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GENTLE GIANT

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Gentle Giant biography
Formed in the late 60's by the Shulman brothers, 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?

Compilations Albums: Numerous collections and greatest hits albums have appeared over the years.

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Free HandFree Hand
Remastered
Alucard 2010
Audio CD$6.36
$6.35 (used)
Octopus (Remixed by Steven Wilson)Octopus (Remixed by Steven Wilson)
Alucard 2015
Audio CD$14.98
$9.99 (used)
In A Glass HouseIn A Glass House
Remastered
Alucard 2010
Audio CD$6.36
$4.79 (used)
The Power And The Glory (Mixed By Steven Wilson) [CD/Blu-ray Combo][Deluxe Edition]The Power And The Glory (Mixed By Steven Wilson) [CD/Blu-ray Combo][Deluxe Edition]
Alucard 2014
Audio CD$13.30
$13.29 (used)
OctopusOctopus
Remastered
Alucard 2011
Audio CD$12.29
$10.99 (used)
Gentle Giant - Three Friends/OctopusGentle Giant - Three Friends/Octopus
Import
BGO 2015
Audio CD$11.68
$11.67 (used)
Live At The Bicentennial [2 CD]Live At The Bicentennial [2 CD]
Alucard 2014
Audio CD$10.54
$11.26 (used)
I Lost My Head: Chrysalis Years 1975 - 1980I Lost My Head: Chrysalis Years 1975 - 1980
Box set · Import
EMI Import 2012
Audio CD$74.83
$68.49 (used)
Gentle GiantGentle Giant
Import
Island Def Jam 1990
Audio CD$2.57
$2.46 (used)
Edge of TwilightEdge of Twilight
Import
Talking Elephant 2011
Audio CD$13.62
$11.18 (used)
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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)

3.90 | 1000 ratings
Gentle Giant
1970
4.24 | 1233 ratings
Acquiring The Taste
1971
4.11 | 1027 ratings
Three Friends
1972
4.28 | 1576 ratings
Octopus
1972
4.35 | 1377 ratings
In A Glass House
1973
4.29 | 1276 ratings
The Power And The Glory
1974
4.28 | 1226 ratings
Free Hand
1975
3.75 | 621 ratings
Interview
1976
2.94 | 452 ratings
The Missing Piece
1977
2.32 | 387 ratings
Giant For A Day
1978
2.78 | 353 ratings
Civilian
1980

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

4.49 | 377 ratings
Playing The Fool - The Official Live
1977
3.55 | 23 ratings
In Concert (BBC Radio 1)
1994
4.11 | 55 ratings
Out Of The Woods
1996
2.40 | 33 ratings
The Last Steps
1996
4.12 | 52 ratings
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents
1998
4.05 | 25 ratings
Out Of The Fire
1998
1.91 | 16 ratings
In A Palesport House
1999
4.12 | 38 ratings
Totally Out Of The Woods
2000
1.96 | 18 ratings
Live Rome 1974
2000
2.26 | 13 ratings
Interview In Concert
2000
1.78 | 9 ratings
Artistically Cryme
2002
3.74 | 22 ratings
Experience
2002
1.47 | 6 ratings
Endless Life
2003
3.92 | 10 ratings
Missing Face
2003
1.95 | 13 ratings
Way of life
2003
2.25 | 8 ratings
Prologue
2003
3.00 | 1 ratings
Playing the Cleveland
2003
4.00 | 1 ratings
Live In New York 1975
2005
3.00 | 5 ratings
Santa Monica Freeway
2005
3.42 | 20 ratings
King Alfred's College Winchester
2009
3.79 | 30 ratings
Live In Stockholm '75
2009
3.93 | 21 ratings
Live at the Bicentennial
2014

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

4.63 | 178 ratings
Giant On The Box
2004
4.26 | 90 ratings
GG At The GG
2006

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 1
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 2
1974
3.46 | 19 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
0.00 | 0 ratings
Il Grande Rock
1991
4.38 | 52 ratings
Edge of Twilight
1996
3.13 | 58 ratings
Under Construction
1997
4.29 | 32 ratings
Free Hand/Interview
1998
3.20 | 32 ratings
Scraping The Barrel
2004
4.19 | 17 ratings
I Lost My Head - The Chrysalis years (1975-1980)
2012
1.95 | 11 ratings
Memories Of Old Days
2013

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

2.00 | 1 ratings
Rock Power
1971
4.62 | 13 ratings
Prologue
1972
4.50 | 16 ratings
In A Glass House
1973
4.34 | 22 ratings
The Advent Of Panurge
1973
4.42 | 12 ratings
The Power and the Glory
1974
3.33 | 6 ratings
Give It Back
1976
3.00 | 6 ratings
I'm Turning Around
1977
3.75 | 8 ratings
Two Weeks in Spain
1977
4.11 | 9 ratings
Just the Same (live)
1977
2.40 | 5 ratings
Mountain Time
1978
3.17 | 6 ratings
Thank You (edit)
1978
3.25 | 4 ratings
Dando Vueltas
1978
3.17 | 6 ratings
Words from the Wise
1978
2.33 | 3 ratings
Underground
1980
2.20 | 5 ratings
All Through The Night
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
In A Power Free In'terview
2009
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Power And The Glory
2010

GENTLE GIANT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Three Friends by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.11 | 1027 ratings

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Three Friends
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Three reasons to love this album

Not often cited by fans, "Three Friends" yet remains one of Shulman brothers and co.'s best opuses as well as their most accessible. First concept-album and first auto-production from the band, the lyrics narrate the story of three childhood friends who will later belong to different social class and cease to understand each other's way of life. A track is dedicated to each character: the worker, the painter and the white collar. Less adventurous and demanding than its predecessor, "Acquiring the Taste", this third effort includes shorter compositions with more catchy melodies. This stylistic direction might not always satisfy complex and always changing songs hardcore fans, however this time the musicians somehow take a break by proposing very pleasant and inspired spacey symphonic progressive rock.

Alternating rocking passages and mysterious aquatic keyboards sonorities, "Prologue" is quite an efficient opener. With its modified vibraphone opening, the nice and strange "Schooldays" is pure gentle giant-ish, to then turn into a calm jazzy piano tune. Now come the three songs of the friends. "Working All Day" is the worker's song and may be my least favorite of the disc. A saxophone rock piece with a cool Hammond organ solo. Not bad but fails a little to really lift off.

The painter's song, "Peel The Paint", is rather misleading. Starting discretely, the music becomes suddenly raging and heavy. There are even unexpected furious Hendrixian guitar sections! Wow! Are we still listening to GENTLE GIANT here? Surprisingly, the record concludes with its two best tracks. "Mister Class And Quality?" is the white collar's song. This powerful composition possesses catchy melodies and great instrumental sections. It rocks! The title track simply finishes the album in apotheosis. Quite atypical in the band's discography, it features a religious- like chorus offering a particular ethereal and contemplative ambiance, like if you were about to enter the heaven. Superb!

As promised, here are the three reasons to love these three friends. First, the music remains sophisticated, playful, featuring many changes, while never going too complex or elitist. Second, there are nice rocking passages and catchy melodies. Finally, the particular aquatic organ sound and floating chorus displays a specific floating atmosphere, which is rather singular for the band. Although the middle of the album may contain weaker moments, this is probably my favorite opus from the Shulman brothers and co.

A bit apart considering GENTLE GIANT's other releases, "Three Friends" is their spaciest record, as well as one of their most accessible. The one to start with for newcomers, with their self-titled debut, and an essential listen for symphonic prog rock fans!

 The Power And The Glory by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.29 | 1276 ratings

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The Power And The Glory
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by poito

4 stars 4.5 This album meant a strong change of direction for the band. In previous work GG used to craft 6-7 min long themes spotted with multiple experimental and dissonant sounds, apparently never caring about the overall taste of the tracks. In this, all but two of the tracks are 3-4 min, the experimental imagery gets limited to a few successful bits harvested in previous work (that is, no experimental any more), and a rocker Yessistic style gets dominant. For the first time, the themes appear compact, and the album too appears to be uniformly oriented. The keys by Kerry Minnear are superb, growing at every new release. The voices are kind of unusual, more mainstream, but it has an undefined not very pleasant timbre, a step back in this section. I particularly like the combination of bass and keys: the bass takes the lead in some themes, like the great opening Proclamation. Guitars are somewhat obscured, by the way. It seems departure of brother founder Philip is to be blamed for many of these changes, but the result is excellent. In my view, they were not that convincing when they tried unsuccessfully to rival the truly experimental bands like King Crimson, Soft Machine and Caravan or Yes. This sound is more believable, more natural.
 In A Glass House by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.35 | 1377 ratings

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In A Glass House
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by poito

3 stars The GG keeps on the same track initiated in OCTOPUS, experimenting and composing at 50-50. In those years, an immense amount of similar music was being released and their contribution does not stick out as before. The experimental side begins to sound worn-out; it is easier to recognize fragments derived from King Crimson or Yes with whom they appear to rival in uneven suicide battle in some tracks (Way of Life). The voices are less surprising and sound a bit tired. The Gregorian chant formula does not seem to work anymore and it blends with rocker singing in impossible combination. The composition was still notable, but they recreate more in the use of an infinite number of instruments that follow one after another in crazy succession, while they disregard somewhat the compactness of the theme, although they never cared much about this. There are brilliant moments, but not brilliant themes. It is difficult to follow the music; unless you are a hardcore fan, you'll forget about every note after the tracks end. The more recommendable themes for a general audience are the opening and closing ones, The Runaway, and In a Glass House, this in a rocking style interrupted several times for nailing bits of whatever they had in mind. It's worth mentioning also the title Experience, but better in the live version that you may get in remastered copies; playing live limits quite their use/abuse of infinite instruments and they concentrate on the theme itself, which then appears better crafted.
 Octopus by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.28 | 1576 ratings

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Octopus
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by poito

4 stars 3.8 stars. GG released two albums in the same year. It was not unusual in those years, many bands appeared to have an excess of creativity, or it may simply be that material that would have normally remained in the shelve for being too experimental, found a suitable audience in the late 60's and early 70's and they were pushed or forced to publish by the always insatiable industry. The first was Three Friends, which in my view marked the start of a new time for GG, when they finally forgave themselves for abandoning their origins and felt comfortable with what they were doing. The result was a bunch of near perfect themes, with highly inspired creative moments blended with melodic bits. This Octopus is similarly well crafted, and has some memorable themes like The Boys in the Band and the opening The Advent of Panurge. Other themes have won notable worship, like Knots, but even if it is impeccably crafted with a great combination of voices, it re-uses the style of the early albums by pioneers Yes and The Soft Machine, the latter a band that is poorly known by the growing Prog audience, but who undoubtedly was seedbed for bands like GG and most others of the time. Let's remember the mainstream Beat and R&B origins and musical breeding of the Shulman brothers far away from experimental music. A number of sounds and musical experiments are erroneously attributed to this and other bands. In fact, the Canterburian air that flies over GG most experimental compositions actually derive from Caravan and the Soft Machine early albums. Anyway, this Octopus is far more experimental than Three Friends, but the experiments are not all original, nor successful, in my view. Musicianship is however highly improved compared to former albums, and that makes this one sufficiently enjoyable to have it in the reachable shelves of your record library, near the Greats, but a step behind.
 Three Friends by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.11 | 1027 ratings

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Three Friends
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by poito

5 stars Finally, after two exploratory albums, GG became true giants. You can feel it from the opening theme entitled in a premonitory way as Prologue, for their new path, not just the album's story. The former albums were kind of where-I-am, who-brought-me-here, is-this-what-I-want-to-do. Well, it took some time for the Shulman brothers to kill their many ghosts and frustrations. And what came out is simply a totally new band, different music, new ideas, new sounds, a stream of creativity, all of it well furnished by music mastery they lacked before in essential instruments as the keys and guitars. Of course there are elements of their contemporary lads, some Caravan here, a bit of Yes there and The Soft Machine flying over, but in small doses. The GG crafted in this album six perfect themes, inspired, fun, creative, musical, new, they found some melodies that blended beautifully with the experimental style (maybe not that experimental in 1972, but a true way of composing). My view: the symphonic Prog had become dominant and the standard mainstream Rock was retreating, at least in Europe, so they felt their move out of commercial had been a lucky strike, they suddenly were covered up and confident enough; and they began to enjoy. There are fewer wind sections, the keys take over, and the improvisational air had disappeared. This they did it on purpose. I particularly like the majestic sound of the guitar taking the melody in the album title theme. Although the album hasn't got the magic of major compositions by contemporary bands like Caravan, Yes, and The Soft Machine, it is close and it well deserves a place between them.
 Acquiring The Taste by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.24 | 1233 ratings

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Acquiring The Taste
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by poito

3 stars 2.5 If the debut album was a fantastic opera prima that broke some molds, the second release by the GG was not that surprising. Only one year has passed, but what a year for the music! An impressive amount of new stuff had seen the light that had changed forever the way music would be made thereafter. I really expected more from this one. It sounds to me a bit forced, as if they had initiated a path with a lucky strike and did not know well how to keep on the track. Let's not forget where the Shulman brothers came from. All in this album indicates they were still mad at the industry. You cannot produce art for the revenge. It does not sound natural. There are some curious themes, but in general, inspiration is missing. There are no new elements, nor sounds or ideas, they just keep on experimenting with voices, and a composing style close to improvisational, but the result is neither appealing nor groundbreaking. We should remember that by the time this was released, King Crimson had already launched four gorgeous albums, the same number as Van der Graaf Generator and The Soft Machine, two by ELP and Caravan, etc, etc. I do not see the fireworks in this album. Certainly, a step back after a great debut. I'll rescue from the wreck a few tracks, The House The Street The Room, a nice Crimsonian cut, Plain Truth, and some parts of The Moon Is Down, but not precisely for their originality. They play around with other's recent contributions (from pioneers to followers).
 Gentle Giant by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.90 | 1000 ratings

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Gentle Giant
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by poito

4 stars 4.5. Very few groups were crafting such complex music in 1970 as Gentle Giant did in its debut album: The Soft Machine, King Crimson, Van der Graaf Generator, and Caravan, all preceded by The Moody Blues; am I forgetting anyone? Of course in that year many other came to life (ELP, Genesis, and Yes launched their first 5-star albums). Curiously, few of those true pioneers (let's leave the Beat movement for Klingons, please) made it in the international scene, maybe only the KC of these four. Their influence was however undeniable, but they only got public reconnaissance well after their time has passed. Actually, I first listened to GG long after they had disbanded (my country was off in the good times). If you get a remastered copy, you'll see how timeless this music is. Probably, the only sound that betrays the near half a century life of this GG is the unmistakable singing style of early 70's Rock and the Butterflyan drum solo in Nothing at All.

I understand this album was kind of a catharsis for the Shulman brothers who tried in the commercial side and failed. How good they did; the music won a marvelous band with such innovative power and compositional strength. If I don't score it 5 stars is because at moments the experimental composition doesn't seem natural. Anyway, this is not just the debut album of a great band that influenced many others for the years to come; it is a masterpiece in itself. Get it and get ready for a shock. Yes this comes from 1970!

 Gentle Giant by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.90 | 1000 ratings

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Gentle Giant
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A gentle baby giant

3.5 stars

For their debut album, the least that we can say is that GENTLE GIANT had already built a strong identity on their own. Never before a pop-rock group went so far in musical complexity and arrangements. This is mainly due to the Shulman brothers' musical past in their former R&B pop band SIMON DUPREE and to classically trained multi-instrumentalist Kerry Minnear, who incorporated advanced composition techniques. The songs are an adventurous melodic mixture of pop, rock and medieval music, with many changes and a wide palette of instruments, such as violin, flute or saxophone. Elaborated, but yet accessible. Progressive, but yet still with sixties' psychedelic elements.

With its keyboard introduction, "Giant" is a powerful and catchy hard rocking opener. The soft and enchanting "Funny Ways" possesses a medieval feel immersed in a sauce of 60's psych-pop. In contrast, despite its jazzy accents, "Alucard" is rather oppressive, even a little dissonant. This track is quite repetitive and may be my least favorite of the record. Then comes the gentle "Isn't It Quiet And Cold?", a charming and typically English ballad. Pleasant.

Longest composition of the disc, "Nothing At All" is surprisingly not the most progressive. Supported by delightful acoustic guitar and chorus in the vein of SIMON AND GARFUNKEL, the song is finally a more conventional pop-rock, calm and mellow. The drum solo is good but honestly superfluous. Accompanied by a flute, "Why Not" alternates hard/bluesy rock and some medieval passages. The album concludes with "The Queen", a pretty pompous and useless cover of "God Save The Queen".

Although short and containing less interesting moments, this self-titled debut already displays the members' talents and personality. Clever and original, "Gentle Giant" was already one of the most sophisticated progressive rock release in 1970, due to the used classical music writing techniques and instruments. Not as complex as than some of their later works, this opus is probably GENTLE GIANT's rockiest. An ideal entry point if you want to discover the band, alongside the spacey "Three Friends".

Simply essential in the development of progressive rock...

 Gentle Giant by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.90 | 1000 ratings

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Gentle Giant
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

5 stars Somewhere in between the pop stardom of Simon Dupree and the Big Sound and the ostentatious prog pinnacles of the post-Phil bi-Shulman era, Gentle Giant cranked out one of the most solid, consistent and unique debut albums in all of rock music.

The band's debut often gets criticized by prog fans because it's "not as complex" as the group's later works. In all due respect, though, who cares? "Gentle Giant" is a vicious blues-fused prog attack that sounds like the bastard child of Deep Purple and Genesis. Who doesn't like Deep Purple and Genesis? All seven songs on this album are classics. "Giant" is the perfect opener, with its hard-hitting horn arrangements and drums-bass-mellotron groove that almost seems like a precursor to the Yes classic "Heart of the Sunrise". "Funny Ways" is the first indication that Gentle Giant is capable of compositional greatness, though. This seemingly awry tune manages to churn out more quality musical ideas in under 5 minutes than I've ever heard, from mystical bard-style acoustic sections to boogie woogie funk to heroic battle trumpets, "Funny Ways" has it all, and a little extra.

"Alucard" is classic early Uriah Heep-style horror prog, with an extra dose of jazz and "Isn't It Quiet and Cold?" offers some nice breathing room after its predecessor's train wreck ending. "Nothing At All" is truly a testament to how incredible the Shulman brothers are. One minute you'll be shivering and tearing up from its absolute pastoral beauty and the next minute you'll be air drumming to what is probably the only drum solo in a ballad. The album finishes off with two great blues rock numbers, including a rendition of God Save The Queen that makes what is debatably the most boring national anthem on the planet into a bombastic, no-holds-barred rock and roll fanfare, because why not? (pun intended)

"Gentle Giant" is the absolute gem of the Gentle Giant discography. Though it may not be as over-arranged and needlessly busy as "The Power and the Glory" or "Free Hand", it is still subtly complex, and more importantly, it has SOUL. This is absolutely essential listening for anyone who likes quality progressive music and isn't too worried to listen to something with slightly muddied production. THE quintessential Gentle Giant work; 5 stars.

 Octopus by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.28 | 1576 ratings

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Octopus
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Scorpius

5 stars At the time of my first run-through of this album, I hadn't ever heard anything nearly as complex as Octopus. Songs like "Knots" left me confused yet satisfied. After several listens, I can state with confidence that this album is a must- have for every prog fan out there. Gentle Giant is one of the most underrated prog bands, and one of the most talented too. This album is the apex of the bands talents and creativity. Every track is an instant classic. "The Advent of Panurge", "The Boy's in the Band", and "Rivers" should all be regarded as some of the best prog tracks ever recorded.
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