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Gentle Giant - In A Glass House CD (album) cover

IN A GLASS HOUSE

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.34 | 1619 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Pafnutij
4 stars I admit that it took me a while to appreciate this album, but on recent listenings I did finallyget why so many Gentle Giant fans hold it in such high esteem. I still won't call it the best Gentle Giant album ("Acquiring the Taste" gets that one), but a good album it most certainly is - in fact, it's quite easily the best of the post-Phil Schulman era. One complaint I do have about it is that the complex/dissonant and simple/melodic compositional approaches could've been mixed a little better: a lot of the time , the music is either very simplistic or totally weird, and less often a combination of the two aspects. That ,however, does not prevent "In a Glass House" from being a highly enjoyable and memorable affair.

"The Runaway" begins the album in a fine fashion. The breaking glass intro is rather corny, but it's followed by a pretty cool riff. Actually, this track features quite a collection of catchy guitar riffs, which also balance the inherent GG weirdness quite well; this factors give the track a semi-classic status.

"An Inmate's Lullaby" is a rather strange, although not in the "Knots" way - it's actually the opposite, being quite simplistic for the most part. It seems that it's simplicity and that silly xylophone motif would make it a throwaway, but there is also that haunting quality to Derek Schulman's vocals that tend to draw me in. I'm not sure whether I like this track.

"Way of Life" begins as a funky uptemponumber, and while it's rather annoying and not what GG do best, there are a lot of interesting spots. This section ends around 2:30 to be replaced by a superbly melodic theme that gradually builds up into an excellent full-band arrangement. The funky section returns after a while, followed once again by the melodic part. The outro, however, consists of a short repeated organ idea that I find pointless and unremarkable.

Next comes "Experience", which starts off in the typical GG manner - humorous and a bit cheesy sounding, yet serious and challenging in the composition department. At 2:30 a sweet choral part is introduced, which I'm quite fond of. Soon it's replaced by a rock-oriented, slightly waltzy section that finds the band in the simpler, more straightforward mode, although they still manage to sneak in some fascinating quirky motifs. The opening section returns at the end of the song before fading out.

"A Reunion" is a short song that relies largely on Ray Schulman's violin work; while it's a pleasant little number, I find it quite unremarkable, particularly in the context of the album.

The studio album concludes with the title track, which I find less interesting than the other long songs on the album, although it's still worth a spin. The best part here is the hard rock section with memorable guitar riffing that dominates the latter half of the song, as the first half is consumed by rather weak material.

Also included are the live versions of The Runaway, Experience (both combined on one track) and the title cut. I'm not a big fan of live recordings, but performing the meticulously arranged GG compositions onstage is quite a challenging task, and one has to give credit to the boys for pulling it off impressively.

Pafnutij | 4/5 |

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