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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 Videos (YouTube and more)


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Free HandFree Hand
Remastered
Alucard 2010
$7.72
$8.15 (used)
Three FriendsThree Friends
Remastered
Alucard 2011
$18.97
$17.08 (used)
Octopus (Remixed by Steven Wilson)Octopus (Remixed by Steven Wilson)
Alucard 2015
$9.69
$7.99 (used)
Three Piece Suite (steven Wilson Mix)Three Piece Suite (steven Wilson Mix)
Alucard Records 2017
$11.58
$13.26 (used)
Octopus: Steven Wilson 5.1 Remix [Blu-ray]Octopus: Steven Wilson 5.1 Remix [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray
Alucard Records 2015
$14.69
$14.68 (used)
Playing The Fool - TPlaying The Fool - T
Remastered
Alucard 2010
$7.19
$8.15 (used)
The Missing PieceThe Missing Piece
Remastered
Alucard 2010
$3.07
$28.09 (used)
The Power And The GloryThe Power And The Glory
Remastered · Extra tracks
Alucard 2014
$9.57
$9.52 (used)
Acquiring The TasteAcquiring The Taste
Mercury 1990
$16.20
$5.94 (used)
Gentle GiantGentle Giant
Island Def Jam 1990
$4.13
$3.11 (used)
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GENTLE GIANT discography


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

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

3.92 | 1123 ratings
Gentle Giant
1970
4.26 | 1391 ratings
Acquiring The Taste
1971
4.10 | 1144 ratings
Three Friends
1972
4.30 | 1780 ratings
Octopus
1972
4.36 | 1543 ratings
In A Glass House
1973
4.31 | 1447 ratings
The Power And The Glory
1974
4.28 | 1381 ratings
Free Hand
1975
3.75 | 692 ratings
Interview
1976
2.94 | 511 ratings
The Missing Piece
1977
2.30 | 437 ratings
Giant For A Day
1978
2.75 | 396 ratings
Civilian
1980

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

4.51 | 410 ratings
Playing The Fool - The Official Live
1977
3.57 | 23 ratings
In Concert (BBC Radio 1)
1994
4.11 | 57 ratings
Out Of The Woods
1996
2.40 | 33 ratings
The Last Steps
1996
4.12 | 58 ratings
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents
1998
4.05 | 26 ratings
Out Of The Fire
1998
1.86 | 16 ratings
In A Palesport House
1999
4.12 | 43 ratings
Totally Out Of The Woods
2000
1.96 | 19 ratings
Live Rome 1974
2000
2.22 | 14 ratings
Interview In Concert
2000
1.77 | 11 ratings
Artistically Cryme
2002
3.74 | 22 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
2.19 | 9 ratings
Prologue
2003
3.00 | 1 ratings
Playing the Cleveland
2003
4.00 | 2 ratings
Live In New York 1975
2005
2.50 | 7 ratings
Santa Monica Freeway
2005
3.39 | 20 ratings
King Alfred's College Winchester
2009
3.90 | 25 ratings
Live In Stockholm '75
2009
3.92 | 24 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
3.49 | 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
4.09 | 2 ratings
Gentle Giant
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
Il Grande Rock
1991
4.39 | 55 ratings
Edge of Twilight
1996
3.12 | 61 ratings
Under Construction
1997
4.23 | 36 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
2.09 | 13 ratings
Memories Of Old Days
2013
4.72 | 29 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
4.36 | 23 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
1.62 | 4 ratings
The Power And The Glory
2010

GENTLE GIANT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Free Hand/Interview by GENTLE GIANT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
4.23 | 36 ratings

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Free Hand/Interview
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nš 198

"Free Hand/Interview" is a very special compilation of Gentle Giant. It's an economic package that includes the seventh studio album "Free Hand", released in 1975 and the eighth studio album "Interview", released in 1976, on only one CD. This is a very interesting compilation because it includes two absolutely indispensable musical works of the band at a very cheap price, what will be a very worth purchase. "Free Hand" is a real truly masterpiece that rivals with "The Power And The Glory", "In A Glass House" and "Octopus" as one of the best studio albums from them. "Interview" is far from be a masterpiece but it still is, without any doubt, their last great studio album and it's also an excellent addition to any progressive rock collection, and represents also the real last indispensable studio album that you can get from them.

The line up on both albums is the same. So, we have Derek Shulman, Ray Schulman, Gary Green, Kerry Minnear and John Weathers.

As I've already reviewed these two albums previously on Progarchives, in a more extensive way, I'm not going to do it again. So, if you are interested to know, in more detail, what I wrote about them before, I invite you to read those my both reviews. However, in here, I'm going to write something about them in a more short way. So, of course, I'm not going to analyze them track by track, as I made before, but I'm only going to make a global appreciation of both albums.

"Free Hand": Strongly influenced by the music of the Renaissance and middle Ages, it became as one of the most popular and accessible studio musical releases made by the band. The lyrics on the album reflect the lost love and the damaged relationships between people. With "Free Hand", Gentle Giant produced one of the most creative and complex recording releases in all the progressive rock music history. However and despite all the complexity of their musical arrangements, their music is very accessible and melodic, and their vocal approach was really very revolutionary for those times. "Free Hand" is a unique and unpretentious progressive rock album that couldn't have been delivered by any other band besides Gentle Giant. "Free Hand" is also one of my favourite Gentle Giant's albums and is one of my favourite progressive rock albums too. "Free Hand" is the last masterpiece created by the band and it's also, in my humble opinion, one of the most accessible of all Gentle Giant's albums. The combination of superb musicianship, dry wit, and creative compositions make of "Free Hand" an essential piece of music and an historical recording. This album proved that the band could write all type of songs, which they could be good, creative, complex and that, at the same time, they could be accessible and melodic too. This is an album with great instrumental works, advanced vocal numbers, great ballads, excellent acoustic and electric parts and an exceptional structural work all over the songs.

"Interview": Some regards it as Gentle Giant's last great studio album, while others claim that it was the band's first album in their downward spiral toward the late of the 70's. It's definitely weaker than "Free Hand" is, but the first class progressive rock, in the typical Gentle Giant's vein, can still be found on here. It's a conceptual album centring on a fictitious radio interview based upon the music business. Some tracks integrate brief interview sections made in studio, and even the title song has lyrics based on questions and answers between the band and the music press. Musically, of all Gentle Giant's albums, the sound of it is the most similar to their preceding album, "Free Hand", released in the year before, in 1975. However, this follow work isn't as good and strong as their entire previous are. It's usually considered the last greatest work recorded by the group, and as I said before, that is my opinion too. Some consider "Interview" as a minor work in the band's career. I can't agree with that point of view. It's true that this album isn't as good as most of their previous albums are, however and despite be a little more experimental than "Free Hand" is, "Interview" has all the ingredients of their music and still contains also some of their most aggressive and electrified music, composed by them. The only true problem with this album is that it's perhaps less commercial and less balanced than "Free Hand" is.

Conclusion: If you have the two studio albums of the two individual works, you don't need to buy this compilation because it has nothing new to offer, like bonus tracks. Unless, you have like me the two individual records on two vinyl versions, and in this case, this CD is a good complement for you because it's cheap. However, if you don't have these two albums yet, you need urgently to leave your home to buy them. Both are two great albums of the band. "Free Hand" is the last masterpiece created by the band and is one of the most accessible of all Gentle Giant's albums. It combines a superb musicianship, dry wit, and creative compositions making of it an essential piece and an historical recording. "Interview" is their last great work and has all the ingredients of Gentle Giant's music and contains also some of the most aggressive, experimental and electrified music ever composed by them or even by any other progressive band.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Playing The Fool - The Official Live by GENTLE GIANT album cover Live, 1977
4.51 | 410 ratings

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Playing The Fool - The Official Live
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Though it's rounded off with a mashup of Peel the Paint from Three Friends and I Lost My Head - the closing number from the then-current album Interview - which I find to be more interesting than either studio rendition, for the most part Playing the Fool concentrates on Gentle Giant's run of classics from Octopus to Free Hand. The end result is an excellent live set from the Interview tour which really teases out the best the band had to offer, and offers a far superior bookend to their "high prog" phase than the somewhat tepid Interview studio album.

Subsequent studio releases would find them casting about for a new sound - eventually hitting on a prog-New Wave mashup on Civilian which, shall we say, has proved a bit divisive over the years - and from the 1990s onwards various archival releases have offered a range of other live sets from the group for fans' listening enjoyment. For my money, though, Playing the Fool well and truly sets the bar by which all Gentle Giant live releases can be measured - and by that token, it establishes the gold standard for progressive rock live releases in general.

 Giant For A Day by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.30 | 437 ratings

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Giant For A Day
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Review Nš 187

Gentle Giant was never a band with great mass popularity and great record sales. With the arrival of the punk and the new wave by the late of 1976, Gentle Giant saw their popularity and the support of their fan base decrease. Pressed by their record label they decided to change their type of music. A first attempt was made on their previous ninth studio album "The Missing Piece", where they simplified their music and introduced a few songs clearly influenced by pop, punk and new wave. Still, "The Missing Piece" remains an album with many characteristics of the usual band's sound.

However, and especially because the sales of that album, which were very poor, they decided abandon definitely their counterpoint on vocals and their type of music strongly influenced by the classical and medieval sounds. Somehow, certainly they were eluded by the commercial success hoping to increase their fan base. So, it was in that very peculiar context that appears "Giant For A Day" which is generally acknowledged as the lowest point inside the band's career.

Even not the most pop oriented moments of "The Missing Piece" could have prepared anyone for the utterly horrible heap of worthless crap on this album. "Giant For A Day" is just so bad that I still can't believe it. They should just have continued with their own sound, as they would have had their faithful fans anyway and not much would have changed at all. I'm sure that also always was the band's attitude, but pressured from Chrysalis probably caught up with them in the end. But what's even far worse is the shockingly poor material. For a cult band like them, it was a real fatal disaster.

"Giant For A Day" is the tenth studio album of Gentle Giant and was released in 1978. All songs were written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman, except "Take Me" written by Derek Shulman and John Weathers and "Friends" written by John Weathers. The album has ten tracks. The first track "Words From The Wise", the song choosen to open the album, is a pop song with nice vocal harmonies, but apart from that it's monotonous and repetitive which has the effect of making the song appears to seem much bigger than it is. I seriously wondered if the record was skipping. The second track "Thank You" is a slow sentimental love song almost acoustic, very simple and is close to a Gentle Giant's folk/pop/rock song. But it's so lame and uninspired as a song possibly can be, and Derek Shulman delivers his weakest vocal performance on the album. The third track "Giant For A Day" is a very strange song that in certain parts reminds me Sparks. It's an upbeat rock song with an interesting guitar line, clearly influenced by the new wave. The final effect isn't too unpleasant at all, really. The fourth track "Spooky Boogie" has a mysterious and experimental beginning that reminds us vaguely the typical Gentle Giant's sound. This is the only reminiscent song that reminds us the goog old times of the band with some good musical instrumental workings. The fifth track "Take Me" is, in my humble opinion, an interesting song. It's a nice pop song with a catchy melody. Sincerely, I don't dislike this song at all. It's a simple and emotional power ballad. The sixth track "Little Brown Bag" is a pop rocker song with good rhythm, some good guitar work and energetic vocals, but, in reality, it's a very vulgar song with nothing special on it. The seventh track "Friends" is the shortest song on the album and is the John Weathers' song. It's strictly a very direct commercial song. It's also a very vulgar song with nothing special on it, like the previous track. The eighth track "No Stranger" is another uninspired commercial pop song very monotonous and repetitive. It's one of the weakest songs on the album without making any positive impression, and consequently, nothing is really satisfactory on this song. It continues the uninspired spiral which makes part of the all album. The ninth track "It's Only Goodbye" is apparently a very nice and interesting love ballad, but unfortunately is incipient and repetitive without any kind of imagination. It isn't a very interesting song too. The tenth and last track on the album is "Rocker Climber", and as the name says, is another rocker song. I don't get excited with this song because is a vulgar and uninspired song, more typical of a pop rock vulgar band than a great band like Gentle Giant are. It's with "Little Brown Bag" the two cheesy rockers on the album.

Conclusion: "Giant For A Day" is a complete fiasco. It's without any kind of doubt a mediocre album and the worst Gentle Giant's studio album. It isn't a really progressive album and hasn't enough quality to be a Gentle Giant's album. It's a bunch of disconnected songs, most of them mediocre, without a guideline, where we have a clear perception that the group doesn't know what to do. It's probably an album that shames the band itself. With this album, Gentle Giant made the big mistake of leaving their unmistakable style of music, which made of them a so special and beloved band. Few progressive bands knew how to change their type of music with some quality and commercial success. In my opinion, only Genesis knew to create good pop songs, especially because Phil Collins is, in my humble opinion, a great pop composer. To finish, we may say that Gentle Giant weren't giants just for one day. They were giants for eight years. So, let us forget and absolve them of "Giant For A Day" and "Civilian", and remember them as the great band they were.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Santa Monica Freeway by GENTLE GIANT album cover Live, 2005
2.50 | 7 ratings

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Santa Monica Freeway
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Kingsnake

2 stars This bootleg (?) contains very good tracks and the songs are played with lots of enthousiasm and as expected the guys are very skilled. Especially the vocals are really great.

But.....

The soundquality is poor. It starts like it's from a cassette; you can hear the strain of bad cassette (as only old people can understand). But it's fun to listen to this live-album, but only once. It's not worth spending lots of money on, just to own it.

On the other hand the mix is very good (was this recorded for radio?). Too bad the overall sound is poor. I guess the original recordings are lost, and they found a poor cassette as a source. Anyway, I had fun listening to it, but I cannot recommend it.

 Interview by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.75 | 692 ratings

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Interview
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by steamhammeralltheway

4 stars Make that 4.5 stars. Interview is a concept album based around the theme of the band interacting with the media. Some tracks are prefaced by a journalist asking the band a question and the band's muffled answer, which fades into songs. The theme and its aim to be satirical are both a bit subtle if the lyrics aren't read. The lyrics are quite revealing of the band's rocky relationship with a media that wasn't ready for a rock band this accomplished and musically elaborate. Interview, released in 1977 is the band's last inspired album before they went stale on Missing Piece.

The mellifluous title track commences the album. Fitting with the theme, there is artistic spoken word interwoven with the music like another instrument. There is also some German oompah band passages. Giant is just joyously zany here. Sometimes in the past their attempts a playfulness have come off geeky. Here these efforts are far more successful.

'Give it Back' is one of the best reggae-inspired songs I've ever heard. I tire easily of straight reggae and really appreciate how Giant incorporates it into art rock. They color it with disparate elements including their famous glockenspiel, here supportive of the song, rather than silly and interruptive, as it has been on past tracks.

There are couple ballads on this albums, a good thing, because these type of pieces show Giant's best songwriting. 'Empty City,' a semi-ballad, is one of the band's most soulful songs ever. Derek's voice has rarely been this moving, even though he's a first rate singer.

'Another Show' and 'Timing' have superb melodies, "I lost my Head," too, but there the focus is more on a very complex rhythm. This song, the album closer, really makes their last good effort memorable. The whole song just oozes rhythm and Kerry delivers a chillingly beautiful vocal. If the entire Giant experience could be summed up in one song, this might be it.

 Free Hand by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.28 | 1381 ratings

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Free Hand
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by steamhammeralltheway

4 stars Make it 4 and a half out of five. Free Hand is a lot more inviting to me than the two albums preceding it. "Just the same" kinds of makes me glow all over like the debut & Octopus did -- it has a couple neat hooks. I understand from my counting friends, a highly unusual tempo: 7's against the drummers' 3's.

"On Reflection" starts out like it's going to be geeky, but instead unfolds into this remarkable one complete with almost perfect harmony and very touching charm. Now I'm starting to see why people are so enthralled with this group.

The title track begins pretty mystical, and then dives into a sort of deep but playful groove, for lack of any other way to describe. Melody is catchy.

Things are still looking good on the flip to the other side of the LP. "Time to Kill" does somewhat follow a Giant formula, but has enough fresh ideas, including very rich harmonies galore, one in a low register. Very fluid & rhythmic.

Wow. "His Last Voyage" is a ballad. Giant ballads and slower numbers are to die for; this no exception. I liked the piano/guitar interplay on the solo but think it was a bit misplaced on this celestial ballad. I was glad when the echoey vocal returned.

Usually when people claim that Giant is doing a Renaissance song, they are mistaken. The twelve tone scales found in much Giant were not used in the Renaissance. (Try John Cage. Ugh!) "Talybont" is indeed a genuine Ren. song though, and a ravishing one at that. It is entirely instrumental too. Giant needs to do more of those, being so accomplished on so many instruments. There is an endearing modern section to the song with some unusual tone colors.

"Mobile," the album closer, is pretty indescribable, simple and very complex at the same time. It didn't really strike my fancy, but I get the feeling that there's a lot more there than an initial listen can grasp. On this song the Renaissance acts a backdrop for rock and funk ideas. Well the reason this album doesn't get a five is that my favorite Giant album is the Power and the Glory. That one I think is the absolute apex of Giant's career.

 The Power And The Glory by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.31 | 1447 ratings

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The Power And The Glory
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by steamhammeralltheway

5 stars I'm so glad I have known about this amazing album for over a year. It is so strong, and to me speaks the beautiful essence of Giant. I think one thing that makes this click and others fall is that there is very little disorienting atonal/ 12 tone work here. Most 12 tone work by any artist is jarring because the scale has little emotional appeal. Music majors forced to endure it report torture. I am in almost total agreement, unless the band is going to take special effort to shape it as on "Edge of Twilight" (Acquiring the Taste).

Power's opener, "Proclamation" is a multi-faceted, high developed epic with a number of memorable passages featuring different instruments and rhythms. It kind of unravels like a twisting, winding road with many surprises. A more perfect song by any band would be hard to find.

"So Sincere" rolls out moodier than anything Giant has ever done. This is a needed change of pace. This is probably one of their most psychedelic songs and one with a high amount of counterpoint. Really it's too intricate to properly describe in words..

"Aspirations" is my favorite Giant song, a ballad of course. They are the masters of those. I don't usually pay lyrics any mind, but this one is too angelic to ignore. The delicate vocal (Kerry) coupled with the electric piano accompaniment and the heavy, heavy bass and drums make this one of prog's true gems.

Just when you thought things were too good to be true already, arrives "Playing the Game." Again it's hard to describe, being such a unique one. There's a nifty riff working it's way throughout, I'm not even sure on what instruments: guitar? synthesizer? And there's also a subtle secondary "answer" on a different type of synthesizer. Thus closes side one, a sterling piece of work.

I'm not sure if I ever heard side two prior to this review. The complexity of "Cogs into Cogs" is pretty mind-blowing, on top of which emerges an excellent and quite nuanced melody. The band is so mature and committed at this point.

"No God's a Man" starts with an interplay of Renaissance and jazz elements. Again it's understated in contrast to all the in- your-face annoyance this band has served up over the years.

"The Face" is particularly creative and melodic. It is a little more uptempo and rich than what Giant has ever before offered. The Renaissance flavor is very strong. But then it moves in a rocky, totally unprecented direction, very smoothly of course.

"Valedictory" is a boogie rocker but with that Giant whimsy fans know only too well. The song is actually a spacy reprise of "Proclamations." After all Power and Glory is a concept album. And then, rather than ending, the song self-destructs. There you have it: one of the greatest all-time art rock achievements.

 Octopus by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.30 | 1780 ratings

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Octopus
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by steamhammeralltheway

5 stars Octopus is a little mysterious. It largely holds the same song types as previous releases, but there is something more finished and scintillating on this album. From start to finish, it is pure bliss to listen to.

I have this LP and have long admired the opener, 'The Advent of Panurge.' Soft accapella vocal punctuated by funky piano. This is so spirited that any melodic recycling can be forgiven. Then a heartier vocal section ensues, accentuated by a brass instrument like a trombone. It's for endearing moments like this that I embrace Gentle Giant.

'Raconteur, Troubadour' is pure whimsy, a violin rendering it ravishing and a piano soaking it with pizzazz. The instrumental section brings to mind the Renaissance and is like a wall of sound. Gone is the contrived instrumentation of past efforts. This only steps up yet another notch into a conversation between a very soothing and seamless brass piece of some sort and a piano and violin. Very high on the warm fuzzy scale.

'A cry for Everyone' represents Giant's raucous side. This is just a completely seductive rock massage. Giant has attempted this before, but it all comes together here. I have never heard a bass guitar add such an undercurrent of movement. The virtuosity on this song is enthralling.

'Knots' is recycled melody for sure. I think Giant had this on both Acquiring and Taste and 3 Friends. They usually include one of these semi-atonal contrapuntal accapella numbers replete with the silly vibes. Why it works here and not there is anyone's guess. I truly think Octopus is a work of much greater finesse. When the piano steps in in equally atonal fashion, it does continue on more melodically. Before the band was taking baby steps; they're now speaking in complete sentences. There is a certain completeness and fullness not seen prior on the more challenging, ambitious work.

'The Boys in the Band' is different. It starts with a laugh and a tossed coin tossed rolling, all its spinning carefully captured. I have been listening to this one a long time too and it is brilliant for sure. It is complex, almost indescribable: a rapid cascade of piano, krumhorn drums, bass, synthesizer, an avant garde excursion with all the fanfare of the Renaissance and little touches that glue it in one's brain far more than any of the band's other atonal offerings.

'Dog's Life' is a spine-tingling ballad, as traditional as some of the others are off the wall. It's my favorite off here and one of the songs that planted me in camp Giant to begin with. Skillfully situated piano, violin, krumhorn and 12 string make this a classic for all time. The echoey harmonies and vibes section is nothing that the band hasn't offered before, but here it's so vibrant.

'Think of me with Kindness' is also more conservative and one of my favorite Giant songs for a long time now. Piano and trombone, the two featured instruments here rank among those I like to see least in rock. Gentle Giant can work absolutely anything into the mix.

'River,' the album closer has long been a fave of mine too. Coming up with words to describe this very unusual music is quite difficult. Suffice to say that it is beautiful, absolutely so. Just see for yourself.

 Three Friends by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.10 | 1144 ratings

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Three Friends
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by steamhammeralltheway

4 stars Make that 4.5 stars. This is one of Giant's more subtle and complex albums and thus hard for me to get into. I think I finally cracked the code and it was well worth it. Let's start from the start. "Prologue" is superbly crafted. It starts splendidly with melody delivered on piano and sung, the vocals becoming both more sensitive and psychedelic (love that echo!) as the song progresses. Synthesizer accents are passionate. Phil's lower register, slightly conversational vocal delivery later in the song is a great contrast to the band's generally sweeter vocals. Late in the song, the theme music repeats sparingly, keeping the listener riveted. Then a solo clearly takes off from the theme, creating great coherence.

The title track i salso great. It is more of a mediational piece where melody isn't immediately obvious, but it's there. The song is as lush as a garden in full bloom.

"Peal the Paint" is completely brilliant. One special quality is the tinkling high piano notes in the background, providing the subtlest of texture. The violin part had a classical concerto feel and moved me deeply in places. The musical lines feel like brush strokes. Then the piece launches into an antithetically raucous rock section.

'Schooldays" opening xylophone has a pentatonic Far Eastern flair. Then the echoey canonical vocals begins very psychedelically . I'm not sure what instrumentation comprises the rest of song, but it has incredible depth and beauty. The same can be said of the contrapuntal strings and voices on "Schooldays" I believe the guitar and bass lines there are unison. This adds a measure of intensity.

 Acquiring The Taste by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.26 | 1391 ratings

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Acquiring The Taste
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by steamhammeralltheway

4 stars Man did it take me forever to appreciate Acquiring the Taste and Three Friends. I have never had an experience like this, where something had to grow on me. Usually I immediately know whether I like or dislike something. They say you have to sleep on some of the more complex corners of prog. This is a prime example. Sometimes very good things come to those who wait. I am such a big fan of Gentle Giant nowadays, and I feel my life is truly richer for it.

There are several highlights on this album. "Wreck" is one of Gentle Giant's strongest songs. It is a sinewy, groovy number with much soul and ambition. The higher register singing and recorder are very lovely touches, rounding the song out. "Pantagruel's Nativity" is exquisite It has a bewitching primary melody with a wicked echo and eerie synthesizer riff. I've been hearing it in my head all day. I think the band could have left off the horns and jazz touches. I don't let those ruin it for me. It's amazing how much one can ignore if the main idea is so inspired.

"The Moon is Down" is very dreamy. So relaxing and meditational. The well developed drum part is crystal clear. All the instruments work in concert to evoke a moody sky and night. Likewise on "Black Cat." The band conjures up a feline presence. Their success in that is pretty spooky ? but not the overall mood. They manage to create another truly brilliant and beautiful melody here. The instrumental section contrasts with some wackiness but nothing derailing. In fact, the weird percussive noises create tension and composition. The completely goofball antics don't come until the next album, Octopus.

From the first strains of the opening and quite original funky fiddle solo, it's clear that "Plain Truth" will be an inspired heavy song. Probably the song is best known for its distinct rhythm guitar riff. Unfortunately Clan Dyken "borrowing" this riff for one of their songs, a later tune I've known much longer than "Plain Truth," kind of torpedoes my enjoyment of this Gentle Giant song. I can really groove on "?Plain Truth" 's instrumental section, where the main riff is played on different notes. Then of course the alternation of the guitar and violin is astral, as well as the intricate development of the vocal. The riff itself entails unusual rhythmic emphasis, one of Giant's trademarks. (We hear unusual rhythmic emphasis again and again in Giant, perhaps most notably on "I Lost my Head" off Giant's far later Interview album. I truly lose my head when that one comes on, one of my fave all-time songs.) Clan Dyken simplifies the riff to work in their far simpler song.

"Plain Truth" commendably includes a serene instrumental jam before the last chorus. Incredibly it builds on a rather primitive a rockabilly rhythm guitar riff. Throw in a wistful violin and you have it. Only Gentle Giant could come up with this one, and it proves that if you mate two very different species with just the right production, the offspring is nothing like the parents.

"Edge of Twilight" shows that an avant-garde melody can still quite sublime. This is a pretty psychedelic piece with echo and trippy vibraphone. Really a whole pastiche of different tone colors and textures swirl and soar in this song's instrumental passages. The vibraphone is key to the movement and mood of this song. I must commend the band for being so inspired by this instrument, one that is usually reserved for jazz.

In "The House, the Street, the Room," the bands displays mastery of one of its trademark techniques that on other songs or albums I occasionally find irritating. What I'm talking about is their tendency to create melodies and instrumental parts from far-apart notes. This creates a leaping feeling in contrast to your typical melody where notes occur more consecutively. In "The House ?." there is a fair amount of dissonance within the wide intervals of the notes. I'm not following a score, but I hear tri-tones and diminished patterns. This technique works to create a memorable and robust melody and bass-line. By the same token, this type of writing takes some serious getting used to. I had to sleep on this song for my brain to realign. What I experienced is analogous to restarting your computer for changes to take effect.

Continuing on "The House ?..," I definitely chafed a bit at the frenetic glockenspiel in the middle. I just can't seem to break an association with that kind of instrumentation with silly 1930s kids' cartoons. One reason I totally reject "Knots" (on next album Octopus, not here) because I feel slaughtered by glockenspiel silliness. On "The House ?.," the band does not over-indulge on any instrument or pattern. The light-heartedness of the glockenspiel contrasts nicely to Green's heavy guitar solo to follow. Truly Gentle Giant were a band of contrasts.

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

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