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Gentle Giant - Playing the Fool - The Official Live CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.52 | 449 ratings

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The Runaway
4 stars Remember what I said about Seconds Out being THE live album of 1977? I was WRONG!

Gentle Giant's first live album is probably also their most successful one. This is a peak, and they had nowhere to go but down, not that they were bad afterwards! Over the last few months Giant have become my favorite band, and I felt that having reviewed only one album by them, I'd give this one another spin, and type. This was recorded under Giant's classic line-up, Weathers, Minnear, Shulman, Shulman, Shulman, Shulman, Shul- no, wait... back up a bit. Weathers, Minnear, Shulman, Shulman, and Green, which, in my opinion, are the best combo. When these 5 were put together, they were unstoppable. They are the unstoppable object hit by the immovable force which was, the dreaded, EIGHTIESSSSSSS !

Opening, snare, then BAM, the notorious keyboard/guitar polyphonic intro Just the Same ! This is one of the live versions that I am dissappointed with, both technically and audio-ccajamagoogycally (audio-ly?). Some screwups here and there, but in the end, it's Just the Same as the original! (hah hah, hah hah.)

Kerry Minnear plays, at first, it's a bit odd, but then, the vocals start, and it's Proclamation time... my puns are getting worse. The Power and the Glory counts as one of Giant's top albums, alongside it's predecessor, In A Glass House, and it's follower, Free Hand, ah, the golden years. It was even ranked 78th on the US Billboard 200 back in '74! Blast, and before you know it, Proclamation becomes Valedictory, one Giant's most powerful tracks. Ever. On this planet.

IT'S BASHING TIME! While the original On Reflection counts as probably, my favorite song of all-time (tied with Throw Down the Sword by Wishbone Ash and Circumstances by Capability Brown), this new, rearranged, totally farted version, ruins it. The most beautiful part of the song has lost Kerry's vocals, got sped up, and lost the original, reflective, feel of the song. Gary's recorders go out of tune midsong, Ray and Kerry sing the wrong notes during the vocal part, and even the order of the song's parts has gone completely wack!

Gentle Giant's mini-epic! Yes, you read correctly, this is probably the closest Gentle Giant have ever been to a well rehearsed and recorded epic! At just over fifteen and a half minutes, this song/medley/excerptorium DELIVERS! I probably forgot to tell you, but the vinyl copy of this record brings out the best of this record! (unless you don't have a record player, in which case it's just a stupid round-vinyl-thingy.) The songs in this medley/excerptorium/song are, in the following order: The Boys in the Band, Raconteur Troubadour, Knots, and The Advent of Panurge, in the middle of which are: A guitar duel, a recorder duet: In the middle of which is: A Yankee Doodle rendition!

I haven't much to say about the rendition of Funny Ways on this live album. As a person who has heard both versions at least 10 times, I can say, nothing has improved, but nothing's worse either. It includes more solos, more improvs, and the whole kaboodle, but, it's Still the Same.... that's it with the puns for me. Oh, and there's a glockenspiel solo.

"This album is called, uh, In a Glass House." The glass we all know shatters, and the loop begins. Kerry plays the 4 notes on his keyboard, 3, 2, 1, and LSDLGVDFLGNFD! The Runaway starts. "He is the runaway, lie low the wanted man, mask his elusive face, soon he will getaway and his future, no more aimless." John Weathers is the tighest he can be on just about every song from In a Glass House ever played, live and studio. I keep telling my friends "Gentle Giant are tight, Gentle Giant are cool, GG is teh hundin, Jay Jay is tay mahn... mahn.", and such, but once I listen to a song and think to myself, "Damn, these boys are tight.", let's just say I feel sorry for my friends (laugh track). Bass bass bass, and cut into...

...Experience, as in, experience the wonders of this marvellous Gentle Giant piece... OK, now I'm REALLY done with the pun (Rhymes ain't puns!). Well, Kerry's raging Hammond, Gary's professional prolific wah guitar solos, Weathers' tight drumming, Ray's sharp bass sound, and, Derek's, ermm, stage dancing, are damn good!

So Sincere is one of Giant's, erm, "heavier" tracks. Not the "rockin' guitar solos, and Derek Shulman humping a wild goose on stage" kind of heavy, but more of the "This is hard to listen to, let's listen to Miley Cyrus" kind of heavy. Pumping dissonant violins and Kerry Minnear's stingy clavinet, along with, YES, ANOTHER Gary Green rockin' wah solo. *Derek Shulman humps wild goose* NOT NOW YOU STUPID FU-

It's time for Minnear's Free Hand to roll up and down the keyboard while eating curry! (Both the wrong keyboardist and ANOTHER pun? I've lost it, I know.) "Who would believe me now, that my hands are free, hands are free. I never thought it would, ever come to me, ever come to me." This is Gentle Giant at their superiority! The sheer power (and glory) of this song ARE the sound of Gentle Giant that was and was to be.

Now a lovely rendition of Peel the Paint and I Lost My He- wait, what's that? Oh god, it's Sweet Georgia Brown! Gary and Ray provide a sweet sweet cover version of Django Reinhardt's Sweet Georgia Brown! Showcasing of Ray's violin skills, no doubt.

It starts off with Peel the Paint, and obviously Derek takes the lead here, but an abrupt cut, and onto I Lost My Head. The recorder in the beginning of the song is just beautiful, takes me away everytime I hear it. Then, BAM, Kerry's clavinet plays the famous riff and the whole band enters for, the show of their lives. I couldn't pick a better encore...

Well, that's the (pretty) long and (not so) short of it! THIS, is the live album of 1977, with Seconds Out as a close second. 4/5 stars for awesomeness and Gentle Giant, and, ermm, uhh, awesome Gentle Giant!

The Runaway | 4/5 |


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