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Gentle Giant - Live In Stockholm '75 CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant

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4 stars It's been a year since I saw the reunion of Three Friends, featuring Gary Green, Kerry Minnear and Malcolm Mortimore, at Musikens hus in Gothenburg and I still have very strong memories of that wonderful gig. While there, chatting before the show, I met quite a few people who attended the '75 Stockholm show and spoke very fondly of the whole experience telling me that it would be a great honor to revisit a Gentle Giant performance almost 35 years later!

Unlike many of the British acts of their time, Gentle Giants live performances were just as notorious as their studio releases. Listening to this 2009 release of the 1975 live recording from Stockholm University's Kĺrhuset I can clearly see why. Not only do the band members manage to recreate the compositions in the live setting but they also elevate them to a whole new level. This was, after all, the band's golden era period where they could pretty much do no wrong and it shows on each one of these performances.

The set-list features an unexpected range of tracks mainly from the three consecutive masterpiece released by the band after the departure of Phil Shulman in 1972. These are: The Runaway/Experience from In A Glass House, Proclamation, Cogs In Cogs and So Sincere from The Power And The Glory, a loose instrumental adaptation of Plain Truth from Acquiring The Taste followed by two new tracks from the 1975 release Free Hand.

First off, let me put your worries to rest about the sound quality since this release has an excellent sound for its time. Each instrument is distinguishable from the mix and the audience participation, although present, doesn't distract from the performance even in such quiet moments like the first part of Experience. This is definitely a major improvement for us who hated the live sound featured on the bonus tracks on the remastered edition of In A Glass House. I definitely think that everyone who attended the concert will be able to fully relive the memories and nostalgia that they have for the performance by listening to this album!

The first few tracks do deviate from their studio counterparts on a few occasions but it's towards the album's second part, starting with So Sincere, that the band begins to loosen up the material and we get some truly extraordinary results. First off the 4 minute So Sincere has been expanded to an 11 minute mark by a jamming middle section followed by drum & vibraphone solo spot outro. Plus we get a vocal duet between Derek and Kerry! Plain Truth isn't really the straight forward composition that we all rememberer so well from the band's second album. Instead we get a very loose instrumental version of the track that doesn't feature a single uttered vocal line. Finally, the two Free Hand tracks have also been slightly expanded by added jam moments that definitely leave the crowd screaming for more!

Overall this is an excellent Gentle Giant live release that should have a place in every prog rock collection right next to Playing The Fool and Giant On The Box!

***** star songs: So Sincere (11:03)

**** star songs: Cogs In Cogs (3:16) Proclamation (5:33) The Runaway/Experience (10:07) Plain Truth (8:21) Free Hand (7:09) Just The Same (6:07)

Report this review (#279608)
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A highly enjoyable live album by these giants.

First off all; I owe the reviewer Rune2000 a big thank you. His review some days ago provoked into an instant purchase & download of the digital version from Amazon. I had simply forgotten to purchase this album during the last months chaos with interviews etc etc.

Gentle Giant is a band I have pushed aside too long. I like their sound and music. I regard them as one of the best ever progressive rock bands. So this live recording from 1975 comes as a highly enjoyable experience in the front of the speakers.

For the nitty-gritty stuff about this release and Gentle Giant, I refer to Rune2000's excellent review. I just want to add my impressions of this live album as a rather long distance admirer of Gentle Giant. The first thing that struck me is the excellent sound quality. The sound is warm and has a typical live feeling. Which is a solid plus in my book.

The other pluses comes in the form of the tracks. I am not sure what is the best songs they have ever released during their career so I am not putting my feet into wet concrete by declaring this as a greatest hits live album. But the material here is nevertheless very impressive. There is a loose jam included on this album too which is rather charming. But the rest of the live performance is pretty tight and to the point. All the great Gentle Giant hallmarks are flowing free on this live album. Their superb musicianship, the rather special vocals and instrumentations and the songs.

There is no real best-song on this album. All of them, with the possible exception of the jam, is very impressive and leaves me yearning for more. In my case; the studio albums. This live album is a feast, no less. This album should be purchased and stored next to the excellent Playing The Fool live album in your favourite albums rack.

4 stars

Report this review (#279830)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars First of all, I need to commend Rune2000 and Toroddfuglesteg for providing me impetus for purchasing this album. Knowing that many of the Gentle Giant live albums have poor sound quality, as well as observing that the album sported an apparently redundant set list which is well represented on "Playing the Fool" and countless bootlegs, I was reticent about spending good money on "Stockholm". Reading reviews posted on Progarchives by the aforementioned reviewers convinced me to give it a chance.

One of the first things that I noticed was that the sound quality was pretty good, with perhaps a little bit of distortion with the keyboards. I am uncertain whether this distortion is an artifact of the recording equipment, the band's speakers and amps, or if intended by the performers. Whatever the case, this does not significantly mar the listening experience. Of more interest on this recording is the quality of the performances themselves. Opening with "Cogs in Cogs" and "Proclamation" (one of my favorite GG tunes), it seemed as if this was going to be a workmanlike performance with little to set it apart from the tremendous "Playing the Fool". However, this must have been the band just getting warmed up. The next track, "Runaway / Experience" shows the band really loosening up, taking liberties with the arrangement and sounding like the great musicians that they are.

The band takes "So Sincere" and stretches it out to eleven minutes, showing the confidence to deconstruct and rebuild the song, turning it into an extended jam that many other bands could only dream of pulling off. "The Plain Truth", one of my least favorite GG tracks, becomes an astonishing instrumental, showcasing some great violin playing, drumming, bass and guitar. Words simply cannot do this performance justice. "Free Hand", which is already one of Gentle Giant's hardest rocking tracks, is played louder, harder and faster than ever before. The music builds, swells and explodes in a shower of sparks. Finally, telling a big lie with the title, is "Just the Same". Again, we have heard this song many times before, but it is not "the same". This song sounds majestic with noodling keyboards laid over a funky bassline, surpassing the original studio version and closing the album in style. The bottom line: this album sounds like it was recorded at a point in their tour when the musicians were rehearsed and confident enough to put ample twists and turns in the arrangements. This serves to keep this set from being redundant, making it a nice companion piece to "Playing The Fool"... some excellent versions of well worn songs.

Report this review (#939108)
Posted Thursday, April 4, 2013 | Review Permalink

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