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


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.52 | 420 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog 74
4 stars Certainly I have been accused of playing the fool on more than one occasion. Just ask my wife! But, I'll save that for another day. In regards to this album let me say that it's one of the best live albums I have ever heard and this coming from a guy who doesn't typically enjoy live albums. In fact I really kind of loathe them. A live album is a lot like an opera album. Sure it can sound nice, but one of the main aspects of the album is always missing - the visual aspect. A live album is generally a document of a concert or series of concerts. What makes a concert truly enjoyable is seeing your favorite band in person. I can't tell you the number of times I have gone to a concert thinking, "wow, this band is pretty good!" only to go home and listen to a bootleg of the concert wondering what the hell I saw in them. Opera needs to be seen more than heard as well. It's about the costumes and the acting as much as it's about the music and the singing. Now, there are always exceptions to the rule and that brings us to this incredible album. It's rare that you can actually enjoy a concert you never went to just by listening to it. Gentle Giant is phenomenal on this album. Their energy is infectious. They are having a wonderful time on the stage and seem to be taking a jazz band approach to their music by doing quite a bit of improvising which also helps the songs come alive. You don't need to see it to enjoy it, although the concerts used on this album must've been quite extraordinary to have seen live. I would even go as far as to say that some of their songs sound better live here then they did on the studio albums. Certainly "Just the Same" , "Free Hand" and "Funny Ways" outdo their studio counterparts. "On Reflection" is beautifully done, the opening of which gives one the feeling of being at a Renaissance Faire. Actually this song is a perfect distillation of Gentle Giant. It's part rock, part folk, part jazz, part medieval polyphony and of course part renaissance dance music. Amazing. "So Sincere" is another standout featuring some nice violin & acoustic guitar interplay to open up the song before some fiery electric guitar joins in and takes the song in an entirely different direction. A very complex song with some terrific keyboard playing too. One of the best things about this album is how great it sounds! It was recorded beautifully and the presence is amazing. You really feel like you are at the concert! A truly outstanding album and an essential addition for every proghead.
Prog 74 | 4/5 |


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