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


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.52 | 422 ratings

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4 stars The Giant's 1976 tour marked the end of an era, captured here on two elpees that draw out the jewels from their earlier masterpieces. Of course it's brilliant, faithful to the originals but free in execution, the celebration of a genius that spills over. However, an appreciation of this album is predicated on an understanding that the originals were flawless creatures. Only then do you really enjoy the license given to songs like "On Reflection." Not that Gentle Giant departs from the original blueprints, they simply add some ornamentation to suit the live milieu (drum solos, complex vocal harmonies, a chorus of recorders) and keep listeners on their toes a little. I remember when I first heard Playing The Fool, amazed that the band could capture so much of the original detail in a live setting. Kerry's keyboards sound the same, Gary's guitar has all of the old grit, Derek's voice stays the original course point for point. Song selection is a non-issue for me, since it's a delight to hear the band conjure any of the old wonders so faithfully. A medley of Octopus is a highlight, the combination of "Peel The Paint" (from Three Friends) and "I Lost My Head" (the lone track from Interview) a good way to cram as much great music as possible into two pieces of plastic. Not by accident, the first three sides are introduced by sounds from the original elpees: Free Hand's gears grinding (side one), a spinning coin (side two, from Interview I think), breaking glass from In A Glass House (side three). In part because of this, Playing The Fool feels like Gentle Giant's studio albums come to life. It doesn't add much new music to the canon (only a short violin/guitar rendition of "Sweet Georgia Brown"), but serves rather to underscore how talented an outfit they were.
daveconn | 4/5 |


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