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GENTLE GIANT

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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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

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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)

3.97 | 1358 ratings
Gentle Giant
1970
4.28 | 1673 ratings
Acquiring the Taste
1971
4.12 | 1375 ratings
Three Friends
1972
4.31 | 2140 ratings
Octopus
1972
4.35 | 1824 ratings
In a Glass House
1973
4.31 | 1747 ratings
The Power and the Glory
1974
4.30 | 1641 ratings
Free Hand
1975
3.73 | 842 ratings
Interview
1976
2.97 | 638 ratings
The Missing Piece
1977
2.33 | 555 ratings
Giant for a Day
1978
2.78 | 505 ratings
Civilian
1980

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

4.53 | 476 ratings
Playing the Fool - The Official Live
1977
3.60 | 31 ratings
In Concert (BBC Radio 1)
1994
4.13 | 66 ratings
Out of the Woods - The BBC Sessions
1996
2.51 | 37 ratings
The Last Steps
1996
4.16 | 65 ratings
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents
1998
4.05 | 35 ratings
Out Of The Fire
1998
1.84 | 17 ratings
In A Palesport House
1999
4.16 | 49 ratings
Totally Out of the Woods - The BBC Sessions
2000
2.00 | 24 ratings
Live Rome 1974
2000
2.15 | 16 ratings
Interview In Concert
2000
1.82 | 16 ratings
Artistically Cryme
2002
3.75 | 25 ratings
Experience
2002
1.42 | 10 ratings
Endless Life
2003
3.84 | 11 ratings
Missing Face
2003
1.93 | 15 ratings
Way of life
2003
2.18 | 12 ratings
Prologue
2003
3.83 | 4 ratings
Playing the Cleveland
2003
3.60 | 5 ratings
Live In New York 1975
2005
2.44 | 9 ratings
Santa Monica Freeway
2005
3.48 | 25 ratings
King Alfred's College Winchester
2009
3.93 | 33 ratings
Live In Stockholm '75
2009
3.99 | 37 ratings
Live at the Bicentennial
2014
0.00 | 0 ratings
Front Row Center
2022

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

4.64 | 207 ratings
Giant On The Box
2004
4.28 | 104 ratings
GG At The GG
2006

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

3.25 | 5 ratings
The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 1
1974
3.25 | 5 ratings
The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 2
1974
3.37 | 22 ratings
Giant Steps... The First Five Years 1970-1975
1975
3.11 | 6 ratings
Pretentious for the Sake of It
1977
2.10 | 2 ratings
Circling Round The Gentle Giant
1981
3.42 | 5 ratings
Gentle Giant
1982
3.05 | 2 ratings
Il Grande Rock
1991
4.35 | 63 ratings
Edge of Twilight
1996
3.14 | 69 ratings
Under Construction
1997
4.24 | 38 ratings
Free Hand/Interview
1998
3.24 | 35 ratings
Scraping The Barrel
2004
3.89 | 28 ratings
I Lost My Head - The Chrysalis years (1975-1980)
2012
2.32 | 16 ratings
Memories Of Old Days
2013
3.99 | 49 ratings
Three Piece Suite
2017
4.61 | 12 ratings
Unburied Treasure
2019

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

3.00 | 2 ratings
Rock Power
1971
4.63 | 16 ratings
Prologue
1972
4.56 | 18 ratings
In A Glass House
1973
4.41 | 27 ratings
The Advent Of Panurge
1973
4.47 | 17 ratings
The Power and the Glory
1974
3.71 | 7 ratings
Give It Back
1976
2.71 | 7 ratings
I'm Turning Around
1977
3.60 | 10 ratings
Two Weeks in Spain
1977
4.54 | 13 ratings
Just the Same (live)
1977
2.67 | 6 ratings
Mountain Time
1978
1.68 | 9 ratings
Thank You (edit)
1978
3.00 | 4 ratings
Dando Vueltas
1978
3.13 | 8 ratings
Words from the Wise
1978
3.20 | 5 ratings
Underground
1980
2.43 | 7 ratings
All Through The Night
1980
2.50 | 2 ratings
In A Power Free In'terview
2009
2.16 | 10 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
3.97 | 1358 ratings

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Gentle Giant
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Mr. Gentle Giant

5 stars INCREDIBLE!!!!

I just adore this album, I can never go wrong with sticking this on the turntable and giving it a spin. One of my favourite albums of all time, an absolute classic.

To start off this masterpiece we have the incredible GIANT, what an opener to their debut. Such a proggy song coming in at a reasonable 6 mins and 22 seconds, an incredible song with very cool lyrics and instrumentation.

FUNNY WAYS, the first song i properly got into by this incredibly talented band, that violin by Ray is so good.

ALUCARD, amazing song but probably the weakest proper track on this album, very haunting

ISN'T IT QUIET AND COLD, the best song on side 1, I love the violin so much.

NOTHING AT ALL, immaculate song with some of the best acoustic guitar parts of any Gentle Giant song.

WHY NOT, why not make an incredible song on an already incredible album

and finally THE QUEEN, not really a full track but a great closer to the album.

In conclusion this album is my favourite Gentle Giant album, the musical diversity is definitely here.

 Civilian by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.78 | 505 ratings

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Civilian
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Lupton

3 stars Bye bye GG The follow up to Giant For A Day is actually a stronger album. In some ways it actually sounds even less like Gentle Giant than the previous album .The opening track "Convenience" is really just a straight ahead rocker but it is better than anything on GFAD.In Fact apart from "Shadows On The Street" which is a fairly gentle ballad with Kerry Minnears on vocals and "Inside Out" which is slow brooding track-probably the closest thing to "Prog" on the album, most of the tracks are straight ahead rockers.So while not exactly a masterpiece at least Gentle Giant went out on a reasonably high note.

 Giant for a Day by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.33 | 555 ratings

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Giant for a Day
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Lupton

2 stars I really did not mind Gentle Giant going in a more accessible direction while retaining the essential progressive sound with Missing Piece. However with the follow up, Giant For A Day they completely abandoned any trace of their progressive roots and went in a pure pop-rock direction.Even that was not a terrible decision- it is just that most of the songs are just so pedestrian and bland.The opning track "Words From The Wise" is quite good and could have easily fitted on their previous album."Spookie Boogie" is a fun little instrumental and sounds like theme tune for a Kid's TV show.I also really like "Little Brown Bag"- not even remotely but a great riff driven song nevertheless.But those few highlights really cannot save a fairly mediocre album.
 The Missing Piece by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.97 | 638 ratings

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The Missing Piece
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Lupton

4 stars I bet you thought they couldn't do it! After the overtly dense and frankly inaccessible Interview album Gentle Giant had a radical rethink for the follow up album The Missing Piece.The most obvious change was to ditch the complex-for-the-sake-of-being-complex polyrhythms which were such an essential ingredient.Also the album is less overtly experimental.In other words they basically decided to streamline and simplify their sound while staying true to themselves.The major Prog bands in particular Genesis, Yes and ELP were doing the same thing essentially but I actually think The Missing Piece works really well as a lighter Prog album than those group's efforts.

A lot of fans seem horrified by the sudden change in approach probably best exemplified by the opening track "Two Weeks In Spain".I really like that song- it is extremely catchy and if you bother to listen closely there are some very involved musical passages."Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It" is obviously a tongue in cheek (or maybe not according to Ray Shulman") riposte to the punk rock movement which was in full swing when the album was being recorded.If nothing this brief (all 2 min 20sec of it) track proves is that the band could rock like bastards when it suited them.

If the first side comprises fairly short songs the second side reflects their more overtly progressive routes.I have always loved the side 2 opener- "As Old As You're Young"- it has that cod medieval flavour which is so typical of their sound."Memories of Old Days" is an absolutely gorgeous acoustic number with some mesmerising guitar work.The closing track "For Nobody" is an absolute cracker- a full tilt hard prog rocker with some great instrumental interplay. It is in my top 10 Gentle Giant songs.

The Missing Piece is an immensely enjoyable album and I would recommend it for anyone interested in investigating their catalogue.

 Interview by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.73 | 842 ratings

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Interview
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Lupton

3 stars Where to begin...... Gentle Giant's unique brand of head spinningly complex music can often dangerously close to veering from intriguing to downright irritating. Staying on the right side of the line between great and grating is a skill in itself and I have to say GG have generally not crossed that line despite getting awfully close on a few occasions.Unfortunately on their follow- up to Free Hand which struck such a perfect balance between sophistication and accessibility they really do cross that line on at least a couple of occasions.The first example is the instrumental section of the otherwise excellent opening title track when the band suddenly sound like they have been submerged underwater at the 4 minute mark after a fairly enjoyable crazy piano lead instrumental break.It is just so irritating.Ever time I hear it I just go "Why?"The other track which I'm sorry but just does my head in is "Design" featuring Kerry Minnear doing one of his madrigal-like arrangements but this one just irritates me for some reason.I think the reason is the see-sawing background vocals.I actually admire these type of vocal arrangements especially on "Knots" and "On Reflection" but here the whole thing is so incoherent it just well I've already said it. Another track which I just cannot get into is "Give it Back" which is a stab at reggae but just seems forced to me. Fortunately the rest of the album is actually pretty good although I have a feeling they rushed into the studio to knock this one out quickly and there is a dearth of really good melodies and songwriting generally.The real exception is the closing track "I Lost My Head" Now that track is a bona fide Classic slice of Prog Rock.Another 2wo hander similar in arrangement to "Peel The Paint" from Three Friends.I love the opening few minutes with Kerry Minnear's delicate vocals and medieval flavoured instrumental sections featuring harpsichord and recorder before the band comes crashing in with Derek Shulman taking over on vocals. If only the rest of the album had the same level of songwriting and arrangement as that one, it would be another 5 star album.Unfortunately I can only give this album 3 stars-it's just too uneven even for a GG fan like myself.
 Free Hand by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.30 | 1641 ratings

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Free Hand
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Lupton

5 stars On Reflection. After the complex, brilliant but frankly difficult album Power and The Glory, Free Hand is a real breath of fresh air.The compositions are by and large just as complex and sophisticated as anything they had thus recorded but essentially the album is also by far their most accessible (up to that point of its release anyway) and is easily the best introduction to the band.Much of that is due not only to the slick production but the actual instrumentation itself.For example the guitar solo in the opening track "Just the Same" is beautifully melodic and lyrical instead of the interlocking jigsaw like guitar parts typical in GGs music.The album also indicates a definite lightning up generally best represented on the delightful medieval flavoured instrumental "Talybont" with its recorder and harpsichord instrumentation.It could have almost been produced by Gryphon."On Reflection" features their madrigal-like interlocking vocals slightly reminiscent of Knots" from the Octopus LP but here is smoother ie easier to listen to ie easier to enjoy.The title track is another standout with an almost funky keyboard pattern albeit with a harpsichord sound and the closing track "Mobile" is a terrific little rocker similar in some ways to the music on In a Glass House.Overall this album is about as close to perfectection GG ever got. Complex, sophisticated and easy on the ear. Is it their best album? Debatable but it is definitely my favourite. A real masterpiece- 5 stars
 The Power and the Glory by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.31 | 1747 ratings

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The Power and the Glory
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Lupton

5 stars "Hail to Power and to Glory's Way"

Just when I thought Gentle Giant had gone about as dense and complex as they were likely to get they pulled this proverbial rabbit out of the hat.Listening to all their albums back to back this one really is the most avant guard and complex ie hard to digest of the lot.Rolling Stone Magazine called it their most "irritating" album- they would wouldn't they- they are only comfortable with good ol' fashioned rack-n-rall- but they do have a point. You really do need to pay full attention and not be doing little household chores with this in the background because if you do you will start to wince at some of it. I am surely not the only one on this forum who does things "other" than listening intently to their music. I am? OK well guilty m'lud but I have heard this one so many times.

So is this album as good as so many GG fans say it is. Well yes it is.The opening track "Proclamation" is easily the most dramatic track they ever produced- full of dissonant vocals and bombastic chords. Fantastic.Following track "So Sincere"is one of those tracks I referred to as needing your complete attention- it is so insanely complex it requires your absolute undivided attention.I won't give a blow by blow of every track- it ends with effectively a reprise of the opener ie full tilt bombast.

So not my favourite Gentle Giant LP but certainly their most ambitious.Another 5 stars (just)

 In a Glass House by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.35 | 1824 ratings

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In a Glass House
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Lupton

5 stars Let there be recorders!

With Phil Shulman gone after the brilliant Octopus LP you would be forgiven for thinking the boys in the band would scale back the ambitions for the follow up- In a Glass House. Instead they seem determined to crank everything up to 11 with this one. Denser rhythms , more complexity, heavier drums , and just generally more of everything.Personally I preferred Octiouses' colorful eclecticism whereas here, they create a more consistent sound all the way through. There is a lot of light and shade- after the thunderous opener "The Runaway" they go almost acapella with "An Inmates Lullaby" with mainly marimba and tuned percussion as accompaniments.The final track on side one "Way Of Life" is another heavy rocker.Unlike the opener which intersperses heavy rock with beautiful Medieval tinged recorder led passages this one is just rocks all the way through apart from a gentle middle section which features pleasant church organ and Kerry Minnear briefly taking over on vocals.Has anyone noticed how Derek Shulman always seems to provide the gruff vocals over the heavy parts and Kerry Minnear almost always sings over the quieter passage with him more measured pure voice? Just something I noticed especially on this album

Side 2 serves up more of the same and the first track "Experience" is arguably the most overtly Medieval sounding with a pipe organ as the lead instrument and vocals by guess who apart from a couple of brief heavy rock sections featuring guess who on vocals,Talk about schizophrenic.I really do like that track though.As with side1 the second track is a fairly gentle song "A Reunion" with guess who on vocals and also features Ray Shulman on violin which is a nice touch.The title track is essentially a two-hander.The first half begins with an extremely complex combination of 12 string guitar and violin before developing into a nice little Celtic flavoured rocker.Well for the first 4 minutes before suddenly changing gears again becoming another heavy rocker.

Overall this is a remarkably solid album and I would argue that it is also the definitive Gentle Giant with that combination of Medieval and heavy complex Prog which is a consistent throughout.Quite brilliant

5 stars

 Octopus by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.31 | 2140 ratings

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Octopus
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Lupton

5 stars Eight Opuses- geddit?

After consolidating their sound on Three Friends, Gentle Giant surged forward with their first true masterpiece "Octopus"- and make no mistake this album is an absolute masterpiece- eight tracks and not one single dud.

Opening track 1 "The advent of Panurge" is a wonderful follow up of sorts to "The advent of Panurge" again inspired by q characters y French Renaissance writer Rabelais.Complex and melodic it is hard to believe it is actually less than five minutes long.

Track 2 "Raconteur Troubadour" is another successful cod- medieval track a style the group hinted at on Acquiring the Taste and it is just brilliant. They manage to sound medieval and Progressive at the same time.Only someone like Kerry Minnear who studied Composition at the Royal Academy of Music and I am guessing he had a major hand in composing this track could pull off such a stunt so effectively and seemingly effortlessly. The only other group I can think of (off the top of my head) is Gryphon who also cleverly fused ancient and contemporary styles.

Track 3 "A cry for Everyone" inspired by French writer Albert Camus is admittedly one of the lesser tracks but is still a very accessible prog rocker with some great polyrhythmic instrumental interplay.In Fact there is so much going on it is hard to believe it is barely four minutes long.

Track 4 "Knots" is the first use of Madrigal style of singing. Judging by some other reviewers comments this track seems to divide not only Prog fans but Gentle Giant fans.Anyone who has read my other reviews is my dislike of musicians being clever for the hell of of but seriously this track is so clever it is hard to believe anyone came up with the idea behind this song.It is based on fellow Glaswegian Psychiatrist RD Laing's poem "Knots" which used knotted rhymes much like the GG song of the same name.Complex and brilliant.

Opening Track 5 (side 2) is another prog-rocker and one of the highlights on the album.There are few bands who can rock so hard and complex at the same time.Gentle Giant had honed this particular skill on Three Friends and raised it up a notch on this album.

Track 6 "A Dog's Life" is another "Medieval' sounding song and a nice companion the "Racontour Troubadour"

Track 7 "Think Of Me With Kindness" is a lovely deceptively complex and yet intimate song.I was going to say "ballad" but even here there is so much going on with a great rousing instrumental trumpet flourish at the end

Track 8 "River" is an appropriately labyrinthine track which seems to sum up the various themes on what for me ia a very special album.

I cannot praise this album enough- a solid 5 stars

 Three Friends by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.12 | 1375 ratings

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Three Friends
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Lupton

4 stars Three Friends is Gentle Giant's first concept album. It is less wilfully weird and generally more accessible than the previous LP Acquiring the Taste.The concept itself is quite a simple one describing three former school friends and how their lives changed in adult life. Friend1 becomes a labourer,Friend2 becomes a painter and Friend3 becomes a businessman.No musicians interestingly enough! The opening track is a great hard prog-rocker and in some ways typifies the approach they would use many times over on subsequent LPs being both complex but accessible-no mean feat. The second track "Schooldays" is one of the most moving song they ever produced describing rather wistfully the innocence and simple pleasures of being at school.There is an air of melancholia pervading this track especially as they are remembering these happy times as adults.Nostalgia has rarely been represented so beautifully in a song. The friends individual personalities and choice of occupation is represented by the musical arrangement as well as the lyrics. The labourer's song "Working all Day"is appropriately dense and plodding representing a no-nonsense attitude to life.The painter's song "Peel the Paint" is probably the best known song on the album being the only one which features in their concerts well into the late seventies at least.The music again musically and lyrically describes the "tortured artist" with a fantastic heavy minor key riff.The track is heavy and dense and it is easy to see why it is such a concert favourite.The business man's song is appropriately bouncy yet strident with a very cynical lyric.You can imagine the businessman walking briskly along only making friends where they can further his ambitions.The track segues into the rather brief title track which neatly sums up the album's themes.

Three Friends is very well recorded and is extremely easy to listen to compared to some of their albums and I would recommend it to anyone interested in investigating their music. Personally I feel that it is less adventurous musically than the follow up "Octopus" or even some tracks on "Acquiring the Taste" so I am reluctant to give it more than 4 stars

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

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