Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

GENTLE GIANT

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Gentle Giant picture
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 forum topics / tours, shows & news


GENTLE GIANT forum topics Create a topic now
GENTLE GIANT tours, shows & news Post an entries now

GENTLE GIANT Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Show all GENTLE GIANT videos (6) | Search and add more videos to GENTLE GIANT

Buy GENTLE GIANT Music



More places to buy GENTLE GIANT music online

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)

3.95 | 1247 ratings
Gentle Giant
1970
4.27 | 1563 ratings
Acquiring The Taste
1971
4.12 | 1261 ratings
Three Friends
1972
4.30 | 2004 ratings
Octopus
1972
4.35 | 1714 ratings
In a Glass House
1973
4.30 | 1637 ratings
The Power And The Glory
1974
4.28 | 1531 ratings
Free Hand
1975
3.74 | 766 ratings
Interview
1976
2.97 | 567 ratings
The Missing Piece
1977
2.34 | 493 ratings
Giant For A Day
1978
2.78 | 450 ratings
Civilian
1980

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

4.52 | 447 ratings
Playing the Fool - The Official Live
1977
3.59 | 27 ratings
In Concert (BBC Radio 1)
1994
4.11 | 62 ratings
Out of the Woods - The BBC Sessions
1996
2.48 | 34 ratings
The Last Steps
1996
4.15 | 63 ratings
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents
1998
4.05 | 31 ratings
Out Of The Fire
1998
1.86 | 16 ratings
In A Palesport House
1999
4.14 | 46 ratings
Totally Out of the Woods - The BBC Sessions
2000
1.98 | 20 ratings
Live Rome 1974
2000
2.22 | 14 ratings
Interview In Concert
2000
1.83 | 14 ratings
Artistically Cryme
2002
3.74 | 24 ratings
Experience
2002
1.41 | 8 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
3.55 | 23 ratings
King Alfred's College Winchester
2009
3.94 | 28 ratings
Live In Stockholm '75
2009
3.95 | 33 ratings
Live at the Bicentennial
2014

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

4.64 | 200 ratings
Giant On The Box
2004
4.27 | 101 ratings
GG At The GG
2006

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

4.67 | 3 ratings
The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 1
1974
4.67 | 3 ratings
The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 2
1974
3.49 | 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
4.17 | 3 ratings
Gentle Giant
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
Il Grande Rock
1991
4.39 | 57 ratings
Edge of Twilight
1996
3.14 | 65 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
4.33 | 39 ratings
Three Piece Suite
2017
4.67 | 3 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
4.62 | 13 ratings
Prologue
1972
4.50 | 16 ratings
In A Glass House
1973
4.37 | 24 ratings
The Advent Of Panurge
1973
4.54 | 13 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
4.45 | 11 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
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
1.79 | 5 ratings
The Power And The Glory
2010

GENTLE GIANT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gentle Giant by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.95 | 1247 ratings

BUY
Gentle Giant
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Uruk_hai

4 stars Review #88

Since I started listening to Progressive Rock and discovering the bands that fit under that label two bands became my favorites and they're still my favorites nowadays; it's really hard for me to choose one of these bands over the other so I just interchange the first position between these two groups over and over again; these two groups are KING CRIMSON and GENTLE GIANT.

I've been listening to all of GENTLE GIANT studio albums since I was 15 years old and (with the sad exception of the last two albums) I believe every single one of them is amazing; the debut album was extremely innovative even in Progressive Rock: all the members of GENTLE GIANT were multi-instrumentalists, capable of creating very interesting musical compositions outside the monotonous guitar-bass-drums-keyboards classic rock band type.

GENTLE GIANT emerged from the ashes of SIMON DUPREE & THE BIG SOUND, an R&B group from the late sixties with occasional psychedelic moments in which the three SHULMAN brothers (Ray, Phillip, and Derek) were the main musicians; after breaking up the band in 1969 (because none of the SHULMAN brothers really liked the kind of music that the record label wanted them to play) they formed a new group with a completely different musical style featuring Kerry MINNEAR, Gary GREEN, and Martin SMITH.

Once I read that BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO cited GENTLE GIANT as one of their major influences, I can't find the article right now but I can find a lot of this album in several Italian Progressive Rock bands of the early seventies such as PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI, AREA, and LE ORME, so I don't find that really hard to believe.

1.- Giant (06:22): The opening track is very intense and concise; a very consistent guitar riff accompanied by powerful bass lines and a jazzy organ is the main instrumentation of the first part, then the song has an instrumental middle section that changes the rhythm with a majestic organ solo that reminds a lot to THE MOODY BLUES' "Days of future passed" and then the song comes back to the initial sung structure.

2.-Funny ways (04:21): The most recognizable song from this album: GENTLE GIANT played it in most of (or maybe every single one of) their live performances. The medieval instrumentation under the leadership of Phil SHULMAN's violin changes to a jazzy middle section with a frenetic trumpet solo played by Ray SHULMAN.

3.- Alucard (06:00): This is a more moved rock piece with nice keyboard arrangements by Kerry MINNEAR; it is also a great example of how well synchronized the members of the band were to play vocal roles, something that would become characteristic in every GENTLE GIANT album. Jazzy at some moments, rocky and even obscure in others

4.- Isn't it quiet and cold? (05:51): This is a beautiful medieval stylized tune with string instruments; once again the medieval essence is interspersed with jazzy elements. The xylophone in this piece was very original for its time: probably Frank ZAPPA and GENTLE GIANT were the first musicians to incorporate this instrument to Progressive Rock.

5.- Nothing at all (09:08): As I said before: several Italian Progressive Rock bands sound similar to GENTLE GIANT in some moments whether it was intentional or not; I hear a lot of this song in PFM's first two albums. The middle part is actually the one that contains the hardest rock with a very powerful riff and a wonderful drum solo played by Martin SMITH.

6.- Why not? (05:31): A nice Hard Rock piece with the very classy touch of the giant; the riff played in this tune is easy to recognize. This is probably the heaviest song of the album, almost reminds me of ATOMIC ROOSTER or WISHBONE ASH.

7.- The queen (01:40): The instrumental short piece that closes the album is an arrangement of "God save the Queen", UK's National Anthem and it is played quite great.

The debut album of one of the most beloved and respected Progressive Rock bands of all time is probably not their best job, but still, it is a really amazing one.

 Acquiring The Taste by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.27 | 1563 ratings

BUY
Acquiring The Taste
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

5 stars One of the things you have to admire about Gentle Giant is the risk they took with what was only their 2nd album. Their debut album was more of a blues oriented affair, but they didn't want to rest on those laurels. Instead, it was the band's intention to stretch their musical style to the limits of their imagination, and that is what they did with "Acquiring the Taste". They did this with full knowledge of the risk they were taking, to risk stardom and notoriety for obscurity in order to not compromise on their vision, to push the boundaries of rock music. All of this is noted in the text on the album sleeve. That was the reasoning behind the title of the album, to "sit back, and acquire the taste".

And, that is what you have to do. In 1971, when this was released, progressive rock was young, and GG was one of the first band's to get a foothold in the genre. But, even though there were other band's expanding their horizons at the time, it was still hard to find a band that they could be accused of "ripping off". Talk about interesting harmonies, strange chords, interesting meters, and just being totally original, this band accomplished this with this album. And, thus, this is where their unique sound and style began.

Forget the fact that the album cover was deemed one of the worst record covers of all time. They weren't out to impress anyone. At best, the band pretty much avoided the limelight, and was only really able to get a cult following at the time. Now, the band is quite well respected. It's not music that will appeal to the masses, especially if they are not willing to put in the time to appreciate just what is going on here. However, the band seemed to be quite content to give their unique style in small doses. In fact, even though this album is only around 39 minutes long, it is still the longest of all of their studio albums. But, man, there is a lot going on here.

The album starts off with "Pantagruel's Nativity", one that demonstrates right off the bat that this is anything but normal. This complex piece of work is inspired by the books of Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais, a group of novels that tell the adventures of two giants. It is a bit difficult to discern where one song ends and the next begins as they are presented as a suite-style. However, the mellotron will definitely let you know that the music is progressive, and the complex folkish style runs rampant through the entire album. As a matter of fact, when the heavier guitar solo comes in later in the track "The House, the Street, the Room", it has quite an impact that doubles in power since you don't quite expect it, but it sure sound great, and it fits right in.

The 2nd half of the album doesn't let up in the progressive sound as it continues to explore strange harmonies in both the vocals and the chords. The rhythm continues to emphasize the complexities of the music, never being satisfied to settle into a constant beat like an afterthought, but actually being as complex as the music itself. "The Moon is Down" has some nice tonal percussion in it that is completely original, and this song only proves that people use the band as a "standard" when comparing other bands, as in, "hey this band has a Gentle Giant vibe to it, doesn't it?". The other thing I find interesting is really apparent in "Black Cat", which features the band's mellow sound in the vocals, which is also a trademark feel for Gentle Giant, that almost makes the band sound vulnerable in what they are doing sound-wise, but that playful passage that involves the strings and odd percussive noises, you know they are completely sure of themselves in what they are doing. I've always considered that soft singing style one of Gentle Giant's most endearing sounds, and the way it almost clashes with the complexities of everything makes them completely engaging in my opinion. The last track "Plain Truth" is probably the most rock-oriented of the tracks once the guitar riff kicks in, and is also the most repetitive riffs on the album, though the exciting violin swirls that are just as strong as the guitar riffs make this track a rousing ending statement for an excellent album.

For those that have not had a chance to "acquire the taste" of Gentle Giant, this album is one only seasoned progressive lovers should start on. Even then, it might be a bit tough to "get" from the outset. But, if you allow the music to grow inside of you, it will end up being one of your favorite albums. The array of instruments on this album is quite extensive, and only helps in making it one intriguing album. If you've been missing this album in your progressive collection, then it's about time for you to find it and discover what you've been missing.

 In a Glass House by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.35 | 1714 ratings

BUY
In a Glass House
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by rogerthat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A long, long time ago (OK, not that long ago in prog world but certainly feels like a long time to me), when yours truly was getting into prog, the track Experience off this album was one of the first prog tracks I heard. Needless to say, I was simply confounded by the track. I filed it for comprehension at a later date.

As it happened, my full fledged dive into prog, where I began to devour back catalogues of the who's who of prog would come about a couple of years later.

This time, I sampled Runaway before I ventured any further on Gentle Giant. I hadn't heard Experience again at all but I did remember the, er, experience rather well.

Runaway clicked where Experience didn't. Perhaps, the slight Jethro Tull-ness of the track makes it a little more accessible than many other Gentle Giant tracks. Which isn't necessarily saying much.

I have sort of said a version of this in my other Gentle Giant reviews but they are really like no other prog rock band. Broadly speaking, prog rock bands are either accessible and somewhat catchy (Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull) or not very accessible and not very catchy (King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, Magma). The former are easy into get into and the latter, it is understood, need growing into and may not be for everyone.

Gentle Giant on the other hand is rather catchy and yet not accessible!

Their tracks are short by prog standards (the longest one here clocking eight and a half minutes). They are also laden with molten hot funk grooves. They are unabashedly playful in a way that comes off as goofy. That is one of three primary sources of irritation for those who don't like the band. Number two, Derek Shulman's vocals and even many fans, including myself, make peace with his singing for what it is. Number three, the songs go through lots, and I mean lots, of changes within the five-six minute length. Long before there was Spastic Ink, there was Gentle Giant. The music changes so much it gets rather restless and that too may turn off a lot of people. Even if it doesn't, it may simply get difficult to get a handle on what's going on.

With all that said, in the intervening two years since my first experience of Experience, I had gotten a better grip over prog. So...I made headway with Runaway and then gingerly tried Experience, finding to my surprise that I rather liked it now.

In fact, Experience is probably my second favourite off the album. The first being the title track. It's vintage Gentle Giant - a violin part interlocking with a keyboard figure and then a different keyboard part comes in, paving the way for vocals. Which end with a stylish guitar groove. How they pass through all these changes smoothly is a mystery but they do it...that is, for those who do enjoy the music. At the half way mark, a much more rock-ing riff comes in, eventually leading to a country-like guitar part. And on and on it goes.

Runaway is wonderful but once you HAVE become a Gentle Giant fan, it feels almost tame in comparison to Experience or the title track! Way of Life is likewise and overstays its welcome a tad. Reunion and Inmates Lullaby are too brief to really hit home, on the other hand.

All in all, this one isn't quite up there with Acquiring The Taste, Octopus or Free Hand. It's still a very strong four, which is most everything they did from the debut right up to Free Hand.

 Gentle Giant by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.95 | 1247 ratings

BUY
Gentle Giant
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars For their first album, Gentle Giant wanted to establish the fact that this was going to be a different kind of band, nothing like the band that they grew out of the ashes from, Simon Dupree and The Big Sound. The sound on this album is a world apart from that band, however, it was not exactly the sound that they would eventually acquire (pun intended). It is very true that you can hear a lot of what they would soon become, but this album is no "Free Hand" or even "Acquiring the Taste" for that matter. This one is based quite a bit more upon the blues-based rock that was prevalent at the time than most of their albums, but with a lot of the progressive sound they would call their own.

This is mostly apparent in the first track "Giant". In fact, you can almost say this sound more like one of their more mature tracks, complex with odd time signatures and cool non-traditional harmonies. The following track "Funny Ways" is a bit more typical, but still a bit "left-of-center", however it doesn't quite stand out and actually gets a bit lost between the album opener and the following track "Alucard". Featuring some really nice keyboard work, it emphasizes the instrumental prowess of the band, however, there are still vocals. This one, like the first, is more on the progressive side of things, but does rely more on the rock-centered side of things.

Side two tends to drift away from the progressive sound and centers even more on the blues-oriented rock, yet it is still full of originality that would become the band's signature sound. The Beatlesque "Isn't It Quiet and Cold?" starts things off and is followed by the lengthiest track on the album "Nothing at All". This one teeters between folk and rock quite comfortably and even hints around at progressive stylings. Even with this progressive feel though, it still lacks a bit at the GG signature sound that would come later. Still, it's a good track worth the price of the album. The album gets rounded off with "Why Not?" which is a fun rock track that shows a less serious side to the band and then everything gets closed off by "The Queen" which is a short instrumental with the band interpreting "God Save the Queen".

Two things work against this album: the weak ending and the not-so-great production. The original copy of the album seems to be lacking in quality in the sound, not in the performance. This can be forgiven because it was the band's first album and they were also experimenting with their overall sound and place in the overall rock picture. Fortunately, it won't take long for the band to find their sound and their place, but at least with this album, we still end up with something that is worth while when it comes to progressive rock. It's pretty good and all, but it's not as good as it will get.

 Playing the Fool - The Official Live by GENTLE GIANT album cover Live, 1977
4.52 | 447 ratings

BUY
Playing the Fool - The Official Live
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Squire Jaco

5 stars I've known since the early 70's that I liked this band, and I've always appreciated the aspect of newer bands that borrowed selectively from the Gentle Giant sound. Yet I shunned this cd for many years with unfounded biases of overindulgence and potential eccentricities. My bad.

Please don't make the same mistake I made - add this great live "best of" cd to your collection while you can. This is truly complex and progressive rock performed flawlessly and with pretty good sound reproduction. There's an Octopus suite that's really...well, sweet; and they add nice different touches to ALL of the tracks. That's one of the nice things about this: not only can they (and DO they) perform this sophisticated material live with few imperfections, but they also throw in some nice changes so that you don't just get the studio tracks re-hashed live. There is a nice live feel to the entire album, and you get a good sense of the fun that these guys could have on stage as well. Worthy.

 Out of the Woods - The BBC Sessions by GENTLE GIANT album cover Live, 1996
4.11 | 62 ratings

BUY
Out of the Woods - The BBC Sessions
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Squire Jaco

4 stars Last time I checked, there were close to TWENTY live and/or BBC session albums by Gentle Giant. So it might get a little difficult for newcomers to figure out which one(s) to get.

This is one of 'em.

"Playing The Fool" is their best live cd in terms of performance, sound quality and song selection. (If you don't have that one yet, come back here in three weeks after you've digested that gem...;-) And their "King Biscuit Flower Hour presents..." cd is another fine product. But I like this "Out of the Woods" cd a lot, partly because the band always finds a new wrinkle to throw into these already great songs, and also because this is about the only place you'll find the 5-minute opener "City Hermit". That song is in mono, and not on the same level of sound quality as the rest of the album - but still quite adequate, and the song itself is a worthy addition to your GG catalogue. Ya needs it.

Not much more to say - it's live Gentle Giant, so it's great. I think it's one of their top 3 live cd's. There - I did the research for ya...

 Octopus by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.30 | 2004 ratings

BUY
Octopus
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Prog12104

5 stars Octopus by Gentle Giant is an album from 1972. It is also a fantastic album. The album is comprised of 8 songs. Each song is at least good. Some of the songs are absolutely spectacular. The first song is called the Advent of Panurge. This song is a really good way to start off the album. This song is really complex and progressive, but not as complex or progressive as one of the songs later on in the album. This song is a good mix of progressive elements and medieval qualities. The next song is called Raconteur Troubadour. This song is also very good. This song is very medieval sounding, like the previous one. Raconteur Troubadour also has some great vocals to them. The vocals mix well with the music.

The next song is called A Cry for Everyone. This song is very complex and progressive. Gentle Giant also uses very odd time signatures in their music. They are in my opinion: one of the most complex bands out there. The next song is called Knots. This is the one of the best tracks of this album. This song is very complicated and not very easy to get into. Once you get into this track, you can see how unique of a band Gentle Giant are. The next song is the Boys in the Band. The Boys in the Band is another complex track, but not as complex as Knots. the Boys in the Band is another good song, but not as good as Knots.

The next song is called Dog Life. Dogs Life is also a really great track. It is an acoustic track. It definitely has a classical feel to it. The next track is Think of Me with Kindness. This is a really beautiful track, but is somewhat different from the rest of the album. It doesn't feel like any of the other tracks on this album. The next and final track is called River. River is a good way to end the album. River is an okay track.

Overall, this is a really great album that is essential to any prog fan out there. Every prog fan out there should listen to this at least listen to it once. It is one of the great progressive rock classics that came out in the 1970's. Definitely check it out. It is really great.the Overall rating is a 4/5.

 Live at the Bicentennial by GENTLE GIANT album cover Live, 2014
3.95 | 33 ratings

BUY
Live at the Bicentennial
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by iluvmarillion

4 stars This is a virtual unedited live concert performance of the band at the Calderone Theatre in Hempstead NY on the eve of the US Bicentennial celebrations for a promotional tour of their album, Interview and comes from the same period of touring that the band released their more familiar, Playing The Fool album. What we don't get are the encore pieces from the latter album, Sweet Georgia Brown/ Peel the Paint/ Lost My Head, which is a pity because Peel the Paint is a highlight of any Gentle Giant concert. Instead we get extended versions of three tracks on the Interview album, Interview, Timing and Give It Back. Timing is especially good because you get about 10 minutes of improvised violin and echo effects. Give It Back is a Bob Marley reggae piece with lots of drum and xylophone. The track Interview is very tongue in cheek with Derek Shulman's voice introducing the song in the format of a radio interview with alternating bass and organ riffs giving it a rolling rocking feel.

Most of the other songs on the Live at the Bicentennial album follow a similar pattern to the Playing the Fool album. So Sincere has some of Gary Green's best electric guitar work before John Weathers begins his extended drum solo. All the musicians are super talented who work within the basic structure of the songs to explore nuances you don't think are there from their studio versions. My only other complaint apart from the exclusion of the encore pieces from the concert, is the band's preference to play excepts from the Octopus album rather than the individual songs from that album. I prefer the fresher sounding unedited Bicentennial album to their better known Playing the Fool album if only for greater audience ambiance you get on this album. The voices aren't as clear, but I don't think it matters. The bonus of having three tracks off the Interview album performed live, makes this a very valuable addition for fans of Gentle Giant to add to their collection.

 Three Friends by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.12 | 1261 ratings

BUY
Three Friends
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by iluvmarillion

4 stars This comes from a period between Acquiring The Taste and Octopus, when the music of Gentle Giant is very complex and experimental. Comparison wise it's a bit like gazing at a painting by George Seurat. Appreciation of the pointillism of post-impressionist art improves with your understanding of impressionist art. Likewise I would think it useful but not essential in liking this period of Gentle Giant to have a grounding in rock and jazz and maybe have been exposed to a bit of classical music, but it doesn't guarantee that you're going to like it. Sometimes the listener has to make a leap of faith to music that's a little bit more difficult, or different to appreciate. If the scale of the jump is too high to make, then the music loses that connection with the listener. Maybe, it's that the music is too elitist to appreciate, or that people are being taken out of their comfort zone and don't want to go there? This was the danger that Gentle Giant faced in their early days, which they never really overcame. They simplified their approach after Octopus without compromising on their musical integrity. However, they never really endeared the public to their music in the way progressive groups like Yes and Genesis did.

The extraordinary thing about Gentle Giant that stands them apart from other groups is that they are all multi- instrumentalists. All can sing. Kerry Minnear is a classically trained pianist with a degree in composition from the Royal Academy of Music. Ray Shulman is one of the great bass players in rock. His bass line is more, or less, continuous and acts as a counterpoint to the keyboard runs which tend to go in stops and starts. The beauty of the music is that it all interacts, but it generally doesn't come together at the first listening.

The album concept of Three Friends is very straightforward. Three boyhood friends grow up together then are separated by their circumstances. Prologue (nostalgic look over their fate). Schooldays (remembering when they met and grew up at school before they separated). Working All Day (one becomes a road worker). Peel The Paint (the second becomes an artist). Mister Class And Quality (the third becomes a white collar worker). Three Friends (how fate, skill and chances separated them). The vocal line and use of the musical instrumentation, describes the journey of the three friends from childhood.

The mini-moog of Prologue represents the main theme and is built on by Hammond organ and 12-string guitar. The bass guitar with piano is syncopated to signal the passing of time just as the chorus sings, "days change into years". In Schooldays the vibraphone represents the playfulness of the school yard with bells ringing and remembering the fun it was when the boys were together. Pounding piano keys and moody mellotron indicate those days are about to change as the child voices reminiscing what it was like, are competing against the more serious side of homework and attending to teacher demands. The scaling notes of clavinet, guitars and sax, ascending and descending indicate the mundane nature of manual work as Derek Shulman sings the main verse of Working All Day. Bach like organ introduces Peel The Paint before the fuzz guitar breaks up the organ theme and then some very psychedelic electric guitar playing describes the feeling of the artist unconstrained by the worries of time. Contrasting with the life of the artist, the third of the friends has the most practical of lives working in an office. The bright and breezy tones of electric piano with violin and tambourine describes the easy life he has giving and taking orders. The last song, Three Friends, is a worldly chorus of mellotrons reprising the main theme.

Three Friends has a harder edge than the preceding album, Acquiring The Taste. Octopus, to follow, goes a little harder again. I largely ignored these albums when I was younger, preferring the next trio of albums, In A Glass House, The Power And The Glory and Free Hand. This early phase in Gentle Giant's discography is as equally rewarding as the other.

 The Power And The Glory by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.30 | 1637 ratings

BUY
The Power And The Glory
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars GENTLE GIANT fans are nothing if not an attentive lot, as this isn't the sort of music you can just allow to wash over you and come out cleaner for it. So I'm somewhat surprised that, though most acknowledge that the original closer "Valedictory" reprises the melody of the opener "Proclamation", I haven't found any references to the penultimate cut "The Face" also being eerily similar. Well, I guess the eerie part is a given with the Giant, but, hey, if I had stumbled on a hook like that I'd probably install it everywhere whether people were asking for it or not. And I'm guessing some Giant fans look down their noses at a hook.

"Proclamation" itself outshines most everything in the band's discography, exploiting the herky jerky rhythms for which the band is known to stunning effect and, in parts, rocking very hard but with a rare focus. Here and elsewhere, the clavinet and especially the electric piano of Kerry Minnear hold tcourt, and gently brush the gorgeous and surprisingly accessible ballad "Aspirations", This is followed by "Playing the Game", another standout with...gasp..another earworm?

There was a time I just would have thought this was a slightly less oily release but I'm ready to proclaim that, if only on the "Power and the Glory", I almost sort of "get" GENTLE GIANT., or at least I can use some type of cheap translate app to approximate that self satisfied feeling of intellectual superiority that comes with such potency. Sure, "So Sincere", "Cogs in Cogs" , and "No God's a Man" are annoyingly smarmy, but if they weren't, I don't think fans would go to bat for "Power and the Glory" like they do. And that's their job, not mine. Nifty.

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

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.