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Gentle Giant - Gentle Giant CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

3.95 | 1254 ratings

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4 stars Gentle Giant with a little more bite, aggression and heart is just what everybody needs. Drop some of the meticulous composition and entangled melodies and bring on some muscle; more blues and rock altogether, with stable and propulsive bass, guitar and drumming further enhancing that.

The more traditional (yes, traditional is slightly wrong when talking about Gentle Giant) arrangements should please those who not yet have had the pleasure of loving GG's music, but the greatest asset of this album is that almost every aspect of the wide sound of the band is presented here in one form of the other. The traditional, partially folky, yet alluringly jazz-tinged composition of Isn't It Quiet and Cold, rich on string arrangements and delicate plucking and percussion as well as a laid-back, playful and quite a comfy atmosphere stand alongside the rougher Why Not; traditional, well-crafted good ol' fun British rock. Naturally, we get some great vocal harmonies, but the vocal experimentation is still very much a thing of the future, and something the band will come to master in an impressive way.

Just as on Three Friends, the band manages to add a pleasing amount of symphonic qualities, often quite bombastic, melodramatic pieces that reminds me both of the Beatles and on Giant even Ennio Morricone! Keys are rather incorporated in the sound, but still surprisingly humble, filling up holes and fattening up the soundscape more than anything else.

Now, I really like this album, and most songs fill me with that special Gentle Giant joy, regardless of style or atmosphere of the song in question, but I think I have a special place in my heart for Giant and Alucard.

Giant because of that sneaky, mellow beginning that explodes into a veritable feast of cymbal crashes, uncompromising bass and mini-soloing from the guitar. And then there's the building anticipation and proclamation of the refrain, set to a gradually building bass and drums, after a while joined by the keys. Like a wild animal trying to break its chains, and that is more or less exactly how I want my Gentle Giant. This song also features the spaghetti western orchestral interlude, adding some sort of climactic sense of conclusion to it all.

Alucard has a weird kind of break-the-rules sleaze-jazz character with wild saxes, spaced up by a swooping synth sound before it reaches the point of eerie vocal harmonies and a masterly executed atmospheric build-up climaxing with 'Terror fills my soul'. In between these two parts there's still a lot of room for mellower, 'jammier' parts; mysterious and playful as usual, first with a building organ, later with emphasis on a restless, pending-doom bass. Excellent brooding atmosphere all over the place.

I love the early stage of Gentle Giant's career, much preferring it to the later, stripped and calculated mad-genius albums that would follow (and in some way begin) with Octopus. If you're like me; this is essential. If you prefer later era; it's not. But I would heartily recommend this album to anyone interested in the band, or perhaps just ready to give them another chance.

4 stars.


LinusW | 4/5 |


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