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Frenetic Zetetic View Drop Down
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    Posted: December 20 2017 at 18:09
I've bounced on and off ProgArchives for some years now as a visitor, and I understand GG can be one of the more polarizing prog bands in terms of fan fare. 

I must say, as a long, long time listener and connoisseur of progressive music, Gentle Giant very well may be the best band on the planet Earth. I'm trying really hard not to use hyperbole here! 

There's so much to be said about this band. They appear to, in my honest opinion, exemplify all of the best elements of progressive music nearly flawlessly. Take the best parts of Yes, Genesis, ELP, and pretty much any top-tier prog band you can think of, and Gentle Giant somehow takes that to the next level.

Ray Shulman should be a household name along Squire's in terms of precision, tightness, creativity, and expression. Derek Shulman's vocal intensity and choice of harmony and melody challenges the likes of Peter Gabriel's best performance. Gary Green is a flawless guitar player. I really can't say enough good things about this man's style. John Weathers is a master and honestly I can't compare him to anyone because instead of needless complexity for the sake of it, he holds the songs together with precision timing and groove. Kerry Minnear is arguably the most creative keyboard player in prog. He gives Wakeman and many others a serious run for their money.

I apologize if this comes off as a "this dude just joined and made a GG rant thread", but I know so few who can enjoy and appreciate the beauty, complexity and intricacy of this incredible band! What are your thoughts?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Larkstongue41 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2017 at 18:23
A much beloved band here on PA's and deservedly so. I'm personally not too crazy about them but their inventiveness and musicianship skills are undeniable. 

Welcome to the forum!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Rednight Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2017 at 18:39
As witnessed in your avatar, you know your 'Giant well. Their best.
"It just has none of the qualities of your work that I find interesting. Abandon [?] it." - Eno
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote The.Crimson.King Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2017 at 18:53
At age 15 I had a ticket to see Yes on their '75 tour at the Cow Palace in SF (technically it's in Daly City, but you get the picture).  They had an opening band none of us had ever heard of called Gentle Giant.  The day after the show, virtually all my friends scraped together enough cash for a trip to the record store and came home with their 1st of many Gentle Giant albums - I bought Free Hand...

They're definitely in the upper echelon of prog bands for me and I still frequently spin everything up through The Missing Piece Wink 

And welcome to PA, we need all the Gentle Giant fanatics we can get LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2017 at 19:07
I love Giant, but while there is plenty of originality, fire, musicianship, and outright weirdness, I don't hear the same level or amount of sheer beauty one encounters so often with Yes or Genesis.

I think GG are more head than heart, most times. It is telling that they are very polarizing and will drive non prog fans from the room much sooner than most other classic prog bands do. GG are NOT for the faint of heart! (They are much like Van Der Graf Generator, in that regard -- it harder to acquire a taste for them.)

Still, I love them (see my reviews), and I understand your passion for them.

Edited by Peter - December 20 2017 at 19:09
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote YESESIS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2017 at 19:29
Originally posted by Frenetic Zetetic Frenetic Zetetic wrote:

Gentle Giant very well may be the best band on the planet Earth.


1000% agree with this. There are a few bands I'm slightly uneasy about putting them ahead of, *cough* Yes *cough* Genesis.. But if anyone puts GG at the very top I will not argue with them.. they're that %$#% good.


Originally posted by Frenetic Zetetic Frenetic Zetetic wrote:

I know so few who can enjoy and appreciate the beauty, complexity and intricacy of this incredible band!


Oh I can appreciate it lol, to me they're one of the very best prog music artists ever. I mean on a REALLY short list.

Welcome and.. way to join and make an immediate impact! Hats off to you Sir.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Barbu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2017 at 19:42
and even better than the mighty Crim.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AFlowerKingCrimson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2017 at 20:17
Great band. They apparently are on the cover of the latest edition of PROG magazine. I hope that that gives them exposure to a wider(and younger)audience who is currently slobbering over Opeth and Steven Wilson.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AFlowerKingCrimson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2017 at 20:18
Originally posted by Barbu Barbu wrote:

and even better than the mighty Crim.

About the same for me. I like both a lot but probably prefer VDGG and Camel to either one.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dellinger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2017 at 20:44
I like Gentle Giant well enough, but mostly their first 2 albums, and after Phil Shulman left I just lost them. Actually, the first album I bought from them was the live Playing the Fool (since it's got such flawless reviews, and I often buy live albums first to get a good overview of the bands songs up to that point, without the risk of repeating the exact same songs (in the exact same version) in case I decide to start buying albums from them. However, I just couldn't (and still can't) understand Playing the Fool, and I thought I just wouldn't be able to get into them... I just couldn't find the beautiful melodies or hooks I wanted on an album. But somehow I was persuaded to give them a second chance, and I went for their first 4 albums (I remembered hearing Octopus on Youtube, and finding it promising, and from Playing the Fool, the one song I did like a lot was "Funny Ways", from the first album. However, I ended up loving their first 2 albums, but 3 friends started showing the aspects that I did not like on PtF (and had less of the aspects I did like from the first 2), and Octopus does have some songs I like, but also is not at the same level as the first 2. However, I don't expect to go further into their discography, and given a few listens I have given to some of the albums from after Phil left, I don't expect to change my mind.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Walkscore Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2017 at 20:49
I think the point about GG being "more head than heart" has some relevance. I think as they innovated in the early 1970s they attempted to take music farther than it had yet gone, and in doing so wrote some complex music that worked sometimes but not other times, and indeed, veered into the pretentious at times. When I listen to their discography I see a kind-of arc. They began very musical but less complex, became more complex and innovative but often less musical (the pinnacle of this is Octopus), and then gradually became more musical again, culminating (for me) with their most musical album, Free Hand (more musical, but perhaps less ground-breaking than Octopus, Glass House, etc). 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Logan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2017 at 21:10
I like Acquiring the Taste the most, but I do enjoy GG's first eight studio albums. Gentle Giant and Premiata Forneria Marconi were my favourite bands when I joined this site as I recall. At one time I thought GG greater than I now do, but at that time I hadn't explored much "progressive" music/styles outside of Symphonic Prog, and the more music I explored the less I thought so. Anyway, I think GG was a good stepping zone for me to readily get into Rock in Opposition bands, Zeuhl and other music.
"The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit the views" (Doctor Who - The Face of Evil, Jan 22, 1977).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Ozric Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2017 at 22:46
Gentle Giant have been / always will be, one of my long time favourite Prog bands. Cannot rave on enough about them !! Any ‘ranting’ is welcome
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Icarium Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 20 2017 at 23:52
When one prises John Weather it really strengthen my will to ahil the late drummer Martin Smitt whom played on the debute and Aquired the Taste, whom ile like to admit is one of the slickest drummers. Whom to me had more jazz flair and floated very well. Whom seemlesly floated on technical songs like The House the Room the Street. Not eluding Malcolm but Smidt is overly overlooked and out of respect zoom into hes slickness of playing.

Edited by Icarium - December 20 2017 at 23:53
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Ozric Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 21 2017 at 00:10
^ Well said, Chris !!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Frenetic Zetetic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 21 2017 at 02:22
WOW this thread blew up! Thank you all so much for your kind words and welcome! Honestly, I waffled on making this thread; good thing I did!

Originally posted by Rednight Rednight wrote:

As witnessed in your avatar, you know your 'Giant well. Their best.

Thank you sir. I've recently received the Steve Wilson/Alucard remasters after years of terrible rips and non-official copies kicking around. They've all been on repeat for some time now. In a Glass House is arguably the best track on said record, and it MIGHT be the single-best GG track of all-time. Dat groove riff!

Originally posted by YESESIS YESESIS wrote:

Originally posted by Frenetic Zetetic Frenetic Zetetic wrote:

Gentle Giant very well may be the best band on the planet Earth.

1000% agree with this. There are a few bands I'm slightly uneasy about putting them ahead of, *cough* Yes *cough* Genesis.. But if anyone puts GG at the very top I will not argue with them.. they're that %$#% good. 

Originally posted by Frenetic Zetetic Frenetic Zetetic wrote:

I know so few who can enjoy and appreciate the beauty, complexity and intricacy of this incredible band!

Oh I can appreciate it lol, to me they're one of the very best prog music artists ever. I mean on a REALLY short list. 

Welcome and.. way to join and make an immediate impact! Hats off to you Sir. 

Lol thank you good sir! As I said I was a bit hesitant but maybe my personal passion and love for GG transferred well to my prog brethren here on PA!

Originally posted by AFlowerKingCrimson AFlowerKingCrimson wrote:

Originally posted by Barbu Barbu wrote:

and even better than the mighty Crim.

About the same for me. I like both a lot but probably prefer VDGG and Camel to either one.

It's very hard to top CC, but I think GG just might be that ONE BAND that manages to do so. VDGG is godly prog rock of the upper echelons.

Originally posted by Dellinger Dellinger wrote:

I like Gentle Giant well enough, but mostly their first 2 albums, and after Phil Shulman left I just lost them. Actually, the first album I bought from them was the live Playing the Fool (since it's got such flawless reviews, and I often buy live albums first to get a good overview of the bands songs up to that point, without the risk of repeating the exact same songs (in the exact same version) in case I decide to start buying albums from them. However, I just couldn't (and still can't) understand Playing the Fool, and I thought I just wouldn't be able to get into them... I just couldn't find the beautiful melodies or hooks I wanted on an album. But somehow I was persuaded to give them a second chance, and I went for their first 4 albums (I remembered hearing Octopus on Youtube, and finding it promising, and from Playing the Fool, the one song I did like a lot was "Funny Ways", from the first album. However, I ended up loving their first 2 albums, but 3 friends started showing the aspects that I did not like on PtF (and had less of the aspects I did like from the first 2), and Octopus does have some songs I like, but also is not at the same level as the first 2. However, I don't expect to go further into their discography, and given a few listens I have given to some of the albums from after Phil left, I don't expect to change my mind.

I find myself enjoying the stuff with Phil more and more these days. His input on Octopus, both vocals and sax, are immense. I love his lines during "River"; "…And the rain that's caught in its flow…"

Originally posted by Walkscore Walkscore wrote:

I think the point about GG being "more head than heart" has some relevance. I think as they innovated in the early 1970s they attempted to take music farther than it had yet gone, and in doing so wrote some complex music that worked sometimes but not other times, and indeed, veered into the pretentious at times. When I listen to their discography I see a kind-of arc. They began very musical but less complex, became more complex and innovative but often less musical (the pinnacle of this is Octopus), and then gradually became more musical again, culminating (for me) with their most musical album, Free Hand (more musical, but perhaps less ground-breaking than Octopus, Glass House, etc). 


Interesting view point! I think their complexity, especially on later albums like TPATG and Free Hand, beliles their creativity. There's just so much going on that it's actually not any less musical, it's just harder to hear where it all "lines up". The massive time changes aren't for the feint of heart for sure! It's interesting to hear people praise Octopus for being groundbreaking when I always felt In a Glass House through Free Hand is where the real magic happened!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Frankh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 21 2017 at 04:00
Had the incredible pleasure of catching Gentle Giant twice live, about months apart in what I believe was late 1976 and mid - 1977.

The first show, opening for Annie Haslam and Rennaissance. Prior to this my friends laughed at my predilection. They inquired delicately, "What the hell is this!?" Demanding and derisive.

The first record that fell into my hands was The Power And The Glory and even I, myself initially doubted. Next was Freehand.
Then, In A Glass House, procured through my connection at the record store, because at that time it was only available in Europe.

Doubts dissipated. Playing The Fool.

It was one thing listening to the warped little 2 and a half minute studio piece So Sincere, and completely another thing the epic 13 minute monstrous live version. This was where the true genius of the band lay hidden. In order to fully comprehend, you had to see them. You had to catch them live.

It took their roadies about forty minutes to set up all the instrumentation the band were to employ that night, and one had to remind oneself that this was the OPENING BAND. What they did that night I don't think they could do these days. Openers are not given this kind of leeway. They aren't supposed to blow the headliner off the stage, nor are they to be afforded the opportunity.

The set list was Freehand era and resembled very much the content of Playing The Fool, less the Interview material and sadly no So Sincere. But, I will never forget this show.

Highlights were Kerry Minnear's vibes on Funny Ways(a blur!), actually Kerry Minnear on everything. Cello. And especially the keys, firing chords off like he was typing a letter 250 words a minute. Probably the best keyboard player I have ever or will ever witness. Ray's violin, but especially his bass. You were so right about these two. All of them less JP singing On Reflection. JP so solid and somehow funky behind the kit.

My friends never had sport with my predilection, again.

The second show was hot, too but not as much as that first. They headlined with Dr. Feelgood opening.

Poor, lovely Annie Haslam. She and Rennaissance never knew what hit them. She showed alot of class as people shouted, "GIANT!!!" at her for the rest of the night.

Unforgettable. And now, 41 years ago. It had to have been unforgettable for me to recall any of it, now all these decades and all those drugs later.
Perhaps finding the happy medium is harder than we know.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Frankh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 21 2017 at 04:01
Error, lol.

See above ^

Edited by Frankh - December 21 2017 at 22:24
Perhaps finding the happy medium is harder than we know.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AFlowerKingCrimson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 21 2017 at 09:52
Frank H, I find it odd that GG were opening for Renaissance at that time. However, I see you are from upstate NY and if you were there at the time I can sort of understand it because apparently Renaissance were very big up there back then. I even mentioned this to Annie when I met her once and she confirmed that. For whatever reason they had a big following up there. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Frenetic Zetetic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 21 2017 at 10:18
Amazing post Frankh, thank you for sharing!
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