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GENTLE GIANT

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Gentle Giant biography
Formed in 1970 in London, UK- Disbanded in 1980

GENTLE GIANT is known as the paradigmatic progressive rock band. With an uncomparable musicianship, they went as far as no one ever did into unexplored grounds in the progressive music, navigating over dissonant 20th-century classical chamber music, medieval vocal music, jazz and rock. The multi-instrumentation capabilities of the musicians gave such dynamic to their music, which set parameters to a whole coming generation up to these very days. They explored Moogs, Mellotrons and Fender Rhodes usage with such majesty! Not to mention other instruments like oboes, violins, cellos and horns among others.

The band was able to come across the 70's maintaining an outstanding level on their music, altering their style over the years and keeping the quality as only a few bands were able to do. Among their magnificent discography, all the albums from "Acquiring the Taste" through "Playing the Fool" are essential progressive rock releases (with the possible exception of "Interview"). This portion of the band's career would see a fittingly grand conclusion on the live "Playing the Fool" album. What more is there to say about these masters of progressive music?

See also: Three Friends

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GENTLE GIANT discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

GENTLE GIANT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.96 | 1298 ratings
Gentle Giant
1970
4.27 | 1611 ratings
Acquiring The Taste
1971
4.12 | 1319 ratings
Three Friends
1972
4.31 | 2065 ratings
Octopus
1972
4.35 | 1770 ratings
In a Glass House
1973
4.31 | 1691 ratings
The Power and the Glory
1974
4.28 | 1586 ratings
Free Hand
1975
3.74 | 796 ratings
Interview
1976
2.97 | 598 ratings
The Missing Piece
1977
2.34 | 520 ratings
Giant for a Day
1978
2.77 | 473 ratings
Civilian
1980

GENTLE GIANT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.52 | 460 ratings
Playing the Fool - The Official Live
1977
3.60 | 28 ratings
In Concert (BBC Radio 1)
1994
4.12 | 64 ratings
Out of the Woods - The BBC Sessions
1996
2.49 | 35 ratings
The Last Steps
1996
4.15 | 64 ratings
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents
1998
4.06 | 33 ratings
Out Of The Fire
1998
1.86 | 16 ratings
In A Palesport House
1999
4.15 | 48 ratings
Totally Out of the Woods - The BBC Sessions
2000
2.00 | 23 ratings
Live Rome 1974
2000
2.22 | 14 ratings
Interview In Concert
2000
1.84 | 15 ratings
Artistically Cryme
2002
3.74 | 24 ratings
Experience
2002
1.44 | 9 ratings
Endless Life
2003
3.92 | 10 ratings
Missing Face
2003
1.94 | 14 ratings
Way of life
2003
2.21 | 11 ratings
Prologue
2003
3.95 | 3 ratings
Playing the Cleveland
2003
4.25 | 4 ratings
Live In New York 1975
2005
2.53 | 8 ratings
Santa Monica Freeway
2005
3.52 | 24 ratings
King Alfred's College Winchester
2009
3.97 | 31 ratings
Live In Stockholm '75
2009
3.98 | 35 ratings
Live at the Bicentennial
2014

GENTLE GIANT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.64 | 203 ratings
Giant On The Box
2004
4.28 | 102 ratings
GG At The GG
2006

GENTLE GIANT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.22 | 4 ratings
The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 1
1974
3.22 | 4 ratings
The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 2
1974
3.50 | 20 ratings
Giant Steps...The First Five Years 1970-1975
1975
3.13 | 4 ratings
Pretentious For The Sake Of It
1977
0.00 | 0 ratings
Circling Round The Gentle Giant
1981
4.17 | 3 ratings
Gentle Giant
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
Il Grande Rock
1991
4.39 | 58 ratings
Edge of Twilight
1996
3.13 | 66 ratings
Under Construction
1997
4.23 | 36 ratings
Free Hand/Interview
1998
3.23 | 33 ratings
Scraping The Barrel
2004
4.26 | 23 ratings
I Lost My Head - The Chrysalis years (1975-1980)
2012
2.21 | 15 ratings
Memories Of Old Days
2013
4.36 | 41 ratings
Three Piece Suite
2017
4.14 | 7 ratings
Unburied Treasure
2019

GENTLE GIANT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
Rock Power
1971
4.60 | 15 ratings
Prologue
1972
4.53 | 17 ratings
In A Glass House
1973
4.39 | 25 ratings
The Advent Of Panurge
1973
4.60 | 15 ratings
The Power and the Glory
1974
3.83 | 6 ratings
Give It Back
1976
3.00 | 6 ratings
I'm Turning Around
1977
3.88 | 8 ratings
Two Weeks in Spain
1977
4.50 | 12 ratings
Just the Same (live)
1977
3.00 | 5 ratings
Mountain Time
1978
1.56 | 8 ratings
Thank You (edit)
1978
3.33 | 4 ratings
Dando Vueltas
1978
2.86 | 7 ratings
Words from the Wise
1978
2.33 | 3 ratings
Underground
1980
2.20 | 5 ratings
All Through The Night
1980
4.00 | 1 ratings
In A Power Free In'terview
2009
1.88 | 7 ratings
The Power And The Glory
2010

GENTLE GIANT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 2 by GENTLE GIANT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1974
3.22 | 4 ratings

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The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 2
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review Nš 460

"The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 2", is, as its name indicates, the second part of two compilation albums released by the band in 1974. The other is "The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 1", released in the same year. This is a compilation album that comprises tracks from three albums of them, their fourth studio album "Octupus" released in 1972, their fifth studio album "In A Glass House" released in 1973 and their sixth studio album "The Power And The Glory" released in 1974. All these three albums are excellent albums that deserve to be considered three masterpieces.

So, "The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 2" was released in 1974 and has ten tracks. The first track "The Boys In The Band" was released on "Octupus". "The Boys In The Band" is the only instrumental track on that album. It's a relatively complex and a fast jazz musical composition with different rhythms and tempos. It's a song well arranged with some excellent solos by keyboards, guitar and saxophones. We are in presence of a magnificent track. The second track "Knots" was also released on "Octupus". "Knots" is the less accessible track on that album and is one of the most complex and intricated songs ever composed by them. It's an avant-garde song that explores a cappella by the four vocalists of the band. This song is a perfect example how great and astonishing is the vocal work of this incredible group. It's true this is a difficult song to hear, but this is truly a great piece of music. The third track "The Advent Of Panurge" was another great track released on "Octupus". "The Advent Of Panurge" is a track strongly influenced by jazz music, full of energy, with varied melodies and different singing styles. It's apparently a chaotic song where all instruments seem to be played in different directions. What is more impressive on this track is that in the end we have a song with an excellent harmony. The fourth track "Experience" was released on "In A Glass House". "Experience" is an extraordinary track, very inventive and with a complex structure. Basically, this is a perfect example of Gentle Giant's medieval complex sound. But, the song comprises also many other and varied forms of music. The song is also rich of wonderful vocal harmonies. This is probably the most complex track on that album. The fifth track "The Runaway" was also released on "In A Glass House". "The Runaway" is a track with an extraordinary and surprising start where the band seems to break some glasses. This is a great song with rich varieties of styles and textures and is extremely melodic. But, it's at the same time complex and very creative. This is an excellent track, one of the best tracks ever released by them and a perfect opener to that album. The sixth track "In A Glass House" was another track released on "In A Glass House". "In A Glass House" is the lengthiest track on that album. It's an excellent composition with great harmony between all instruments. The chorus performed by the four singers is of superior quality. It has also a hard rock section with a memorable guitar riff, in the second part of the song. This is a great track that closes magnificently that amazing album. The seventh track "The Power And The Glory" is the title track of "The Power And The Glory". However, "The Power And The Glory" wasn't an ordinary track of that album. It was a mere bonus track, only available on certain editions of that album. It didn't originally appear on that album because it hadn't been written yet, when the album was released. It's a good song, a short theme with the classic Gentle Giant's sound. But, it seems to be less complex than the typical works of them. This song came out as a single, and so, no wonders that it's a bit simpler than what the band was accustomed to do. The eighth track "Proclamation" was released on "The Power And The Glory". "Proclamation" is one of the two lengthiest tracks on that album and remains a brilliant opening track. It's a song with the typical Gentle Giant's relatively complex musical arrangements, with great melody. This is one of my favourite themes from them. The ninth track "Playing The Game" was also released on "The Power And The Glory". "Playing The Game" is one of the lengthiest tracks on that album. It's a dynamic and a relatively complex theme. It's a really multi-faceted and pure prog song, in the Gentle Giant's pure style. The tenth track "Cogs In Cogs" was another track released on "The Power And The Glory". "Cogs In Cogs" is the smallest track on that album. It's an excellent heartfelt ballad very quiet and with very complex multi-part vocal harmonies. It's a track with a very intricate orchestral arrangement.

Compilation: "The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 2" is a good compilation of the band. It covers the fourth, fifth and sixth studio albums of them, which are three excellent albums. It has three tracks from each of them, plus a non album's track. The selection is excellent, but those albums are three masterpieces that all tracks would be an excellent option. "Octopus" is one of the most beautiful and brilliant albums of them. Ray Shulman even said that "Octopus" was probably the Gentle Giant's best album. "In A Glass House" is simply brilliant. It's, one of their best works and is also one of the greatest progressive albums ever made. "The Power And The Glory" is a true amazing album, not only in its technically accomplished prog music, but also in its clever concept. It has numerous emotional and virtuoso moments.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 The Power and the Glory by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.31 | 1691 ratings

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The Power and the Glory
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Progressive Enjoyer

5 stars For their time, Gentle Giant is the most forward moving, experimental music infused with classical and baroque influences such as JS Bach. And at this point, GENTLE GIANT were at their musical peak, and were soon to be at their commercial peak with their next album FREE HAND.

TP&TG is the second concept album in their discography (and not the last - see In'terview), after "Three Friends". It follows a young man, who, seeing corruption in the government, runs for office himself, only to succeed and inevitably become a cog in the system of which he'd fought to destroy. TP&TG is one of only a handful of concept albums that are truly coherent, and easily makes sense (along with "The Wall''), while others seem to go off on a drug infused tangent.

Musically, TP&TG is complex (as are most Gentle Giant albums), and compared to the albums of which had come before it, it's heavier, gloomier, and a somewhat depressing view of politics that (somewhat - there are still a few honest politicians) holds true to this.

It has a few standout tracks. "Proclamation" is one of the most well known and recognisable Gentle Giant tracks to this day, along with "Playing the Game" - the latter being the song which depicts the protagonists first dive into corruption. Other tracks include the enjoyable albeit strange "So Sincere", and the dirtier, heavier reprise of the opening track "Valedictory", and "Cogs in Cogs" which - ignoring "Knots" and "On Reflection" - is some of Shulman's best vocal work, alongside "The Face". "Aspirations" is the only song on the album of which he doesn't have lead vocals, this one being sung by Minnear, and it's beautiful, especially with Minnear's soft, angelic voice, making it a break from the albums heavier side (which promptly returns on the track after).

Also, the extra track named after the album thankfully can't impact on this rating, it's not bad, just a shift to mediocore from the rest of the album.

TP&TG is a landmark in Gentle Giant's discography, not only for being such a great album, but showing a shift into heavier music, before the plunge into the later disco/pop stuff from the missing piece era.

 The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 1 by GENTLE GIANT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1974
3.22 | 4 ratings

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The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 1
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review Nš 456

"The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 1", is, as its name indicates, the first part of two compilation albums released by the band in 1974. The other is "The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 2", released in the same year. It's a compilation album that comprises tracks from three albums of them, their eponymous debut studio album "Gentle Giant" released in 1970, their second studio album "Acquiring The Taste" released in 1971 and their third studio album "Three Friends" released in 1972. All these three albums are great albums, mainly "Acquiring The Taste", which is considered by many as Gentle Giant's best work. "Acquiring The Taste" is also considered in general as the most experimental and creative album made by the band. It represents a departure from the blues and soul styles found on their self-titled debut album.

So, "The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 1" was released in 1974 and has nine tracks. The first track "Nothing At All" is from "Gentle Giant". It's the lengthiest track on that album and is truly a surprising track. This is another typical track of Gentle Giant and it has practically everything that we can expect of this great band. The track begins as a soft and nice acoustic ballad with some melancholic harmonies. In the middle, it grows as a hard and heavy rock song, and then it comes the curious drum solo by Martin Smith, so typical on the albums of those times. Curiously, the piano of Kerry Minnear adds some really nice melodies on the background. Finally, the song ends as the initial soft and beautiful acoustic ballad. This is one of the strangest, original, curious and interesting songs ever composed by the group. This is a real must have for all prog heads. The second track "Funny Ways" is also from "Gentle Giant". It's a completely different track from the previous one. It's a mellow song, more classic and acoustic, with an extraordinary exploration of several musical instruments, some classic and acoustic and others electric and more modern, which are fantastically married with each other. It's also, in my humble opinion, a song with a relatively complex musical composition. This is a perfect example how these guys were unique and great. The third track "Alucard" is another track from "Gentle Giant". It's, if you haven't noticed already, "Dracula" spelled in the backwards. This is an atypical song because is more a hard rock influenced song. It's relatively complex and has some interesting and good instrumental musical passages with some disturbing vocals. However and despite its quality, it never was one of my favourite songs on that album. The fourth track "Pantagruel's Nativity" is from "Acquiring The Taste". It's one of my favourite tracks on that album that became a classic Gentle Giants' track. It's a song with continuous music and a nice melody. It has beautiful keyboards very well combined with a powerful and great guitar work. What is most impressive on this track is the use of so many musical instruments such as saxes, vibraphone, celesta, harpsichord, tympani, trumpet, clarinet and so on, in only one song. The fifth track "Acquiring The Taste" is also from "Acquiring The Taste". It's a very short instrumental track. It's an avant-garde and explorative track with some nice and catchy musical moments despite its short length. The sixth track "Plain Truth" is another track from "Acquiring The Taste". It's a solid rock track with the typical Gentle Giant's guitar work and with good vocal harmonies. It's probably the most accessible track on that album, the less complex and the more traditional, and the less typical of them too. Still, it's a solid closer for this interesting, great and surprising album. The seventh track "Peel The Paint" is from "Three Friends". It's a track inspired by the classical music, in the beginning, that starts very slow and delicate, but that suddenly develops into a more intense and dense, with a heavy rock format. We are in the presence of an interesting song but, at the same time, a strange song in their repertoire. The eighth track "Mister Class And Quality?" is also from "Three Friends". This is another good song on that album. It's probably the simplest song on that album. It has a nice melody and some interesting musical breaks. It's a rock song, with some good moments, great keyboards, a good bass line and a good drum work. The ninth track "Three Friends" is another track from "Three Friends". It represents the second best moment on that album with the opening track "Prologue". This is a song where all comes together in the music, the keyboards, the guitar, the bass and all the other instruments. I particulary like the keyboard work of Kerry Minnear. We are in the presence of another great song, a very short, but a very cohesive piece. Despite be so short, this is really a great piece of music that sounds nice to my ears.

Compilation: This is a good compilation of Gentle Giant. It covers their first three studio albums, which are three great albums, with three tracks from each one. The selection is excellent, but those albums are so good that all tracks would be an excellent choice too. "Gentle Giant" is probably their less complex work and their most heavy album. But, it has the main characteristics of their music. "Acquiring The Taste" is the most experimental, discordant and avant-garde of them. That album has everything that characterized Gentle Giant's music. "Three Friends" has a fine sound and a special taste. The harmonies and arrangements have a distinctly medieval feel and the melodies are quite catchy. "Three Friends" and "Gentle Giant" are their simplest and most accessible albums and probably the most beautiful too.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Gentle Giant by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.96 | 1298 ratings

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Gentle Giant
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars After listening to the Phil Shulman interview series of podcasts as collected by Phil's son, Damon, and grandson, Elliot, I felt inspired to review all of the Phil-era Gentle Giant albums, starting with this one. Then I was surprised to find that I had never written a review of this album.

My impressions, as I now listen to this debut album, cover how I can now hear the acknowledged influences of bands like The Beatles, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, and Black Sabbath (and even uncredited bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, as well as standard blues and blues-rock bands--especially when guitarist Gary Green is given the front-and-center position). I can also hear, at times, the incredible diversity of influences/training in Kerry Minnear's background coming out in the music here.

What I hear that is so innovative is the intricacies and subtleties in the music, instrumental performances, and multi-voiced vocal arrangements. Like listening to the youthful exuberance of contemporaries, Mont (later "Dirk") Campbell, Clive Brooks, and Dave Stewart in the band EGG, I am blown away by the vision and virtuosity of these musicians. I like the lyrical content, too, literature-inspired as they are. As always, I feel so blown away and privileged to hear the vocal and compositional talents of Kerry Minnear. He should be revered as an Olympian-- maybe Orpheus.

The talent and innovative courage of these artists, as expressed collaboratively in these eight songs, I feel are fully deserving of a five star rating; there are not many debut albums in history that are as polished and groundbreaking as this one--yet one can also feel how all of these experiments and adventures are being pieced together by youths who were trying to find their style, their voice--who were fully aware of the experimental nature of their song productions--perhaps even experimenting for the sake of experimenting. Also, with the advantage of hindsight (knowing the band's full discography and, thus, arc of evolution), I know that the music on this album is very loose and unpolished when compared to the songs to come on future albums. Again, when you get virtuosos collaborating and performing together, there are bound to be impressive and magical moments and passages.

While I appreciate the talent and skill of blues-trained guitarist Gary Green, I am not a fan of this Martin Barre sound/style in progressive rock music. The final two songs of this album, therefore, are, to my tastes, the two weakest songs on the album--despite "Why Not?"'s virtuosity and innovative splicing together of multiple styles.

I actually really like the flanged drum solo in the middle of the otherwise gorgeous C,S,N&Y-like "Nothing at All." Also, as I listen to this song, I lose a little respect for the band Wobbler because of their lifting parts of this, almost note for note, for use on several songs on their "Rites at Dawn" album (especially considering these passages happen to be the absolute high points for me on that album).

Had this been the band's only album, we may all be talking about the "untapped potential" exhibited herein. If this were The Beatles' final album, I have no doubt that we would be lauding it as "yet another masterpiece." I feel thankful that Gentle Giant stuck together another ten years (even making it through eldest brother Phil's departure in 1973). The fact that the Shulman brothers, Kerry Minnear, and Gary Green were able to find common enough ground to produce eight masterful albums over the decade is not only remarkable in and of itself but also a gift to posterity whose value is, in my opinion, of inestimable value. And it all starts here!

As evidence of the genius of the creative spirit of the "new" progressive rock music "movement," I cannot see calling this landmark album anything less than "essential" and, therefore, it must also be considered a masterpiece.

 In a Glass House by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.35 | 1770 ratings

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In a Glass House
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars "In a Glass House" is the fifth studio album from Gentle Giant and was released in 1973. By the time of its release, the band had garnered enough fans and people had started to acquire a taste for the band's quirky complexities, odd time signatures, and their bizarre way of incorporating folk and modern music in ways that were completely unique to the band. The public even excused the interesting harmonies that didn't follow the norm, in fact, it seemed that more and more, they were craving it. The band had been, at least to this point, fairly lucky with their consistent line- up, and they had only really made a major change in their sound after their first album. So things were sitting pretty good for them. However, before recording this album, they had lost one of their original members; Phil Shulman, who felt that the touring life was ruining his family life.

This would be the first album with the band reduced to a quintet, and it was uncertain how the band would be received minus the vocals and horns that Phil provided. There was a shift in the band's sound to a more guitar- oriented sound, but overall, the basic feel of the band remained intact. But with the uncertainty with this line-up, it was decided to not released "In a Glass House" in the U.S. It's really quite a shame as the album has been somewhat ignored in retrospect, however, at the time, it ended up being the band's biggest seller to date. It has every reason to be recognized, because it is still full of GG's signature styles and sounds, and it easily fits in with the discography of the band at the time. Made up of 6 tracks, 4 of them great, meaty tracks at over 7 minutes each and 2 shorter tracks that help to even things out.

The Runaway - This track has a nice lilt to it through the first few verses, but as the instrumental break comes in, it gets quite a bit more complex. There seems to be a bit more guitar here, albeit a bit jangly, but still quite enjoyable. The marimba in the middle of the song is a great touch too, plus the crazy complexity of the melody keeps it all interesting.

An Inmate's Lullaby - An almost music box quality in the beginning, then two contrasting vocal lines, one of which is interestingly processed, to almost sound like it is coming from inside the box and another vocal line that is more upfront, but less important. There is some quirky interplay between the tonal and traditional percussion instruments, once again with the help of the marimba and the complexity is also there, making this one hard to sing, let alone whistle along to. But then, we are not here to whistle now, are we?

Way of Life - Suddenly more upbeat and heavier. A guitar riff sounds like it is going to define the track, but remember this is Gentle Giant, and it soon veers off into the usual complexities furnished by the guitar and keys. The rhythm tries to keep things "sensible" but that would be impossible to carry that on for too long now wouldn't it. The center section calms down quite a bit and becomes more traditional-folk sounding, losing the percussion for a while, but it comes back in a stately way. Thematic returns help to keep the track grounded even with all the progressive horseplay going on here. The weird repeating organ at the end is a bit of an odd ending.

Experience - This one lightens things up a bit, at least as far as the tone of the track, and is a bit more playful. As a result, it seems a bit weak in substance, but its still signature Gentle Giant. This finally become more intense after 3 minutes in when the vocals become louder and the guitar and hard piano chords take over. The guitar solo that comes later sounds more like it is improvised while the supporting instruments play repeating backup, but then it goes back into progressive structure later.

A Reunion - A short folksy piece with soft singing, string ensemble and such. It's a nice intermediary track that helps to break up the complexity a bit.

In a Glass House - Returning to an upbeat, start-stop style with a nice violin riff. A vocal section, then a tricky guitar lead which leads into a complex lilt. Don't expect anything to sit in one place for too long though, as this one flows along adding in jazz for a nice Canterbury feel which often gives way to rock sensibilities, passing back and forth often. It even finds time to throw in some twangy acoustic guitar just in case you think you've heard everything. Break some glass and get a quick review of the album with some quick snippets of all the songs.

This album ends up being another great album from GG's best years. It is one worth looking for if you are trying to build up your classic-prog library, but it can be a bit more difficult to locate in North America, yet it really shouldn't be ignored. After this point in the band's history, the line-up would not change again, but remain until the split up in 1980, which came about because of the drive of some band members to get a hit record and the desire of other members to return to the band's classic prog sound. At least the band would still have some great albums up their sleeves for a few more years.

 The Power and the Glory by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.31 | 1691 ratings

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The Power and the Glory
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Gorgut Muncher

3 stars I always felt this was the first Gentle Giant album where they started to sound dull. That's not to say it is predictable because it isn't, but you could tell they started to try to sound like themselves instead of just making music. I have never been a big Gentle Giant fan to be honest, I really can't say that any of their albums deserve a five star rating in fact. To me, their first four albums deserve four stars, they're solid records, but once you get into a single one of them, the rest sounds the exact same.

The Power And The Glory is filled with complex vocal arrangements, but barely any memorable melodies. Precise and concise instrumentation, but barely anything at the height of the instrumentation that some prog giants like Genesis or Yes were doing at that time. There's some redeeming values, however. The opener is without a doubt my favorite Gentle Giant song, and Aspirations is probably their best ballad.

I just can't seem to find the rest interesting at all. It's just Gentle Giant sounding the exact same for the sixth album in a row. It's still good, but I don't think I will come back to it any time soon. Three Stars.

 Three Friends by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.12 | 1319 ratings

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Three Friends
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars "Three Friends" is the third album from the band and somehow musically embodies the characteristics of the first two, namely the immediacy of the debut of the same name and the extreme sophistication of the following called Aquiring The Taste. It has a basic concept that is as simple as it is suggestive, certainly touching the experience of anyone: three friends, united in youth by the same school experience and playful, separated as adults by the choices and cases of life, with the first of them becoming a worker, the second a painter and the third an official, a "white collar". But the friendship born on the school desks cannot be corrupted and the three eventually find themselves in the majestic finale (Three Friends).

The opening track "Prologue" is introducing our three friends, informing us that although they were always together, their paths have divided as the fate, changes, circumstances due to different opportunities and abilities of the three wanted separate them, this piece attracts attention mainly due to the very modern sounding (at least in 1972) synthesizer parts, and expressive, twisted bass guitar parts. The softer "Schooldays" is the strangest and most unconventional track on the album, completely deviating from the song structure, with fancy vocal parts and non-obvious instruments (mainly keyboards and mandolin), which together creates an almost surreal atmosphere. No other rock band would record anything like it, you immediately hear that it's Gentle Giant. As the title suggests, is about the happy days that the three friends spent as young people before the abrupt appearance of life devoured their innocence. With the next piece "Working All Day" is the first of the three life stories that exalts more than all the hard impact with the reality of the first of the three friends, who works all day and feels oppressed by his superiors without being able to get out of it: boy's dreams are forever shattered. To frame the superb keyboard the central part gives a of really tasty jazz part. Then comes "Peel the Paint", the second story of the man who chose a life as an artist under the illusion that being free from chains would make him happy, but that he too has to deal with the passing of the years. This is the hardest song of the lot in the sense that there is a real hard-rock riff of guitar and sax in unison that is really enthralling; in the second part there is a jam that goes from blues to more experimental prog. "Mister Class and Quality" deals with the life of the apparently luckier of the three, having a nice house, a big job and a beautiful wife; however he wonders where he would be without his papers and his elegant shirts.

This album closes with "Three Friends" in which the magnificent choir stands out, musically there are all the characteristics of GG such as the particular and superimposed voices, the odd rhythms (typical of their way of conceiving the prog) and, above all, the keyboards of Kerry Minnear which together with his vibraphone are the absolute protagonists of the album.

 Free Hand by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.28 | 1586 ratings

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Free Hand
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars Free Hand symbolically closes the prog period of Gentle Giant, who with this album manage to obtain both good feedback in terms of sales and yet another work devoted to exaggerated experimentation, but characterized by a consistency and a taste that has very few equals. Musically, the group of the Shulman brothers dares a lot to unite an intense series of musical ideas perfectly intertwined with each other in short pieces - the record does not reach forty minutes -, but which require a lot of dedication to listening.

The unrivaled musician of the line-up is Kerry Minnear, a little guy who surrounds himself with Hammond, piano, electric piano, clavinet, synthesizer, vibraphon and occasionally even live recorder and Stratocaster. Every time he reaches for an instrument, brilliant things come out, be it one of the thousands of counterpoints with which he sets the pieces or a vibraphone solo or a piano passage.

Interestingly, however, greater hitness in this case does not go hand in hand with the resignation from ambition, artistic value and virtuosity (only on subsequent albums these elements began to be missing). On "Free Hand" all the essential ingredients of the previous albums culminate and you can say that the group had reached their ultimate zenith. Perhaps in comparison to the predecessor "The power and the glory" (1974) there is no longer any direct further development or improvement recognizable, as it usually took place from album to album. "Free Hand" is rather a bundling of all previously accumulated strengths into a large, comprehensive whole. In terms of composition and arrangement, it was implemented at the usual high level.

Here the elements from medieval / renaissance music, which I love so much and which always make the sound of this group so unique, unmistakable, are brought up. Also fascinating in its complexity are "His las voyage"(definitely rooted in the English folk musical past, but updated in the electroacoustic experimental perspective that has become the trademark of the group) , carried by organ and vibraphone parts, the jazzy, hectically pulsating title track (the song moves on decidedly to more jazz / fusion prog territories, absurdly more similar to certain cantabile and very pleasant melodies, but with instrumental architectures with a much more bizarre cut. You get lost with pleasure in the instrumental digressions in the middle of the song, where keyboards, synths, vibraphones blend together and thus create interesting nuances.) - and powerful, playful proggers like "Time to kill" (entirely supported by the excellent bass work by Ray Shulman halfway between melody and almost funk groove.) or "Mobile"(the song neatly combines the violin part with an almost hard rock guitar and expressive, pulsating bass).

This album is still based on non-obvious rhythms and rich, thoughtful arrangements - but the melodies and vocal parts have been greatly simplified and become even more catchy, though perhaps a little too conventional. On "Free Hand" the band once again shows all their skills and the full range of their musical spectrum.

 Three Friends by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.12 | 1319 ratings

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Three Friends
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Artik

5 stars One of the best bands in the whole prog rock pantheon with one of their best efforts. It's concept album with quite down to earth story (as for prog standards) of three school friends going their seperate ways as the life continues. Nostalgic theme with very busy music to ilustrate it. It's GG level of complexity so a lot is going on within the tracks but there is also enough diversity between the tracks to match the different personalities. It has beautiful abstract, minimalistic moments with rocking and heavy riffs for a good measure. Of course present are also one of it's kind rich vocal arrangements. Rock, jazz, classical - on paper it seems like nothing extraordinary, almost every prog band had similar ingridients, but there was only one Gentle Giant. Five stars hands down.
 The Missing Piece by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.97 | 598 ratings

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The Missing Piece
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Artik

4 stars Another of those albums from the late 70s when prog bands tried to adapt to the times when simplicity was the new black. I quite like many of them: Yes "Tormato" and "Drama", Renaissance, 'Azure d'or", "And then there were three" by Genesis or Camel "Breathless" all are really fine records, simpler but still prog enough. They are also my last stops in the abovementioned bands' catalogues. I put this GG effort in the same category. It has some really great prog moments and the simpler stuff is still enjoyable - rocking and funny. And You still can recognise it's GG and it's aura is prominent throughout the whole album. But this one is my last giant step, I don't care for the remaining two albums in their discography. Not terrible, just not as interesting for my prog hungry ears. This one is a keeper though. 3,5 star rounded up to 4 for I have a sweet spot for those last hurrah of the old prog guard records.

Edit: You know what? I'm hearing it right now. It's 4 stars without the need of rounding up.

Thanks to Ivan Melgar M for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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