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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

Gentle Giant official website

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Three Piece Suite [Blu-ray]Three Piece Suite [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray
ALUCARD RECORDS 2017
Blu-ray$16.11
$14.00 (used)
Octopus (Remixed by Steven Wilson)Octopus (Remixed by Steven Wilson)
Alucard 2015
Audio CD$10.55
$7.99 (used)
OctopusOctopus
Remastered
Alucard 2011
Audio CD$7.87
$7.86 (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$59.36
$24.73 (used)
Gentle Giant -  Gentle Giant/Acquiring The TasteGentle Giant - Gentle Giant/Acquiring The Taste
Import
BGO 2015
Audio CD$13.99
$19.36 (used)
In A Glass HouseIn A Glass House
Remastered
Alucard 2010
Audio CD$6.84
$4.45 (used)
Acquiring The TasteAcquiring The Taste
Mercury 1990
Audio CD$4.03
$4.98 (used)
Free HandFree Hand
Remastered
Alucard 2010
Audio CD$6.84
$7.13 (used)
Three FriendsThree Friends
Remastered
Alucard 2011
Audio CD$9.71
$10.09 (used)
The Missing PieceThe Missing Piece
Remastered
Alucard 2010
Audio CD$3.67
$7.18 (used)
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Gentle Giant Free Hand Japanese vinyl LP album record CHR1093 CHRYSALIS 1975 USD $138.47 Buy It Now 1 day
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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)

3.91 | 1083 ratings
Gentle Giant
1970
4.25 | 1343 ratings
Acquiring The Taste
1971
4.11 | 1102 ratings
Three Friends
1972
4.29 | 1720 ratings
Octopus
1972
4.35 | 1495 ratings
In A Glass House
1973
4.30 | 1392 ratings
The Power And The Glory
1974
4.28 | 1336 ratings
Free Hand
1975
3.75 | 667 ratings
Interview
1976
2.94 | 492 ratings
The Missing Piece
1977
2.30 | 420 ratings
Giant For A Day
1978
2.76 | 384 ratings
Civilian
1980

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

4.50 | 398 ratings
Playing The Fool - The Official Live
1977
3.57 | 23 ratings
In Concert (BBC Radio 1)
1994
4.11 | 56 ratings
Out Of The Woods
1996
2.41 | 33 ratings
The Last Steps
1996
4.12 | 56 ratings
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents
1998
4.05 | 26 ratings
Out Of The Fire
1998
1.89 | 16 ratings
In A Palesport House
1999
4.13 | 42 ratings
Totally Out Of The Woods
2000
1.98 | 18 ratings
Live Rome 1974
2000
2.28 | 14 ratings
Interview In Concert
2000
1.79 | 10 ratings
Artistically Cryme
2002
3.74 | 22 ratings
Experience
2002
1.44 | 7 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
3.39 | 20 ratings
King Alfred's College Winchester
2009
3.89 | 25 ratings
Live In Stockholm '75
2009
3.93 | 23 ratings
Live at the Bicentennial
2014

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

4.63 | 187 ratings
Giant On The Box
2004
4.27 | 93 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 | 18 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
4.00 | 1 ratings
Gentle Giant
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
Il Grande Rock
1991
4.39 | 54 ratings
Edge of Twilight
1996
3.12 | 61 ratings
Under Construction
1997
4.28 | 34 ratings
Free Hand/Interview
1998
3.21 | 31 ratings
Scraping The Barrel
2004
4.23 | 21 ratings
I Lost My Head - The Chrysalis years (1975-1980)
2012
2.14 | 12 ratings
Memories Of Old Days
2013
4.72 | 18 ratings
Three Piece Suite
2017

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
4.50 | 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
4.40 | 10 ratings
Just the Same (live)
1977
2.40 | 5 ratings
Mountain Time
1978
1.50 | 7 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
1.36 | 2 ratings
The Power And The Glory
2010

GENTLE GIANT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gentle Giant by GENTLE GIANT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1982
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Gentle Giant
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Kingsnake

— First review of this album —
4 stars This is a very special compilation. It was released in 1982, and was one of my first Gentle Giant albums. I already owned Civilian and Free Hand, but the songs on the compilation were from the first years of the band.

The booklet that comes with the LP is extensive (but the text is in Italian) with lots of photos. In the days before internet, these kind of compilations were very valuable,

Because of the internet, these kind of compilations aren't as valuable anymore, because song-wise it has nothing new to offer. But for the Gentle Giant-enthousiast, this is a real gem (althought the biography is in Italian).

So I will rate it 4 stars, because it features really great songs and the booklet is so extensive.

 Acquiring The Taste by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.25 | 1343 ratings

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Acquiring The Taste
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Frenetic Zetetic

4 stars 4.5/5 stars. Essential progressive rock with perfect early 70's production.

Gentle Giant were never a "straight shot", conventional band. They were always ahead of the curve. Acquiring The Taste (1971) behaves almost like a sampler platter of what the band would offer moving through the decade.

The record opens with Kerry's bleeping-blooping synthesizer line, and calm, gentle vocal entry. The acoustic guitar and synthesizers follow and slowly build, until'DER NER NER NER'that infectious jazz guitar lick! Soon flutes and recorders join the fray for the next "verse". It should be noted that Gentle Giant were never really one for conventional arrangements. Their work is almost like a painting in music; the big picture best for viewing. Sabbath-like chords and riffs follow. I really, really enjoy how the song ends on the particular sustained note.

Edge of Twilight is a fantastic display of progressive rock instrumentation. Kerry's vocals and lyrics really set the mood here. It makes me think of a frosty village, mid-winter at night time. "Figures" moving in the dark'the dreamy synth and tones are picturesque. Derek and company join in for the backing vocals "whisper'". Kerry then comes in with a synth line that reminds me of Final Fantasy for the NES. That's the only way I can describe it! We're then treated to marching drums and xylophone exposition. Gentle Giant somehow manages to never make this seem pretentious. Fantastic, diverse, dynamic track.

The House, The Street, The Room was once a favorite track of mine, but I've seem to grow beyond it a bit. It's catchy to first time listeners compared to some of GG's more infamously-complex stuff. Derek's vocals are great, however! Gary's guitar solo is spot on. I love the baroque bass lines. Not much more to say here honestly.

Acquiring The Taste (title track) immediately reminds me of Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts on the Super Nintendo. The game developers clearly ripped off GG here! Anyone who's played this will know what I'm talking about! I love the moog display here. Killer prog piece.

Wreck is a fan favorite, and for good reason! The jaunty riff and vocals will be caught in your head forever. This one has to be heard to be understood. The guitar and builds and swells are perfect. This song alone brings this record up another half star!

The Moon is Down is another creepy little track with picturesque imagery. "The horse riding up through the red sky" instantly gives you set and setting. Harp-like chords ring in the first verse and sections. The organ/harpsichord sound of the keys really sets the tone. More classic GG choral vocals ensue.

Black Cat is arguably my favorite track from this record. Phil Shulman takes the vocal and lyrical lead here. He seems to have an affinity for animals, which is great because he does them serious justice in his art! The way he wraps his voice and harmonies around words - his vibrato is top notch. Even if he's singing a bit low in the mix, it fits very well with the atmosphere here. "River" from Octopus is another one where his vocal appearance is worth noting!

Plain Truth closes the album with its Hendrix-like riffing and anthem feel. Fantastic guitar work and vocal delivery. This is GG doing hard rock. They really can't go wrong, and you can't either once you Acquire the Taste!

I'm a massive GG fan, and I can give this an honest 4.5/5 stars. This is essential progressive rock. The production is perfect. It arrived on shelves a full year before Yes' Close to The Edge (THE apex of progressive rock music), and already displayed elements that other bands would explore into the late 1970's. Gentle Giant have always been ahead of the curve. This is a great sampler platter of latter offerings from this criminally underrated progressive rock group!

 Three Friends by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.11 | 1102 ratings

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Three Friends
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

4 stars An immature but still amazing Gentle Giant: 8/10

After the successful experiment of ACQUIRING THE TASTE, which denoted that the prog crowd would warmly embrace GENTLE GIANT's peculiar music and acquired the taste for it (that's the pun and objective of the album's title after all), there was no barrier that discouraged the band from further exploring their potential and wildest ideas. GENTLE GIANT wanted to try something new, namely, a concept album, and their first bid was THREE FRIENDS. Its concept is based on, well... three friends; as they grew older they grew further apart socially and even ideologically (for instance, the first friend values physical work while the latter prefers intellectual, leadership roles). There's no doubt the storyline is weak and feebly constructed, but it was more an experiment on how to create a concept album rather than trying to output a masterpiece. This is visible as the concept is barely linked to the music. Subsequent efforts (IN A GLASS HOUSE, THE POWER AND THE GLORY) would depict heavy interconnection between them both, creating a conceptuality that would transcend the "lyrical plane" and be perfectly reflected in the song structure and its instrumental interludes. To make it shorter, the "concept" part of THREE FRIENDS is crude, rudimentary. That detail is crucial to understand why THREE FRIENDS didn't achieve, for me, the status of a masterpiece.

But, in terms of enjoyability, all that stuff really doesn't matter. THREE FRIENDS is still a GENTLE GIANT album, and although I'm not sure whether it is an evolution or regression compared to ACQUIRING THE TASTE, it's pretty fun still. The tracks offer several multilayered solos - just like GENTLE GIANT always does, after all - focused on the keyboards; more precisely, on the organs (heck, never before I have listened to a GENTLE GIANT album with SO MUCH organs). It's eclectic as you'd expect, with some highly dynamic instrumental parts, but there's also a lot of calmer moments (not bad, but I'd rather have more of their typical complex and amusing technical jams). GENTLE GIANT is, apparently, not fully matured - at least from a progressive perspective - as there is still a big influence from blues and hard rock in their music in counterpart to their emblematic "genre neutral" style that would later become the norm. The blues is especially visible on the first part of Working All Day and the hard rocking Peel the Paint, which features four minutes of Gary Green freestyle-soloing a la Jimi Hendrix. Of course, this isn't a complaint, neither a reason why this isn't proggy because duh it's GENTLE GIANT and they are, by default, proggy (at least until FREE HAND).

Overall, it's a great album, not their best, but definitely far from their worst, or from being universally bad for any matter. Bluesy, hard-rockin'. A sturdy album.

 In A Glass House by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.35 | 1495 ratings

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In A Glass House
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N 135

'In A Glass House' is the fifth studio album of Gentle Giant and was released in 1973. It became with 'Octopus' as one of Gentle Giant's most popular albums. 'In A Glass House' is another conceptual album. Its concept is very original and strange and is allegedly based around the idea that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Curiously, the album begins and ends with the sound of breaking some glasses. It was the band's most directly and psychological effort ever. 'In A Glass House' is probably their most ambitious work, with four lengthy songs as 'The Runaway', 'Way Of Life', 'Experience' and 'In A Glass House'. With it, they delivered another masterful work.

'In A Glass House' represents a very important landmark in Gentle Giant's musical career because it marks the definite departure of one of the three Shulman brothers and former member Phil Shulman. He left the group because he was burnt out and discouraged after some problems with the public, especially after the difficult live concerts done by the band when they supported a live tour of Black Sabbath, and so, he had realised that the lifestyle of a touring musician was damaging his family life. Instead of finding a replacement, the remaining band members decided to continue just as they were. So, 'In A Glass House' became the first Gentle Giant's album released by the group after the departure of Phil Shulman. John Weathers even sustained that they became a stronger band after Phil left Gentle Giant.

The line up is Gary Green (6 and 12 string guitars, mandolin, percussion and alto recorder), Kerry Minnear (vocals, keyboards, tuned percussion and recorder), Derek Shulman (vocals, alto and soprano saxophones and recorder), Ray Shulman (vocals, bass, acoustic guitars, violin, trumpet and percussion) and John Weathers (drums and percussion).

'In a Glass House' has six tracks. The first track 'The Runaway' written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman is a song with an extraordinary and surprising beginning where the band seems to break some glasses. This is a very rich song with rich varieties of styles and textures, extremely melodic but is also at the same time complex and very creative. This is an extraordinary track, one of the best tracks ever released by them and a perfect way to open the album. The second track 'An Inmate's Lullaby' written by Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman is a completely different song from its previous track. It's an avant-garde and strange song especially performed by drums, xylophone and vocals. This is probably the most experimental song on the album, it isn't particularly melodic and we need some time to be familiarized with it. The third track 'Way Of Life' written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman is a song with driving rhythm, fast tempo and tempo changes all over the track. We may say that this is another progressive experimental song with some extremely beautiful and melodic moments and at the same time it has also some strange musical parts. It's a very solid and variable song with melody and improvisation at the same time. This is a truly Gentle Giant's track. The fourth track 'Experience' written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman is another extraordinary song, very inventive and with a very complex musical structure. Basically, this is a perfect example of Gentle Giant's medieval complex sound, but the song comprises also many others and varied forms of music. The song is also rich of wonderful vocal harmonies. This is probably the most complex track on the album. The fifth track 'A Reunion' written by Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman is the smallest, simplest and most calm song on the album. It's basically a soft acoustic ballad that reminds me a quartet in the classical music. It's a fine and emotional song with beautiful melody, but it seems be dislocated on this album and is probably the weakest track on it, despite its beauty. The sixth and last track is the title track. 'In A Glass House' was written by Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman and is the lengthiest song on the album. It's another excellent composition with great harmony between all musical instruments. The chorus performed by the four singers is also 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 this amazing piece of music.

Conclusion: 'In A Glass House' is a very important album after their two great masterpieces 'Acquiring The Taste' and 'Octopus'. 'In A Glass House' is also a very important album because it was their first album without the participation of one of the Shulman brothers. Phil was one of the main composers of the band. It's interesting to note that the quality of the music performed by them hadn't lost nothing and probably even improved a bit. Probably, I agree with them when they said that Gentle Giant continued with Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman writing great stuff and that probably they became a stronger band after the departure of Phil Shulman. So, 'In A Glass House' is without any doubt one of the greatest prog rock albums from the 70's. It's with 'Acquiring The Taste', 'Octopus', 'The Power And The Glory' and 'Free Hand' one of their best works, and all of them are some of the best prog rock albums ever made too.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Octopus by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.29 | 1720 ratings

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Octopus
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N 134

'Octopus' is the fourth studio album of Gentle Giant and was released in 1972. The symphonic sound of their second and third studio albums was partially abandoned in 'Octopus', which has at sometimes traces of hard rock and folk rock too. It became the band's hardest rocking album until that date. It maintained the Gentle Giant's distinctive broad and challengingly integrated styles, with one of the highlights being the intricate madrigal styled vocal workout 'Knots', whose lyrics are taken from various verses of poetry from the R. D. Laing's book, edited with the same name.

'Octopus' marked also a new change in the line up of the group. It marked the change of their drummer Malcolm Mortimore who replaced their former drummer Martin Smith on their previous studio album 'Three Friends'. He left the band and was substituted by John Weathers. This was also the last album of the band to feature Phil Shulman. This new line up of the group coincides also with what is generally considered the best musical period of the band. It's also interesting to note, that in 2004, Ray Shulman commented that 'Octopus' was probably Gentle Giant's best album.

The line up is Gary Green (guitars and percussion), Kerry Minnear (vocals, keyboards, vibraphone, cello, Moog and percussion), Derek Shulman (vocals and alto saxophone), Phil Shulman (vocals, saxophones, trumpet and mellophone), Ray Shulman (vocals, bass, violin, guitar and percussion) and John Weathers (drums, percussion and xylophone).

'Octupus' has eight tracks. All songs were written by Kerry Minnear, Phil Shulman, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman. The first track 'The Advent Of Panurge' is a song 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. Which is more impressive in this music is that in the end we have a song with an excellent harmony. The second track 'Raconteur, Troubadour', differently from the previous debut song, is a song with some medievalism influence, although it explores different types of music. It's a song where the violins and cellos reign and guide all the music. Once more it's a song with great vocals and is also very well accompanied by an excellent keyboard work. The third track 'A Cry For Everyone' is a completely different song. This is the first real rock song on the album. It's a very energetic song with an excellent melody, stunning vocals, a great guitar riff and it has also great keyboard work. It became a legendary and classic Gentle Giants' song. The fourth track 'Knots' is the less accessible track on the album and is also one of the most complex and intricate songs ever composed by them. It's an avant-garde song that explores a cappella vocal style by the four vocalists. This song is a perfect example how is good and astonishing the vocal work of this incredible group. It's true that this is a very difficult song to hear, but this is truly a great piece of music. The fifth track 'The Boys In The Band' is the only instrumental track on the album. It's a relatively complex and a fast jazz musical composition with different rhythms and tempos. It's a song very well arranged with some excellent solos by keyboards, guitar and saxophones. Again, we are in presence of a magnificent track. The sixth track 'Dog's Life' is one of the simplest songs on the album. It's an explorative song with the use of varied and really strange and weird musical instruments. It's a funny piece of music with classical orchestration and beautiful vocals. The final result is very good, nice and truly unique. The seventh track 'Think Of Me With Kindness' is the song which gives us the simpler, quiet and beautiful moment on the album. It's a song with a simplest and beautiful tune and where the singing is honest, simple and sincere with good musicianship. It's a soft piano based ballad where the theme is beautiful and that provides us some really nice musical moments. The eighth and last track 'River' is the longest song on the album and is a strange song but is also, at the same time, a melodic and a fascinating track. Basically, it's a rock song that flows progressively by different themes. It's a very experimental song which use a lot of studio effects like moving the sound from speaker to speaker. It's without any doubt a strange track but it's also, for sure, a perfect way to conclude this excellent album.

Conclusion: 'Octopus' represented my introduction to Gentle Giant's music in the distant 70's years. I'm very happy that my baptism in the progressive rock has been made with bands and albums like this one. 'Octopus' began a series of four studio albums, all followed, and all absolutely stunning. They make part of one of the most beautiful and brilliant pages ever written in the progressive rock music. I don't know really if Ray Shulman was right when he said that 'Octopus' was probably the Gentle Giant's best album. Personally, 'Octopus' is only my fourth choice. Sincerely, it seems to me that I prefer 'In A Glass House', 'The Power And The Glory' and 'Free Hand'. However, this option is only a matter of my personal taste. 'Octopus' is in reality a truly masterpiece and one of the best albums ever made, because it has strong songwriting, great composition, excellent musicianship and a perfect overall performance.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Free Hand by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.28 | 1336 ratings

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Free Hand
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars As the early boom of progressive rock waxed and waned in a relatively short period from 1969 to 1975, many bands came and went or transmogrified into ever increasing commercial arenas that sacrificed their earlier ambitions, however through it all GENTLE GIANT continued to crank out albums that continued to hone their prog rocking skills to new heights despite flirting with the more accessible song structures that were slowly simplifying the defining qualities that made prog rock, well so bold and daring. By the time 1975 arrived when they released their seventh album FREE HAND, the two remaining Shulman brothers had steered their creative outfit into prog rock the pinnacle of prog refinement successfully retaining their perfect marriage between brutal prog complexities and pop hook sensibilities.

After more than paying their dues and striking a friendship with Jethro Tull on the extensive touring circuits, this British band scored a contract with Chrysalis Records in the UK but found their most successful charting album on the US Billboard charts (#48). Gone were the long bouts with dissonance and in was a slightly more accessible sound with the most sophisticated of production values mixed in quadrophonic but nevertheless still dressed up with the unmistakable GENTLE GIANT-isms such as their polyphonic instrumental gymnastics, folk laden vocal fugues and heavy modern rock resonating side by side with renaissance anachronisms. However by this time, the band was a fully fueled prog rock machine churning out one addictive tune after another with all the excepted prog soaked outbursts of ambition.

Taking a lighter approach from the more political charged "The Power And The Glory," FREE HAND found the band at their most commercial crossover potential without sacrificing one little bit of all those luscious idiosyncrasies that made the band stand out from the pack. With catchy, even funky riffs as on the opener "Just The Same," GG proved they could adapt their unique time signature frenzies to the most contemporary sounds of the era but in the end composed music that sounds timeless in nature. While steeped in hard rock guitar riffs that connect the band to the burgeoning prog rock scene that was in the process of giving way to less ambitious musical genres, GG found a way to transverse both sides of the fence.

Despite constructing much easier to follow overall song structures, somehow GG exploited every available option to unleash their magic. "On Reflection" comes off as a somewhat catchy little tune but in a short timespan runs the gamut of vocal harmonic fugues in playful interlude with Kerry Minnear's plethora of impressive keyboard runs with plenty of time signature outbursts that should kill any sense of continuity but actually serve to heighten the sense of adventure with an impressive eclectic collection of instruments trading off including the harp, cello, violin, viola, vibraphone, glockenspiel and the list goes on. GG effortlessly exhibits some of the best musicianship prog rock has to offer with their exhaustive fusion of rock, jazz, folk and Baroque classical into sensual yet aggressively angular melodic hooks.

As with any GENTLE GIANT album, you really have to go into it on the band's own terms in order to appreciate FREE HAND. Despite being laced with easily digestible hooks the band still finds the perfect marriage with escapades into the unconventional instrumental and harmonic bombast. While their newfound catchiness was the perfect gateway into the following less sophisticated albums that would find the band fizzle out in irrelevance, FREE HAND is the point where they found all their trademark attributes in the perfect balance and the most recommended starting point to explore the utterly unique musical universe that the band had spent the early 70s constructing. Yet another masterpiece in a long string of outstanding musical gems.

 Free Hand by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.28 | 1336 ratings

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Free Hand
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Their Most Musical Album.

A pioneering band, Gentle Giant often put innovation above music, and some of their albums come across as pretentious as a result. While Free Hand doesn't vary too much from their previous formula, it is clear on this one they decided to prioritize the music. The album is more mature, more thoughtful, more humane, and more musical. While their previous albums were often a very mixed bag, on this album there are no off-putting tracks, and the album contains some of their very best songs. Of course there are the live favourites "Just the Same" and "Free Hand", but this album also contains probably their most successful and musical choral piece (with multiple overlapping choral lines, which is a style they practically invented and which still today is recognizable): "On Reflection". Awesome track. "Time to Kill" and "Talybont" contain similarly-styled instrumental jazz-guitar and medieval-English versions of this same formula, and they work really well here too. The last song ("Mobile") ends the album with a GG classic. This is the GG album that has stood the best test of time for me, even though I agree there are some flashes of brilliance on previous GG albums. I give this album 8.2 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.

 Octopus by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.29 | 1720 ratings

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Octopus
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Mix of brilliant and pretentious.

Pushing the boundaries of composition meant adopting ever-more complex time signatures, faster lines and phrasing, and 'untraditional' choral harmonies and medieval stylings. This is perhaps most extreme here on Octopus. It seems in many places that the pieces were composed on paper perhaps without regard to how they might sound, in order to make them that-much-more complex and different. In places it works well, creating novel kinds of sometimes brilliant music. In others, it just sounds forced and pretentious. This album is a mix of both, often within the same piece. For me the most musical tracks are the third song "A Cry for Everyone" (great melodies, excellent odd-timing instrumental breaks, etc), and track seven "Think of Me with Kindness", which is the tune here that comes closest to sounding like it was not written on paper. The opener ("Advent of Panurge") and the closing track ("River") also work on balance - there is enough real music here to justify repeated listenings. Other songs, like the three middle tracks of "Knots", "Boys in the Band" and "Dog's Life", or the second song "Raconeteur Troubadour", meanwhile, just don't work as well for me. Despite being clearly inventive, they are just not sufficiently musical. I certainly applaud GG's original and innovative approach to composition, and I really like some of these tracks. But at this point (after many years of listens), I can't listen to this album all the way through, at least not easily. So, like the album 'Three Friends', for me this album ends up mixed and uneven. Later albums would sound less pretentious and forced. I give Octopus 7.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is just below what it takes to garner a four-star rating. So, high 3 PA stars.

 Three Friends by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.11 | 1102 ratings

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Three Friends
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Classic GG, but Mixed.

Each Gentle Giant album shows an evolution over the previous album. On Three Friends, GG take the blusier-rockin' approach from Acquiring the Taste and add choral effects and soft medieval sections. The result is innovative and produced some great music, but like other GG albums, can come across as a bit pretentious at time. On this album, the concept is about three friends who come from very different (English) backgrounds, and the pretension here (for me) is in some of the lyrics. Sometimes they work, but sometimes they feel forced. This is particularly true on the fifth track "Mister Class and Quality", but also "Working all Day". I also happen to think these are two of the weaker tracks on the album, too, and so I rarely ever listen to these any more (along with "Schooldays" which I don't find as musical). This leaves three excellent tracks (out of the six): the excellent "Prologue" which sets out the basic concept with some great overlapping choral work, innovative organ riffs, and an interesting popcorn-like organ theme; "Peel the Paint" which for me is the most musical track on the album, with an excellent repeated strings section and a great bluesy-riff section about three minutes in with gutsy guitar solo and some real improvisations (which reminds one of Acquiring the Taste); and the closing title track "Three Friends" which contains highly memorable melodies and a really great repeated theme on outro. Given this album is mixed, with three great tracks and three just-ok, I give this album 7.3 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to (upper) 3 PA stars.

 Acquiring The Taste by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.25 | 1343 ratings

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Acquiring The Taste
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Innovative, Quirky yet also Bluesy.

On Acquiring the Taste, Gentle Giant experiment with new sounds, textures, and time signatures, of all kinds, but within the framework of the 3-to-7 minute rock song as per their debut. Clearly innovative and original, the result is not always musical, although it is so original it is worth listening to even when it doesn't fully work. The opener, Pantagruel's Nativity, is one of the better tracks, quite varied, but true to the GG sound. Edge of Twilight, the second track, is very quiet and nuanced, but despite trying hard to be novel and liked, is not very musical. The third track, "The House, The Street, the Room" is one of GG's instantly-recognizable great tracks. While pushing the vocals a touch, the melody is memorable, with a classic bluesy guitar solo, and really cool quirky medieval-tinged instrumental breaks. The title track is actually a short orchestral piece (with many of the orchestral instruments apparently played by synths), of the kind of multiple overlapping lines that GG has become known, although in this case it is mostly a forgettable experiment. "Wreck" is another classic GG tune, with a sea shanty-like verse structure, and quieter choral-medieval breaks. The feel of "Wreck" continues with "The Moon is Down", but with even more harmonies, and a really fantastic middle jazzy-instrumental section, and then again with "Black Cat" which also has a wonderful (quirky, not jazzy) instrumental middle section. The album ends with another gutsy-rocker "Plain Truth" built around guitar riffs and harmonies, with a nice violin solo, although the song is less memorable that the middle tracks on the album. On the whole, Acquiring the Taste is (slightly) more musical than both GG's debut and "Three Friends" that would follow, although of course they would become even more innovative later on, but in doing so they would lose a bit of the bluesy and gutsy side of their sound in the process. I give this album 7.7 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translate to (high) 3 PA stars.

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

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