IN'TERVIEW-era that I have already mentioned above.

Disc 2 contains mainly demos and stuido-outtakes and two intros for gigs, one from 1974 (a very cool track) and one from 1976 (in a rather bad quality). It was very interesting to hear songs like "Time To Kill" or "Empty City" as pure guitar-pieces or such tunes like "Free Hand" as pure keyboard tracks. The stuido excerpt of "So Sincere" is actually fascinating because it makes you having a clue how the guys worked in the studio (and it seems as if they had a lot of fun on this).

Alright, like I said right at the beginning: UNDER CONSTRUCTION is nothing for people who are not heavily into GENTLE GIANT's music (so I have to give it 3 stars), but for true fans this 2 CD set is easy 5 stars worth.

Report this review (#115451)
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For most people this might not be an excellent release for Gentle Giant. But for me personally, this is truly a gem as this box set tells a very clear story about Gentle Giant.

First off, you would know why that some tracks featured here on Disc 1, even though they are good were not included in the previous albums of Gentle Giant. The reason is very clear to me: the band did not want to jeopardize their albums with something totally different with the band musical trade mark. I can find some tracks are totally out of track if they were included. The example of this is what happened in Spock's Beard 2006 (self titled) as despite some great tracks there are tracks which should be taken out from the album as they would confuse their fans base. Gentle Giant is smart to manage their situations as they dropped the songs that did not fit the spirit of their album (say "The Power and The Glory").

Of course there are songs which are very classic like "Nothing At All" or "Interview - live". "Nothing At All" is really a KILLER for me. Oh man . I really love the melody and the composition. IT's a top notch song! The drum solo in the middle of the track is really enjoyable and not boring at all. In fact, I'd rather listen to this version than the official release.

Even if you like the music of Gentle Giant, please be aware that Disc 2 may make you totally fed up because everything is totally under construction. You will heard the voice of instruction that says something like : "louder .. ! louder .! . slower .!!!..." which probably the voice of Derek Shulman, commanding the members of the band. For me, it's okay and in fact very valuable as I appreciate much more on the band's music because now I know the making of their music. Some of them are just piano work with repeated chords that are familiar with my ears because I have known the final product. Basically, Disc 2 is just the creative processes to arrive at Gentle Giant songs.

Having considered which point of view I take a stand for this box set, I'm very sure that this is an excellent (and valuable!) collection in my entire prog music collection. As for recommending you, I doubt I can make it because I cannot sense your taste and eagerness to know deeper the music of legendary band: Gentle Giant. So, the four stars rating only applies to me, at personal level, and it's very subjective. Keep on proggin' ..!

Salam Damai! - GW

Report this review (#120995)
Posted Monday, May 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
3 stars Under Construction is a bit of a mixed bag. The first disc, "Entirely Unreleased Material", warrants repeat listening. The second, "Demos and Out-takes" I'd be surprised if anyone listens to more than once or twice. Still, this is a pretty good addition to the collection of any Gentle Giant fan. I'd recommend it over a particular one of their regular studio album releases, whose name I need not mention.

The first five songs were recorded prior to their first album three of those being "sort of an audition tape". Only Nothing At All made it to that album. Freedom's Child, Hometown Special, Weekend Cowboy, and Bringing Me Down would make a nice EP on their own.

Rondo - Playing The Game and DVS Guitars are some unremarkable fiddlings around.

Robin Hood, The Unreleased Civilian Track, and You Haven't A Chance are all album quality material. I'd stick them on the EP, too. As it happens the Civilian Track was recorded at rehearsal for their Atlanta 1979 concert of which I had the privilege of attending.

The Interview whispers track, along with two live songs from the Interview album are not particularly essential.

Disc One wraps up with nine minute plus sample archive. So if there's anyone out there wanting samples?

Disc Two, as I mentioned before, I only listened to about twice, then I wiped it out from wherever I had ripped it to and no longer listen to it when Under Construction comes around in my music rotation scheme.

Rounding this one up for the pretty good bits on the first disc.

Report this review (#276031)
Posted Friday, April 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
Man With Hat
Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
3 stars An adeptly named compilation. Gentle Giant's Under Construction is really a tale of two worlds. The first being a CD of "Entirely Unreleased Material" and the second being a world of "Demos and Out-takes". Some of the material is excellent, top notch Gentle Giant, other bits are a mere curiosity in the chronicle of Gentle Giant. First and foremost, the sound quality is pretty top notch across the board, except for a couple of times, which is fairly amazing for material that's been sitting away in storage lockers for decades. The first CD is where the magic lies with this set. Even though this is touted as "Entirely Unreleased Material" there are some familiar passages. Most notably with seems to be an early run through of Nothing At All, Rondo - Playing The Game, Interview Whispers, and technically the sample archive. This is not meant to be a slight against the set, as they are all interesting pieces, especially Nothing At All. Tracks 2-5 are really interesting in showing the progression of the Gentle Giant sound. As they play through, it's very easy to hear the development of ideas and how they develop their sophistication and desire to do something different or at the very least interesting. Nothing At All appears here with some vocal faux pas, but still comes across as one of the strongest songs in this set. Most notable is the lack of electronic muddling on the drum solo (as well as no classical piano being played over it), and that the last verse has been omitted allowing the listener to fully soak in some delectable piano playing. DVS Guitars and Robin Hood are interesting if a bit underwhelming. The real gems of this disc are the two live tracks that really should have been part of Playing The Fool (they were from one of the concerts that appeared on said album). Interview is as strong as any song they included and has a fairly comical opening bit. Timing gets an great live treatment as well, including a fine violin solo from Ray. Unreleased Civilian Track is an uninteresting as it sounds (and this is one of the times where the sound quality plummets, but all things consider I forgive it). You Haven't A Chance sounds like an unfinished work from their late days, but has one hell of an infectious bassline, and easily out performs any track from Civilian. Sample Archive is a bit of a mind twist (for lack of stronger language ;-)) if taken as a song as opposed to a collection of samples (which it is). Familiar beats, riffs, and flourishes cascade together after a forced cohesion. Interesting for sure and should certainly turn heads when played. CD 2 is quite an affair, but ultimately is far less interesting or engrossing than CD 1. This disc id surely just for fans of the band that are interested in the creation process. The material here ranges from interesting, to fun, to enjoyable, to funny. It should come to no surprise that the longer songs are more fulfilling. Particular favorites of mine are Intro 74, Intro 76, Peel The Paint (Demo/Studio), and So Sincere (Demo Studio). Having said that, this disc isn't something I'd listen to often, and is honestly more of a curiosity than anything. Also, the sound quality is understandably worse than disc one, but isn't unlistenable. All in all, this CD is a mixed bag, but it is somewhat marketed as such. The first disc alone is worth four stars, and the second disc alone is worth two. Thus, a three star rating I think is fair. Die hard GG fans should own this, casual fans could probably pass. New comers to GG should start with the studio albums and official live album. However, for anyone with desire to dig a little deeper into the world of GG this is an excellent opportunity.
Report this review (#293824)
Posted Sunday, August 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Under Construction is a compilation of Gentle Giant's previously unreleased work coupled with demos and outtakes. The music here isn't bad, as is to be expected from Gentle Giant, but the material on the first disc didn't get released previously for pretty obvious reasons; it's remarkably weak material. The demos and outtakes disk is interesting to listen to, but not considering that these are tracks that have been mastered and released on actual albums, and can be listened to in their best form that way. This whole set is mostly for collectors or die-hard Gentle Giant fans. I do absolutely love the band, but I didn't find much use in owning this set.
Report this review (#429421)
Posted Friday, April 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Freedoms Child ,Hometown Special ,Weekend Cowboy ,Bringing Me Down and Nothing At All Represent well over half an LP's worth of material that predates Gentle Giant. These track alone make this an essential purchase for fans of the band. They are well recorded and in my opinion pretty darn good, indeed I have been listening to them over and over. The Live Material from Interview, recorded at the same gig which makes up the playing the fool double album are also very fine examples of the band live. I am also rather keen on the Rondo-playing the game. The unreleased Civilian track is also something of a Joy. In fact CD 1 get 4 stars from me. CD 2 on the other hand whilst interesting is unlikely to get played to death, although it contains much that will be enjoyed by fans of the band. The Demo of freedoms child is my favorite track. CD 2 gets only two stars in my book. So if I give the whole a five star rateing for fans and a three for the rest of humanity, i think I will be getting it about right.
Report this review (#797682)
Posted Tuesday, July 31, 2012 | Review Permalink

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