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FREE HAND/INTERVIEW

Gentle Giant

Eclectic Prog


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Gentle Giant Free Hand/Interview album cover
4.28 | 32 ratings | 4 reviews | 53% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music


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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

"Free Hand"(37:07)
1. Just The Same (5:34)
2. On Reflection (5:41)
3. Free Hand (6:14)
4. Time To Kill (5:08)
5. His Last Voyage (6:27)
6. Talybont (2:43)
7. Mobile (5:05)

"Interview"(36:22)
1. Interview (6:54)
2. Give It Back (5:08)
3. Design (4:59)
4. Another Show (3:29)
5. Empty City (4:24)
6. Timing (4:50)
7. I Lost My Head (6:58)

Total Time: 73:29

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Derek Shulman / vocals, recorders, saxophone
- Ray Shulman / bass, violin, recorders, vocals
- Gary Green / guitars, vocals
- Kerry Minear / keyboards, vocals
- John Weathers / percussion

Thanks to Laurent for the addition
and to ProgLucky for the last updates
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GENTLE GIANT Free Hand/Interview ratings distribution


4.28
(32 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(53%)
53%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
34%
Good, but non-essential (9%)
9%
Collectors/fans only (0%)
0%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

GENTLE GIANT Free Hand/Interview reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is an economic package that you might want to get from the band' masterpiece album "Free Hand" and good album (not masterpiece) "Interview". This is very possible that each album consumed only 37 minutes in duration. I find this two in one CD cheaply in local store in my country and it's better purchasing this CD than individual album separately.

GENTLE GIANT "Free Hand"

It has been a great challenge for me to review classic bands with a music of their own identity. The difficulties rely on what sort of benchmarks should I use for review as they were pioneers of the kind of music they played. Gentle Giant is no exception. Can you compare it with Spock's Beard? Definitely "no" as they live in different time. But, for sure , Spock's Beard was influenced by Gentle Giant. Even though the band disbanded in 1980 but the soul of their music is still around us nowadays.

About this album, let me ask you: "How prog are you?" If you are a prog lover, this album is a must in your collection. If you are new to prog, you must buy this album. The band has inspired many bands on planet earth and no one has successfully similar to their original music. The music might be a bit complex at first listen but I'm sure it would grow significantly after 8 spins. But if you can enjoy the album before it reaches 8, you are blessed with good prog ears and you should continue your journey with all Gentle Giant's albums and other prog bands.

"Just The Same" kicks off with a staggering piano solo and great voice line followed with an avant garde beat music. The music relatively discrete at the opening and it turns continuous at the interlude with sort of spacey keyboard. The solo keyboard is really amazing. The solo ends up with electric guitar rhythm and returns back to the original tagline melody. The harmony of keyboard and saxophone is intricate. It's a superb music!

As I mentioned above "On Reflection" has a powerful choir / vocal harmony in a capella backed with some percussive and vibes during opening. This opening is really excellent! The choir is then continued with single voice line by Derek accompanied with discrete keyboard, violin and woodwind (flute) works. Some backing voice at the end of the bars accentuate the song. The keyboard sound augments the vocal line nicely. Dynamic drumming ends the song brilliantly. The compositional quality of this song is top notch even though it's complex in structure.

"Free Hand" starts off with a harmonious work combining keyboard sounds and bass line. The rocking vocal enters the music in upbeat tempo with continuous music. The solo keyboard and bass performed excellently during quiet segment of the song. The interlude part indicates the complexity of Gentle Giant music. No matter complex the music is, the band has successfully maintained the intricate harmony of multi instruments used.

The next track "Time To Kill" is even more rocking with its complex composition and dynamic rhythm and melody. The opening sound indicates a tidy harmony of bass, keyboard and guitar and a simple melody followed by a discrete guitar score. It flows with the music that brings vocal into main body. Some transitions have a quieter music with sort of discrete bass, keyboard, guitar and drums. Another excellent composition by the band.

"His Last Voyage" opens with an avant garde mood using bass, vibes (played wonderfully) followed by acoustic guitar that accompanies voice line. There are some influence of jazz and classical music. The beginning of this song is performed in ambient style exploring jazzy bass and vibes with relatively slow tempo.. The music then flows continuously in the middle of the track by the appearance of drumming. Piano at background is played in jazz style. The solo guitar is really stunning - it continues with a complex organ sound until the music returns back to original rhythm and tagline melody. "Talybont" is short instrumental with keyboard / clavinet and woodwind dominate the scene accompanied with percussive and bass. The woodwind and clavinet sounds indicate a classical music influence. It also reminds me to Rick Van Der Linden's Trace as they shared similar vein in this part.. "Mobile" combines acoustic guitar, keyboard, violin nicely during opening. Again, the band has proven their talents to compose this complex composition with perfect harmony. Each instrument seems to play different than the others but it still produce an excellent harmony.

Conclusion: This is a masterpiece and a highly recommended album. All tracks stand-out firmly as original prog tunes. There is no such thing as mediocre track in this album. Rating: 5/5. .

GENTLE GIANT "Interview"

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! Rating: 3/5.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#157230) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, December 31, 2007

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This box set includes Gentle Giantīs seventh and eigth album Free Hand and Interview on one CD. If you know the music on those two albums you also know that this will be a very worthy purchase. Free Hand is an essential progressive rock album while Interview might not be as essential but itīs still excellent. Two albums for the price of one is just something you canīt turn down.

Free Hand:

Free hand is the seventh album from Gentle Giant and one of their best albums IMO. After The Power and the Glory which was the predecessor to Free Hand, Gentle Giant must have felt extremely inspired for Free Hand to come out as well as it did. I think The Power and the Glory is the weakest of the first six albums from Gentle Giant ( itīs not weak at all compared to other prog rock albums of course, only compared to the other five albums. I personally gave The Power and the Glory 4 stars) and I was afraid that their really good era was over. Free Hand fortunately proves me wrong. While still maintaining all of the charateristics of Gentle Giant which means a mix of hard rock, jazz/ fusion, classical chamber music, medieval music, avant garde and folk, Free Hand takes Gentle Giant one step further. Never on any of the previous albums have the music been this memorable yet still very complex. Itīs a great achievement that only Gentle Giant could have done.

The music is as always pretty hard to describe as you can probably sense when reading my above description. Songs like Just The Same, Free Hand, Time To Kill and Mobile are all extremely well written progressive rock songs while On Reflection might be the finest polyrythmic vocal song Gentle Giant ever made. On Reflection is the song with most avant garde influences on the album, but itīs very memorable. His Last Voyage is a beautiful semi-ballad while the instrumental Talybont completes this beautiful and very powerful prog rock album.

The musicianship is outstanding. Every single musician plays beyond his abillities on Free Hand. Not only do Gentle Giant make beautiful and powerful music they are also mulitinstrumentalists and outstanding musicians every one of them.

The production is very good. absolutely the best sound quality Gentle Giant had achieved by then.

Free Hand is one of my favorite Gentle Giant albums, and also one of my favorite prog rock albums. It deserves all 5 stars for the musical genious put into the compositions and the interplay between the musicians. You will very seldom come across anything remotely like this. If you havenīt listened to this album yet, you better run out and buy yourself a copy, because this is pure genious.

NOTE: I have an edition with both Free Hand and Gentle Giants next album Interview on one CD which is of course a great treat. Two albums for the price of one. I would seek out this version if I were you.

Interview:

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 didnīt 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. Iīm 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 werenīt very satisfied with Interview as they didnīt 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. Thatīs something Gentle Giant hadnīt done before. I donīt think there are any weak points on the album, but it is true that Gentle Giant just donīt 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 itīs outstanding on Interview.

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

Interview is definitely an above average progressive rock album even though itīs not a favorite of mine from Gentle Giant. I canīt bring myself to give Interview a big 3 star rating so itīll 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.

Even though Interview might not be up there with Free Hand in the league of essential prog rock albums the idea of putting these two albums together for the price of one is so good that Iīll reward this box set with 5 stars. Think of it as purchasing the masterpiece Free Hand and getting the very good Interview for free.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#175877) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Review by Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Since Gentle Giant typically pack so much good stuff--and even pack a lot of creativity and instrumentation into their not-so-good stuff--I rarely mind the short run times of many of their albums. However, if you're feeling that you're due for a bargain from the band, this is one of the best I can recommend.

I've reviewed these album elsewhere, but I believe the sound, creativity, formula, and overall quality is very similar on each of the albums included, Free Hand and Interview. There are no epics and few multipart songs, there is a lot of creativity within each of the songs. In that respect, this truly is classic Giant.

Rather than discuss the songs, I'll talk about the players. Derek is the most prominent, and this can be a detriment, because he can push his capabilities a bit much for my liking. Kerry's contributions are the most rewarding upon many listens, because he is really doing a lot of heavy lifting to create numerous textures within individual songs. Gary is rarely at the forefront, but he and Kerry have a great syncopation going at this point and can really play off each other. Weathers really pushes the tempo and energy, which is a big part of why some of these songs rock so hard. Finally, Ray is the oddball, as you have to listen carefully to pick up his bass work, but he is essential in providing harmonies and textures, such as on the violin. In all, a great group of musicians who appear to enjoy playing with each other.

If you don't have these albums, you can take my strategy and kill two birds with one stone.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#285124) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, June 05, 2010

Review by Matti
COLLABORATOR Neo-Prog Team
5 stars All GG albums tend to be short, so it's very suitable to pair them up on CD. (And think of the 2CD compilation Edge Of Twilight: it contains the majority of FIVE albums, ie. only a few tracks missing from those albums.) Here is their pinnacle masterpiece Free Hand (1975) and its follower Interview (1976), which I would call the last good album by the band. More of its reception later.

Free Hand saw the band's unique style taken to perfection and it's brilliantly produced. I think their greatest songs are on the earlier albums (e.g. 'Schooldays', 'Pantagruel's Nativity' etc), but this album is a strong effort from start to finish (only 'Mobile' leaves me a bit cold), whereas usually there are more than one song I don't like. Even the songs that at first seem less elegant suddenly take a turn that win me over with their genuine gentlegiantness. That may mean for example allusions to Renaissance music. Multi-layered a cappella choir on the opening of 'On Reflection' is fantastic! There are more musical ideas than many groups can achieve during a long career. Simply, this album shows what progressive music can be when you have a group of musicians with amazing level of artistic ambition and talent. My favourite track is 'His Last Voyage' featuring vocals by Kerry Minnear whose gentle voice I prefer over Derek Shulman's rougher vocals. 'Talybont' is a bright little instrumental with that lovely flavour of Old Music.

Interview has notably lower rating (but naturally much higher than the following poor albums which were plain disappointments for anyone), and also the band itself felt that for the first time they didn't manage to make much progress (I think they were too harsh for themselves!). It follows quite closely the path of Free Hand, maybe slightly less inspired and more uneven, but nevertheless a solid and well produced album which I found to be much better than I expected. Individually rated, I'd probably give it four stars. The album took some ironic inspiration from the sillier aspects of music life such as foolish interviews by the music press. A stand-out track (which has nothing to do with that theme) is the ethearal 'Empty City' about an alienation of a young girl. The album may not reach the highest ladders the band had already visited on previous albums, but it is a very good prog album in its own rights. The last one by this band, sadly...

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#535359) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2011

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