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Gentle Giant - The Power And The Glory CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.30 | 1643 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars One of the Best Firing on all Cylinders

POWER AND THE GLORY is the 6th album by masters of complexity Gentle Giant. It is the second since the loss of eldest brother Phil Shulman, an event that breaks their classic albums neatly in half, with a definite evolution in the band's sound. While the group seemed to searching a bit on their first album without big bro (IN A GLASS HOUSE), by POWER AND THE GLORY, the band had settled into their new sound and really rediscovered their mojo. There is a palpable energy in this album, which was perhaps the last one where the band is really pushing the boundaries of their creativity. The following FREE HAND is a masterpiece where the band produces a refined package of their trademark moves, but during P&G, many of those techniques are still being created.

The departure of Phil Shulman is most obvious musically in the lack of medieval flavors and an increased quirky complexity that would form the themes for some of Gentle Giants most iconic songs. "Playing the Game" is the one single song that best exemplifies the band, and is a clear centerpiece for an album with no weaknesses aside from its bonus tracks. "Cogs in Cogs" follows and is nearly as perfectly GG at their best as the song before. While "Playing the Game" has a more signature riff, "Cogs" features the vocal interplay that Gentle Giant does better than perhaps any rock band ever. The opener "Proclamation" also is a vocal extravaganza, and unlike compositions on later albums, the songs are much more than variations on the band's vocal zenith "Knots." Even "The Face," which is a more typical GG song where the songwriting is a little less sharp, has a violin / guitar solo which is one of the best in the band's discography.

P&G also features perhaps the best Kerry Minnear ballad, the beautiful "Aspirations." Derek Shulman's vocals and the recording quality are substantially better than GLASS HOUSE, and the overall energy is more powerful and charged. The theme of human power and its misuses seems to inject the band with a focus and bite that really isn't matched as consistently on any of their other albums. The only weakness on the album is the choice of bonus tracks. Rather telling is that the live version of "Proclamation" really adds nothing to the album and is distracting when the flow of the album clearly had a purposeful beginning and end. (This is in contrast to GLASS HOUSE's live track which showed just how much potential the songs had despite the album's cold and poorly executed studio recording.) In addition, P&G includes a bonus title track which was actually a joke attempt to making a poppy song. (Alas, the boys would succumb to this idea but not as a joke later.)

All in all, this is the post-Phil band firing on all cylinders, still creatively active, and one of the best albums by one of the best bands in the prog genre. Easily a masterpiece, POWER AND THE GLORY is an essential piece of any prog library. If I could only own two GG albums, I would pick OCTOPUS and this one.

Negoba | 5/5 |


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