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McDonald & Giles

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McDonald & Giles McDonald & Giles album cover
3.42 | 187 ratings | 26 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Suite in C including Turnham Green, Here I Am and others (11:15)
2. Flight Of The Ibis (3:11)
3. Is She Waiting? (2:36)
4. Tomorrow's People - The Children of Today (7:02)
- Birdman (21:11) :
5. The Inventor's Dream (O.U.A.T.) (3:53)
6. The Workshop (2:51)
7. Wishbone Ascension (1:30)
8. Birdman Flies! (6:18)
9. Wings In The Sunset (0:40)
10. Birdman - The Reflection (5:59)

Total Time: 45:20

Line-up / Musicians

- Ian McDonald / guitar, piano, organ, saxes, flute, clarinet, zither, vocals, sundries
- Michael Giles / drums, percussion (milk bottle, handsaw, lip whistle, nutbox), vocals

- Peter Giles / bass
- Steve Winwood / organ, piano solo (1)
- Michael Blakesley / trombone (4)
- Mike Gray / string & brass arranger and conductor

Releases information

Artwork: Charlotte Bates with Richard DiLello (photo)

LP Island Records ‎- ILPS-9126 (1970, UK)
LP Klimt Records ‎- MM353LP (2013, France)

CD Atlantic ‎- 18P2-2852 (1989, Japan)
CD Virgin ‎- CDV2963 (2002, Europe) 24-bit remaster by McDonald, Giles & Simon Heyworth

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MCDONALD & GILES McDonald & Giles ratings distribution

(187 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MCDONALD & GILES McDonald & Giles reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Guillermo
4 stars Both Ian McDonald and Michael Giles were former members of KING CRIMSON, and they left the band after their 1969 U.S. tour for the "In the Court of the Crimson King" album. Michael Giles and his brother Peter Giles also participated in KING CRIMSON`s second album called "In the Wake of Poseidon" but maybe only as guests. The main differences in this album with respect to the first KING CRIMSON album are the absence of the Mellotron and the music and the lyrics of the songs are less "dark" and dense than KING CRIMSON`s, and even there are some love songs. It has a more "light" atmosphere compared to KING CRIMSON`s music. Ian McDonald is the main composer in this "McDonald and Giles" album. "Suite in C" is a medley of several little songs put together, and it has some influences of Pop Rock and even some Jazz improvisations, with Steve Winwood playing the organ and a piano solo. "Flight of the Ibis" includes a Zither solo, and it is one of the best songs in this album. The sleeve notes say that this song has "the original melody for "Cadence and Cascade"", a song that was included in K.C.`s "In the wake of Poseidon" album , but this "Flight..." song has new lyrics by B.P. Fallon. "Is She Waiting?" is a love song without drums. "Tomorrow`s People" is the only song composed by Michael Giles, and it has some good arrangements with a Trombone played by Michael Blakesley and a flute solo by McDonald. Michael Giles plays great drums in all the songs, but in his song he also plays a brief drums/percussion solo. Peter Giles plays bass guitar with a lot of influences from Jazz. The Side Two of the old L.P. has a long piece, the most progressive of all the songs, called "Birdman", which was composed by McDonald with lyrics by Peter Sinfield, who is also credited in this song as "original idea by Peter Sinfield". The song starts with a good vocals choir by McDonald and M. Giles. This song has some funny parts, and the jazz-rock influences also shine here. The final sections of this song are very good, including some strings and brass arranged and conducted by Mike Gray.In general, I can say that this is a very enjoyable album, more "happy" than some KING CRIMSON`s albums. I don`t know why McDonald and M. Giles didn`t record other albums together. But I know that McDonald released a solo album some 5 years ago, with M. Giles playing the drums in one song. But they also formed a band called "The 21st Century Schizoid Band" with other former K.C. members like Mel Collins, Peter Giles and a new guitarist/singer. They released a live CD with old K.C. songs. They did some tours, in which they also played some songs from this duet album, including "Birdman". It seems that M. Giles is not in the band in the present, as Ian Wallace was the drummer when they visited my country this year for one concert that I couldn`t attend. This duet album was out of print for many years. It was only available on CD in Japan and sold with a very expensive price. But since some 2 years ago it was re-issued in CD in the U.K. and the U.S. This album was originally released in November 1970, almost at the same time as KING CRIMSON`s "Lizard" album, which was released in December 1970.
Review by soundsweird
4 stars Like Pete Sinfield's "Still", this album makes me wonder why its creators never produced a second or third or fourth album. It's obvious that the talent and creativity were there. Again, like "Still", this does not really sound like King Crimson, but it's a wonderful album nonetheless. "Birdman" surprisingly got a lot of airplay at the time. But then, I heard ELP's "Tarkus" and Pink Floyd's "Echoes" on the radio a lot, too. There were many jokes floating around about DJ's putting long tracks on, then stepping out for whatever reason. I was there once or twice, myself!!
Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Although these guys came out of Crimson , this album is not quite as dark (especially in the lyrics dept.) and is altogether happier/lighter than any album of their former band (a good hint of this is the pink girlfriends sleeve ) but that does not mean that this is not worthy of KC. Far away from me the idea. Stevie Winwood makes a good but all too short but brilliant guest appearance on the opening track and is my fave track on here . I find that the two shorter numbers relatively less interesting but Tomorrow People is also great. At times they have Doo-Wop-like harmonies in the singing on this first side. The second side is of course of great interest but only partially successful. The intriguing part is the six min+ section (either Birdman Flies or Wishbone Ascenscion - Hey I am doing this from memory !!) that reminds me a lot of the the middle section of Starless on Red (Mc Donald will guest on that number) that Crimson will release end of 74.

Well worth a listen and the acquisition.

Review by Matti
3 stars I like this album, not all of it but most. As you probably all know, Ian McDonald and Michael Giles (as well as lyricist Peter Sinfield and bassist Peter Giles who are also here) were of King Crimson's first line-up and especially multi-instrumentalist McDonald was to a large part creating the groundbreaking sound of "In the Court of..." That's why it's kinda sad this album isn't better. Or maybe the sad thing to me is that Crimson didn't hold that great line- up longer; also this album proves that it takes a whole band to make a masterpiece. But I guess these men made exactly the record they wanted to make, without trying to follow in the direction of that KC debut. Lighter and happier this is for sure.

Two shorter tender tracks remind a bit some KC 'ballads' (another of them was reformed as 'Cadence and Cascade'). The best playing I find in the first song, including jazzy flute. What I don't like very much is the near-22-minute 'Birdman', or only some parts of it. It has no glory of a prog epic to me. So, all in all quite an enjoyable album, but not as good as you could expect from these musicians.

Review by Chicapah
2 stars I liken this album to a great-looking highway that ultimately only leads you back to where you started. In other words, it doesn't take you anywhere. When this album came out in 71 it was a highly anticipated offshoot from King Crimson that promised more of the groundbreaking music that characterized that group's stellar debut record. Unfortunately, it turned out to be like your plain Jane sister in that all you can say about her to a potential suitor is that "she's really, really nice and has a sweet personality." Even the presence of the talented Steve Winwood (who succeeded with this kind of music on "John Barleycorn") couldn't breathe life into this flat piece of vinyl. It's a sure-fire cure for insomnia. I take it as a bad sign if the presence of your girlfriends/wives/mistresses on the sleeve is the best thing on the album. Obviously there are others who like this collection of songs a lot more than I do but I can honestly say I've avoided listening to it for more than three decades.
Review by Chus
3 stars This one will leave you waiting for a grandouse and pompous orchestral majesty. But they don't take as much from King Crimson as one expects; in fact, it has a very Caravan sound to it (and some beatle-esque moments). Suite in C has a great mad jazzy bridge, and then a sort of D section with orchestral background until we get to a more speedy version of the A segment.

The rest is rather lightweight material mostly with nice poppy and jazzy injections, starting with "Flight Of The Ibis" which seemed to be reworked in KC's In The Wake Of Poseidon as "Cadence and Cascade" has also a more beatle-esque approach. "Is She Waiting" is an acoustic unbombastic ballad, "Tomorrow's People" is more of the same Caravan sound with another jazzy bridge (less amazing than "Suite In C" in my opinion) but not bad and the "epic" has an amusing sax solo before an ascending bridge starts while the music slows down; after some other ups and downs a full orchestra joins in for the great finale.

Enjoyable album, whilst not a masterpiece. I suggest you wait and buys some more albums before trying this one. 3 1/2 stars

Review by OpethGuitarist
2 stars A notch down.

McDonald and Giles left King Crimson to pursue their own musical direction, and while they are obviously talented, the sort of artistic mystery that they helped craft in "In the Court..." is lost. Birdman and the Suite are nice enough tracks, but they kind of lack the cutting edge qualities that help the music stand out amongst its peers.

The best track here is the improvisational jazz track Birdman, which ebbs and flows not to dissimilar from some of King Crimson's famous long winded instrumental tracks. A lot of this record sounds very dated, very 60's sounding actually. Not that it's necessarily bad, it's just too pleasant for me. Especially the middle tracks, which don't really do much for someone like me.

It's actually quite unfortunate that this would be the only released material. It's a nice little album to have, but you could certainly go without it. There's a variety of instruments and well done playing, but some of the compositional structuring is played-over. Most of KC's material is of better quality than this, so I'd stick with them.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Attention fans of early King Crimson!

Here's one of those lost gems that should be discovered once you have plowed through some of the more essential albums of the day. Two members of King Crimson apparently decided they could have more fun without the schoolmaster Mr. Fripp cracking the whip. They likely did although some serious Crimson fans will write this one off as lightweight. I rather like it myself.

While there are some obvious nods to the feel of "In the Court of the Crimson King" this album sounds much more like Caravan and even Supersister to me. It has a very hippie vide, a stubborn desire for playfulness, and a "let's find Utopia" attitude. While it doesn't push the envelope like Fripp would it is still an extremely enjoyable album for fans of the bands mentioned above. Top notch playing is everywhere from Giles very tasteful percussion to McDonald's lovely flute and guitar. The arrangements are quite adventurous and the sound is really good. Lyrics are absurdist and silly sometimes but that's part of the fun.

"Suite in C" opens the album with a Crimson sound to the vocal and I don't care for this first part. For me the track would have been better starting at the 2:30 mark where some tasty bass and flutes dance around with top notch drumming. A few minutes later the keys get interesting as well. They jam until the 6 minute mark when dreamy vocals come back accented by acoustic and strings in various places. At 7:40 we've changed again and a sarcastic sounding sax has intruded. Around 10 minutes we're into a bluesy lounge mood and you realize there's nothing they aren't going to try.

"Flight of the Ibis" is a short and sweet psych-pop treat. "Is She Waiting" is the kind of McCartney-like nostalgic melancholy of songs like "She's Leaving Home" or "For No One." "Tomorrow's People" begins with a good groove and is a solid rocker. There is a fine percussion solo, great flute, and relentless bass in between some optimistic hippie lyrics. There is even some trombone here. While these middle three songs could be accused of being far more pop than prog, the latter especially does have prog elements and is very enjoyable. The debate is very similar to the "Land of Grey and Pink" example where songs like "Golf Girl" and "Love to Love You" might lead people to dismiss the album. Here, as there, I think that would be an unfortunate mistake.

The 21 minute long side two epic is called "Birdman" and is divided in several parts. In its spirit and grandeur it does make you think of "Nine Feet Underground" from Land of Grey and Pink. The first part is The Inventor's Dream and it begins with some nice choral voices rudely interrupted by some psych noise oddities that lead into a rather childlike verse part. "Long ago in Warnerstone, A man he dreamed a singular scheme, had no wish to join the fish but inside I'd love to fly." It sounds a little Barrett-esque doesn't it? Well it's important to keep in mind that while this album came out in late 70 or early 71, the material was started as far back as '67 so it wouldn't be surprising to hear some Piper/Pepper influence as well. It continues with an almost circus atmosphere until part 2 The Workshop kicks in with a nice drum burst. This part is a pleasant jazzy pop with some sax and strong bass lines punctuated by perfect drumming. Really nice! Part 3 Wishbone Ascension is a pleasing vocal interlude leading into Part 4 Birdman Flies. This begins with quiet keyboards and a light cymbal beat as it slowly builds. Some flute and acoustic guitar will join in and make this piece quite lovely and pastoral as the crescendo plays itself out. "Wing in the Sunset" is just a brief interlude leading into the final of "Birdman-The Reflection" which opens with nice piano. Slowly drums and bass increase in volume and usher in the majestic choral voices that we began with. Strings and brass abound as it builds to a dramatic majestic sounding finale, kind of like the climax music from an old movie.

So it's not a perfect album and I won't try to tell anyone it exceeds the music they made with Crimson. But I do feel this is an underrated gem that will please a good deal of the people who track it down. And to be honest, I would play this album before some early Crimson stuff because it's more FUN! Progressive rock in the finest tradition weaving together all kinds of styles and ideas into one hazy patchwork quilt. Bravo! My rating is between 3 1/2 and 3 ¾ stars rounded to 4.

There is also a very nice reprint of a painting inside my CD booklet that I love, just an FYI for you album artwork junkies out there. Very psychedelic.

Review by jammun
3 stars I originally had this album back in the day, but somehow it was misappropriated. I recalled enjoying it immensely, so I was pretty excited when I found it on import CD a few years ago and willingly paid a premium for it. After all, these guys had been a major component of the original King Crimson sound.

I brought the CD home, unwrapped it, popped it into the CD player, and hit Play.

It was great to hear the album again; it was also a disappointment. This just isn't as good as I recalled it. I can't fault the playing at all: McDonald and the Giles brothers all are highly competent musicians. However the songs tend to be far more pop-oriented than anything you'll find on the early-era KC albums, and some tend to fizzle out about half-way through. There's just not a lot of fire in any of the tracks. I realize the comparison to KC is unfair, but it's also one of the reasons anyone would pick this up. So be forewarned: you're not getting some "great lost" KC album, you're getting an early-70's prog effort from McD & Giles that is a pleasant enough, but it has a lot more in common with a typical Traffic album -- Steve Winwood appears on one cut -- than anything by early KC.

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars With the major composer/multi instrumentalist and drummer from King Crimson's debut, the sole McDonald and Giles effort that appeared so soon after "In the Court.." might be expected to bear some resemblance to it. And even a few nods to that classic disk would have been welcome, but this one is so different in all the wrong ways, unless you have a penchant for lite jazz or whimsical Canterbury. McDonald had expressed the opinion to the effect that the Crimson sound was inherently evil or at least encumbered with a whole lot of negative energy, so McDonald and Giles was to be the antidote. The highlights here are "Tomorrow's People", which has some similarities to KC's "Cat Food" featured on In the Wake of Poseidon, and parts of the "Birdman" Suite where McDonald cooks on sax or mingles with the Giles' while playing flute. The vocals don't match Greg Lake let alone Gordon Haskell. The album is not bad but is really more of a curiosity than anything, a missing link to nowhere if you will, even if one could argue that segments of the later Crimson album "Islands" might have tipped the hat in this direction. For completists.

Review by TGM: Orb
4 stars Review 56, McDonald And Giles, s/t, 1971


After the break-up of the original Crimson, the multi-talented Ian McDonald and stunning percussionist Mike Giles head off to create this album. Fairly light-hearted, and not nearly as tight or bleakly compelling as In The Court Of The Crimson King, this won't appeal to all fans of that album. However, the playing is pretty faultless, and only the Birdman Suite exhibits a couple of cracks in the composition. Recommended highly to anyone who enjoyed I Talk To The Wind or the lighter parts of a Caravan album, as well as those who love a highly distinctive and excellent drummer/percussionist. If you don't fall into any of those categories, it's probably not for you.

The album opens with Suite In C. Relaxed bass and guitar show up, complimented by a distant vocal. Handsaw and snaking drums thunk away in the background. After a 60s-style harmony, the piece moves onto a jazzy section with relaxed flute, a good rhythm section groove and various organ and piano chaos from guest Steve Winwood. The 'Here I Am' section is heavily reminiscent of Crimson's softer atmospheric moments, with mellotron, distant vocals and haunting percussion choices. It cheers up fluidly with string and brass, handling genuine cheer without seeming over the top or frivolous. A bluesy piano/guitar-based bounce kicks us on to the final section. Mike Giles is on top form throughout this piece. A great bit of music, and if the rest of the album hit this level, I'm not sure it would evade the fifth star.

Flight Of The Ibis was the original melody of Cadence And Cascade with a new set of lyrics. It is absolutely wonderful without Gordon Haskell's ill-suited vocal getting in the way, and the twists from the In The Wake Of Poseidon piece are very enjoyable. Mike Giles especially gives us a wonderful percussion performance, and the gliding piano/keys at the end of each verse is a genuinely enjoyable moment every time. Lovely.

Is She Waiting, aside from fairly nice lyrical content, is a gorgeous balladic piece, with just acoustic guitar and piano making appearances. There's not really much more to say other than that everything is used to good effect and fits together seamlessly.

Tomorrow's People begins with solid solo drum and vocals in the accented tones you might expect from a Canterbury band. Ian McDonald provides a couple of neat guitar licks, while Michael Blakesly's trombone baaaaaaaaaams nicely. Peter Giles comes in with the bass to support the percussion appropriately (on occasion leaping up to the high reaches, which always gets the great muppet: Orb), and later on flute also jumps around with tasteful optimism. Mike Giles' brief percussion solos are brilliantly handled and the piece is hugely fun. The piece calms down to reach its conclusion with a rather 'not yet' feel.

The Birdman Suite might be expected to be a huge highlight, but despite its good, nay, great, bulk, I feel far too tempted to skip The Inventor's Dream opening secton. It opens with a lovely vocal melody and then tense sustained bass before zither and various chaotic percussion hits home. A bouncy organ, bass and drumming introduce the rather disappointing vocals (complete with rather twee lyrics). Clarinet also makes a brief appearance, before some various twists on the parts move to create a busy workshop feel.

This section is a little more impressive with a very nice rhythm section, a couple of jazzy saxes jolting off in all directions, various deliciously moon-touched organ and percussion choices. After this extended jazz outbreak, we hit 'Wishbone Ascension', with a more enjoyable return of the vocals and excellent percussion.

A faded organ and consistent percussion take us onto the gorgeous reflective piano melody of Birdman Flies. Gradually this basic structure builds up to include some drums, background guitar, swirling flute, different instruments taking over the main melody. A neatly incorporated leaping brass section makes an appearance.

Wings in the Sunset and Birdman - The Reflection bring us calmly to an ending with the vocal melody from the introduction featured again. Piano, bass and percussion dominate before organ also leads in. Sharply dropping drums roll calmly, and brass and strings add to the potency of the conclusion. An organ melody reminiscent of that backing the piano in Birdman flies leads the piece to its conclusion-with a distant, fading brass-related thing. Warning: the above sections may have been confused at some point. As a whole, the piece is almost one of the great epics, but with a slightly stronger opening section, it could really have stood out a lot more.

So, overall the album is no masterpiece, but it also has only one real weak spot. Probably not for everyone, though I do really love most of this album and would in open conscience recommend it to most people. On the verge between a three and a four, and on this occasion I'll round down. A much-enjoyed album, and a personal four, certainly not 'Fans Only' but probably not essential or for every collection. I don't think anyone should be too disappointed with it unless they all they seek from it is another Schizoid Man or they really dislike alright, but slightly accented, vocals.

Rating: Three Stars (personal four). It may well deserve more. Favourite Track: Suite In C

Felt that a four was the right rating. Hence, changed it.

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
3 stars There are two albums with two Giles that are sort of the bread on the outside to the filling of a sandwich that's filling is In The Court Of The Crimson King. One is The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles Giles And Fripp and the other McDonald and Giles (shouldn't this have been McDonald and Gileses or something? I guess they didn't want to call it Giles Giles and McDonald.)

This is the one piece of the breads I favor the least. It's proggier than TCIOGGAF, but I found that one to be more fun to listen to. Giles reunited with Giles and peeled off Ian McDonald from KC, but they didn't achieve the magic of ITCOTCK and King Crimson didn't manage to really get their mojo back until Larks Tongues In Aspic. I still have a lot of love for those albums by KC that came in between, though.

Those who are familiar with King Crimson around this time might recognize the melody used in Cadence and Cascade, which was used in Flight Of The Ibis.

It's been remastered and released in HDCD, so unless you're a vinyl fanatic there's a good CD version available.

Interesting front cover, I didn't know that either one of the Gileses or McDonald was actually a woman.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

I grew up with this album as it always had a special place in my collection and heart. Not that i got it when i came out in 1970 (i was too young) but i remember owning the LP back then i 1972 when i discovered all this prog music with IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING.

Do i need to present these 2 gentlemen? Certainly not to the King Crimson alumnis. Ian Mcdonald was the main composer and architect of this famous IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING LP. He is the only one who is credited on all the tracks of this album, not counting the lyricist Peter Sinfield. He was also instrumental to the sound of the band back then with his mellotron,keys, flutes and other saxes .

Mike Giles was only the drummer, but what a drummer, full of finesse and a very inventive player. Our 2 guys don't paly alone on this LP. Brother Peter Giles came to help on bass..just adding a little more to the Crimson connection as he played with Fripp and bro before Crimson and again with the band for IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON. Also guest-starring, no less than Traffic leader STEVE WINWOOD on organ and piano!

Why did they live KC? clash with Robert? looking for musical indepence? thinking of making it big alone? For sure, looking in the rearview mirror, it didn't look as a wise ''business'' decision as both will fall into obscurity, except for the occasional reemergence before disappearing again. (remember that Ian McDonald came back with....Foreigner!!!!)

So do we have a KING CRIMSON kind of album? yes and no!! This is lighter than KC, the instrumentations and arrangements are thinner as there is curiously no mellotron and of course no guitar craziness from Robert Fripp. The melodies of the songs on the other hand could have find a way on ITCOTCK, Greg Lake would have liked to sing.

This album is no masterpiece by no means because of a few shortcomings. As i said, the music could have sounded better with more lavish ''proggish'' orchestrations. There are magnificent parts, also a few childish ones. The best example is the 21:45 suite BIRDMAN with some fantastic symphonic parts with choirs, saxes, great,great drumming from Giles sadly interupted by some silly singing parts and 2 touch organ notes like in the beginning. But overall, this is very pleasant music, very early prog of course.

SUITE IN C is another 11mn extravaganza going from Caravan/K.Ayers folkish athmosphere with silly singing parts to chaotic Crimsonlike instrumental section with crazy piano and crazy horns, but very well done. The vocals at the end of this suite are very influenced by Paul McCartney. The Beatle wouldn't have mind, i am sure, coming up with the 2 sweet ballads of this album FLIGHT OF THE IBIS and IS SHE WAITING.Both gorgeous melodies and great McDonald vocals who proves he can sing and nicely at that.

Everything is composed by Ian Mcdonald except the energetic TOMORROW'S PEOPLE who was composed by M. Giles bringing some needed fire to this LP after the more contemplative McDonald tunes .Great trombone start, hurried drumming, good song!

To resume, i would say that MCDONALD AND GILES sounds like a naked KING CRIMSON. This is a good to great album but it could have used some more arrangements (mellotron, mellotron, please!) and the guitar of the seated man is sorely missing.

Nevertheless, the CD looks very nice on my rack sandwiched by ITCOTCK and THE WAKE OF POSEIDON. So i can say this is an excellent addition to any prog collection. Lovers of early KC, go for it!! Don't expect EPITATH, but you know there is only one EPITATH!

3.5 STARS!!!

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars More than half of the early Crimson are together for this effort. They are supported by no less than Steve Windwood on the keys and Peter Sinfield also gave them a hand for the lyrics.

On paper, these are great ingredients and when you listen to this album, this positive feeling is confirmed. The Crimsonesque style is to be felt during the long opening track which combines complex passages, jazzy parts and tranquil moods.

The short Flight Of The Ibis denotes an evident Beatles influence and the pastoral Is She Waiting sounds a bit childish: it is full of innocence and not very much memorable.

The second song which is more KC oriented is Tomorrow's People. It features a beautiful flute part as well as atmospheric keyboards. It is a very enjoyable track as well.

The pièce de résistance of this album is of course the epic Birdman. It is a fine song which is mostly symphonic (keyboards, flute). It might lack of texture and inspiration but is not boring at any moment. The finale is a moving moment IMO (but I am maybe too sentimental here.);

This album should please all KC fans who were enthusiasts about their symphonic and more accessible part of their early repertoire (to whom I fully belong). It is a pity that this effort remained the sole example of this collaboration. I would have liked to listen more of this type of music.

Four stars.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
2 stars When I heard about the existence of this album in the 70´s I knew I had to get it, since I was a huge fan of King Crimson and In The Court Of The Crimson King is definitly one of my favorite CDs of all time. It took me a long, long time to finally put my hands on one copy of Mcdonald & Giles (already the CD version in the early 90´s). It was some disapointment! Maybe my expectations were very high after all those years. The fact is: what made King Crimson MK I so great was the chemistry between all band members, not one or even two specific guys, no matter how talent each one was as individuals.KG was bigger than the sum of its parts.

And definitly, there are some missing parts here. The vocals are very weak (not a Greg Lake or even a Gordon Haskell in sight...). The guitar parts are nonexistent (man.. do I miss Robert Fripp!). Of course everything is well done and the playing is good, the music in general is nice, but some parts are simply silly and pointless. The best tracks are Birdman and Suite in C. If you are a fan of jazz and 60´s psychodelic influenced jams, welcome. But this is not my cup of tea.

Production is only average and my CD version sounds poor, so I really don´t know if there is a better, remastered version available. Be aware.

Not really a bad record, but this is not the kind of CD I wanted to hear, specially when there are so many talented people involved. Mcdonald & Giles? I expected more. For collectors and fans only.

Review by Einsetumadur
3 stars 10/15P.: A great, but not really essential buy: a mixture of Caravan and King Crimson with more folk and jazz - and a slight tendency to be 'more style than substance' on the side of concept & creativity. Still this album is the first in prog history to feature a 20-minutes-plus epic!

1969 saw the first incarnation of the highly influential and progressive British group King Crimson go down. At first consisting of guitarist and composer Robert Fripp, bassist-singer Greg Lake, drummer Michael Giles and multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald, the line-up-roundabout turned so that only Giles and Fripp were left in 1970, except for Greg Lake who still provided some vocals for King Crimson's second album, In the Wake of Poseidon. On that aforementioned record Michael Giles's brother Peter (the second Giles in "Giles, Giles and Fripp", the band existing in the late 60s that is considered to be the first King Crimson incarnation) was featured as the bassist.

The now solo-musician Ian McDonald, actually being able to play everything but the drums, then planned to record an LP with Michael Giles on drums and Peter Giles on bass guitar, and the result of this effort can be heard on this record McDonald & Giles.

At a glance, this album is the lighter pendant to the In the Court of the Crimson King-album, without many of the symphonic and elaborated elements like Mellotron and heavy use of the electric guitar, but with a jazzier and more psychedelic approach. The big fascination of the record are mainly the great and transparent arrangements: at many places only bass guitar, drums, vocals and acoustic guitar are to be heard. And who knows the rhythm section of King Crimson on songs like the title track of In the Wake of Poseidon knows well how fresh and simply great this sounds; and the very clear remaster makes this even better.

Michael Giles explains in the booklet how he manipulated his drum sound by mic-ing his drum set very closely - without adding any special effects (except for some tape delay bits). In combination with his elegant and innovative drumming style and with the cut-down arrangement, this is the most transparent drum sound which I have ever heard - listen to the crystal-clear saw-meets-wood-rhythm in Suite in C or the groovy samba rhythm in Tomorrow's People.

But unfortunately there are some minor problems with the music. The ideas are entirely brilliant, but especially in the big longtrack McDonald seems to have overburdened it all a bit: he somehow loses the overview about the compositions sometimes and hence cannot keep these fragilely structured pieces together. I know about the central motif of the piece which is repeated in many different contexts throughout the piece, and it's composed quite nicely, but cohesion sounds too formulaic.

The opener Suite in C, written in the winter '69/'70 and kind of a hymn for McDonald's then-girlfriend, actually works out fine as a relaxed psych-jazz-piece. The track begins with McDonald's thin, but suitable vocals and some discreet clean electric guitars, later accompanied by the sounds of a saw and nice acoustic guitar licks Turnham Green. During the textless, folk-orientated refrain the already mentioned rhythm section plus McDonald's rhythm guitar enter, jolting brilliantly in the background: one of the highlights of the record. The next refrain brings in some unobtrusive orchestra music until the band begins a crescending jazz improvisation featuring "Traffic"-keyboarder Steve Winwood on a mean piano-plus-organ-solo and McDonald on flute. Very fascinating is the way how Giles changes from a simple 4/4-beat to a much faster jazz rhythm by simply putting in more beats into a bar. Into the slowly retarding jam break McDonald's high vocals (Here I Am) which return the piece into the psychedelic/folk realms, again with effective orchestra background. The next part is a funky section including some multi-tracked saxophones and a nice rhythm with handclaps and a scrooping bass guitar by Peter Giles. Unhappily, the vocals are mixed completely into the background which leaves the listener asking what the actual effect of the lyrics shall be then. They aren't the best, but I believe that they should either be mixed loudly enough to be heard or left out completely. The bluesy doo-wop ending somehow is the top of the lyrical crown (...Come inside and have some tea, brewed by me for thee, my love...): optimistic, naive hippy poetry which doesn't hurt. At first, I thought this piece to be kind of unstructured, but - given that it was planned as a piece like the Beatles's Abbey Road Medley - I have given it a try more often and think it to be big fun, even though it sounds heavily 'zeitgeisty'.

Flight of the Ibis is the original version of Cadence and Cascade and is one of my personal favorites with its delicately arranged sound. Contrary to the version that was issued later by King Crimson, this track features drums and bass guitar and is an optimistic folk-pop-track in the late-60s-style. I like the prominent use of the zither (fine solo in the middle) and the electric piano here, as well as the great rhythm section again. A great song and probably the one of the LP that I listen to most frequently.

Is She Waiting?, written in the summer of '69, is a melancholic Beatles-She's Leaving Home-type ballad with notable baroque-influences featuring McDonald singing and playing along on the acoustic guitar and the piano. The different melodies that counterpoint each other here are quite trickily linked.

Tomorrow's People, written by Michael Giles in 1967, is for me easily the best track on the album. A typical King Crimson brass introduction with many overdubs (trombone, saxophone, organ) leads into a really fat groove with smashing cymbals, Giles's edgy vocals, nice Hammond organs and simple, but astonishing guitar licks. After a short highspeed drum fill-in the brass also enters until after two minutes a funky jam with plenty of percussion and an awesome samba rhythm starts while the flute improvises along. In this song, the quality of the drum sound reaches its peak: each rattle, tom, cymbal or whatever can be defined very well. You should really listen to that with a good pair of headphones, especially the first stanza (0:16) with some powerful hi-hat-strokes. The second part could be a lost part of I Talk to The Wind - with lush trombones, flutes and discreet ride cymbal hits - which is however only a connection to another reprise of the stanza. The soft ending takes its time and fades out gradually, then fading in again and ending with a pleasing major chord. Great, as one seldom hears the three of them play that 'straightly'.

Birdman, the sidelong piece of the album, is actually not the best epic. But I have to admit that it is one of the first - I sometimes tend to forget that. The different sections, lasting from 40 seconds to six and a half minutes and the only thing that holds this bunch of tracks together is a loose topic based on Pete Sinfield's lyrics about man's wish of flying. There seems to be a certain melody which reoccurs in this piece, but even this doesn't change it that this is no epic, but a collection of (good) ideas. Probably the division of the longtrack into several programmable tracks on the CD is a sign for that as well, that this is meant to be just a suite, a 'suivre' of several ideas, but this doesn't make it more successful. But of course it isn't as bad as it might sound now as the parts regarded solely are mostly quite okay. The first section, The Inventor's Dream is based on quite intelligent vocal choirs with lots of reverb by McDonald and Giles, creating a mighty church-like atmosphere. Dissonances that solve in consonances in an interesting manner and the way how McDonald's high and Giles's low voice harmonize together are quite impressing here. Then sound effects come in, something like the spring reverb in combination with pulling out the drawbars of the Hammond organ as an illustration for the dream of flying until synthesizers, zithers and percussion fade into the soundscape to show how the inventor wakes up. This 'mickey-mousing', the effect when the music does exactly what is happening in the text just like the melody descends when Mickey Mouse falls down the stairway, can be found everywhere in the longtrack and ranges somewhere between inventive and predictable. McDonald probably seems to have clinged to the lyrics too much. An oddly minimal, but very interesting part follows, with very exact fourths played on the organ accompanied by a slightly offset rhythm which creates a nice triolic sound. The vocals provide a somewhat dadaistic Canterbury mood which fits nicely to the year when the piece was mainly composed (1968). In the end of the piece we get to hear fast acoustic guitars to illustrate the sound of a pencil (formulaic, ain't it?) while the next part The Workshop is a fast-paced blues jam with nice saxophone work by McDonald and again a fascinating rhythm section consisting of McDonald on electric guitar and the two Giles brothers on saw, drums and bass. Wishbone Ascension lifts the piece up with sacral Hammond organ and prepares the listener for the bombastic parts of "Birdman". A jazzy part features Giles again on vocals and prominent saxophones and leads into the next section via some fine towering vocals. Then we get into the very lengthy Birdman Flies section where a chord progression is exercised with the orchestra, starting with simple electric piano, organ and ride cymbals and going on (chronologically) with flute, drums, acoustic guitar, leslied electric guitar and then the orchestra which succeeds in adding texture to the piece. It might be a bit long, but it doesn't become boring either. Wings In The Sunset serves as a very short segue to the last part by exposing its (second) main theme in a vocal version. The piano-dominated, romantic The Reflection is a nice way of ending the longtrack. The general character of this section is similar to "Birdman Flies" as at first there is only the piano playing a melody and later drums, textless vocals, drums, saxophones and orchestra are added. A trumpet is looped in the very end and slowly fades out. It's pretty much similar to Anthony Phillips' Sleepfall which ends his The Geese and the Ghost album: similar melody and similar arrangement.

All in all this is a good record, one that I love listening to, but also one that is - seen from the progressive point of view - somehow mediocre on side B. Especially the "Birdman" suite has got some problems with the fluency as there are often very homogeneous longer parts linked with shorter parts. But which other band from the progressive rock realms had recorded an epic side-long track at that time? Birdman was recorded in May-June 1970 - and King Crimson's Lizard in autumn 1970. The only inspiration could have been Pink Floyd's masterwork Atom Heart Mother (performed live without orchestra in April 1970) and Soft Machine's Rivmic Melodies (but which isn't an epic), but in fact most of the Birdman parts were already conceived between 1967 and 1969. All in all a historic recording, in a way.

Nevertheless, I recommend the record to everyone who is interested in the early King Crimson, Canterbury and jazz rock, and to those who are interested in delicate arrangements because this one is extremely impressing. I would give 10/15 points for this record, which means a really good 3/5 points-rating.

Review by HolyMoly
3 stars King Crimson's debut album really took off in 1969. Principal songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald and his drummer buddy Mike Giles decided to leave the band less than a year after they formed - though Giles stayed to drum on the 2nd album as a guest. The two of them made this album with Mike's brother Peter on bass, plus a few guest players (including Steve Winwood on organ), and then moved on to other things. Giles continued with session drumwork, and Ian went on to be a founding member of... Foreigner? It could happen. For the time being, though, McDonald and Giles were still in King Crimson mode, meaning the songs are long, progressive, and jazzy, but taking full advantage of McDonald's Beatles-like way with melody, arrangement, and song structure.

Fun Fact: The remastered CD version I just got actually changes one of the lyrics in "Suite in C" (compared to the LP version I grew up with). The line "some pussy on her knee" is changed to "black kitten on her knee", which was the intent in the first place. Ian's lesson learned: Don't refer to cats using the "p" word if you don't wish to be misunderstood.

"Suite in C" opens the record, and is the clear standout track, a nearly perfect extended suite. Themes are introduced and developed, the melodies are strong, and the solos are lovely. Pure genius. "Flight of the Ibis" , which follows, is gentle, pastoral folk-pop. Supposedly this was developed out of an early version of the Crimson song "Cadence and Cascade", and the two songs are similar but this one's a tad better in my opinion. "Is She Waiting?" is next.... Just acoustic guitars and a smidgen of piano are all this one needs. For this song, Ian paints a picture of his wife at home, biding her time until he comes back home. Sad but hopeful, and ultimately uplifting. Unbelievably beautiful and poignant. So far, we've got three incredible songs. Unfortunately, it starts to tail off just a tad from here....

"Tomorrow's People - The Children of Today" is Mike Giles's feature. He sings it, and decorates the rather simple melody with some fine drumming as always. A touching if somewhat naive ode to children, with a rocking horn-charged arrangement and some nifty percussion features. At 7 minutes, it kind of wears out its welcome, but it's a pretty pleasant song, and Giles has a charming voice.

Side Two is taken up entirely by the "Birdman" suite, featuring lyrics by Peter Sinfield, the King Crimson lyricist at the time. In fact, "Birdman" was apparently a King Crimson leftover that was never recorded. Ian wrote the music inspired by Sinfield's story-telling lyrics of a guy who figured out how to fly. As a sidelong epic, it's not the greatest one I've heard, in fact it's probably the weakest song on the album, but it still has some fine moments. The final two sections are as majestic and poignant as the album gets, and the "Workshop" section has a really funny toys-marching kind of melody. Charming stuff - but overall it falls short of my hopes and expectations. It could have used a bit more excitement and dramatic development (like "Suite in C" has), and the sections could have been integrated a little better with each other. To be blunt, it's kind of boring.

If you're a fan of early King Crimson, you need this album. It's a revealing piece of the early Crimson puzzle, and it's an inspired piece of work by two extremely talented men. However, as a piece of progressive album rock, I would grudgingly have to admit that it is not an essential work for most fans. Consider this a 4-star review if you love McDonald and Giles' work with Crimson, 3 stars for everybody else.

Review by Neu!mann
3 stars My prog snob doppelganger wanted to be outraged by this record. Two founding members of the first KING CRIMSON willfully split up one of the strongest rock groups ever assembled, after recording arguably the most powerful debut album of all time...for this? I hate to sound undiplomatic, but seriously: what the heck were they thinking?

On its own slim merits the new band's first and only album can still be a very pleasant experience. But it was a retrograde career move, closer in style to the benign whimsy of GILES, GILES AND FRIPP than to the sometimes malevolent darkness of the Crimson King ("it's like a pastel black", as David St. Hubbins might have said).

It's true the album was overproduced and undermixed, by the duo's own admission. But there's more than a token measure of charm in every song, and lots of musical ideas were crammed into the two longer compositions. The opening mini-epic "Suite in C" includes a horn section, real strings, and a jazzy middle interlude very much in the current Crimson vernacular, circa 1971. And the grand finale of the ambitious "Birdman" opus anticipated the rising chords in the orchestral title track of the "Islands" album, released by KC a mere eleven months later.

An even closer overlap can be heard in "Flight of the Ibis", a sibling separated at birth from the song "Cadence and Cascade", off the parallel Crimson album "In the Wake of Poseidon". Robert Fripp would later refer to the individual LPs as "two halves of a record never made", suggesting that if the often colorful but inconsequential prog-pop of McDonald and Giles had been combined with the erratic retread of "Poseidon" the results might have been stunning. Maybe so, but I doubt if a budding maverick like Mr. Fripp could have played a melody as rinky-dink as "The Inventor's Dream" without squirming on his guitar stool.

I'm also not surprised that the offspring album failed to reach an audience. It would have been a tough sell to Crimheads expecting another "Schizoid Man" or "Epitaph", and an even harder proposition for anyone unfamiliar with these two guys (and who couldn't have cared less about their girlfriends). And yet it's really not too underwhelming an album if approached without any expectations...not exactly a glowing endorsement, but here it appears I'm leaving the last word to my less generous alter ego.

Review by ALotOfBottle
2 stars McDonald & Giles is a supergroup created after both of these gentlemen's departure from King Crimson. They invited some special guests such as Steve Winwood and Peter Giles. I have mixed feelings about this album. I expected it to be a masterpiece and what came was quite a disappointment. This album is very boring, full of unfinished ideas and many fillers. There are some nice moments like "Suite in C including Turnham Green, Here I Am and others" which has sort of a Beatles-y vibe, reminiscent of "Rocky Rackoon" with great flute improvisation and a pleasant groove, but even this one has some serious flaws to it. Other songs on the Side 1 are similar - they have a potential at times, but are rather uninteresting and grey. "Birdman" suite, which takes up the whole side is no exception. Has a vibe that could be turned to a nice piece, but is created out of the wrong type of clay.

The instrumentalism on this album is great, that is what saves it in my eyes. They were good players and they show a pretty high amount of know-how. However, something is out of place here, it just does not click, the campfire does not catch fire. Two stars in their higher register is a fair rating. Once again, this does have its moments.

Review by DangHeck
4 stars In the wake of Ian McDonald's passing, I couldn't pass up this opportunity to relisten to this great album and contribute further to its and his remembrance. Ian McDonald (1946-2022) joined the pre-King Crimson Giles, Giles and Fripp band in time to feature on one of the most iconic, most beloved albums, not only in Progressive Rock (where, of course, it is timely, timeless and essential), but in all of Rock music: In the Court of the Crimson King (1969). Although we may think of Mel Collins as the reedsman officiel for early King Crimson, Ian McDonald is the one that is heard all around the world on that first KC album, esteemed eternally with Fripp, Lake and Giles. His final Crimson feature was, playing alongside Collins, the iconic Red (1974). This is significant, as Red is matched most closely in love and admiration to that other Crimson McDonald feature for Prog fans everywhere. He would later go on to found the classic Hard Rock band Foreigner and appeared on their first three studio albums; I'm frankly a huge fan of the first two. Of comparable importance, in my mind, to the fun, experimental Psych Pop album that came before him, The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles and Fripp (1968), is this, his sole collaboration with the great Michael Giles (drummer of King Crimson, 1967-70). Enough said? Well, here's some more haha.

"Suite in C" starts off low and slow, sort of post-Psychedelic on its first part, "Turnham Green" (Prog is freshest here in 1970, indeed!). Even so, excellent performances all round. Melodically satisfying and masterfully done. Next to Ian and Michael is Mike's brother, Peter Giles on bass, an exemplary performer, more than capable and melodic. What's most surprising and exciting is that, of all people (and I certainly had no idea until now), Steve Winwood plays piano and solos here! Spectacular. All of this occurs following some flutey beauty and atop great, expectedly jazz drummin' and organ riffin'. All falls away on part 2: "Here I Am". The vocals really should be mentioned: lovely stuff goin' on here. A little Trad Pop? And then wham! Ian saxes all over it, flowing over this sweet, funky jam. The ending will certainly appeal to KC fans. Assuredly.

"Flight of the Ibis" is a pretty little number to follow. If you're into the 'low and slow', well, this is the song for you. And if it isn't...? Well, I can't help you. Really, the only thing I could complain about is the way that it's mixed: it is very loud in the drums department. Lucky for us Michael is something we want to hear, no? "Is She Waiting?" is even more low and slow. Sort of bucolic and soft, this is simply an intimate vocal number with acoustic guitars and piano. The first track that won't necessarily appeal to your average fan of Progressive Rock, as it were.

Then "Tomorrow's People - The Children of Today" starts off big and triumphant. I hear Freakbeat in this, which is... awesome, because Freakbeat has some of my all-time favorite songs and bands: Y'all into that secondary period of The Pretty Things or The Creation or The Action? This should do it for ya. Some really cool percussion following minute 2 here. Once again in funky territory. Then another big blast of awesome with a McDonald flute solo atop some nice organ. I wasn't sure where I was going to mention it, but here is an appropriate time: this album was self-produced and there's another tick off the ol' How Can You Not Respect the Ability of These Particular Musicians More? sheet. A nice Psych-era mini-epic if there ever was one.

"Birdman" closes out the album, a 21-minute epic. It is, in its first part, "The Inventor's Dream (O.U.A.T.)", a very psychedelic song, which starts off with these beautiful group vocals (like on the level of the Beach Boys). It's then pretty avant-garde, and then slips into this Psych Pop lilt. Quirky and lovely, all at once. It is followed by "The Workshop", a very fun number, which is jazzy, dancey and psychedelic, which in turn is followed by the huge, grandiose and then cool "Wishbone Ascension", a surefire highlight here. This sick jam falls away to something which sounds unsure, even melancholic ("Birdman Flies!"), with light cymbal clangs and soft melody on the organ. Very slow build here. Around 3 minutes, flute enters as it continues to drive upwards. Really excellent wordless imagery: I mean, compositionally genius. The epic celebrates the Birdman's success with the celestial "Wings in the Sunset". Short and sweet and to the point. And finally, we have "The Reflection", another soft, building number with grandiosity and triumph in its essence.

What a way to go out. Don't sleep on it, y'all.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Just as Beatles fans imagine what a "Black Album" would be like mixing the early solo works of John, Paul, George and Ringo, King Crimson fans could dream of a sequel to "In The Court of The Crimson King" combining tracks from "In The Wake of Poseidon", Emerson, Lake & Palmer's debut album and "McDo ... (read more)

Report this review (#2234289) | Posted by kaiofelipe | Monday, July 1, 2019 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The best example of early KC ex-members collaboration. The album is not as adventureous as then contemporary KC albums but it remains folkish and playful. Ambitions are present, too, the ex-members wanted to prove their qualities outside of KC. The first epic composition is quite varied. Voca ... (read more)

Report this review (#2136772) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, February 16, 2019 | Review Permanlink

2 stars McDonald And Giles is one of those albums that definitely falls into "could have been great" category if it wasn't for ego raising it's ugly head. True, Ian McDonald and Mike Gilles are heavyweight musicians that added greatness to King Crimson's first classic album In The Court Of The Crimson K ... (read more)

Report this review (#1709390) | Posted by SteveG | Sunday, April 9, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The original co-creators of KC form a band... can it be as good as the monster they had created ? Well no it is not, but it's not far from it! This album does sound a little like KC, but it has a different approach : one that is more poppy, even though the main 2 tracks are 11 and 21 minutes ... (read more)

Report this review (#118655) | Posted by Turion | Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars You obviously would know Ian McDonald and Michael Giles were in the formative period King Crimson who recorded what goes without saying one of the greatest progressive rock albums ever In The Court Of The Crimson King. For me, Crimson made two masterpieces- In The Court and Lizard. Sanwiched bet ... (read more)

Report this review (#59954) | Posted by | Friday, December 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have to say, after I found out about this release I was so looking forward to get it. I didnt have success for many years until I found a japanese copy last year, had to pay almost $ 50 US for it!!! But I wasnt any disappointed at all I have to tell ya. My favorite tracks are Suite in C and Bi ... (read more)

Report this review (#33417) | Posted by El_Progre | Tuesday, May 24, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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