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Gentle Giant I Lost My Head - The Chrysalis years (1975-1980) album cover
3.89 | 28 ratings | 2 reviews | 50% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Boxset/Compilation, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

FREE HAND (1975)
1. Just The Same (5.34)
2. On Reflection (5.43)
3. Free Hand (6.15)
4. Time To Kill (5.09)
5. His Last Voyage (6.27)
6. Talybont (2.43)
7. Mobile (5.03)
Bonus tracks
8. 1976 Intro Tape (previously unreleased) (1.39)
9. Just The Same (John Peel session) (6.00)
10, Free Hand (John Peel session) (6.05)
11. On Reflection (John Peel session) (5.42)
12. Give It Back (International 7" mix) (3.48)
13. I Lost My Head (7" mix) (3.29)

1. Interview (6.51)
2. Give It Back (5.12)
3. Design (5.02)
4. Another Show (3.31)
5. Empty City (4.39)
6. Timing (4.39)
7. I Lost My Head (6.55)

8. Two Weeks In Spain (3.06)
9. I'm Turning Around (3.59)
10. Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It (2.25)
11. Who Do You Think You Are? (3.36)
12. Mountain Time (3.23)
13. As Old As You're Young (4.21)
14. Memories Of Old Days (7.19)
15. Winning (4.17)
16. For Nobody (4.07)

1. (a) Just The Same/(b) Proclamation (11.17)
2. On Reflection (6.27)
3. Excerpts from 'Octopus' (15.39)
4. Funny Ways (8.31)
5. (a) The Runaway/(b) Experience (9.31)
6. So Sincere (10.19)
7. Free Hand (7.40)
8. Sweet Georgia Brown (1.22)
9 (a) Peel The Paint/(b) I Lost My Head (7.28)

1. Words From The Wise (4.16)
2. Thank You (4.50)
3. Giant For A Day (3.51)
4. Spookie Boogie (2.55)
5. Take Me (3.37)
6. Little Brown Bag (3.29)
7. Friends (2.01)
8. No Stranger (2.31)
9. It's Only Goodbye (4.20)
10. Rock Climber (3.53)
Bonus tracks
11. Thank You (7" single edit A) (3.50)
12. Words From The Wise (7" single edit B) (3.04)

13. Convenience (Clean And Easy) (3.13)
14. All Through The Night (4.23)
15. Shadows On The Street (3.16)
16. Number One (4.47)
17. Underground (3.49)
18. I Am A Camera (3.32)
19. Inside Out (5.52)
20 It's Not Imagination (4.04)

Line-up / Musicians

- Derek Shulman/ vocals, saxes, alto sax, descant recorder, bass & percussion
- Ray Shulman/ bass, violin, acoustic guitar, descant recorder, trumpet, vocals & percussion
- Kerry Minnear/ keyboards, cello, vibes, tenor recorder, vocals & percussion
- Gary Green/ electric, acoustic & 12 string guitars, alsto & descant recorder, vocals & percussion
- John Weathers/ drums, tambour, vibes, percussion & backing vocals

Releases information

Albums remastered by Fred Kervorkian at Avatar Studios, NYC from the original 1/4 inch tapes through 24bit 96K hi-reolution transfer.Mastered by Peter Mew at Abbey Road Studios, London.
Disc 1 tracks 8-13 and disc 4 tracks 11 & 12 previously unreleased on CD.

Thanks to faroutsider for the addition
and to AtomicCrimsonRush for the last updates
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GENTLE GIANT I Lost My Head - The Chrysalis years (1975-1980) ratings distribution

(28 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(50%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (7%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GENTLE GIANT I Lost My Head - The Chrysalis years (1975-1980) reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
4 stars This is a glorious box set featuring all of the albums of Gentle Giant albums of the Chrysalis label from 1975 to 1980. As with any box set the tracks are hit and miss here but this is a wonderful way to get hold of 2012 remastered albums that have impacted the Gentle Giant catalogue over the years. The box set houses no less than 3 excellent albums in the form of the live classic "Playing The Fool", "Free Hand" and "Interview". The 1980 "Civilian" album is actually quite good and heavier than the usual GG, but of course you will have to trawl through the disappointing era with the mediocre "The Missing Piece" and the dreadful "Giant For A Day". One major drawcard to this box was the previously unreleased material and it is packed with tons of bonus tracks and all in remastered glory. The booklet is lavish and packed with info and pix of the band as you would expect. The musicians are legendary: Derek Shulman on vocals, saxes, alto sax, descant recorder, bass & percussion, Ray Shulman on bass, violin, acoustic guitar, descant recorder, trumpet, vocals & percussion, Kerry Minnear on keyboards, cello, vibes, tenor recorder, vocals & percussion, Gary Green on electric, acoustic & 12 string guitars, alto & descant recorder, vocals & percussion, John Weathers on drums, tambour, vibes, percussion & backing vocals. Here are my reviews of each disc, almost identical to my reviews of the original albums but worth revisiting for this excellent box of goodies.


"Free Hand" is manic Gentle Giant compositions from end to end with trademark multi part harmonies and frenetic time sig changes throughout. It begins with glorious melodic mayhem on 'Just The Same' and then launches into the weird Gentle Giantism harmonies that sound like some parody of medievalism 'On Reflection'. The opening section is almost maddening in it's delirious harmonising but it soon breaks into some fabulous melodies with a nice gentle dreaminess that pleases my senses.

The best song is to follow with the title track, that I adore when I hear it on any compilation or the original album. The remaster is crystal clear and even better. The vocals of Derek Shulman are excellent throughout, strong and easy to comprehend. 'Time To Kill' is certainly a highlight with some chaotic signatures and wonderful musicianship. The pleasant chimes and acoustic guitars are a feature of 'His Last Voyage' before the very melancholy vocals echo along the melody line. The wah wah lead break is a great augmentation to the jumpy piano line. My least favourite track on the album is the sea shanty instrumental 'Talybont', but it's like a transition and fully instrumental.

The bonus tracks as with all GG remasters are very good and fill the CD nicely. On "Free Hand" there is previously unreleased '1976 Intro Tape', just an instrumental filler really, and from the John Peel Sessions 'Just The Same', 'Free Hand' and 'On Reflection', all different versions of these gems and nicely performed. Also we have 'Give It Back (International 7" mix)', a strange reggae riff and quite out of place commercial style for this earlier album though works nicely on "Interview", and 'I Lost My Head (7" mix)' is a very good song. All tracks are intriguing and worth a shot, though not to return to as often as side one of this release. The album is close to a masterpiece, at least side one of the original would be classed as such, but it kind of meanders along in side two, even sounding outdated, like some hippy trip to tune out to. In any case, this is one of the greatest GG albums and should be heard by every lover of eclectic prog. 4 shining 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". 4 glittering stars.


Gentle Giant's "The Missing Piece" is a transitional album made during 1977 as disco was beginning to be king and punk was alive and spitting. In comparison to the followup "Giant For a Day", this album is very good. However, gone are the technical complexities of the Giant only to be replaced with very simple three chord wonder melodic rock. I like the way it starts with its raucous and rather catchy 'Two Weeks in Spain', the Shulman brothers sound great and this one is infectious with some weird musicianship. It then goes steadily downhill with 'I'm Turning Around', a failed attempt at a ballad single, that did not trouble the top of the charts either side of the Atlantic. 'Betcha Thought we couldn't do it' is mediocre quasi-punk as is 'Who do you think you are?' and the nauseating hicksville of 'Mountain Time'. It picks up a bit with a more progressive approach with 'Memories of Old Days' that has a longer running time and even effects of children thrown in. The album even ends on something proggy with 'For Nobody' but this is rather a lacklustre album.

The liner notes attempt to explain or justify this mediocrity from a band we have come to admire over the years for their virtuoso complexity in prog. Ray Shulman explains; "it was a funny period of time; we were suddenly searching for an identity, what we ought to be, where we were going to fit in. There was a degree of pressure to make a more commercial album, and to be honest I can't even remember whether it was self-generated or from the outside; in any case, we'd always tried to avoid repeating ourselves, we were always looking for something new to do." The result is this rather poor effort and it certainly was the beginning of disaster for the group that would continue to decline on the ensuing GG catalogue. 2 little stars.


Gentle Giant's live triumph is flawless musicianship. Gentle Giant's live album "Playing The Fool" is a treasure of prog rock at its most exquisite, intricate and whimsical. The sound captured live is quintessential Gentle Giant and almost works as a type of best of the Giant. There is enough variation on offer to make it a worthwhile addition to any collection. The best bits of "Octopus" are here, and tons of medley's and montages of Gentle Giant's inimitable style. The music is full blown prog revved to the max with wonderful soloing on descant recorder on 'Funny Ways', and soaring strings on 'Runaway/ Experience'. This set list is as good as I have heard from Gentle Giant. The brilliant 'Free Hand' and 'Peel The Paint' are played to perfection. 'Free Hand' is perhaps the best I have heard it with wonderful complex time sigs and Minnear's mind bending keyboards.

The original vinyl was a huge multiple vinyl release but it all fits very neatly on one CD and although there are annoying breaks in the tracks, it is great to hear this in one sitting without having to turn over one vinyl side after another. To quote the reviews in liner notes "this British band is just the cup of tea for aficionados who demand virtuosity, progress and originality in their mix," and "they are a musician's band who slowly hypnotise all." Certainly the stars were in alignment when the band played this concert. It is flawless.

The guitar on 'So Sincere' is jaw dropping for instance, and Shulman's vocals are spot on target. Many of these tracks are better than the original studio takes. I love how the band move from track to track seamlessly blending them in and pushing the boundaries with incredible harmonies and musicianship. John Weathers' extended tribal drum solo on 'So Sincere' is worth a listen too along with Minnear's vibes. The violin of Ray is also wonderful throughout, such as on 'Sweet Georgia Brown'. It really is an incredible performance from the whole band. It is hands down Gentle Giant's best album. 5 awesome stars.


I just got through this again for this review and it was a weary slog. This one is up there with "Love Beach" as the biggest sell out of a prog band in history. The music is accessible, the voices are clear and bright, the music is three chord precision but this is an appalling waste of talent. This album is so uninspired it is almost beyond reason. There are major risks taken with this one and GG are obviously trying to fit into the new wave music of 1978 when prog was snubbed but they are sapped of all their power and become insipid as an AOR band. They were never meant to play this type of sap so without the complexities, the concepts and sprawling instrumental breaks, there is nothing left in the cannister. This imposter band going by the name of Gentle Giant play some of the sappiest most boring repetitive drivel I have ever heard. I acquired this album as a double feature with "The Missing Piece" and that album certainly did have some great moments and really once that album is over I rip the CD out so that I don't have to be inundated with any of "Giant for a Day". It is also available with the fabulous box set "I Lost My Head". You gotta love the original packaging with that corny Giant mask! Did anyone cut up their album cover and wear that around the place? Madness! Attacking this album is like turning a cannon upon a budgie cage; you can't miss. Nothing on this is redeemable, and believe me I tried to find something. Let's look at some of these tracks, heaven help us!

'Words From The Wise' is over harmonised and sounds like Little River Band meets early Petra, except those bands have better songs than what is offered here. 'Thank You' is pop pap so boring it is unsettling. 'Giant For A Day' is perhaps the best track and is AOR but I liked some of the guitar riffs though I can't remember a single note. 'Spooky Boogie' should have been good as an instrumental but is really silly Halloween themed nonsense with a forgettable melody. John Weather's only solo composition 'Friends' is acoustic humdrum compost filler, and the last track 'Rock Climber' makes me want to throw rocks at the CD player to put this thing out of its misery.

The liner notes are the best thing about this; "ironically keyboard player Kerry Minnear's 'It's Only Goodbye' was written specifically as a single, but was never released as such." And the album "failed to elicit much enthusiasm when it was released", and stating the bleeding obvious, it "left long term fans dissatisfied." But best of all and most delusional I quote "the album's disappointing sales in no way reflect a lack of quality." I beg to differ because after hearing all the other excellent GG albums this is an absolute disaster and one to avoid unless you desire a rather expensive coffee coaster. The box set features 2 bonus extras 'Thank You (7" single edit A)', and 'Words From The Wise (7" single edit B)'. Are they an improvement on the original album tracks? Not at all. On reflection, and so sincere I can only say GG lost their head here. 1 mouldy star.


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 terrific, 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, and later with the box set "I Lost My Head". On these Gentle Giant releases there is usually great albums with mediocre albums, however "Civilian" is one of the better albums, 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. 3 sparkling stars.

So at the end of this look back through the world of Gentle Giant we have the good the bad and the ugly as you would expect but this is a fantastic package, well designed, with tons of excellent songs and great liner notes. It is ideal for newcomers to the band and the ideal way to get hold of some of their more mediocre material without sacrificing too much on 4 jam packed discs. The live album is simply brilliant in itself and this box is definitely worth the effort. 4 genius stars.

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nš 492

"I Lost My Head ? The Chrysalis Years (1975-1980)" is a compilation album of Gentle Giant, which was released in 2012. This is a very special compilation that features albums released for the Chrysalis label, the albums from 1975 to 1980. It includes all their six last studio albums, the seventh album "Free Hand", released in 1975, the eighth album "Interview", released in 1976, the ninth album "The Missing Piece", released in 1977, the tenth album "Giant For A Day", released in 1978, the eleventh album "Civilian", released in 1980 and the debut live album "Playing The Fool", released in 1977.

"I Lost My Head ? The Chrysalis Years (1975-1980)" is divided into four disks with fifty eight tracks. Disk 1 is composed by "Free Hand" plus six bonus tracks, disk 2 is composed by "Interview" and "The Missing Piece", disk 3 is composed by "Playing The Fool" and disk 4 is composed by "Giant For A Day", "Civilian" and two plus bonus tracks. "Free Hand": "Free Hand" is their last masterpiece. It's one of my favourite Gentle Giant's albums and is one of their most accessible albums. Its superb musicianship, dry wit, and creative compositions make of "Free Hand" an essential piece. It proved they could write all type of songs, creative, complex, accessible and melodic. It has great instrumentals, advanced vocal numbers, good ballads, acoustic and electric parts and some exceptionally very well structured songs.

"Interview": "Interview" isn't a minor musical work of Gentle Giant. Despite be a little more experimental than "Free Hand", "Interview" has all the ingredients of a Gentle Giant's album. It has some of the most aggressive and electrified music ever made by them. Probably, the main problem with the album is that it's less commercial and less balanced than "Free Hand". It's not a classic Gentle Giant's albums, but it's still better than all the last studio albums of the band.

"The Missing Piece": "The Missing Piece" is probably their most accessible studio album. It has good quality. This is their last studio album that deserves to be find and knowing. I always liked it. There's definitively good stuff to be found here, but you should have all their previous albums before you consider buying this one. Despite be a transitional work, I recommend this album. All in all, we are in presence of the last good album of one of the greatest prog bands ever.

"Playing The Fool": "Playing The Fool" is an amazing live album. It has great performances of a very complicated and technically brilliant music. The final result is a very good track list with a great sound quality level. All of these factors contribute to that "Playing The Fool" can be seeing as one of the greatest live albums ever. The material is awesome and the performance is awesome too. The entire album is awesome. It's regarded as Gentle Giant's last classic release.

"Giant For A Day": "Giant For A Day" is a complete fiasco. It's a mediocre album and the worst Gentle Giant's studio album. It isn't a prog album and hasn't enough quality to be a Gentle Giant's album. It's a bunch of disconnected songs, most of them mediocre, without a guideline, where we have a clear perception that the group doesn't know what to do. With it, Gentle Giant did the mistake of leave their unmistakable style, which made of them a special and beloved band.

"Civilian": "Civilian" would be a very good album if it was released by any other band. However, it doesn't sound to a Gentle Giant's album and it has nothing to do with a prog album. The main problem with "Civilian" is that Gentle Giant changed so much that they lost their charisma, identity and their unique footprint in the world of progressive rock, to the point of be a band completely unrecognizable. "Civilian" can reminds me everything, but very few of Gentle Giant.

Bonus tracks: "1976 Intro Tape" is a previously unreleased instrumental song. "Just The Same" is a different version of the original song. "Free Hand" is also a different version of the original song. "On Reflection" is another different version of the original song. All were taken from the John Peel Sessions". "Give It Back (International 7' Mix" is a different version of the original song of "Interview". "I Lost My Head (7' Mix)" is also a different version of the original song of "Interview". All appear on disc 1. "Thank You" (7' Single Edit A)" and "Words From The Wise (7' Single Edit B)" are two single versions of the original songs. Both appear on disc 4. They're all a nice complement to this compilation.

Conclusion: This is a very interesting compilation with all albums released to Chrysalis records. "Free Hand" is their last masterpiece. "Playing The Fool" is a live masterpiece, one of the best live albums ever. "Interview" is an excellent album, their last great album. "The Missing Piece" is a good album that shows the beginning of their decline. "Giant For A Day" and "Civilian" are a different matter. I advise you to avoid them. "Giant For A Day" is a fiasco, a mediocre album, the worst Gentle Giant's album. "Civilian" isn't bad, but doesn't sound as a Gentle Giant's album and it has nothing to do with prog. Where is the originality, the complexity, the sophistication and the diversity, which were the foundations of their music? I agree with AtomicCrimsonRush when he says that here on this compilation we can see the excellent, the good, the bad and the ugly. But, I can't give it the 4 stars he gave. I think this compilation is too much expensive and there are other albums to spend our money, especially for those who have all these Gentle Giant's albums, like me.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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