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CIVILIAN

Gentle Giant

Eclectic Prog


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Gentle Giant Civilian album cover
2.83 | 283 ratings | 32 reviews | 4% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Convenience (Clean And Easy) (3:14)
2. All Through The Night (4:20)
3. Shadows On The Street (3:18)
4. Number One (4:39)
5. Underground (3:48)
6. I Am A Camera (3:33)
7. Inside Out (5:51)
8. It's Not Imagination (3:59) Ending of the album ("That's All There Is")
9. Heroes No More (4:25) [bonus track]

Total Time: 36:57

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

-Gary Green / all guitars
-Kerry Minnear / keyboards, vocals
-Derek Shulman / vocals
-Ray Shulman / bass, acoustic guitars, backing vocals
-John Weathers / drums, backing vocals

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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GENTLE GIANT Civilian ratings distribution


2.83
(283 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(4%)
4%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(16%)
16%
Good, but non-essential (41%)
41%
Collectors/fans only (26%)
26%
Poor. Only for completionists (12%)
12%

GENTLE GIANT Civilian reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by corbet
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Many people will write this one off without giving it a chance, or even a listen. Granted, Civilian doesn't feature the in-your-face complexity of their earlier masterworks, and the sound is certainly different (1980, man), but this is Gentle Giant we're talking about here! In no way does it suck. These guys were far too intelligent to release a stinker, at any point in their career, and if you accept Civilian on its own terms you have yet another classic on your hands. Many of the songs have a hard edge; the drums and guitar are way loud; and, for 1980, the arrangements are still (relatively) thick. "Inside Out" is a particularly ominous track, with vocal work that shows GG could write in a more direct style and not sacrifice any of their potency. If you can't hang with Civilian, it's your loss.

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Send comments to corbet (BETA) | Report this review (#6285) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, January 19, 2004

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Well well well . as for the musical style of this album, this is like the "90125" (Yes) for Gentle Giant. Why? Almost all tracks in this album are straight forward rock music, unlike any previous albums of Gentle Giant. This is not truly prog album, I would say. However, I like this album very much because it rocks! Never mind this album is not prog at all!! I never imagined before that Gentle Giant would ever produce an album like this.

"Convenience (Clean And Easy)" opens the album with dynamic solo drumming at intro part followed by punchy keyboard style. There is a bit of prog component at the end of this track. This upbeat track indicates overall theme of this album as the music is typical with other tracks. "All Through The Night" is my favorite track. It has no such component of prog music at all. The music is straight forward rock, simple structure with great melody, some gutar riffs that are rarely used by the band. This is the kind of track you would like to elevate your emotion as the music is upbeat. This track flows seamlessly to the next track "Shadows on The Street" with a slow tempo. The transition to this track is done smoothly. This track has a unique voice of DEREK SHULMAN, typical to Gentle Giant.

"Underground" is another upbeat tempo track. The dazzling bass guitar and keyboard sound flows dynamically to accompany great voice of DEREK. The way keyboard is played reminds me to unique keyboard style of SAGA. It flows nicely to next track "I'm a Camera", another upbeat track in the vein of straight rock. It continues to a slower tempo track "Inside Out". Again, this is a wonderfully crafted track with excellent melody and vocals. I bet you would like it whether you like prog music or not. Even non rock lovers may enjoy this ambient track. Overall, this album is excellent. This is one of the best music that I keep playing it overtime. I'd rather listen to this album than any other hard rock album such as Deep Purple. GENTLE GIANT has a vocalist with a great voice that I really love. Highly recommended. An excellent addition to your collection. Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#6289) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, July 18, 2004

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Much better than the awful "Giant For a Day", "Civilian" is closer to regular rock with a more modern feeling to it. Still no special hints from their glorius past on this one either, except for Keyboardist Kerry Minear and Vocalist Derek Shulman's notable vocals. However, the tracks are all from OK to pretty good, with the best one beign "Inside Out". This is not a recommended starting point to Gentle Giant at all, but if you like the band, this one may be enjoyable in spots. 3 stars.

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Send comments to Bj-1 (BETA) | Report this review (#6291) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, November 28, 2004

Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion Team
3 stars It's hard to say what to give this album. It is really not progressive, at least not what we are used to (but i still say its more 80s pop/rock). For that fact it is hard to give it three stars. Prog-wise it should be two stars or even one. But, then you have everything eles about the album. With that said, i'll start the review.

First of all, I love the cover. It is one of thier best, and one of the best in all of music. It is really clever. Now the music if deffinately different from what we are used to (as i said before). Now even though it is not prog, it is still good music. Some of the songs are really good, and others are not (just like a good pop album should be ;-)). Anyway, Conveinence is a great song. Nice beat and good sound (minus the drums. I have never liked the 80s drums). All Though The Night is another great song. Unfortunatly, after that, the album gets slow and very poppy for the time. It picks up again with Underground (great effect in the beinging with the subway), and I Am A Carama (again nice effect). I also like the ending of the album. Very clever and very fitting, as it is the last "true" work by Gentle Giant.

Even though this album is as it is, it is still Gentle Giant and still worth getting (esp. if it is cheap). I'll say the true rating lies around 2.5, but with the stipulation that this really isn't a prog album, but it would probably appeal to more than just fans, but just slightly.

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Send comments to Man With Hat (BETA) | Report this review (#6294) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Gentle Giant is here for the first time with a hard rock new wave style. The first element that retains the attention is the electric guitar: it can be absolutely razor like on "All through the night". The record is a well structured hard rock music without really being progressive: there are no more violins, percussions, horns and woodwind instruments. There are many smoother bits with not bad keyboards. The less vintage keyboards give a new wave dimension to the album. The lead vocals are very good, and the bass-guitar ensemble give the songs a pleasant dynamism and a rather impressive "bottom". The drums are really present too.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#6295) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 08, 2005

Review by lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Ok this AOR/Mainstream music with hints of hard rock (almost Journey-like) is more suitable for such a "radio-friendly" mood of the early eighties (this latter rather inadequate in comparison to their usual complex arrangements), but it symbolizes a necessary radical change: as a matter of fact the trend of the music market was so different at that time, especially if you compare their 70's polyphonic/baroque music-style to the present easier and more accessible approach (typically of the eighties). As for this reason naturally G.G. were almost obliged to change radically route, even though the production was very good and the songs quite powerful anyway.ok this music-genre cannot be "labelled" as prog music, nor represents the true style of G.G., but after all it's well arranged and performed, being interesting enough to make it an acceptable issue, in any case.so as "AOR music" it's worth checking out at least!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#46092) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 09, 2005

Review by Ricochet
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It took me quite some time to think over an elaborate view regarding this one and a keen, correct definition of what it is, where it stands and what does it represent. Without having ended my perspective issue, I can define Civilian as a good album, one that resembles quite some interesting characters and one whose music doesn't defy anything and stays in a comfortable place. About the connotations of this album, I don't think it is necessary to elaborate the description too much. It's the end point of Gentle Giant, as the burning out effect, one that become prominent ever since 1977, if not even 1976 (though I could get many complains by saying this), takes its final burst and moves towards the silences of a most remarkable musicianship and a most impressive history of progressive rock history. In a leisure, unsophisticated, but centered way, Civilian is a final word, one that expresses in reasonable amounts both the general meaning and the overall passion of Gentle Giant, but also the decrease into quality that stands shakes and impression that tends to forget its assets. As last part of a symbolic fading trilogy, the style redeems from the disaster that was Giant For A Day and pronounces even better than The Missing Piece message, making an acceptable (if not more) moment of reflection of the memory. For from this moment we gathered upon the greatness that was the past, the more deceiving flavor that was the contemporary, the silence that marks the end and the thing beyond end, and the significance remember phase that will arise later, into the 90s, but that will keep everything still and, here in there, shallow. Civilian, short sentenced, is far from the best and the most complete form of Gentle Giant music, but the damage of the compromise is very little in comparison with many others.

Short as essence, sharp as hit, relatively illuminated, voiled as echo. Civilian settles on a very easy meaning, still works its way towards at least an attitude of optimism, Cause the album is optimistic, despite everything, and present an image of good and of enjoyable. As character, few are new or are even told, still the defined moment of the album will surely please the auditory. It's not a strangled voice, nor a pushed pedal, but a decent output from something that has already became unpretentious. It is the simple will of making music in a motive and a motivation of unexpanded views. Dynamic that does shatter, but not abrupt or deep. It's not a slice, it's a touch after all. The charm and a little from an authentic Gentle Giant serves as scent in key points, though overall it is very clear how nothing impressive is even conceived. More on to the emotion or the word of thrill that to the point of quality and perspective, Civilian manages a speech that encounters the convenience of the script and the passion of a still wave. Low(ered) range, still intuitive thinking. Music of a standard sphere and a mixed reflection. In overall context, the shape is benefic; in detail focus, it's a thing of subjective impression and goes to the latitude of one's opinion. Calm, striking not towards the non-conformism or the wild energy of once pure brilliancy; effective, throughout a harmless flow. A compromise indeed, but one that could very well the compromise, the album that in its lowered shape affects all aspect and gives benefit to the ones more important. However simple it is, I think a moment of thinking, regarding what ideals should be preserved and illustrated onwards and what is really neglectable and forgettable, is to be considered. and to be made. Personally, I see both factors notable enough. Counting on a clean support and on a smooth sensation.

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Send comments to Ricochet (BETA) | Report this review (#84874) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006

Review by Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars GG's final offering from 1980, and it is miles better than the lame 'Giant For a Day' ( an LP which I relegated to the scrap heap years ago). 'Civilian' contains some dynamic rock songs with hints of prog, and, whilst a really short album (32.36 - vinyl format), is entertaining and showed potential, surely, continuing in this direction, who knows what they may have come up with, had they not called it a day after this one....

Starting with a blast, 'Convenience (Clean and Easy)' is a fast paced, intense little song with a catchy chorus, a composition co-written by Gary Green and Derek Shulman, and displays the Giant's ability to go with the times. The overall sound is pretty decent, Ray Shulman's dexterous bass playing (possibly a tinkly Rickenbacker ?), a heavy drum prescence, some unique synth sounds and Jon Lord-like organ playing from Kerry Minnear and Gary Green's guitaring is usual high quality. Derek's vox are excellent. 'All Through the Night' is an out'n'out rocker, not the best track on the album, but a fine performance regardless. 'Shadows on the Street' is a song sung by Kerry, and is more atmospheric and moody, with some thoughtfully arranged keyboards - one of the best songs on the album. 'Number One' is quite a generic and commercial song, offering little for Giant fanatics and prog lovers, nice electric piano though. Side 2 greets us with 'Underground', an amazing track, bursting with energy, and excellent bass lines, it never lets up. Great melodies, interesting synth sounds in the middle. Superb. 'I am a Camera' (not to be confused with Yes or Buggles tracks) opens with, well, a camera taking photos (an idea which opens up the under-rated Renaissance album 'Camera Camera' and many others around this time) and is another vibrant track. 'Inside Out' is the long- ish track here (5.50) and has a kind of epic feel to it without being anything complex, but a well arranged composition - great harmonies, mid-tempo rhythm but without soloing or an instrumental passage. 'It's Not Imagination' is again similar to '...Camera' with that amazing bass playing and crackling energy.

I'm glad they redeemed themselves with this release, as their previous album would've been a woeful way to go out on. 3 and a half stars.

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Send comments to Tom Ozric (BETA) | Report this review (#109184) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, January 27, 2007

Review by Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I still have a soft spot for this album. I was fortunate enough to see them on tour for it, according to the record, they did just a few shows after that before calling it quits. Too bad this wasn't more of commercial success. They did a better job of blending prog and pop than Giant For A Day. Still a notch below The Missing Piece.

Best track on the original release is Inside Out. Still gives me the chills to listen to it. Heroes No More, the bonus track on the One Way Records CD is also fairly decent. It probably was excluded from the original album because they were trying to put out a more commercial effort.

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Send comments to Slartibartfast (BETA) | Report this review (#123650) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 28, 2007

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Civilian is the eleventh and last album from Gentle Giant. Gentle Giant had with their previous album Giant for a Day hit the bottom. It was a bad mistake to release that album. It alienated almost everyone of their original fans and allthough Iīm not sure about this statement I donīt think many new fans came as a consequence of Giant for a Day. Civilian is a bit better without being outstanding like the first nine albums from the band.

On Civilian Gentle Giant employ a more hard rocking AOR approach compared to the somewhat soft rock on Giant for a Day. It suits them well IMO and there are even some very decent songs on Civilian. The mood is a bit darker too which is best heard in a song like the opener Convenience (Clean And Easy) but certainly also in other songs.

The musicianship is great as always but Civilian like Giant for a Day totally lacks the virtuosic playing of the past which means that a very important part of Gentle Giantīs sound is missing.

The production is good. Itīs easy to hear that Gentle Giant is now influenced by the new sounds of the eighties. The bass and drums still have that nice soft seventies quality though. Itīs more in the choice of keyboard sounds and use of choirs that I hear this influence.

Civilian is actually a good album IMO and if you like AOR rock this album will probably rock your world. I canīt say that Iīm a big fan of that particular genre, but I find an album from that genre that I like now and again and Civilian is a good example of that. Good but nothing more. 3 small stars is deserved for this album. Too bad a great band like Gentle Giant didnīt go out with a bang.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#176048) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, July 04, 2008

Review by friso
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Gentle Giant - Civilian (1980)

I got a vinyl copy of this album from a friend who was lucky enough to buy a GG album I didn't already have. Normally I might have skipped on the last three GG albums because of the fact I already own the big GG8 (their first eight studio albums) and Playing the Fool Live. The reputation of the their last three effort is like that of the later Genesis albums: Great musicians who start to record pop-music in order to survive the ugly eighties. Some of the band-members didn't like the material at all and this album became the last Gentle Giant effort.

This record had not real surprises for me. There are six pop-songs and two interesting tracks for people who like progressive music. Some of the pop-songs are nice. Convenience (Clean And Easy) has some interesting parts and an up-tempo feel I like. Furthermore the fast key parts are interesting. Some other pop tracks are plain boring or too simple.

The two track that might be of interest to the fans of the early Gentle Giant period are Shadows on the Streets and Inside Out. The first one is a very gentle piano track that has a strong emotional feel and some beautiful musicianship. The latter of the two is an impressive atmospheric rock track with Queen-like vocal harmonies that give it a spacey feel. Both tracks are enjoyable at least.

Conclusion. This is pop-rock record. For it's genre it might be actually quit good, but for the fans this is a real pity. No complexity, no silly time signatures, no epics, little great musicianship and no experimentation can be found on the record. But then again, it's a nice pop-record. I'll give it two stars because of the two nice tracks it has. Recommended to curious hard-core fans and people who like crossover-prog.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#260797) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, January 14, 2010

Review by poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The new decade offers new sound on Gentle Giant's last album - Civilian. They correct their mistakes from the last two albums - The Missing Piece and Giant for a Day, and produce nice album with hard rock flavour. The album carries the new tendencies of prog bands. They are no more progressive bands, but mainstream sounding bands. It's the same with Gentle Giant. They took another way, just before their break-up. Civilian is surely better than the last two albums and shows some fresh ideas. It's generally not prog music, but it's recommended for Gentle Giant fans and for 80s mainstream rock music. 3 stars, because it doesn't contain special moments. Gentle Giant finished their career with honour!

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Send comments to poslednijat_colobar (BETA) | Report this review (#266355) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, February 15, 2010

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Well, small wonder they decided to call it quits after this one. I really donÂīt understand why so many people are so critical to Giant For A Day and so full of praise (ok, kind of) for Civilian. GFAD was far from being one of their best, but at least it had some fine pop songs on it. Civilian on the other side dropped the explicit pop format for a more hard edge commercial approach (for 1980) which was clearly not their forte. Hearing the CD today it sounds like they were just too eager to please. Most songs seemed forced, boring and/or uninspired.

Granted. Gentle Giant is one fo those very rare bands incapable of recording a bad album: their unbelievable musicanship is intact, and Derek Shulman is an extraordinaire singer. As weak as the songs were, GG was still able to squeeze life and energy from it. It is ironic that the best track, Shadows of The Street was sung by Kerry Minnear. It reminded me, briefly, of how good GG could be. The remaining songs have the loudest guitars and drums ever heard on their albums, ever. But that was not enough to save Civilian.

In the end I guess they had to do something in order to survive in a totally different musical scene of the late 70Âīs and early 80Âīs. But, sadly or not, it didnÂīt work. Thank God they had at least left several brilliant prog albums for future generations to rediscover their outstanding and groundbreaking art. Civilian is not among them, of course, but it is not crap either. Just be sure you have all their previous CDs before you tackle this one, and have in mind what kind of musical scene they were facing at the time it was released.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#284810) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, June 04, 2010

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars Rounded up to the third star!!

12th and last (often forgotten about) album for GG, and generally looked upon by fans as a redemption for the previous and atrocious (for GG) Giant For a Day. While this is partly true, one can't help but hearing that the group is a spent force and the inspiration long-gone, and no matter how good the band remains as a whole, the spectre of GFAD is still overshadowing Civilian, even if they chose to avoid the now-overexposed GG head on the artwork, by choosing a faceless crowd picture. Recorded in the fall of 79 throughout the US with the same quintet line-up and released early next year on a small US label (I'm not even sure it got release in the UK) and in continental Europe. Clearly hindering the album's preparation phase was that some of the members hated to have to stay in LA, California, because the leader and manager Derek Shulman had relocated there during 79, which was basically an off year for the group. Indeed, brother Ray and the now-married and father Minnear did not enjoy their 5-months stay and didn't jump for joy to tour the US to promote the album, so they agreed to stay for the short tour before leaving the band. So this tour would be their last one. Obviously, Civilian is not remembered fondly by most of the GG members, except John Weathers.

Opening on an infernal drum and electronic noises, Convenience is probably better than anything on GFAD, but it's clear that the group won't return to the ultra-complex pre-76 songwriting of theirs; actually this isn't really a bad thing, but unfortunately the simplified tracks lack freshness. The following All Through The Night is named and sounds like an early-Foreigner track (again, not necessarily bad), but for GG?. It's quite a deception. Past the quiet breathing space of Shadows On The Street, we return to another Foreigner-sounding Number One, which happens to be drummer Weathers' favourite GG track.

Camera shutter noises open up the flipside as GG also makes a reference to that "tool" as Yes, Renaissance and Rush would within a few months, but like them all, it's definitely AOR-sounding with an atrocious synth sound in the middle solo. Underground is a bit better, but nothing transcendental either. Inside Out provides another breathing space, with a slower and more reflective rhythm and could be the album's better track with those good vocal harmonies. The very aptly-titled It's Not Imagination (no risk, they haven't got any left) is however returning with that AOR/FM sound and annoying my eardrums. The closing Heroes (a rare bonus track on the Cd versions) is just as annoying, as if it was a Perry-era Journey song, despite allowing some instrumental interplay, but nothing to save it from take a plunge, drowning the album with it. By the time your stylus lifts from the vinyl surface, I'm generally stuck with a slight headache (much less than with GFAD, though) because of the level of "noise" (partly caused by the vocals) is relatively close to that period's noisy radio-friendly FM rock that ruled the American airwaves.

Well, Civilian would be the last of the band at the dawn of the atrocious 80's, one of the major 70's pioneers, and also one that has chosen not to ever reform, therefore not damaging their legacy. The band would not survive the total indifference of the public and industry alike and call it quits soon after. Note that Soft Machine would also disband right around that time, with an atypical Cockayne album, the opposite of GG, that chose to remain a tad more faithful to themselves, even if sounding a tad AOR. So I might suggest that you don't get carried away by some other reviews made by forgiving fans and approach this album carefully, because it's only marginally better than its predecessor.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#297110) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, September 02, 2010

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The last studio album from Gentle Giant is not very different than its predecessor "Giant For A Day".

Several songs are on the rocking side, but I have to say that just like their previous attempts to sound like a rocking band; the soufflé falls very flat indeed ("Number One", "I Am A Camera").

You can experience the same sort of easy listening music: "Convenience" as well as "All Through The Night" just sound AOR stuff; nothing more. Once in a while there is some improvement, like during the decent and soft ballad "Shadows Of The Street". Somewhat mellowish though?

The longest track from this "Civilian" saves the bill and provides some good moments. But what's next is again rather weak ("It's Not Imagination").

If you fancy basic rock or AOR music, you might well find some interest in this work. But it is hardly my case. As such the funky "Underground" is not of great help either to raise the quality level.

The bonus track available on the CD version is quite alright: melodic, pleasant and dynamic. As far as I am concerned it is the best one of the whole.

Two stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#308525) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, November 06, 2010

Review by colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Civilian is the third album in Gentle Giants largely uninspired pop foray, but luckily this album is better than the previous two. Though not complex in anyway, this music has far better songwriting with generally catchy melodies. Still, no more stand out musicianship is present and the interesting instrumentation is still a thing of the past as is the medieval influence. Most of these songs have a fairly decent rock song flow, which is fine. This album is overall much better than Giant For A Day, but still isn't recommended to anyone looking for great progressive rock. If you're looking for truly remarkable stuff, definitely check out the earlier albums first.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#429420) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 08, 2011

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
2 stars Since this album came out after "Giant For A Day", I can't say I was disappointed. But really, this was hardly an improvement over the previous record.

There are tiny glimmers of the old Gentle Giant here. Underground, the best song on the album (faint praise at best), could have squeezed it's way onto the tolerable "The Missing Piece", but would have been one of the lesser songs on that album. And here and there, you can hear bits of arrangements that let you know that this is Gentle Giant.

But the best I can say about this album is that it is no worse than those dismal 1980s genesis atrocities.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#442332) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Review by Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Gentle Giant's last studio album showed a strong rebound from the desperate sell-out of 1978's "Giant For a Day" (which isn't saying much, admittedly). But it still completely negated the original vision statement offered by the band on their sophomore album "Acquiring the Taste" in 1971. To refresh your memory, and put this final effort in perspective, I quote:

"It is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular. We have recorded each composition with the one thought - that it should be unique, adventurous and fascinating. From the outset we have abandoned all pre- conceived thoughts of blatant commercialism."

Well, a lot can happen in less than a decade. But don't blame Messrs. Shulman, Shulman and Minnear for the epic erosion of their youthful idealism. The entire music industry was going down the drain in 1980, and bands like Gentle Giant were simply caught in the undertow.

Still, if it ain't exactly (or even approximately) Progressive Rock, the new sound of the band was still solidly, simply Rock. There really isn't a weak track on the entire album, and more than a few songs show real muscle: "Number One", "Inside Out", "All Through the Night". The album opener "Convenience" is an admirable stab at mainstream Rock-Moderne, especially if you ignore the anachronistic synthesizer burbles, an unfashionable indulgence in New Wave 1980. And it's tempting to read an ironic self-awareness in the title of the final song (on the album and of the band's recording career): "It's Not Imagination".

Drummer J.P. Weathers has gone on record calling it "a fantastic album", which only makes me wonder where his head was at during the studio sessions for "The Power and the Glory" and "In a Glass House". The rest of the group was a little less generous in their praise. "I don't have particularly fond memories of any of it", recalled Kerry Minnear. Ray Shulman added, "I had a horrible time...even now I just can't listen to it." Brother Derek was even more succinct: "really contrived" was his blunt evaluation of the band's final three albums.

So, who are you gonna trust: the founding members of the original group, or a drummer nicknamed 'Pugwash' who liked to wear an Oakland A's uniform on stage? (As a fellow Bay Area baseball fan I appreciate his taste, but historically I've always been a National League supporter...)

The truth is probably somewhere in between those two poles of opinion, much like my own Prog Archives rating. The album may not have been the ideal swan song for one of the most inventive rock groups of the 1970s, but they were at least smart enough to call it quits before doing something really embarrassing...like hiring The Buggles as a back-up band, or something.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#605607) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, January 08, 2012

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars Hang on a minute. Gentle Giant had a 1980s album? Curiously this is not all that bad. Certainly it buries "Giant For A Day" and in some ways is more entertaining than "The Missing Piece". Shulman's vocals are terrifc, the melodies are strong, the music is excellent and there are some wonderful moments to feast on. The problem is it's not prog.

In any case the album was not half as bad as I had heard it would be. I received it really as a free with the excellent "Playing The Fool Live" album. On these double Gentle Giant releases there is usually a great album with a mediocre album, however "Civilian" was quite good, especially for its release date when prog was declining. Tracks such as 'Convenience', 'Underground', 'I am a Camera', and 'It's Not Imagination' are well worth checking out. Not so much prog master tracks but just solid AOR with attention to very accomplished musicianship. It is not the complex quirky Gentle Giant but a consistent melodic 80s commercial sound.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#729707) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 15, 2012

Latest members reviews

2 stars Good God. Very hard to comprehend that this is the same band that just a few years earlier had produced a string of seven incredible progressive rock treasures. Barely better than "Giant For A Day" but still pretty bad. Turd is still turd. To me this record sounds slightly better than a demo. The ... (read more)

Report this review (#1014385) | Posted by ster | Thursday, August 08, 2013 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Most people consider Giant For A Day to be the worst Gentle Giant album. For me, it is definitely Civilian. This album does absolutely nothing for me. At least Giant for A Day had some good tracks like "Words From the Wise", "Giant For A Day", and "Spookie Boogie". There isn't a single song on ... (read more)

Report this review (#441294) | Posted by Slaughternalia | Sunday, May 01, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars At the ending of the decade (70's) most progbands went through a more comercial 'simple' straight forward rock phase, and Gentle Giant was no exception. The music on this album has more in common with Rainbow, Whitesnake, Asia and such bands than with progressive rock. But that doesn't make th ... (read more)

Report this review (#98529) | Posted by tuxon | Monday, November 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Civilian is the last album before Gentle Giant broke up. It sounds completely different to all the other albums. It is not as complex as the albums from 1970 to 1976 and it is not as soft as the other both later Gentle Giant albums. You can clearly hear the typical 80's-sound. Civilian is a co ... (read more)

Report this review (#79032) | Posted by Badabec | Monday, May 22, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars After a couple of weaker albums in which the band moved towards a more conventional form of rock, they came up with Civilian, their last and most "conventional" or "non- prog" album. Prog purists may hate it, and GG fanatics may find it hugely disappointing, but I tend to think of this album a ... (read more)

Report this review (#75761) | Posted by LittleMan | Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Fortunately I am not only into hard-core prog- as this album grew to be one of my favorite rock albums of the era after a couple of listens. I think it is better than "The missing piece" overall but it has a darker hazy feel to it that almost predicts the end of the band just by the overall tone ... (read more)

Report this review (#64663) | Posted by T-Chant | Saturday, January 14, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This is not a prog rock that the Gentle Giant played for years. It is, however, we can enjoy some 'tricky' Gentle Giant flavors anywhere in this album, although the play here sounds a very straight forward rock'n'roll superficially. Maybe this album is for the very much fans for Gentle Giant, ... (read more)

Report this review (#62481) | Posted by | Friday, December 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I bought this album on vinyl for 2 dollars at a record store. I would say it was worth it. As for my intial reaction when I finished listening to the album, I was a litttle disappointed. I was kind of in the mood for some deep '70's progressive rock, and this album did not really satisfy that ... (read more)

Report this review (#59345) | Posted by Alpine Jones | Tuesday, December 06, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As bad as GIANT FOR A DAY was, one would have thought GG would never have been able to climb out of the hole they dug for themselves. YET, this is a great album. It's almost like they had finally figured out how to do Prog Pop. Too bad that was to be their last studio album, because I think ... (read more)

Report this review (#6290) | Posted by | Tuesday, November 16, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The last GG album is excellent compared to the direction music took in the 80's. Granted, it's not overly complex and syncopated like the Power and the Glory, and is more "rocked out" but the feel is really great. GG wrote albums based on themes and the theme for this one says much about the ... (read more)

Report this review (#6288) | Posted by | Friday, July 16, 2004 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Considered to be an unmitigated disaster by both the fans and band members alike this was Gentle Giant's last offering before packing it in after 10 years. Drummer John Weathers actually liked this work so this in itself must hold some water. At the very worst it is a great rock album despite how th ... (read more)

Report this review (#6287) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Friday, April 02, 2004 | Review Permanlink

1 stars While die-hard GG fans will say anything by GG is great, don't believe it! By the time this one came out, they have very little that is new to offer, and their vocals were never that great anyway (nice harmony accapella stuff, but it was special due to the degree of experimentation, not the aestheti ... (read more)

Report this review (#6286) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 04, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I must beg to differ with the way voting has gone on this album. If you listen to this album with preconceived ideas about what a GG album should sound like then you won't like it. But if you listen to it for what it is > a prog rock lp released in 1980, it really is a good album. ... (read more)

Report this review (#6284) | Posted by | Sunday, January 04, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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