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Gentle Giant

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Gentle Giant Three Friends album cover
4.13 | 1426 ratings | 117 reviews | 42% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Prologue (6:12)
2. Schooldays (7:33)
3. Working All Day (5:07)
4. Peel the Paint (7:25)
5. Mister Class and Quality? (5:51)
6. Three Friends (3:00)

Total Time 35:08

Bonus tracks on 2011 Alucard remaster:
7. Prologue (live) (5:53) *
8. Out-Takes (6:21) :
- a. Peel the Paint (studio rehearsal)
- b. Peel the Paint (alternative guitar solo)
- c. Three Friends (soloed vocal chorus)

* Recorded at the Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans, June 1972

Line-up / Musicians

- Derek Shulman / lead vocals (3-6)
- Gary Green / guitars (w/ Echoplex on track 4 solo), mandolin (2), tambourine (2,5)
- Kerry Minnear / piano, electric piano, Hammond (1,3-6), Mellotron (2,6), Minimoog (1,4,6), clavinet (2,3), electric harpsichord & vibraphone (2), bongos triangle (2), lead vocals (2,6)
- Phil Schulman / tenor (1,3,4) & baritone (1,3) saxophones, lead vocals (1,2,4,6)
- Ray Shulman / bass, fuzz bass (1), acoustic (4) & electric (5) violins, 12-string guitar (1), vocals (6)
- Malcolm Mortimore / drums, concert snare & hi-hat & bass drum (2)

- Calvin Shulman (Ray's son) / boy's voice (2)

Releases information

Artwork: Rick Breach (US editions on Columbia label use an adaptation of 1st album's cover)

LP Vertigo 6360 070 (1972, UK)
LP Columbia - KC 31649 (1972, USA) Different cover art

CD Columbia ‎- 31649 (1989, US) Different cover art
CD Alucard ‎- ALU-GG-034 (2011, US) Remastered by Fred Kevorkian w/ 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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GENTLE GIANT Three Friends ratings distribution

(1426 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(42%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (12%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GENTLE GIANT Three Friends reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!

GG's third album was the first one to be distributed in the US and sports the artwork of their debut instead of the much better European release. Clearly, for the conquest of the new world, these insane musos created a concept album about the tribulations of three childhood friends but they simplified a bit their customary complexity of their songs, making the whole album rather more straightforward the their previous work. Some purist might see this album as a step backwards, but I consider it as another necessary brick in the GG oeuvre. Martin Smith now having left leaving the three Shulman brothers as the only remnant from the SD&TBS days, he is replaced by the relatively more down-to-basics Mortimore and it is the weak point of the album (and maybe the reason of the simpler song structure), but there is more than that!

Apart from Schooldays and the finale, there is little on the album to really point at a full-fledged GG album as they are not shifting instruments or using dissonances or even extreme breaks of ATT album. The songs are relatively (this is still GG) common in structure and the use of more common KB (such as the organ). They even have a lenghty psychedelic guitar solo in Peel The Paint and a similar but shorter KB solo in Working All Day. My personal fave tracks are the last two on the album and I find that they save the album

If the prospective proghead is looking for a suitable intro for this particularly difficult group, this might be the album to start with along with the debut album. However I consider the debut still their best early album, until Octopus that is. Hopefully this album will one day be re-issued with its originally intended artwork. If you are lucky enough to own the Line A label re-issue , you are a lucky man!

Review by Menswear
4 stars Man, do you know how much I paid for this record? 6 bucks! Amazing how 4 stars albums (almost classics) are sometimes cheap. It's funny how Acquiring the Taste's cost is higher and so is Octopus's. I imagine why. The same cover from the original album. But the colors are different, more light? Anyway, this album is way too snobbed. The steps are different this time. Acquiring the Taste was sounding more contemporary, experimental and darker. The feel was smoother too. This one rocks harder and the keyboards are less in front to create the atmosphere. Greene is giving all he can on Peel the Paint and so is Phil Shulmann's saxophones. But I feel sad when I see the lack of attention (and such low cost) for this record. But it's still the early Gentle Giant, which means the musicianship is at is best and this time, more rocky. It suffers maybe of the concept it contains. It's not the most captivating story indeed. But, let me ask to you the Gentle Giant connaisseur: when on another album have you ever heard something like the last track, Three Friends? A sea of keyboards that slowly rocks you like a gentle wave. The voices that resonnates with a cathedral feeling. That song only, is worth the try. Briefly, less for the beginner, but a true Gentle Giant fan will listen over and over...and will, like me, smile like the Giant on the cover. Doesn't he look happy? (he should, he's friend with Gentle Giant for the love of god...).
Review by daveconn
5 stars The first GENTLE GIANT album I ever owned, and so one close to my heart. "Three Friends" tells the story of, you guessed it, "Three Friends" as they grow up and grow apart. The story may have some holes, but not the music. The band, which now included drummer Malcolm Mortimore, was arguably at the height of their creativity (third albums are often the watershed moment in a band's discography).

Despite some dark passages, particularly the scathing "Mister Class And Quality?", "Three Friends" is an album better remembered for its sense of humor and arrangements that bring the phrase "an embarrassment of riches" to mind. As impressive a musical statement of direction as it is, building on the promise of earlier songs like "The House, The Street, The Room," "Three Friends" fails to make much of a social statement (a charge that could also be levelled against "The Power and The Glory" I suppose). In the final analysis, childhood is good and adulthood is bad; the artist, the laborer and the white-collar worker all get tarred with the same brush. Better to focus on the music: majestic, intricate, playful, grating, the sextet seems able to change gears on a whim, weaving Kerry Minnear's keyboards, Gary GREEN's guitars and Ray SHULMAN's bass into a vivid tapestry (e.g., "Three Friends"). Unlike a lot of progressive acts who were wont to combine complexity with brute force, GENTLE GIANT plays a gentle hand, letting the music speak for itself with humanity and (seeming) humility.

There are so many sublime moments on here -- the childlike break in the opening "Prologue" and the closing theme on "Three Friends" always come to mind -- you'll wonder why GENTLE GIANT never found the commercial success of YES and ELP. If you're not familiar with "Three Friends", you owe it to yourself to make its acquaintance. On a personal note, ritualistic creature that I am, I use "Prologue" to break in all my new stereo equipment since its mix of light and dark, quiet and loud is ideal for the task (and because I never tire of hearing it).

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Gentle Giant's third effort 'Three Friends' was their first concept-album, and may I add that they managed to keep on exploring consistently in their own abilities to expand creatively the boundaries of rock. The remiscences of childhood and schooldays and the respective portraits of the three characters are used in order to provide some intellectual unity for the repertoire, though clearly each track works as an individual for its own merits. Generally speaking, it doesn't equal the level of perfection incarnated in its immediate predecessor ('Acquiring the Taste') and successor ('Octopus'), since the repertoire doesn't exhibit as much exquisiteness as in the aforementioned albums - yet it's appropiate to consider it as one of their greatest achievements, both in their own career and in the general context of the prog genre. The overall sound in the album feels at times rockier than ever before, specially in the fairly aggressive and/or distorted guitar and organ sections, and sometimes the wah-wah electric violin (pay attention to tracks 3, 4 and 5), as well as new drummer Malcolm Mortimore's solid playing: his stylings are as jazz-infected as his predecessor's, but Mortimore displays a tighter punch in his performance. As always, the vocal parts are delicious and varied, the sax parts are colourful enough, and last but not least... both master keyboardsman Kerry Minnear's and bassist extraordinaire Ray Shulman's playing are immaculately precise. The weird melodic lines and chord progressions of 'Prologue' are actually quite catchy, and so is the half-Celtic/half-bluesy hard rocker 'Mister Class and Quality?'... and let's not skip the sweet, deceitfully naive melancholy of 'Schooldays' or the cynical disappointment of 'Working All Day'. But the absolute highlights IMHO are 'Peel the Paint' and the closing title track. The former is an awesome two-part minisuite, featuring an exciting guitar/drumkit Cream-meets-TenYearsAfter jam in the second part's interlude. 'Three Friends', which completes the musical ambience delivered by 'Mister Class and Quality?', is built upon beautiful layers of organ and mellotron: it comprises an eerie, brilliant choral coda that still echoes in the listener's ears after the song ends. Undisputedly, this is one of the best vocal arrangements in GG's history. What a way to end an album!! Once you know this song, it doesn't leave your mind - in fact, it's the first sound that comes to my mind everytime I evoke this album's title. Well, as I said before, this is an excellent work that doesn't reach the status of perfection... but almost - a sort of masterpiece, anyway.
Review by hdfisch
5 stars This album was apart of their debut my favourite one already at a time when I wasn't a big fan of GENTLE GIANT's unique style yet. Meanwhile I just love all their earlier albums starting from the first one until "Freehand". Maybe I liked it immediately since it's containing like the first one still quite a few more rocking parts. Already the opener "Prologue" is very captivating and though dominated by keyboards there is still a rather obvious electric guitar which doesn't happen that often especially on their following albums. "Schooldays" is certainly the most intricate track on here and it needed a couple of spins until I liked it. But their typical multi-layered vocals are just fantastic on this one and they're fitting nicely to the staccato rhythms used. Highlight of this song is of course the marimba solo! "Working All Day" is a bit like the "little brother" of "Wreck" on "Acquiring The Taste". Although not that intricate it works in a similar way somehow. Great Hammond and sax parts! "Peel The Paint" is together with the title track for me the highlight of the album. Very nice string arrangement followed by an aggressive part reminiscent of VDGG. Great blues rocking guitar & drums part in the second part, very rare to be heard by them. "Mister Class And Quality" has great organ and violin play and is actually a quite catchy song despite its complexity. Again lots of great guitar playing in this one. The closing title track is probably the most lush one they've done ever. Really wonderful the combination of guitar, pastoral organ and choral singing. Absolute highlight!

Though admittedly 5 stars seams over-rated for this album since it's less complex than its predecessor and the following ones, I still like to insist to give it the full score and IMO all their albums from "Taste" to "Power" deserve this rating!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as a starting point for this great band!

(Edited 10/11/2005)

Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
4 stars Gentle Giant's third album, was the ironicly named, Three Friends. A concept album about three friends who grew up together in school, parted ways, and meet up with each other in the future when each has choose a career for themselves. Unfortunately, none of them like what the others are doing. Not exactly the best idea for a concept album, but not bad for a first try. Throughtout this album is strong playing, excellent music, and GG started to hone in on their sound that would carry them through their career (although it is altered very much when Weathers joins the band). Personally this is one of my favorite albums from the early period of Gentle Giant, which really shows the listener what they can do.

Things start off strong with Prologue. This instrumental track has some killer keyboard riffs and a excellent bass line. It progresses nicely through all six minutes, even through the repeats. A top Giant track from any time period. The next song I'd like to mention is Working All Day, a stellar sax driven song, which seems to be underrated, IMO. The lyrics (which are about the blue collar worker, working in the sun and having a poor family background) can be a little trite, but are delivered well by Derek. A personal favorite from Giant. Next up is Peel The Paint, the masterpiece of the album. This track shows what it means to be Gentle Giant. Starting soft and easy with quiet vocals and minimal instumentation, growing ever stronger to a stunning, explosive conclusion. With this song, that formula is executed perfectly. Starting with Kerry's soft voice and light instruments (what i believe to be violin and bass), the song takes us through the life of a painter. It then progress with some nice sax and guitar work (and Dereks ballsy vocals). Cap this song off with a monsterous guitar solo from Gary and a sweet little guitar/drum duet, and you have, again, one of the best songs of Giants repitore. The last two tracks are usually thought of as one (most likely due to the fact that the breaker for the songs is placed in the wrong spot, making Mister Class And Quality? shorter then intended and Three Firends, longer). Mister Class And Quality? is a nice mellower song, where Ray gets to show off his violin skills some more. Three friends brings the album to a majestic close, with a solid bass line (and ever so brief bass solo) and tons of organ.

As you've probably noticed I didn't mention School Days. Well that is because I feel it is the weakest song on the album, and one of the two downsides. IMO, it goes nowhere and the middle section (with Calvin Shulman) is just boring. The other dissapointment is the production. But, its 1973, and you really can't expect much, so its not that bad of a downside. (Also, i never mentioned the drummer. Although Mortimore is my least favorite of the Giant's drummers, he is great in his own right, and his controbution shouldn't be overlooked.)

All in all this one of Giant's many shining moments. All fans of the band should own this, and any one looking for great music, and/or excellent examples of progressive rock should buy this. 4.5 stars. Recommended!

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars More rock oriented than the extremely adventurous 'Acquiring the Taste' and also a concept album about (obviously) three friends that grows apart when turning adult. The album is more instrumental than vocal which is somewhat unusal for a concept album though the arrangements and playing remain excellent. New drummer Malcom Mortimore does a steady job, replacing Martin Smith who left for personal reasons just before the recording sessions, and provides a more looser and "jam" oriented style (see "Peel the Paint"). A very symphonic album for Gentle Giant's standards and probably the album that lies closest to their prog-companions Yes and Genesis, but this would be misleading as GG are definitely in their own field, stronger folk influences and generally more complex. "Schooldays" is one of the strangest compositions here abut displays the bands unique creativety in the most jawdropping way, while more dense tracks such as "Working all Day" and "Mister Class and Quality?" got a great groove. While not as superb as later releases this is still a must have for fans of the band, and especially if you enjoyed other Phil Schulman-era albums. 4.25/5
Review by The Prognaut
4 stars GENTLE GIANT remains still as one of the most purist and enigmatic bands that led the pathways to a more representative and systemic sound, not only from the depths of its very own genre, but to an intertwined development outside the alignments of Progressive Rock. A refined multi-instrumentation, characteristic blends and mixtures, magical composition and challenging introspection linked to several side prog-related genres like pure rock, jazz and chamber music just to name a few. The capability to join musical pieces together, is outstanding. Out of incessant experimentation, the English band managed to craft a perfect progressive model followed up by an unmistakable signature, that over the years to come, would be irremediably emulated yet, never resembled to the original essence.

Remarkably, this third exercise is the result of a constant implementation process, that started getting into shape from the band's debut album. "Three Friends" takes off superbly, where "Prologue" unrolls quite a red carpet to display the skills of Kerry MINNEAR behind his Moog Mellotron. The piece condensates a morbid fluidity, so full of obscure passages and intriguing guitars that deviate the attention of some orchestrated sequence whatsoever, finding in between the inductive lyric to what is left of the album. "Schooldays" isn't only the second step to be taken onwards this production, it widely represents the renewed sound, if I may call it such; of GENTLE GIANT. The constant echoing running through the whole song is the provocative result of fearless experimentation, suiting perfectly the argumentation individually described by every instrument at its time.

When moving on to "Working All Day", the air thickens a little bit more despite the playful lyric, where Philip SHULMAN increases the tone of suspense out of the notes of his sax. There's also an emotive movement almost by the middle of the track, where that sax gets entangled in this conversation with MINNEAR's Moog, creating the suitable motif to give the song that space interlude. On the other hand, as we walk by the dark streets of "Peel the Paint", the ambiance radically turns into moody and extremely compassed, where the chords coming out from Ray SHULMAN's violin encapsulate the song in a tiny room, distilling drops of eloquence that eventually lead the paused composition into a delicious, almost schizophrenic, musical passage. The guitars here, play a very audacious role, where the strings seems to argue fiercely with the hypnotic beat blasting off from Malcolm MORTIMORE's drum kit. In my opinion, this unique composition stands out from the rest of the episodes included in this early seventies album.

Wisely reserved to wrap the album up, the self-titled song, previously elapsed by "Mister Class and Quality?" exquisitely; encloses this sort of hidden meaning pictured all along the whole record, flowing through indefinable movements, some simple to spot out, some clutched tight to a musical ambiguity, sealing up wonderfully this hardly to oversee production by the band once formed during the late sixties by the SHULMAN brothers. It is mandatory for your ears to reach out for this album.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This record comes after the excellent "Acquiring the taste". The use of string instruments as rythmic short strokes and melodic patterns on "Peel the paint" is interesting. On this track, Gary Green REALLY goes wild with his best hard rock solo ever recorded: he even has a psychedelic part! On "Mister class and quality", they begin to sound a bit dissonant; the next track, "3 Friends", is absolutely impressive: a very poignant & powerful combination of floating organ and vocals through a rythmic hard rock mood. "Schooldays" is the best track of this record: a VERY subtle mix of small percussions, delicate electric guitars and perfect lead & backing vocals; the bass reaches an outstanding level of speed & complexity, just before a poignant piano part enters with nostalgic voices & floating mellotron; then, a rather jazzy part, very fast & pleasant, gives some joyfulness to the track. The new drummer does a great job.

The number of involved keyboards is rather limited: mostly organ, piano and mellotron. Globally, I find this record a bit less refined and subtle, rather more straight forward prog hard rock than the previous record.

My rating: 4.5/5

Review by Marc Baum
5 stars This album really got a very special taste, the sound is fine, nothing goes on the nerves at any time. Gentle Giant make a very british style of progressive rock, so it's clear that some people could have a problem with them. Musically, this record is a masterpiece. It's pretty rockin' and possibly the most accesible album that GG did. As I heard this album the first time full length I was smiling like the friendly looking Giant on the cover. Great music, an interestening story (about 3 friends who turn away from each other as life goes on after childhood) - I love this album, even if "In A Glass House" or "The Power And The Glory" is the peak of Gentle Giant, I think it can reach their brilliance closely, for myself it's definitely an often overlooked masterpiece of prog!
Review by Philrod
4 stars This is the band's third effort, and the closest to rock in their repertoire. They took a close look at hard rock, with guitar solos and and a more present bass. A concept album aroud, you guessed it, three old school friends, and what they became in life. The concept is well elaborated, with a song for every character. ''Peel the paint'' became a bona fide in their live setlist, and the guitar solo, an occasion to jam. Still progressive, maybe less mature and more playful than acquiring the taste, but definitley more melodic. Still a pretty medieval touch is felt throughout the album, wich add to the alredy beutiful melodies. Not perfect, but still a great album. 4/5
Review by Zitro
3 stars This is one of the few albums from this band that I actually enjoy listening to it all the way. There are no awkward or overly strange moments here (unlike Octopus). Here, they focus into writing more accessible music, without losing their 'prog' sound.

1. Prologue : Begins the album and introduces a musical theme that is explored throught the track. That soaring riff can stay on your head and you may find yourself whistling to its melody. The music sounds innocent here, and it is the beginning of the story between the three friends. 6.5/10

2. Schooldays : Easily my favourite Gentle Giant Tune. This mini-epic is incredible! It is one of the funnest songs to sing-along to (not easy to do) and has brilliant bass playing. Beginning with a great haunting vibraphone melody, and a weird echoed-vocal harmony, it later turns into a happy and bouncy vocal melody with strange rhythms and vibraphone leading the part, the bass playing is simple yet great here. Then the vibraphone of the beginning and the bouncy melody are repeated, until you hear something different in its chorus. The bass playing is incredibly fast and furious and piano chords are heard. Later the piano dominates into a dark haunting piece with melancholic vocal harmonies that gives me goosebumps. The dark section ends and an amazing vibraphone solo with backing piano chords commences. After that solo, the chorus is heard again with its frenzied bass playing. 10/10

3. Working All Day : This song seems to be influenced by Van Der Graff Generator instrumentally. The hammond organ solo sounds a bit random and unnecessary at first, but I have grown to like it. 4.5/10

4. Peel The Paint : The other mini-epic highlight of the album. It begins as a classical piece with great violin work, and the main riff played with bass (or an organ) ... later it transforms to an amazing hard rocker with an unforgettable guitar/sax riff and a great guitar solo with such intensity that reminds me of Queen or Deep Purple. 8/10

5. Mister Class And Quality? An good but not great Gentle Giant tune with decent melodies and some strange instrumental breaks that need several listenings to get used to them. 6/10

6. Three Friends : An excellent way to end the album. This is a track in which all the instruments meld together to form a soothing symphonic piece. I wish the vocals were more incorporated in the ending, because when they were used, they sounded fantastic. 7/10

I recommend this album for anyone wanting to try this difficult band, and for any gentle giant fan who have not listened to this one.

My Grade : C+

Review by kunangkunangku
4 stars Gentle Giant was among the last 1970s progressive rock bands I started listen to. Not that I didn't hear anything about them earlier. It was only because of the availability of their albums at the time -- it was in an Indonesia small town back in 1970s. Of course, the band's mascot, the smiley, bearded giant, firstly hooked me.

But the music was, and still is, much more captivating -- hard to be digested, yet its strikingly tasty composition is always too powerful to be ignored. This is also the case with this concept album about the relationship between three friends, even though it's basically simpler than its predecessors (say, "Acquiring the Taste"). Every attempt to listen to it is like facing a strange, new menu.

While the sound may seem harder, this album clearly shows how the group actually never had any intention to throw away their progressive spirits -- complex, intricate. The opener, "Prologue", is a lively work with a catchy melody, colorful harmonies, and rhythms accessible for almost anyone; it helps to keep the expectation of first time listeners high. The "Schooldays", the second track with softer moments, offers a unique feel within a little difficult set of melodies. The other songs follow the direction that is already set in the previous song; the highlight is "Peel the Paint" and "Mister Class and Quality?" Great thing should be mentioned: throughout the album, the guitars, the bass and the keyboards not only sound turned high up as if it was intended to blow the listeners' ears, but also used to do some sexiest solos and interplays.

Those who like to be challenged should not hesitate to try this album, and eventually add it to their collection.

Review by con safo
4 stars Gentle Giant's first concept album does quite a good job of conveying a simple yet interesting concept. Although the concept isn't anything complex (childhood ends, adulthood sucks) this album features some great melodic GG music! "Three Friends" opens with the odd "Prologue" featuring some awesome synth sounds. The next track is one of my favorites on the album; "Schooldays" is a beautiful song with complex vocal patterns, and great percussion. The middle of the song is incredibly beautiful; Derek's vocal performance is one of my favorites. The jazzy outro concludes the song perfectly. The album takes a hard rock turn at this point with the song "Working All Day", musically it's a great rock track in the VdGG vein, but I feel lyrically it could have been a lot better. The next song is an absolute gem, and my favorite off the album. "Peeling The Paint" a hard hitting song with an intense guitar solo that fades into a psychedelic fugue and eventually regains intensity to finish the song with the dark and heavy chorus. Fantastic track! The next two tracks are to be considered one suite as they fade nicely into each other. The more dissonant "Mister Class and Quality" eventually morphs into the beautiful "Three Friends," a very symphonic piece of music in which all the musicians of GG shine. Beautiful choral singing and dense guitar-organ textures close the album in absolute musical splendor. Though I wouldn't call it a masterpiece this gem of an album is a good addition to any prog fans collection. 4/5
Review by Guillermo
2 stars I listened to this album for the first time in the late seventies, and I didn`t like it. One of my brothers had it, and he years later traded it for Rainbow`s "Bent of of Shape" album with a friend! Obviously my brother didn`t like it, too, but his friend was very surprised, saying: "Do you have this album and you don`t like it?". My brother also didn`t like "Bent Out Of Shape", the same as me!

Gentle Giant was one of those Progressive Rock bands which was very much liked by some friends, but I didn`t like it despite repeated listenings to this album in particular. It seems that this album is very popular and it is maybe their most praised album, but for me it wasn`t interesting. This album has some influences by Jazz music, some good vocals arrangements, but it sounded monotonous to me. It is maybe more interesting the "concept" of the album of "three friends from childhood who grow and went their separate ways" than the music in this album. So, bands like Gentle Giant and this album are for their Fans only.

Review by OpethGuitarist
3 stars Probably one of my lesser liked of the great Gentle Giant records, although it's still extremely good. It's a fairly accessible record, and the vocals by Schulman are particularly good and varied here.

The tracks toward the end of the record seem to lack the quality that is found at the beginning. The record kind of wanes as it goes on, unfortunately. No doubt these guys are a class act and some of the best talent wise in addition to being extremely good songwriters. This is a little more vibrant than Aquiring the Taste, and has more rocking elements. A lot of what I like about GG is the delicacy they seem to have.

This is not one of my favorite GG records, but still worth your time and an overall good effort. The highlight for me was the beginning and ending riffs of Prologue.

Review by NJprogfan
4 stars For me, this is where the classic Gentle Giant sound started to take shape. Herky jerky ryhthms, and their one-of-a-kind vocalizations crop up in almost every song. Sure, on 'Schooldays' you'll hear some of their earlier experimentation with song structure, but overall the angular sound is almost there. What makes it a tad weak is what most reviewers will mention, the very ticky tack drumming of Malcolm Mortimore and the very soft, thin sound. It's not until you get towards the end does the sound fill the room. Even Green's wailing guitar solo, (which, btw the hair band Krokus ripped off on one of their songs back in the 80's...can't remember the title, though...) seems muted on 'Peel The Paint'. Speaking of the last track, 'Three Friends', it has one of my absolute favorite Mellotron passages coupled with the boys incredible choir-like singing. It's is pure heaven on disc. All complaints aside, this album is probably the easiest to get into, especially for fans of Symphonic prog. It's not usually high up on lists of GG favs, but it is nevertheless a must have if you are at all interested in Gentle Giant. It's got their sound, but in a subtle way. And it began their obsession with gearing songs around one concept, in this case three friends and how they get along from schooldays to working days. A classy 4 stars album!
Review by russellk
3 stars A very nice and relatively simple GENTLE GIANT album, though if this is your initial foray into the weird and wonderful world of the Giant, you'll wonder what the angst is all about. The songs are straightforward, with little of the complexity of 'Acquiring the Taste' or the four albums to follow.

The concept is not fleshed out, and neither is the music. In the early 1970s most bands' output could be measured in albums per year, not years per album, and in many cases the products were unfinished musically and conceptually. This is certainly the case here. A meandering 'Prologue', for example, which takes up the first six minutes of a 35-minute album, is not an auspicious start. 'Schooldays', however, raises the bar somewhat, with some complex vibraphone and guitar leading to GG's trademark vocals. 'Peel The Paint' is an interesting combination of pastoral and rock themes. But much of the time the music leaves me wondering 'why'? A concept album should make the story's progression clear by both music and vocals. I don't see that here.

What irks me most about this album is the dispassionate nature of the delivery. The vocals are disembodied: the lack of emotion is further enhanced by the reverb, which means the listener has difficulty engaging with the 'story' of the album. It just doesn't sound important enough to the performers, so why should I care? If PETER GABRIEL-era GENESIS is a cry, this album is, by contrast, a polite remark. I need more passion thatn this engenders in order to engage with music.

Never did the name of a band sum up the nature of their music so succinctly as in this release. By all means acquire it, but I find any of their other 'classic period' albums ultimately more rewarding.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars GENTLE GIANT's first concept album is about three friends who meet in school, and how each of them goes on to live very different lives from each other. I have to say that these guys are so amazing, how can you not love their music ?

The first song "Prologue" opens with keys and guitar and then the complex vocal arrangements they are famous for come in.The sound is so rich and full 5 minutes in. Great tune ! "Schooldays" has some cool vibraphone sounds followed by more of those amazing vocal arrangements.This is a rather light and whimsical song until about 3 minutes in when it becomes darker and heavier as the mood shifts continue. Mellotron is also featured in this song. "Working All Day" is a song about one of the friends occupation as a labourer. This is a really good song with great vocals and lots of sax and organ as well.

"Peel The Paint" is my favourite song on this record. It starts rather slowly with reserved vocals until violin melodies take over.This song is about another of the three friends and his occupation as an artist (painter). This song really rocks eventually. The guitar is really incredible and the instrumental interlude is beautifully heavy. More scathing guitar solos too. I just can't get over the emphasis on the aggressive guitar solos. Nice. "Mister Class And Quality ?" is the final friend who is in the upper class of society. This is a short uptempo tune with vocals and organ leading the way. "Three Friends" is another highlight for me. It opens with Green lighting it up on guitar.The mellotron is great especially to end the song.

Overall another must have album from GENTLE GIANT. Highly recommended.

Review by obiter
3 stars This album is an amazing musical voyage.

It highlights the sheer ingenuity and precision which exemplifies Gentle Giant. What is most striking is the apparent ease with which it is accomplished. Never strained, never contrived. There is a more sombre element to the album but this is in no small part due to the subject.

The basic concept of three school friends who plough very different furrows in life may not seem the stuff of your average prog band: it may seem a bit mundane, but for me it is a strong theme because it is so basic.

There is a little bit more of a rock feel than one would normally expect form GG. to tracks like: Peel the Paint and Working All Day. The Middle Class of Mister class and Quality is smoother. The finale Three Friends binds the rock with the GG vocals.

I'm a huge GG fan but this album for me does not stand out as one of their better offerings.

It's good, but certainly not essential.

Review by Tapfret
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Three friends represents my first experience with Gentle Giant. While not yet as complex as GG would eventually become, the underlying complexities to GG music was beginning to take shape. The use of vocal rounds and musical talkbacks were becoming more prevelant. One thing that GG held throughout their progressive period (1970-1975) was a blend of comical silliness and dark seriousness that is probably no more present in any other of their albums than 3 Friends. Schooldays is the finest example of that. 3 Friends also represent the strongest call back to their hard rocking roots with "Working All Day" and "Peel the Paint".

Very Good album, often underated, 3 Friends will always hold a high place in my collection.

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars My impression is that Gentle Giant has such high ratings here, not because they are held in uniformly high esteem, au contraire, but because, to the many who dislike them, they are very hard to listen to enough to do a proper review! Hence, while the proportion of fans who review albums is high anyway, in Gentle Giant's case this ratio is higher still. I mean, even if you loathe Styx, you can probably review "Equinox" pretty easily. I dug back into my old unloved vinyl section to find a suitable GG recording, because, after all, if they are not part of the big 6 or 7, they are probably in prog's top 10, and I have committed to at least one review from each.

What we have here is fewer dissonant expressions than the band was known for, and less in then way of hebephrenic vocals, so what we gain in listenability (minimal) we lose in originality (considerable). It's a very mundane prog rock album rather typical for its time, with dated jazzy elements, and not one that has flourished in the post-prog era. Even the concept was pedestrian, but then so were some of the premises put out by more widely appealing contemporaries - it was in their execution that they easily ouflanked the Giant.

"Prologue" does contain some mildly interesting vocal interplay in among the undistinguished rhythms, but it doesn't go anywhere, which maybe is the link between this and other Giant records. At other times the sparsely accompanied voice sounds so alone, like an adult child forever fearing abandonment. The title cut provides some redemption, with its Crimson-esque rumblings followed by dramatic church organ sound. It's definitely too little too late, and not enough to justify anything more than a weak two star effort.

I'll probably lose more than three virtual friends with this review, but to paraphrase GG and their claim to probably prog rock's most pretentious statement, I need to push the boundaries of those who care to review GG albums to include a few non-fans, at the risk of being unpopular.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Three Friends" is the 3rd full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Gentle Giant. The album was released through Vertigo Records in the UK in April 1972. The Columbia Records US version features a different cover artwork to the UK version. It´s the successor to "Acquiring the Taste" from 1971 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as drummer Martin Smith has been replaced by Malcolm Mortimore. "Three Friends" is a concept album release, featuring a story about three school friends, who end up doing very different things with their lives. It´s a fairly simple story, which at it´s core is about the loss of innocence (and the adult melancholic longing for childhood friendships), and the fact that adulthood isn´t always what children perceive it to be.

Stylistically Gentle Giant continue to experiment heavily and the material on "Three Friends" is about as progressive as it comes. Somewhere at it´s core there is a heavy blues based basic formula (guitar, bass, drums, and vocals), but it is twisted and tons of unconventional instrumental and stylistic elements are added (for example a host of instruments which are unconventional in rock music like harpsichord, xylophone/vibraphone, mandolin, violin, viola, trumpet, saxophone) which ultimately means that a completely different and quite unique beast is spawned. Complex counterpoint vocal harmonies and choirs, medieval and ethnic folk influences, classical music influences, and a generally very adventurous songwriting approach, are some of the ingredients which make up the sound on "Three Friends". The six tracks on the 35:08 minutes long album are all high quality compositions, and each stand out as individual compositions as well as parts of the overall concept. They aren´t necessarily connected in terms of musical themes, but the lyrics and the atmosphere of the tracks work together well.

The musicianship is through the roof. Most of the members of the band are multi-instrumentalists and their understanding of musical structure and composition is phenomenal and their playing skills are exceptional. While "Three Friends" features highly technical playing and singing, the great strength of the album is that Gentle Giant are also able to write memorable songs. The tracks may feature progressive structures, multible instruments, different playing styles, and adventurous rhythmic ideas, but most tracks still feature melodic hooks. Either instrumental or vocal hooks, which are usually changed and used again in other contexts on the tracks (the classical music influences shines through here). So there is a red thread in the songwriting, which means this is much more than just a vehicle to show how skilled the musicians are.

Upon conclusion "Three Friends" is a natural successor to "Acquiring the Taste" (1971) and shows development in all departments. The musicianship is further developed, the songwriting even more intriguing and complex, and the album features a well sounding sound production, which suits the material perfectly. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've just realized recently that I have not reviewed this third effort, in terms of album release, by Gentle Giant. Having established their music direction since the debut self-titled album and followed with the second one "Acquiring The Taste", in this third album the band seemed like to confirm that "this is the kind of music we play". This is quite different with any other music offerings during the time of release. I knew that there was basically no, or little, similarities among bands that made their albums around the 70s as each of band had their own sound and nothing alike. Name it: Genesis, Yes, ELP, Pink Floyd, Gentle Giant, Van der Graaf Generator, etc. all have their own style peculiar to their preferences and talents. Gentle Giant took the path to combining some avant-garde music with music harmonies - thing that seemed impossible to merge. Avant-garde knows no boundaries while music harmonies require certain rules (a combination of chords and notes that meet certain rules to make listening pleasure). But that's their job to make it a solid composition. And they are successful with this third album as indicated by songs like "Peel The Paint" that has successfully balanced those two poles. In a way there is component of hard rock style in this song through the riffs produced by guitar work.

On the exploration of avant garde, Schooldays, opens with a placid vibraphone and guitar theme that leads into laidback verses, featuring Philip Shulman's amazing voice. The vocal parts lead into a jazzy vibraphone solo which in a way creating an "avant-garde" nuance, before a return of the main vocal theme closes things out. The tracks on which Gentle Giant brings up the volume are rocking numbers in the usual Gentle Giant rock vein include Working All Day that features Derek Shulman's vocals. Guitar is featured prominently here. Other songs in this vein include the second half of Peel The Paint, which has Derek on vocals and features a nice and bluesy guitar solo. "Mister Class and Quality, treats the middle, in terms of style, between songs like Prologue and the second half of Peel The Paint.

If you claim yourself as prog lover, it's regretful if you do not have this album. It's an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin' ..!!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Telling the story of three childhood friends who are treated differently by life and end up in very different places, the aptly titled Three Friends is Gentle Giant's third studio album.

Three Friends is a pre-Octopus album. I've got Acquiring The Taste, Octopus and In A Glass House besides this one, and Acquiring The Taste was a great first album for me, and I still hold it as my favourite, which can't be said for either Octopus and In A Glass House.

The point I'm trying to make is that there is a change of sound with and after Octopus, shifting Gentle Giant in a colder, more mathematical and technical direction. On Three Friends, the band is still like I prefer them. It's not much different when looking at the big picture: the weird, searching side, playful melodies and jumpy, spirited rhythms are just as prominent as they should be. But there is a noticeable change on the instrumental side, namely that there are a lot fewer ones present on the album. In effect this means that Three Friends isn't as deeply layered as for example Acquiring The Taste, and that the medieval, folk or with a wider word, "traditional" sounds and feelings are somewhat lost. The famed counterpoint melodies, wicked twists and turns and a lot of the vocal arrangements so associated with the band are somewhat left behind in favour of other musical ventures. It is a more relaxed listening experience, less demanding on ears and mind, but ultimately just as pleasing.

Instead this album is quite packed with various electric keys, vibraphone and quite noticeable saxophone, creating a softer, more easily digested soundscape. I wouldn't say that atmosphere is Gentle Giant's strongest side, but they manage to create quite a lot here, something that should be appealing for newer fans of the band. It's often a little nervous and twitchy; touching dark, slightly sinister bottoms but all so often it's just...secretive, for lack of a better word. Secretive in a provoking, but well-meaning way. Some would say ironic. Pieces of Schooldays and Mister Class and Quality? are excellent examples of this. Closing the album is the title track, and surprisingly it's almost symphonic in nature with its lovely soaring keys and choir-like vocals. Alongside this atmosphere, the band actually manages to add a lot of power, another oddity for them when it comes to the whole discography. Prominent electric guitar dabbling in most of the melodies or acting as a rhythmic backdrop together with the bass, or as on Peel The Paint actually leading a hard, chaotic segment of the song before a great, bluesy solo.

Much can be said about Gentle Giant, but they weren't afraid of testing out new directions. Instead of the more challenging and fascinating, but equally good, Acquiring The Taste, this album showcases another side of the band, perhaps an indication of that they really didn't have the firm direction in their music you often read and hear about. If you're more into the stereotypical side of Gentle Giant, this album sure might seem toothless and tired, but it really isn't. It's different, and as such just attractive in another way.

4 stars - a treat you shouldn't miss.


Review by TGM: Orb
4 stars Review 59, Three Friends, Gentle Giant, 1972, or 1, or 3, but I'm too lazy to check


Three Friends is a concept album of a very different kind. While most concept albums are lovably overblown and twisted or depressive and moping, Three Friends is (in the Wish You Were Here/DSOTM mould) conceptually simple, touching, and profound. Brilliant observations and characterisations follow, and the lyrical material is well above the average. Musically, unlike my other Gentle Giant album (I'm working on it :p...), Acquiring The Taste, it makes use of comparatively few instruments: guitars, bass, violin, keys, sax, drums, but these are all used with taste and quality, and, besides, are more than most bands handle in their time. The really stunning features of the album are again the precision and arrangement of the playing, especially the vocal parts on Schooldays. While this isn't Acquiring The Taste, nor, I suspect, any other Gentle Giant album, it is nonetheless an extremely strong release. More conventional, perhaps, but no less skilfully handled.

Prologue, the album's nod to an overture, begins with a delicate drum roll, after which chordal piano, saxes and throbbing keys contribute to create the generally constructive, busy feel. Some supremely handled bass hums give a backing depth to the introduction, and volumes are carefully modulated for effect. The vocals, introducing the album's theme, chime together clearly, expressing the 'togetherness' or ties that I believe the music is expressing. After a bit of clear organ-bass exchanging, the piece moves on calmly, but with definite intent, through a gradual building of the main theme. A good opener, even if it perhaps goes on a little longer than it needs to to make its point.

Schooldays is perhaps the album's crowning glory, with a range of percussion, including xylophone/glockenspiel as well as the tapped percussion typical of the album. The arrangement is entirely immaculate, with e-piano occasionally taking up a percussion part, sublime piano-based transitions. Mellotron shimmers appropriately. Of especial delight is a brilliantly arranged piano-bass-drums-vocal-mellotron 'remember' section, and the incredibly accurate and detailed vocal arrangements. The entire piece is without slips, and repeats are either used imaginatively or effectively reinforce the ideas included in the piece without feeling patronising or vestigial. Great piece of music.

Working All Day begins with an odd distorted guitar, as a twist on a more energetic blues energy. More blues-based vocals come into play, and sax wallows and throbs appropriately in the background. Dark harpsichord makes a most unexpected appearance. Following the deceptively loud verses, the piece manically wanders around for a bit, featuring a couple of off-beat acoustics and organ. The third verse bursts in with renewed ideas and vigour, and the piece concludes calmly. The characterisation is strong, if a little obvious.

Peel The Paint is introduced with soft vocals, and violin (both picked and full-blown cello-accompanied pastoral hums) is the most prominent idea. Organ contrasts it cunningly, and the descending bass directs it carefully before changing speed abruptly to move onto the much harder, guitar-backed piece's explosion. The piece provides an excellent opportunity for one of Gary Greene's solos, an incredible, winding, screechy creature with speed playing and excellent taste mixed. A very forceful and musically immaculate piece, and the lyrical material is evocative.

Mr. Class And Quality begins with a sarcastically played organ, and merges with the conclusion. Bass foreshadows the fiddle riff, and the vocals come in quite soon, with one of the strongest and most easily related-to characterisations I've ever heard. The vocals in themselves are quite carefully sung, with a very precise edge. Organ is a prominent part of the whole, and is supplemented by moog and distorted and bluesy guitar as the other leads. Mocking and playful, and certainly satyrical, the arrangement is again immaculate, and somehow combines chaos with order without a moment of pause. The piece moves onto the conclusion with limited distinction and much overlap, so I'll stick to this paragraph. The conclusion is majestically tied together by organ and mellotron, with vocals bringing the links back to us now we've seen the individual ideas.

So, all-in-all, a very strong album, and one with some entirely outstanding moments. There is no person in the midst of prog fans, even the most stringent hater of Gentle Giant, who should avoid this album. Certainly tragically forgotten from all of our 'best concept album' polls where everyone gets the chance to bash The Lamb and TFTO again. The least bloated concept album I've heard, and worthy of a healthy four stars. Were it not for a couple of moments, where, despite my admiration, my interest isn't quite held (most notably on the Prologue), I might hand the album the fifth.

Rating: Four Stars. Essential. Recommended to everybody. Favourite Track: Schooldays or Mr. Class And Quality/Conclusion. I feel no need to decide.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A revelation in concept albums.

After hearing GG's 'Octopus' I was a little put off from this band as it just did not appeal to my prog senses. However, this was a major revelation and I am glad I dipped in again to this acquired taste in prog.

Every track on 3 Friends is sublime, powerfully constructed with complex arrangements, time sig changes, and all cocooned in a huge concept. I always maintained a concerted interest in concept albums - some of prog's finest moments are concept albums and on this occasion we have the fascinating tale of three friends and we trace their lives from early school years through to their maturity as they learn to work and cope with the materialistic world in which they are thrown.

Sound familiar? It should. Many albums of the 70s bucked against the system and attempted to stab at the oppressiveness of material society that stifles the imagination and innovation of the individual. The story of the album continues as we explore one friend at a time. The first becomes a manual labourer, the next an artist, and the third a very successful businessman. It is this last man who seems to have achieved the ultimate success but at what price? The others become outcasts so what does this say about the modern social system? Gentle Giant question this by making the successful man the most spiritually impoverished - this is the price of success - the soul.

'Mr Class and Quality' is a monologue that explains the concept. 'Working All day ' shows how to cope in the rut of 9 to 5 existence to try and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. GG seem to be intent on hammering a message of how materialism erodes the freewill and the choice of spirituality to augment to human condition.

Weighty themes are enhanced by even heavier musical arrangements. 'Peel The Paint' is divine - brilliant! The sheer complexity of textures are prevalent throughout and make this one of the most pleasurable listening experiences in the Canterbury subgenre. This is one of GG's shining hours.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars The mighty Three friends is the third relase of this unmatched band from early '70's. The album was released in 1972 and was a big succes, even more elaborate than the predecesors with a quality of the music hard to beat even by the well know bands from that era. Gentle Giant always remains as one of my fav bands from prog with stunning albums, my fav remaing The power and the glory from 1974. As i said the music here is very eclectic with smooth arrangements, very strong are the keys and moog interplays made by the main man of the band Kerry Minnear, leaving breathless the listner on some of them. The rest of the musicians are of course high class with strong musicianship and awesome playing. From the begginig Gentle Gian't music was very chalenging with high demanting listening, not very easy at first but after many spind you end love this band, simply amazing band. This might be considered a concept album the story is about three friends who were together in a school, and after finishing it they went in separate ways leaving the good and neverforgeting memories behind them. Also this is the final album featuring Malcolm Mortimore on drums, from the next one behind the drums is the stunning John Weathers. Quite more enjoyble and better than the predecesors with super pieces like: opening track Prologue, Schooldays and the rockier Peel The Paint, the rest are good neverthe less. So, a big album, among their best no doubt, and among the best of the early '70's prog music, 4 stars without hesitation, recommended to any serious listner.
Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Gentle Giant tells a story that we all know.

Up until this point in their career, Gentle Giant had always been attempting to make innovative and wildly complex music that people would have fun listening to, and having established their name with excellent records like Gentle Giant and Acquiring The Taste it was finally time to tackle the 'concept album'. While this is no grandeur rock opera that takes up several hours of your time and all your cranial capacity to listen to and dissect it still manages to be highly impressive, and a great leap for the band. Taking the rock/blues side of their first album and the subtle/experimental side of their sophomore Gentle Giant paints a picture of three school yard friends who grow up into three very different men. An objective look on people put to the complex and quirky music of one of the most eclectic artists in the scene makes for an excellent ride.

The concept itself is certainly something that just about everyone can relate to. We hear the prologue and the story of three friends meeting, then we skip ahead and see what they're doing later in life. Every person in their lifetime will no doubt experience this, as the people you once grew up with become laborers, artists and business men, and no matter how well you knew your school chums, if you met them again you wouldn't even know it was the same person. The songs are split between narration and personal storied told by the characters, something like the complex and amusing Schooldays with its Gentle Giant token harmonized vocals (soon to be considered legendary with Knots right around the corner) tells the tale from an objective and removed standpoint while Working All Day's industrial pace tells the story from a personal and subjective view.

The entire album is very impressive from a playing standpoint. People who have troubles getting into the band will also appreciate a more approachable side from this album. The quick and dirty Mister Class And Quality? features some keyboard noodling in the beginning which soon turns itself into melody and the string sections come in allowing for a highly melodic vocal line to shine through. People who found the silent/loud parts of the first two album slightly bemusing will also appreciate the fact that the album never lets up, and while the tale of the artist, Peel The Paint may feature some more downtime than the rest of the song it never becomes tiresome. This is likely one of the reasons why many consider this to be an all-time Gentle Giant masterpiece along with songs like On Reflection. A blistering and bluesy guitar solo in the middle of some unexpected vocal shouting makes for a pleasant and welcome surprise on this standout track.

Of course, what kind of concept album would this be without an intro and an explosive outro? This album features both, of course, Prologue kicks things off to a quick start with fast and fascinating keyboard parts which allow for impressive drumming hidden underneath. The tune is largely instrumental in its 6-minute duration and does a superb job of opening the story while providing a lush soundscape which both rocks and stays viciously progressive throughout. Three Friends closes the album and acts as an abrupt segue between the end of the album and Mister Class And Quality?, quickly switching to vocals and floating keys that bring the album to its end.

The original American remaster of this album was rather unfortunate. The album artwork is simply a reprint of the debut album's with a slightly more yellow hue and different wording across the top. Also, Mister Class And Quality is cut off around the 3.5 minute mark and is continued for the first minutes of Three Friends. Not that there's any of the music missing, but it's an irritating mistake anyways. Still, if you see a slightly strange version of the debut album and you're in an American record store then you might be looking at this record.

Ultimately this is probably the best Gentle Giant album of their first era (before the first Shulman left), depending on your tastes. Keyboard and violin heavy in parts this one has a unique feel to it which is still unmistakably Gentle Giant. A classic, this one gets 4 friends out of 5 for their conceptual tale of everyone's life and the people in it. Highly recommended.

Review by MovingPictures07
4 stars This is another great release from Gentle Giant, stripping back towards a sound more similar to their debut than the previous, more dark and experimental Acquiring the Taste. It is a solid offering that showcases their impeccable instrumental work and unique style.

1. Prologue- This is a good opening to this concept album (about three friends from school who grew up and went their separate ways) and everything is played well. It is not as mindblowing as later Gentle Giant compositions, but it is a very good song nonetheless. 8/10

2. Schooldays- The masterpiece song on this album. This is one of the best early Gentle Giant songs and illustrates their style extremely well. The vocals are all spoken with amazing ability, the song is always interesting, and the song structure is genius. It is fun to attempt to sing to the broken vocal parts. 10+/10

3. Working All Day- Structured very well with a stunning dirty organ solo from Minnear that really makes the song for me. The repetitive nature of working all day in (presumably) manual labor is represented well in the shape of this song. Nonetheless, it is still my least favorite and can drag for me (discounting the keyboard work). 7/10

4. Peel the Paint- This is my favorite song on this album along with Schooldays. It is not near as signature Gentle Giant as Schooldays, but it still is an amazing work nonetheless. The song builds and builds with a conversation between soft vocals and strings, until eventually breaking out into some rock. Thereafter, Green breaks into a psychedelic guitar solo that I see as his best guitar performance with the group. Turn this one up loud! 10/10

5. Mister Class and Quality?- Another very good Giant composition with wonderful keyboard work and signature sound. This song is often overlooked, even when discussing this album, and I never have figured out why it is underrated to that magnitude. This is a really great typical Giant song. 9/10

6. Three Friends- A wonderful closer to the album with majestic vocal arrangements. It is short, but it definitely is effective. 9/10

This album is not one of Gentle Giant's masterpieces, and the fact that it is still incredibly solid and it ranks as one of my lesser favorites from their main period really says something about their material. Another solid album from the Giant! Just not one of the first ones you should acquire.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Three Friends might be the album I would recommend to someone new to Gentle Giant; comparatively speaking, it possesses easily followed (but by no means simplistic) structures, and is a good blend of quiet, symphonic, and hard-rocking moments. While each song retains the distinctive and eclectic Gentle Giant sound, all of them are very different from one another. My only complaints are that this is one of the shortest full-length albums I've ever seen (clocking in at just over 35 minutes), that the cover art of the US release is the same as the first album, that the sound quality of said version is muffled, and that again on said version, there is an incorrect track division between the fifth and sixth songs (despite what Columbia says, and the fact that their vinyl format had the exact same track placement, they are wrong; one can clearly hear that the third verse of "Mr. Class and Quality?" make up a substantial part of "Three Friends"). All but the first of these are not the band's fault however, and so will not factor into my review, but be warned: Obtain the German LINE release if at all possible. This effort remains one of the band's most poignant works, as many people can relate to growing up and apart from the friends of their childhood.

"Prologue" With a short drum roll, Three Friends is off. There is a recurring guitar theme, occasionally coupled with synthesizer, and the bass playing is as lively as ever. After niety seconds of this, there is a short interlude and the calm vocals enter, telling us not just the beginning of the story, but giving us intimations of the end as well. The song closes as it began.

"Schooldays" The second track has a wispy, fanciful sound, evocative of childhood and the many possibilities that come with it; the lyrics, however, betray this feeling: "Schooldays, the happy days when we were going nowhere." There is a lot of piano work throughout the middle. The piece shifts from whimsical to creepy, as Ray Shulman's son's voice on this track sounds like something right out of a horror film, and the strings exaggerate this effect. There is a jaunty keyboard solo in 7/4 after, and the song returns to fancifulness. Sadly, their schooldays would be the only lasting thing the three friends would share.

"Working All Day" The gruff music makes one think of sweat, dirt, and shovels, as Derek Shulman sings about just what the title says. There are gritty guitars and raunchy saxophone, and a speaker who is content with his circumstances but unhappy with the way the economic world works. The middle part consists of saxophone, an excellent organ solo, and some of the best bass work on the album.

"Peel the Paint" Understandably, this one is the most artsy of the songs. It's quiet for most of the first half, with hushed vocals and a lovely recurring string section. Derek Shulman takes over lead vocals in the more strident section of the song. Gary Green indulges in a wild guitar solo played over Malcolm Mortimore's frenzied drum playing, which consumes almost the entire second half.

"Mister Class and Quality?" The music here is basically organ, some strange-sounding guitar, and fairly straightforward drumming. The lyrics are told from the point of view of a business executive, and are a scathing commentary on those lower on the socioeconomic ladder. It is a great song and an underrated gem, I fear.

"Three Friends" The album ends with a choir of voices summing up the lives of three friends who went from "class to class." The music is probably the most tightly orchestrated here, and I especially like Green's subtle, cooperative guitar playing.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars My personal "find" of the year 2008 has to be my finally discovering the wonders of Gentle Giant. As I wrote in my review of "Octopus," I and my prog-loving friends all tragically missed the boat when it came to turning ourselves on to this eclectic group back in the 70s and I really don't have a good answer as to why that happened. There's no doubt that we would have eaten this stuff up like rich chocolate cake and begged for more. I'm just glad that I took a blind chance recently and invited them into my musical mansion. They waited outside the gates long enough.

A closed drum roll on Malcom Mortimore's snare introduces "Prologue" where Kenny Minnear's pulsating piano and Ray Shulman's wandering bass lines rumble underneath a threatening guitar pattern, creating a very dense atmosphere. Suddenly they break away into a jazzy vocal section that is absolutely wondrous as the poetic lyrics set up the plot of the album. It concerns a trio of pals who are thick as thieves in their youth "but fate and skill and chances play their part/the wind of change leaves no goodbye/three boys are men, their ways have drawn apart/they tell their tales to justify." The song then moves into a new segment where Minnear's Hammond organ and the guitarists seem to play around each other while the sprightly synthesizer flits about in the background before they reprise the initial theme for the ending.

"Schooldays" is an excellent aural adventure. Kenny's expert vibraphone work at the outset draws you right in to where madrigal-like singing takes over and enchants the senses as the voices float overhead. All the while Malcom's deft drumming streams around an unorthodox time signature that only they might be able to explain. Suddenly ominous piano chords crowd into the scene and lead to a gorgeous, almost surreal vocal melody that's precariously positioned over sparse instrumentation. The words describe a nostalgic glimpse of days gone by. "Schooldays, the happy days when we were going nowhere/schooltime, the happy time when we were feeling no care/schooldays when three said that we'd be friends forever/how long is ever, isn't it strange." the singer laments. After the harmony vocals drift away like wispy ghosts, the tune turns to an up tempo jazz motif where the vibes dazzle and take you to a subdued finale.

"Working All Day" describes the fate of the first one of the friends and the slurred intro indicates that his lot is a life of mind-numbing drudgery. It has an appropriate, labored feel lumbering underneath the vocal but the addition of Philip Shulman's lively, stacked saxophones keeps it from becoming morose or tiring. "Easy to say that everybody's equal/then look around and see it ain't true," he complains, "I eat the dust/the boss gets all the money/life ain't just." But the antidote to this ode to self pity arrives in the form of Minnear's outstanding performance on his mighty Hammond organ. What a treat it is to hear his mastery! The song ends after a brief return to the "working all day" refrain.

"Peel the Paint" has a quieter, sneaky vocal beginning followed by a string quartet that jumps in unexpectedly out of nowhere. This sequence is repeated, and then the track turns into a heavy rocker with complicated, intertwining instrumental detours. It seems that the second of the threesome has become a painter, "free from the start/left to depart/finding the pleasure and the pain in his art/lost in the hush/no need to rush/time waits for him/him who creates with the brush." However, they also present a darker side of the man's personality because if you "look underneath/you'll see the same/the same old savage beast/strip the coats/the coats of time/and find the mad eyes and see those sharpened teeth." (Sounds like one of my old girlfriends!) Guitarist Gary Green gets his moment in the spotlight as he turns in a delicious solo accompanied only by Mortimore's impressive drumming. His tasteful manipulation of the extraordinary Echoplex machine is a testimony to that ancient device's considerable charms. What fun! The band then returns to the heavy motif for a final verse.

The last two cuts are presented as one. "Mister Class and Quality?" starts with another quasi-jazz piece that develops into a number with a "walking" beat where strange instrumental melodies coil underneath Derek Shulman's vocal lines. The last individual has successfully clawed his way up the corporate ladder and now looks down his nose at his former buddies. "Middleman sees straight ahead and never crosses borders/never understood the artist or the lazy workers/the world needs steady men like me to give and take the orders." he conceitedly opines. It would appear that these three guys are destined to never find common ground again. The group's segue into "Three Friends" is seamless as they travel through an intriguing musical section that is quite exceptional. After several minutes of instrumental bliss they somehow bend it back around to the original verse structure of the previous song, then the whole thing opens up into a gorgeous chorale backed by Mellotron strings as the guitar and bass go through complicated riffs underneath. Fabulous. A slow fade ensues and one can easily imagine the band ascending majestically into the heavens.

I would hesitate to recommend this album to the general public. It's way, way over their heads and beyond their comprehension. But prog lovers who frequent this site will understand my enthusiasm and share in my thrill of discovery. Gentle Giant is a group unlike any other I've ever heard and those of you who enjoy musicians that create unique tunes by employing a wide array of influences will adore them. They are, quite simply, a delight to discerning ears and that's a quality that's as hard to find in today's world of talent-deprived posers and wannabe idols as it was in the dark ages of disco and new wave. The songs presented on "Three Friends" may be well over 3 decades old but they come off just as fresh and vibrant as the day they were recorded. Feel free to indulge.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 01. Prologue Here begins the disc concept in mind as the friends are made and how all the little collapses, tells us about the youth and starts with an instrumental apuradíssimo logo of man, the song begins and already think: Where did that come from? 'This' is Gentle Giant and my friends still do not know if you start getting used to it because it is simply fantastic! Riff, but it is not just a riff, it is every man for himself in a completely organized and emotional mess, is not only virtuoso. Beautiful vocal melody, you come in small doses in which the parties are known, the amazing voice, 3, 4, 5 voices singing different tunes? Yes! It is possible with these guys. All here, all the time is crazy, everything is normal and weird at the same time, these guys got together to give the world the kind of sound more complex known but at the same time sweet, beautiful and soul. How is it possible you can ask! 'I answer. I have no idea!

02. Schooldays Here is how they count the days of school as we have very close friends and have fun (not all). The vibraphone is a strange feeling, has a very unusual sound in music. And what I said about the tunes? 4 voices are completing. Sensacional. And the instrumental? Damn! Ray Shulmman is another of the most overlooked bass of progressive rock, he is fabulous. The melody changes abruptly, it is dark, saudosista! The theme keeps complicadíssimo. Difficult to explain, even difficult. Listen! Please!

03. Working All Day Here is told the story of the first of three friends, a worker, without much luck and hard head. Sensational start the 'bent'. The melody that follows is impressive, and the letter asks, workers singing fathoms. They managed to play perfectly, saxophones throughout the track giving a different weight to the music. A line of low sensational also helps (laughs).

04. Peel The Paint The second friend is an artist that behind all the pomp and circumstance does not really feel anything, is just a world of lies, as the name of the song says Peel The Painting '. The most sensational music of all time, only now it would save my work (of which I am happy) to write, voice of the original riff for me that is the most sensational riff of all time, the music is perfect, violins and classical cello, and everything we could want. That voice of Derek, that voice in the chorus. Oh of course! Has the most perfect guitar solo of the world, touched by the great Gary Green. Perfect!

05. Mister Class And Quality? This one tells the story of the third friend, the perfect man of business that wins all you have with your 'ability' and 'knowledge', totally disregarding the other two friends, was born to give the orders! Ledo mistake! Start with a theme and complex, jazzy way. But the riff itself is a riff more common, but very well accompanied by the violin. But the way forward is a melody completely crazy, even with perfect passes and circus divertidíssimas.

06. Three Friends Here are the 'lost and found' of all this pilgrimage, as the three friends you repent of many things. And it starts with soils of Kerry Minna, and once again the soils are perfect for Gary Green on guitar. And that last part! Here Kerry had a good taste indescribable with keyboards. Sensational!

This disc is a masterpiece for sure!

Review by poslednijat_colobar
5 stars I don't know what will be the best for beginning the review of this album. Yeah... It will be the most important in my review - this is the best Gentle Giant's album. Complete masterpiece. Everything here is what it should be. Perfect music and perfect lyrics, drama and artistic voice, connected in one specific concept album with a touching storyline. And here comes my question - what is this average mark here on PA? 3.97 from 160 votes at the time of my review. I think it's extremely low average rating for this album.

The vocals are very appropriate for the storyline, exactly like in a musical. All the instruments are at their height of performance as well as the quality of all the songs meet the requirements for a masterpiece that gives 35:08 minutes supreme satisfaction. Released at the height of progressive rock - 1972 - it's one of the most progressive albums, I've ever heard! I consider this one as a landmark of the genre and I can't mention any flaws, because I can't find such a thing like flaw.

It contains one of my favourite lyrics along with Pure (2008) by Pendragon and Wish You Were Here (1975) by Pink Floyd. The composition of the album is of highest standard, because all ideas are developed in synchronism and the themes in one songs are logical linked. I vote 5 stars for most of the albums when the songwriting and musicianship in perfect (or close to perfect); here I have some extra additional reasons to do that. Except songwriting and musicianship, I have more: the sincere and touching lyrics, the structure of the album - with inception of the action,culmination and denouement, the tracklisting, the storyline, the drama at some moments and not last this child-like vocals when it's necessary.

Outside the album, the most important thing for me is the friendship. The storyline is very familiar to me, because this happened to me, too. So, if you like pure progressive rock without very much folk moments you desperately need this album; if you believe in friendship you need it, too! If you like more folky music or you don't believe in friendship, you have to proceed with next genius releases by GG! Full 5 stars!!!

Review by Negoba
5 stars Great Entry Point for Gentle Giant

It is no secret that if I had to come up with my Big 3 of Classic Prog, I would place Gentle Giant alongside Genesis and Yes, rather than the more common choices of King Crimson or ELP. Their unfathomable talent, complex interplay, and plain weirdness are unique in the world of prog, despite many imitators. Three Friends is not their best album, but its accessibility (VERY relatively) and cohesiveness make it probably the best entry point for the band. The first two albums are more uneven, and later ones can take a lot more work to get into.

Prologue (10/10) - This is extremely well done Gentle Giant in its prototypical form. The song is melodically driven, with both voices and instruments trading the musical themes around the circle in beautiful interplay. Phenomenal keyboard sounds and parts, signature vocal counterpoint, just a phenomenal track.

School Days (10/10) - Deceptively quaint, this track features great vocal interplay, complex time signatures, churning bass, a nice piano break midway, a grooving vibe solo and finally a revisit of the first melodic theme. Again, it is simply amazing how much music territory is covered within a short time.

Working All Day (7/10) - Despite a promising intro, the music literally detunes into a more plodding rocker. The parts work more in parallel, the vocals are at the low end of Derek Shulman's range, and overall the song just doesn't work as well for me.

Peel the Paint (8/10) - This song features some of the weaknesses of the previous track, but has more instrumental variety and emotion to keep it going. It also contains guitarist's Gary Green's hottest solo on record, more traditionally rocking than most Gentle Giant, but here it is a great contrast element.

Mr. Class and Quality / Three Friends (10/10) - These two songs are continuous and many including myself consider them together. The song is again very melodic, with the lyrics finishing the thematic story. The pulsing prog gives way to psychedelia and great solo section before transforming into the truly grand finale.

Overall, this album showcases an amazing group hitting their stride, still yet to reach their complex creative peak, but displaying their full skill. Though I presently consider Octopus to be their peak, this album still stands as a masterpiece of classic prog music.

Review by progrules
4 stars Finally a Gentle Giant review by me. And there was a reason I always avoided this band. Somewhere around 2004/2005 I checked a lot of mp3's on this site and one of them was the till then unknown Gentle Giant. To be honest I didn't like any of the odd sounding tracks which are the nowadays streamtracks. Because of the disappointment I never gave them another chance. But after spending much more time on PA I found out that not only lots of people like them (a lot) but also many reviewers who share more or less the same taste (as mine) happened to be fan of GG. So there had to be something I hadn't noticed yet. Recently I decided to have another go at all their streamtracks and came to the conclusion that Prologue from this album Three Friends was at least bearable and actually more than that. I found the album in the store and decided to give it a chance.

Prologue was a pretty normal song for GG standard in my believe. There is enough melody here that I can appreciate and right now I even kinda like it (surprise surprise). 3,75*.

I was intrigued by Schooldays because of the huge appreciation it got in several reviews. And an intriguing song it is. The vocals initially remind me of Camel but the instrumental handling as well as the compositional structure is totally different. I like the sudden switch towards the end of the complex song. 3,5*.

Working all Day is more like one of those tracks by the band that put me off. It doesn't sound totally ridiculous to me, I don't want to go that far but to say it's wonderful music would be foolish, at least according to my taste. The middle (instrumental) part of the song is pretty good though. 3,25*.

Peel the Paint is the second longer song of the album and is a bit of a darkish sounding one, again complex with almost screaming vocals. I like the guitar halfway down the track but it goes too far to call this track a truly brilliant effort. I appreciate it though because it really is something special. 3,5*.

Mister Class and Quality is a short typical GG song especially instrumentally spoken. I think it's the least exciting song of the album. Still quite good. 3*.

The previous song smoothly runs on into the last track of the album, the title track. It's starts with a great instrumental part followed by a typical GG vocal contribution. In the second half of the song an interesting organ dominated instrumental part concludes the song and the album. Best track of the album. 4*.

I can't deny this is a very good album. Gentle Giant will never be my band, same as eclectic prog will never be really for me. But if I have to work my way through an album from these famous proggers it might as well be this one. It almost makes me want more. But if I ever take another GG-album it will have to be at least as good as this one and I doubt if there is such an album. The average according to the individual rating is exactly 3.5*. And since I see no reason to round that down to three stars I will give four.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The first Gentle Giant concept album also marks the band's strongest album yet!

After the departure of Martin Smith the band recruited a new drummer Malcolm Mortimore who fit really well with the rest of the band. I guess we'll never know how the next couple of albums would have sounded like if only Malcolm didn't injure himself during a motorcycle accident which lead to a new drummer replacement John Weathers!

The closest that we ever came to this discovery was in the form of the newly reunited lineup consisting of Gary Green, Kerry Minnear and Malcolm Mortimore. I attended their 2009-show in Gothenburg where this album's material dominated the set list. The concert kicked off with Prologue and later followed by Mister Class And Quality?/Three Friends. Since my favorite composition off this album is Peel The Paint I was delighted to hear its performance as the concert's second, and last, encore number! All of the material sounded great although one can't help the fact that I missed the violin arrangement in the beginning of Peel The Paint. This time it was played on an electric guitar.

Three Friends is a near masterpiece that would actually be surpassed by the four upcoming albums. Just like any of the first seven Gentle Giant albums these records can be heard in none particular order which means that if you get the chance to hear Three Friends then don't hesitate to check it out!

***** star songs: Prologue (6:12) Peel The Paint (7:25) Three Friends (3:00)

**** star songs: Schooldays (7:33) Working All Day (5:07) Mister Class And Quality? (5:51)

Total rating: 4,47

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If there's a band that has always given me problems is GENTLE GIANT, unlike most cases when I simply avoid the bands I dislike, I tried repeatedly to appreciate this band, but when I listen the voice of Derek Schulman creating such dissonances that seem like singing a different track, I just can't take it.

As any normal Prog fanatic, I like complex music with coherence and melodic base, if this wasn't the case, I would be listening any other genre, but when I listen albums like "Octopus" or "In a Glass House", I feel that this guys avoid any logic or coherence and just want to be the most complex band over the face of the earth, and that really turns me off.

But, a few weeks ago while watching DVD's with a couple of pals, they told me to listen "Three Friends", insisting hat that this album would probably make me change my opinion. I didn't believed them, but this guys started to send me mails and even call me to ask if I had already bought the album, so in order to stop this friendly harassment, went to the store and got a copy, and must say that even when my opinion hasn't changed about the band in general terms, I found "Three Friends" a good and coherent release, in which the complexity goes hand to hand with musicality, and it's a pleasure to listen it.

It was enough to listen the first noted of "Prologue" to discover this album had something different, incredibly the music is so catchy that I found myself humming the central melody after the album ended. Even when the band builds dissonant passages, they never cross the limits of rationality an believe it or not I found Derek's vocals absolutely interesting, mostly because the multi-layered voices enhance the listening experience......Excellent opening.

Not in the level of the previous track, but "Schooldays" didn't disappointed, it's true that the long vibraphone intro is not my cup of tea, but the excellent vocals by Derek save that section because he creates a haunting atmosphere when he fuses his voice with the instrument, when the rest of the band starts to join the song gains more coherence, and even the contradictory piano passage helps to maintain the interest of the listener.

"Working All Day" was another surprise, the magnificent lead vocal and choirs caught me from the beginning, but when the Sax blends with the Hammond organ I was really fascinated, sounds like some sort of Psychedelic nightmare blended with VAN DER GRAFF GENERATOR, another high point.

The first couple of minutes of "Peel the Paint", made me believe that the previous tracks were only a mirage and that GENTLE GIANT had returned to the futile complexity I dislike, but as soon as Ray Schulman joins with the violin, it was like magic.

As the song advances, it keeps getting more and more interesting, the dissonant passages morph into Jazzy sections in such a way that even a non fan like me has to surrender before the skills of the musicians, and the frenetic finale in the vein of Hendrix meets KING CRIMSON is the point when I decided to give the band a new chance.

"Mister Class and Quality" is a elaborate mixture of Prog, Jazz, Celtic Folk and Blues , with amazing organ and violin performances, not a single moment to rest, the guitar and Hammond solos are out of this world.

The album ends with the short but exciting "Three Friends", the pompous choirs at the beginning are fantastic and the way in which they combine with the organ made me forget that I'm before a band I never liked, again delightful.

I'm sure I will never be a hardcore fan of GENTLE GIANT, because albums like "Octopus" will not captivate me, but I would be absolutely dishonest if I don't accept that "Three Friends" didn't made me want o destroy the stereo..............Four solid stars for a great album, no matter what I think about the band.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars This album has a special place in my heart, as it was the first Gentle Giant album I ever owned. It is also the most like a traditional prog album of any in their catalog. The songs are longer than the usual Giant fare, although none reach epic length. And the feel of the album approaches some of the great jazz fusion that was going on at the time.

This is a concept album with a simple theme. Three childhood friends growing up on very different paths. One becomes a laborer, the second an artist, and the third a business executive. It's not a terribly deep theme, but the music is beautiful and complex, using the range of styles and instrumentation we've come to expect from this fantastic band.

I especially love the vibraphone work in Schooldays, but the entire album is quite compelling. This is the one to play for the prog fan that just can't get into this band.

Review by friso
5 stars After the very artistic and slightly introverted 'Acquiring the Taste' the band comes with a third album that is perhaps even moodier and less direct than its predecessor. Listed as eclectic prog, albums like this would perhaps be easier to understand if approached from an avant-prog angle. On 'Three Friends' the differences between songs couldn't be greater. It is an concept album about the life path of three friends reaching different social statuses, but the band doesn't impose on the listener with its story-line. The opening track is a mystical jazz-influenced rock track with chamber influences and highly creative vocal layers. 'Schooldays' is a quiet and mathematical song with leads of combined vibraphone and clean electric guitar; it's playful and intimate, yet mature and unique. 'Working All Day' is a pompous brass-rock song with a nice instrumental middle section with great organs by Kerry Minnear. 'Peel The Paint' starts as a psychedelic folk song with string-quartet interludes. The second part of the song is however the loudest heavy prog song the band ever recorded. The guitar solo of Gary Green (accompanied only by drums) has beautiful harmonies in its stacked notes because of him playing over his own echoes. The last two tracks ('Mister Class and Quality' and the title track) sound like one big avant-prog piece meant to play with established notions of the symphonic prog suite. The free noodling in the opening is a pretext for the complex ending of the song with its seemingly endless run of intricate symphonic prog passages. The verses get ever more complex and the playful instrumental parts hint of what direction the band was to take in the future. Like on all Gentle Giant albums there are some less interesting moments (for instance the verses of 'Working All Day'), but this album has so much unique musical ideas and variation in instrumentation/tones that it should definitely be seen as an essential album for the broader progressive genre.
Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Gentle Giant's third continues the unique sonic sophistication of Acquiring The Taste and confirms the high compositional standard they had achieved.

The opening Prologue marks a change in style towards more Yes-alike riffs and instrumentation. Lots of quirky synthesizers are added and the short and snappy staccato-type riffs and melodies engage the same frantic effect as Yes does. But the next track sounds like only Gentle Giant can sound, eerie harmonies, dreamy mellotrons and a song development with a very narrative structure, jumping back and forth between different scenes and moods. Truly mesmerizing. The similarities with Maudlin Of The Well's latest album only further diminish my satisfaction with that album.

Working All Day is slightly more rocking, not in the least because of the Hammond organ solo at the end. Also Peel The Paint continues the rocking bite. It's an important part of my enjoyment of this album as it compensates for the dominant intellectual approach that Gentle Giant takes to their music. The jazzy jam at the end provides for a more spontaneous moment and breathes a looser air into this tightly composed music.

The album continues without flaws on Mister Class and ends with the grand Three Friends, a song that strikes me as very Yes'y again, with that off-beat guitar riff and huge harmonizing mellotrons. It evokes the same majestic atmosphere as And You and I, which was released one year after this album if I have my Prog chronology right.

So far my favourite Gentle Giant album. 4.5 stars

Review by Flucktrot
5 stars Perhaps it doesn't contain the Giant's most spectacular moments--which, depending on your personal prog-ferences, could be found on any of their albums--but I think Three Friends gets my vote for the band's masterpiece.

With most of the Giant's albums, either I don't think a song or two are very good, or I'm just not in the mood for some parts given the extreme diversity. Not so with Three Friends, which I love all the way through and on most any day.

(I also have the American cover, with the Giant holding the band members in his hand. I was severely distraught to find that this is not the original cover--which is correctly posted on this site--and instead a retread from their first album. I love that cover, and I thought it really added to the charm of the album, so I suppose I'm still processing the psychological implications of getting attached to a false cover. Oh well, I imagine I'll get by somehow.)

To the music! Prologue and Peel the Paint are both very fun songs--upbeat, with cool blaring synth (the former) and outrageous vocals from Derek (the latter). Working All Day might be the highlight, with the catchy, everyman theme, and a great jazzy instrumental break (complete with bari-sax tones and a nice organ solo from Kerry, all to swingin' 6/4 beat).

Schooldays and the Mister.../Three Friends suite are perhaps more serious and reflective--in some ways revealing a slightly different side of the band--but also have plenty of upbeat and playful moments. I just love the jam that transitions to the title track--I find myself saying this for every Giant album, but they really can play just about any style better than most bands whose trademark is that given style. It's remarkable. I personally appreciate it most when Gentle Giant cut loose and rock, which they do plenty of here.

Gentle Giant often do a lot of things that I can't help but respect: substance over style, quality over quantity, and creativity over conventional thinking. On Three Friends they got it all right throughout.

Review by Dobermensch
4 stars Forget the crumby sleeve, this is an excellent album from a band that were clearly on a roll.

There's plenty of use of that vocal technique I love - polyphony... Basically you can't go wrong with Gentle Giant right up to an including '76's 'Interview'. Very alluring and smooth vocals persist throughout 'Three Friends'.

Rather cryptically the 'Three Friends' become a 'road digger', an 'artist' and a 'white-collar worker'. I guess it's up to them to explain but they don't really do so, or divulge the significance. One thing's for sure, it doesn't come across at all clearly while listening to it.

Who cares?,

It's a great album from a time long ago, where inventiveness and experamentalism ran rife throughout prog music without giving two hoots about about the general public who were to be subjected to such strangeness. Where's three and a half stars when you need 'em? This is too good for three but not quite good enough for four.. Sod it! it's another four!

Review by tarkus1980
4 stars Album number three from Gentle Giant is a wee bit weaker than the first two, but still quite good nonetheless. It's more jam heavy than its predecessors, with but six tracks over 35 minutes, and the instrumental parts are drifting away from the occasional glorious bursts of emotion shown before into an ocean of mechanical "hey-this-is-neat"-itude (with a couple of exceptions, fortunately). Fortunately, the instrumental parts aren't yet sacrificing "interesting" for "weird," which makes them at worst pleasant background fodder and at best a fairly gripping experience. The band also decided to make a concept album here, and in so doing pulled off the amazing feat of making an album seem less pretentious by making it into a bit of a rock opera; there's no moral or preachiness here, just a brief look at three friends from their school years who took different paths when they grew up, underpinned by a bunch of decent jamming.

The opening "Prologue" gets things off to an ok start, establishing a twisted-but-interesting instrumental theme, then there's some very quiet vocal harmonies singing lyrics that establish the 'concept', and then there's ... more jamming. Some bass-organ dueting, with layers of keys added over time, then the opening comes back, then .. whatever. Truth be told, for a band of the calibre of Gentle Giant, this jam is fairly lacklustre, but it's still ok. The following "Schooldays," however, is far beyond ok, easily one of my top five tracks from the band. It's quite complex, as are all GG songs, but here every last component feels like an essential element and not just something thrown in to satisfy whomever. The vibe-guitar duet theme is fascinating, the call-and-response vocal harmonies in the "verses" are something else, and then there's the mid-section. Kerry's piano lines here are some of the most atmospheric, melodic and all-out gorgeous piano lines I've ever heard in all of prog rock - blast it all, why couldn't have fate let Tony Banks have half of Kerry Minnear's sense of taste and restraint and ... arrgh, I'm getting off topic. The vocal melody and nostalgic lyrics in the mid-section are also knock-your-socks-off quality, especially the nice touch of having a younger Shulman brother contribute "kid" voices to the proceedings.

All things must pass, however, and the next three tracks present the friends as grownups. "Working All Day" is about the friend who became, well, a "working man," and is a fairly compact piece with a decent brass-guitar riff serving as the foundation, around which there's some decent organ and sax jamming. Whee. "Peel the Paint" starts quiet, with some nice string parts here and there, and then in the third minute the bassline gets louder, and then Derek does some bellowing over the (now 'rocking') instrumental work. Then there's a bunch of jamming (notice a common theme in this review?), highlighted by a terrific guitar solo. Yup.

"Mister Class and Quality" showcases the well-to-do friend, and it's ok, with another decent jam occupying the middle of the song (btw, the track divisions on the CD are wrong - Mister Class extends to about 2:30 of track six, as well as obviously occupying all of track five). I like the distorted organs and the wah-wah'd guitars. Yup. Just when I'm about to give up on the album and droop from the seemingly endless jams, though, in comes the harmony- and-organ laden conclusion, the glorious title track. THERE's the bizarre dose of atmospheric catharsis that I'd been waiting for since, er, "Schooldays" (hey, give me a break, I got spoiled on the first two albums)!

In short, the album almost seems like a bit of a tossoff to me, but I don't mean that in a bad way - parts are brilliant, parts are alright, but overall it doesn't seem like the band spent an inordinate amount of time going over and "inaccessible"-izing every second of the album. That it's a slight tossoff is not a bad thing, though - it just means that the album's quite good, not much more, nothing less.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A concept to interest me, music that falls far short

"Three Friends" was the 3rd Gentle Giant album coming after the well received "Acquiring the Taste." It is a concept album about three boys and the various hands that fate deals them through their lives. I'll be brief this time out. Considering we are talking about one of prog's more beloved bands and the time period being magic hour (71-74), I feel almost guilty for not respecting one of the masters. And I truly don't here. The concept is an interesting one that would normally be right up my alley and the lyrics are quite good. But the execution is really dreadful. Rarely does any emotion or bite from these lyrics/themes reach the listener, often times the Giant vocal style and the mumbling on this album really drown out any lyrical emotional connection-not exactly Quadrophenia is it? The music sounds uninspired quite often and the solos fail in a contrived fashion, especially that laughably overblown "Peel the Paint" guitar solo, which probably tops my list of the most glaringly unfulfilling rock showcases. But the biggest problem is that none of these tracks move me in the least, which would not be true of the next album, the far better "Octopus." I think Three Friends is easily the least compelling/interesting/exciting of the classic era Giant works. I'm with Ken Levine here that most of this album is truly mediocre, until we get to the tail end of "Mr. Class and Quality?" which has a nice vibe. Same with the short closing title track which continues the same very pleasant melodic theme, nice atmospheric keys over a repeating riff. It pains me to poop on a classic, but what can you do? Some people diss The Wall or Topographic Oceans. This album is my diss-worthy classic. Thankfully Octopus was next which was so much more impressive than this one.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars For the average GG fan that I am, this album is easier to approach than its predecessor "Acquiring The Taste" which I never have been able to appreciate.

Don't be alarmed though: the band didn't sell off! The jazzy feel is well present; the amazing vocal style is definitively there. Some Crimson filiation is even noticeable during the opening act "Prologue" which is a perfect summary of all these characteristic and therefore the archetype of GG's music.

After another typical GG track "School Days" which is more difficult to get into, a heavier "Working All Day" combines the traditional polyphony style and a dark mood (including lyrics). Heavy organ and sax during the middle part are quite close from Van Der Graaf.

The mix of classical and jazz passages opens "Peel The Paint" which again evolves towards a quite conventional GG song (whatever it may mean): complex and difficult to apprehend for non die-hard fans (as I am).

In all, this is a good GG album which leans on the jazzy style almost all the way through. The closing and title track features some nice instrumental parts of which keyboards are very good. It was my second purchase from this band. To be honest, I don't play it quite often.

Still, three stars.

Review by colorofmoney91
3 stars Three Friends is roughly the same material as on Gentle Giant's debut album, being mostly progressive blues rock with medieval touches, but with the added complexity from Acquiring the Taste. This is an album that I found to be fairly unimportant in Gentle Giant's discography, though it is still a nice listen every now and then. The overall songwriting on this album seems like a slight regression, behind both albums before this. Rather slow and uninspired sounding blues rock has never been my kind of thing, but it's hard for me to not enjoy something by Gentle Giant. This album still has the undeniable Gentle Giant sound and vocals, but is easily skipped.
Review by baz91
5 stars Gentle Giant's third album 'Three Friends' is a concept album. The story is rather simple: three friends at school inevitably separated by chance, skill and fate. That's it, and in fact the concept is rather charming in it's simplicity. The music, of course, is far from simple. We are treated to a healthy dose of prog rock magic from the band on this album.

The album starts with the perfectly proggy Prologue. There is nothing to complain about on this track at all. This song is also the first instance of Gentle Giant using a cappella singing, a device that would make songs like Knots and On Reflection the classics they are. The playing is all very technical, just as it should be on this mainly instrumental track.

Schooldays is the most serious track on the album. Quite seriously epic too. The first three minutes are light and fluffy with fun lyrics about schooldays. The arrangements are quite complex but don't take away from the song at all. Then at about three minutes, the mood completely changes, and the song takes a very sombre turn. I certainly wasn't expecting this, and some of the lyrics are very haunting: Mister Watson wants to see you in the master's room. It's about the work you should have done and I think you must go now. Brrrr. Afterwards, the song returns to normal, but leaves you quite disturbed. Fantastic!

Working All Day runs the risk of sounding like Wreck off the last album. I think it just pulls it off though. While the verses are nothing to shout about, the instrumental is quite good; the music builds up slowly to a fully fledged virtuoso keyboard solo.

For me, the best song on the album is Peel The Paint. The song beginds quietly, and you can hear tension being built, even in the supposedly serene instrumental sections. Then all of a sudden, at 2:22, the song explodes into something completely different altogether. Much like Van Der Graaf Generator's Man-Erg this louder part of the song symbolises the evil side of the character in the song. Gary Green has delivered a fantastic guitar solo on the first two alubms, and he's not about to stop now. The guitar solo on this song, accompanied by Malcolm Mortimore's rock'n'roll drumming is the highlight of the album for me.

Mister Class And Quality? is another chance for Gentle Giant to show how good they are with their instruments. The instrumental shows a lot of creativity, and this is an incredibly fun song.

The album finishes with Three Friends, which is basically an epilogue to the story. The complex melody essentially repeats itself until fade, which is a bit uncreative, but it is quite an epic sound.

Had this not been a concept album, I would have given this 4 stars or 8.5/10 for the music alone, but with the wonderfully simple story, I feel obliged to give it the 'masterpeice' rating. This is one of my favourite concept albums.

Review by Warthur
5 stars The first concept album by Gentle Giant takes as its subject matter the idea of three people; as school children, they play together and are the best of friends, but once they grow up their lives take very different courses.

From a purely storytelling perspective, the album is let down very slightly by the fact that the group don't really have that much to say about these three friends; a six-minute prologue and a seven-minute song about the kids at school is around twice as much time as really needed to be dedicated to the introductory phase of the concept (though Schooldays does have some fantastic harmonies). However, musically speaking the album is as much of a treat as any other early Gentle Giant release.

The plodding, heavy Working All Day had been one of my least favourite Gentle Giant tracks, but over time I've found myself getting more fond of the song, particularly when it comes to Kerry Minnear's dirty-ass organ solo on it. Generally, early CD releases seem to have suffered from a less-than-stellar mix; recent remasters (such as the one on the Unburied Treasure boxed set) really help you note the subtleties of the music here. Plus Peel the Paint and Mister Class and Quality? are two of Gentle Giant's outright best songs.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars One of the 'classic' GG albums that I had never heard until recently--and a real surprise: I was not expecting such accessibility and song style consistency. The songs are much more played out, following consistent themes and styles for each song's duration--and absent are the amazingly quick and virtuosic turns and changes that become so familiar with the next three albums. Listening to "Three Friends" is like listening to Haydn compared to the Chopin or LIszt that is "In A Glass House." The songs are rock-like--more akin to Yes ("Prologue" sounds like it came from "TIme and a Word" or "The Yesterdays") and VDGG (especially "Working All Day" and "Peel the Paint") than anyone else. While guitar takes a lot of the attention on this album, the keys, bass and violin are polished and profiled nicely. "Mister Class and Quality?" is where the music starts to sound like tidings of things ahead but I fail to connect with the vocal. "Three Friends" helps the album end on a high note--nice mellotron/organ supporting the excellent bass and drums. While I like this album a lot and think it an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection, I much prefer the quirky, jaw-dropping constructs of the next four albums ("Octopus," "In a Glass House," "The Power and the Glory," and "Freehand"). This one still has too much basic 'rock'n'roll' and not enough GG uniquity. 4 stars.
Review by thehallway
4 stars A nice little album with a concept that I can relate to, music I can groove to. Gentle Giant's focus on Acquiring the Taste (to have an eclectic sonic palette by using many different exotic instruments and frequently swapping them) is here replaced by a focus on storyline, and on the development of a few decent melodies, with some stranger ones too. Not every structural or harmonic decision works on this record, from a musician's point of view; there are some moments of failure where the group has made a progressive decision but the result is just senseless. The majority of the music however, is wonderful to listen to, and as ever, it is particularly complex.

'Prologue' is too good to have such a peripheral name, but opens the album marvellously with hard riffs from the guitar and sax. In the middle, vocal bursts introduce the concept and there is an interesting organ, bass and synth break. Strangely, the piece fades out in an "end of album" kind of way. 'Schooldays' is more calm, with chromatic little interludes and a quirky chorus. The vocals are equally adventurous here, pushing syllables to their rhythmic limits. A problem with this album's production is that, on occasion, the various instruments sound like they are all being played in tiny boxes, very separate from each other, and this is none more apparent than on 'Schooldays'. By contrast, the graceful bridge section has too much reverb!

'Working All Day' showcases Phil Schulman's harsher vocal style for the first time on the album, conveying the frustrated labourer's life path effectively. The Hammond organ solo in 7/8 however, is the only really appealing moment in this otherwise predictable song. 'Peel the Paint' has more of a deceptive structure, with subdued verses and baroque interludes collapsing at the face of more hard rock, with a Hendrix-style guitar and drum solo and more shouting from Phil. The middle of this album is the weakest, if only for a lack of anything substantial. None of the good melodies hang around for long enough, and chords.... I'm not even sure if there are any!

Three Friends ends on a high though, with 'Mister Class and Quality?' and 'Three Friends' effectively being one song, and making for a heavily swinging, epic ending to a modest album. Here the lyrics are at their most profound, and the interruptions from various themes (new and old) make for a great thrill-ride as we hurtle towards the album's climax, after barely half an hour of music. I'm not even sure how these last two songs are divided, because at the point where my CD version changes to track six, we are then treated to the final verse of track five. The whole thing ends with a Led Zeppelin- esque riff cycle, accentuated beautifully by layers of Mellotron.

This album tells the story of my step-father, my brother, and me, being a dead-end worker, a white collar middle manager, and a failing artist respectively. It is a winner of a concept for being so accurate. Musically, things dip a little in places and may cause the listener the wrong kind of confusion (not the fun confusion naturally arising from listening to 'difficult' music, but just a general "What the [%*!#] is going on?" feeling). Apart from that, this is another cracking album from Gentle Giant. Short but sweet.

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars With over 500 reviews to date there probably isn't much else to say about Gentle Giant's third studio album, so naturally I feel obliged to say it (after all, isn't that why the internet was invented: for superfluous opinions?)

The band's third album was their first to really exploit what would soon become the traditional Gentle Giant sound, as if anything so eclectic could be at all bound to tradition. From the first urgent notes of the six-minute "Prologue" the group is on comfortable ground, thanks in part to the addition of new drummer Malcolm Mortimer. He was hardly involved long enough to even be considered a part of the band, but Mortimer deserves some credit for keeping the overachieving Shulman brothers on a tighter leash than usual with his admirably unfussy drumming.

This was Mortimer's only album with the band, but his efforts underlined that emerging Gentle Giant groove more naturally than his predecessor Martin Smith, although without the rock-solid backbeat later provided by J.P. Weathers. It helped that the rest of the group was likewise settling into their roles, and beginning to carve a genuine style from the everything- but-the-kitchen-sink overkill of their first two albums. Compare the instrumentation here to their previous LP "Acquiring the Taste": I calculate a 75% reduction in the total number of keyboards, horns and strings, and the music is much cleaner and more creative as a result.

Side Two of the album is particularly strong, arguably the best single side of vinyl in the Gentle Giant discography. "Peel the Paint" deserves to be recognized as the band's first true classic, a showpiece for guitarist Gary Green at his Hendrix-inspired best; "Mr. Class and Quality?" was one of their most relaxed and yet rocking songs to date; and the dramatic segue to the awesome title track reveals some of the archaic Olde English power soon to become a Gentle Giant signature ("Talybont", anyone?)

The production is typically thin, with the rhythm section pushed too far in the background: business as usual in a recording studio circa 1972. Better albums were just over the horizon, but this was (pardon the expression) a Giant step in the right direction for an ambitious group just beginning to hit its stride.

Review by Sinusoid
4 stars It's been documented that THREE FRIENDS is the first thematically charged Gentle Giant (there's at least two more to come), and from my perspective, it is the closest Gentle Giant ever got to pure symphonic prog. Call it the proggiest Gentle Giant album; the triumphant ending certainly makes a case for the symphonic aspect.

The piece that has the best chance at making prog fans rave and drool would have to be the opening ''Prologue''; mostly instrumental, soundly structured without getting too carried away with melodies and the fantastic build-up in the middle with the synth lines, it's almost pure gold. ''School Days'' has more vocal finesse, but so many of the phrases just fit the music well. The rest of the album not already described is louder aside from the country influenced ''Mister Class and Quality'' (think Kerry Livgren really took a lot of influence from this one?).

It's overall a solid album with many highlights and only one disappointment in that the sound of THREE FRIENDS really isn't strong or vibrant. Compared to later efforts, THREE FRIENDS sounds like a mere demo. One audio tech problem isn't too obstructing, but the fact that Gentle Giant's best two albums are right around the corner makes me a little passive in my rating.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars THREE FRIENDS is the first concept album by GENTLE GIANT and also marked the time in their history where they would begin to replace old members with new. On the drums we now have Malcolm Mortimore taking the spot of Martin Smith. This album also has the honor of becoming the first one to barely squeak into the Billboard top 200 albums in the US and the first where the band self-produced. The North American release originally had the same cover as the debut but the remastered versions and the European releases had the cool blue kids and gull cover.

The concept is based around the theme of three childhood friends and how their lives inevitably separate, lead unsatisfying lives and then finally reunite to collaborate their efforts. One goes into manual labor, one into clerical work and the other becomes an artist. I have to admit that it took me a while to even realize this was a concept album as I am usually more interested in the musical composition than the lyrics.

The vocal harmonies are top notch as always, the melodies are strong but this album starts off a little slow and it seems like it takes half the album to get warmed up before it develops into something truly interesting and then it ends too soon making this my least favorite album of the first seven essentials. That being said, a 2nd tier Gentle Giant is still a phenomenal album that warrants a deserving place on any fan's shelf space. With a theme of this sort it may have actually proven more convincing to make a double album since the events that would encompass the lives of three individuals seem like they would need a lot more time dedicated even if brushed over superficially.

The longer tracks seem to spend a little too much time "breathing" and could either have used some embellishment or some trimming down. An overall great attempt with a very strong side two and if this band didn't have so many masterpieces surrounding this one I would probably be more impressed. However don't let the perfect be the enemy of the very good in this case.

Review by FragileKings
4 stars Gentle Giant was one of those classic bands with which I felt I had to become acquainted for my prog education. The problem was that every time I tried to listen to samples from their albums I was quickly put off. They just sounded too weird to me. Renaissance barbershop quartet with jazz and eclectica. Let's just be as obtuse and peculiar as we can, boys! Nope. I wasn't getting it.

As it so happened, I never gave up and eventually downloaded 'Alucard' from their debut from iTunes. That song captured me and soon I was looking at the reviews of their albums. 'Three Friends' was said to have some hard rock on it and that was the selling point. I ordered it and sunk my ears into this concoction of Gentle Giant's.

Surprisingly, I found the album to be quite listenable. It's actually not as weird as some of what I had heard (I now have 'Acquiring the Taste' as well and that's more bizarre at times). The prologue is a pretty decent rock song with a strong progressive vibe, featuring some of their unique vocal arrangements but in an easy to follow way. The three main story songs about the three friends are also very good, in my opinion. 'Working All Day' is lower in tone with some saxophone and vocals in the lower register. 'Mister Class and Quality?' is fairly typical of early seventies music with organ, a nice beat, some violin, and some good electric guitar playing.

'Peel the Paint' is where the album really hits it home though. The beginning is cautious and suspenseful as we see the artist painting. There are some lovely violins to add class. However, the second part of the song turns into a heavy rocker with Kerry Minear delivering a husky, gravel-voiced rock vocal as the lyrics turn to the darker side of the artist's life. There's a guitar and drum duet that is simply calls for wringing the air with an air guitar performance by the listener. It reminds me of the battle between the two wizards (guitar and drums) on Uriah Heep's 'The Magician's Birthday'. Wonderful stuff. Though the strained guitar notes get replaced by milder effects the song by no means lays low. It concludes with more of Kerry and a dramatic closure of guitar, sax, bass, drums, and organ.

The only real weird part on the album I feel is 'Schooldays' which includes some of GG's more adventurous vocal works and features a shaky performance by young Calvin Shulman, the son of one of the Shulman brothers. The boy was nervous claim the CD liner notes and it shows. But if I were recording an album and needed a boy's voice I am sure I would ask my son too.

The music here is bold and vigorous but not as experimental as on some of their other albums. As such, this is an easy album to enjoy and a safe stepping stone to access the band. It still has the band showing off their skill though. As I mentioned above, I also have 'Acquiring the Taste' which is a lot more off the beaten path. I'm tempted to buy 'Octopus' and maybe one or two albums more as there are a few here that are highly rated but I am not sure what to expect yet. Definitely a good album but compared to some of GG's other more progressive works, I am not sure that it is exactly essential. But I still feel it has enough highlights to make it better than just good.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Shortly after the release of ''Acquiring the taste'' and upon returning from another short European tour, Martin Smith decided to part ways with Gentle Giant, partly due to personal conflicts with Phil and Ray Shulman, partly due to musical differences and reputedly because he wanted to become an antique dealer.An 18-years old drummer surfaced after exhausting auditions, it was Malcolm Mortimore, who had a week to learn the band's live setlist.Surprisingly around the time Gentle Giant's live shows were still heavily relying on tracks from their debut with only sone sporadic references to their second, masterful album.At the fall of 1971 the band recorded the third album ''Three friends'' at the Advision Studios and the Command Studios in London, released in April 72' on Vertigo and through Columbia for the Canadian and US markey.

This marked the first attempt of the band on a concept album, talking about three close friends, each takes his own lifepath after growing.However, unstatisfied with their lives, they decided to rejoin forces and focus on their goals in a more collaborative way.Musically this is some sort of a backfall compared to the previous release, of course this is still a fantastic GG experience, which however lacks deep inspiration at specific moments.''Prologue'' is an exception, led by some great and doomy guitar riffing and featuring the odd combination of Moog synth and Hammond organ in complex alternations.''Schooldays'' is very mellow unfortunately, even if the excellent talent of this band is still revealed.A collection of orchestral, rural and jazzy spices with complicated breaks and intense singing harmonies, sounding maybe a bit Avant-Garde during the piano and Mellotron parts and rather soft for the rest of its length.Still there is so much going on in here.''Working all day'' features the band's classic clavinet and the odd lead vocals of Derek Shulman in a song, that combines Brass, Psychedelic and Progressive Rock in equal doses.''Peel the paint'' is a real winner and, despite a very slow start, this will become an instant classic in the process, with impressive string arrangements supported by organ, hard guitar lines -reminding of the band's debut- some limited jazzy improvisations and the complex instrumentals with the fiery guitar and keyboards battles.''Mister class and quality?'' is the most rhythmic track of the album, albeit far from accesible, with soft interplays and careful tempo changes, surfacing as a fusion of Classic Rock, Hard Prog and Classical Music.The closing title-track is a masterpiece to say the least with the classic GG sound of muddy electric guitar work over orchestral strings, highlighted by the Gospel-influenced vocals of the members and the lovely rhythm from the start to the very end.

One of Gentle Giant's uneven efforts during their early career, containing both amazing and simply decent pieces.But even so, their sound was so professional, rich and inventive few groups could top it (only Italians Premiata Forneria Marconi come to mind).Strongly recommended for all fans of Prog Rock, intricated by the tempo, the atmosphere and the instrumental depth changes...3.5 stars.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Three Friends' - Gentle Giant (70/100)

This sort of thing happens all the time. As a prog rock band's career gradually develops, they almost surely become more ambitious, more self-confident in the extent of their abilities. As a result, there's a tendency for bands' output to get more daring and complex as time goes on. As you might reasonably conclude, there's almost always the point in the trajectory where a band finally hits the ceiling of ambition, resulting in an opus may very well polarize its audiences for how far it takes it. When a band reaches that maximized ambition and there's no further they can go, they can either attempt to keep the peak going (which rarely succeeds) or else reinvent themselves in some way. Most of the time, this results in a band reeling back aspects of their sound. The best example of this was the shift between Yes' ridiculously expansive Tales from Topographic Oceans and its (relatively) grounded successor Going for the One. Anyone looking for modern equivalents in prog might look to Pain of Salvation's half-successful reinvention with Scarsick after BE, or the straightforward mentality Dream Theater adopted with Train of Thought, after they'd reached their progressive potential with the two records prior.

I wouldn't dare to say that Acquiring the Taste is the most outlandishly ambitious record of Gentle Giant's career, but considering how wacky it was compared to most of the progressive rock coming out those days, it's easy to see why that may have been thought to be the case. Three Friends provides the same reeled-back function in the band's career as Going for the One, maintaining their style in a scaled- back setting. While I'd argue it was a necessary move for Yes, I'm not convinced Three Friends was a fitting successor to Gentle Giant's first two albums. The sporadic energy and quality I've come to associate with the Gentle Giant name is all here on Three Friends, but I don't find myself as wowed as I would have hoped or expected to be from them.

Being the paradigm of progressive rock that they are, it's not surprising Gentle Giant would eventually try their hand with a concept album. Three Friends is structured similarly to Pink Floyd's Animals; three perspectives from three very different people are touched upon in three songs, synthesized by additional pieces at the start and end. While Animals took a page from Orwell and stood as metaphor for the branches of society and their character, Three Friends adopts far less provocative subject matter. To put it simply, it's an album about three school friends and the highly distinct (and archetypal) ways their life turned out. Gentle Giant touch upon the travails of the working class bloke, the tortured artist, and the posh businessman. As a clever stroke on GG's part, the songs aptly reflect whatever character they're about. "Working All Day" is full-on, grimy blues rock, the likes of which Gentle Giant explored to great lengths on the debut. Peeling the Paint uses some of the same grit and fuzz, albeit to a fairly different end; the song shifts between a sense of austere sophistication and angry hard rock riffs- representing the dual nature of the artist's soul, perhaps? As you might guess, "Mister Class and Quality?" is the most high-brow of the three, driven by electric violin and ultimately diving into a psychedelic rock solo that probably counts among the better performances of Gary Green in the first years of their career.

It's nice to see a concept interact with the music like this, but I cannot get over the fact that the three centrepieces on Three Friends feel pretty dull and pedestrian by GG standards. I'd have no issue with hearing Gentle Giant go the straightforward route if they could still inject character into the songs. "Working All Day" is easily the best of the three, but all strike me with the same half-impressed indifference as the lazy "Plain Truth" off Acquiring the Taste.

It's almost counter-intuitive that the real joys of Three Friends wouldn't lie in the centrepieces, but the way the album starts and finishes. "Schooldays" offers the most intricate and sporadic vocal work the band had attempted until that point. "Prelude" and "Three Friends" are amazing and multi-layered from the guitarist's perspective, so much to the point where it almost sounds like a different band played the three tunes in the middle. This schizoid quality is a large part of what defines Three Friends, and as such I am able to view the album both with awe and ambivalence.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 51

"Three Friends" is the third studio album of Gentle Giant and was released in 1972. It started to be known as a conceptual album, at the time. It was the first conceptual album made by the band and represents also one of the first conceptual albums made by any band. The concept of the album, deals with three childhood friends whose lives take them to very different places. They were separated by the fate, each following a different path. One goes into manual labour, other is a white-collar worker and the last is an artist. The lyrical insights that sketch out the characters are generally banal, with nothing of important revealed about the labourer, the artist or the businessman. But what does finally come off and is really important is the music. The album is comparatively short and drawn on an appropriately intimate scale. The pieces introduce themes that reappear throughout, all over the album.

"Three Friends" is also a special album because it marks the departure of the former drummer Martin Smith and the entry of the new drummer Malcolm Mortimore, who would playing within the band only on this album. So, the line up of this album is Gary Green (guitars and percussion), Kerry Minnear (vocals, keyboards, vibraphone, Moog and percussion), Derek Shulman (vocals), Phil Shulman (vocals and saxophones), Ray Shulman (vocals, basses, violin and 12 string guitar) and Malcolm Mortimore (drums).

"Three Friends" has six tracks. All the songs were written by Kerry Minnear, Phil Shulman, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman. The first track "Prologue", as its name indicates, is a song that opens the album, magnificently. It's a song that progresses nicely all over the theme with great individual musical performances especially with great and strong keyboard riffs and an excellent bass line. This is, in my humble opinion, the best song on the album and it's also one of the top songs of the band. The second track "Schooldays" is a very nice song with experimental vocal and musical passages. It's a song with the use of several musical instruments at the same time. It's also a song with beautiful piano working and we also can say that it represents one of the best performances of Kerry Minnear. Here, Phil Shulman sings wonderfully and it represents also one of his best vocal moments in the group. The third track "Working All Day" represents the rocker song of the album. It's a song with some similarities with "Wreck" from "Acquiring The Taste" and where we can feel strongly, I think, some musical influence of the Van Der Graaf Generator's sound, especially in the structure and in the intensity of the song. This is, in my opinion, another great song. The fourth track "Peel The Paint" is a song inspired by the classical music, in the beginning, that starts very slow and delicate, but that suddenly the music develops into a more intense and dense musical moment, with a heavy rock format. Curiously, in the heavy rock part, it's a song that reminds me strongly the Deep Purple style. I think we are in the presence of an interesting song but at the same time a strange song in their musical repertoire. The fifth track "Mister Class And Quality?" is another good song on the album. It's probably the simplest song on the album, with a nice melody and some interesting musical breaks. It's a rock song, with good musical moments, great keyboards, a good bass working and a good rock drumming. The sixth track is the title track "Three Friends". It represents, for me, the second best musical moment on the album with the opening track "Prologue". This is a song where all comes together in the music, the keyboards, the guitar, the bass and the all other musical instruments. I especially like of the keyboard working performed by Kerry Minnear. We are in the presence of another great song, a very short but a very cohesive piece of music. Despite that we are in presence of a short song, it's really a great piece of music that sounds really fantastic.

Conclusion: "Acquiring The Taste" and "Three Friends" were the albums of Gentle Giant that I met later. So, in a certain way, both are the studio works of the band that I know, less well. However, that does not constitute any problem to me, review these two albums. As I wrote before, when I reviewed it, "Acquiring The Taste" is, in my humble opinion, the most experimental, most discordant, most avant-garde and most experimental album, in all their musical career. And it was also for me, the most difficult studio work of them, to rate and review. On the contrary, "Three Friends" has for me a very fine sound and a very special taste. Everything in it sounds great, especially the guitars, the bass and the keyboards. The musical harmonies and arrangements have a distinctly medieval feel and the melodies are quite catchy. So, in my humble opinion, "Three Friends" is, in general, an underrated album. Of all eleven studio albums of the band, excluding "The Missing Piece", "Giant For A Day" and "Civilian", which are minor works, "Three Friends" and "Gentle Giant" are their simplest and most accessible albums and probably the most beautiful too.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by Modrigue
4 stars Three reasons to love this album

Not often cited by fans, "Three Friends" yet remains one of Shulman brothers and co.'s best opuses as well as their most accessible. First concept-album and first auto-production from the band, the lyrics narrate the story of three childhood friends who will later belong to different social class and cease to understand each other's way of life. A track is dedicated to each character: the worker, the painter and the white collar. Less adventurous and demanding than its predecessor, "Acquiring the Taste", this third effort includes shorter compositions with more catchy melodies. This stylistic direction might not always satisfy complex and always changing songs hardcore fans, however this time the musicians somehow take a break by proposing very pleasant and inspired spacey symphonic progressive rock.

Alternating rocking passages and mysterious aquatic keyboards sonorities, "Prologue" is quite an efficient opener. With its modified vibraphone opening, the nice and strange "Schooldays" is pure gentle giant-ish, to then turn into a calm jazzy piano tune. Now come the three songs of the friends. "Working All Day" is the worker's song and may be my least favorite of the disc. A saxophone rock piece with a cool Hammond organ solo. Not bad but fails a little to really lift off.

The painter's song, "Peel The Paint", is rather misleading. Starting discretely, the music becomes suddenly raging and heavy. There are even unexpected furious Hendrixian guitar sections! Wow! Are we still listening to GENTLE GIANT here? Surprisingly, the record concludes with its two best tracks. "Mister Class And Quality?" is the white collar's song. This powerful composition possesses catchy melodies and great instrumental sections. It rocks! The title track simply finishes the album in apotheosis. Quite atypical in the band's discography, it features a religious- like chorus offering a particular ethereal and contemplative ambiance, like if you were about to enter the heaven. Superb!

As promised, here are the three reasons to love these three friends. First, the music remains sophisticated, playful, featuring many changes, while never going too complex or elitist. Second, there are nice rocking passages and catchy melodies. Finally, the particular aquatic organ sound and floating chorus displays a specific floating atmosphere, which is rather singular for the band. Although the middle of the album may contain weaker moments, this is probably my favorite opus from the Shulman brothers and co.

A bit apart considering GENTLE GIANT's other releases, "Three Friends" is their spaciest record, as well as one of their most accessible. The one to start with for newcomers, with their self-titled debut, and an essential listen for symphonic prog rock fans!

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Historic preambles seem to be in vogue when writing reviews on this website, so here's a little one. After the groundbreaking "Acquiring The Taste", Gentle Giant decided to do their own take on the increasingly popular concept album. So they devised a concept about three childhood friends who go down their separate paths or something like that. The actual lyrical content of the album is pretty vague, and it would suffice to say that "Three Friends" was a bit of a failed concept. So if you're the kind of person who likes digging deep into concept albums to get a full immersion into the story, you probably won't care for this one, but personally I don't listen to concepts - I listen to music. So let's get on to discussing that, shall we?

The album certainly shows a transition in terms of sound from the band's past two adventures. Gone are the grim, nocturnal vibes of the debut and "Acquiring The Taste"; a lighter sound has taken its place. This is no doubt Gentle Giant's bluesiest album, and most soulful, perhaps harkening back to the Shulman brothers' days as "Simon Dupree and the Big Sound" in a way. You can hear this change right away in the introductory "Prologue", which grooves its way along through pleasant, but largely forgettable, melodies and riffing. There's an ever-so-slight jazz fusion undertone to their delivery; it sounds almost like something Camel would be putting out in a year or two (think "Six Ate").

Following the relaxed intro, "Schooldays" greets the listener to a very soft treat, with plenty of soulful vocals and tasteful vibraphone playing. Many credit this as one of Gentle Giant's most nostalgic tracks and it is an understandable fan favourite. With the first third or so of the album delivering very little punch, "Working All Day" comes along to spruce things up a bit. One would be wont to assume that this track is there to fill the spot of the archetypal heavy jazz rock Gentle Giant number that served as centrepieces on their first two albums, but it comes across as a tad flaccid compared to the assault of, say, "Alucard". No, that title really belongs to the side two opener: "Peel The Paint". This is the first track on the album that gets me genuinely excited to listen to it, acting as a strong analogue to "The House, The Street, The Room", though not quite as hectic.

The album ends off with a lukewarm blues jam on "Mister Class & Quality?" before concluding with its highest peak, the divine-sounding "Three Friends", a short 3 minute coda with a chord progression akin to ascending to heaven. In sum, "Three Friends" presents some very interesting and enjoyable material, but it's interspersed among a bit too much "filler", especially given the short length of the album to begin with. Still, this is an album that all fans of the early, more soulful, Gentle Giant should pick up, and not a bad starting point for those who are looking to get into the band but finding their more well-regarded albums too difficult. Good, but non-essential; 3 stars.

Review by jamesbaldwin
3 stars Songs: 1 Prologue 7; 2 Schooldays 7,5; 3 Working All Day 6,5/7 4 Peel the Paint 8,5; 5 Mister Class and Quality 7+; 6 Three Friends 6,5 Review. It's a transition album, unfriendly, uneven, not completely successful. Gentle Giant try to renew themselves with a concept but the music is decidedly less inspired than the first two albums. Very strange the start, with two songs, long, without a marked rhythm (the battery does not beat on the snare), which give the sense of a stunted beginning, where the prologue follows another prologue. The first piece is less interesting than the second, and is based on a repeated guitar riff, which creates a grueling tension, which does not follow an adequate development. The second song is softer and more jazzy, as if suspended, with good instrumental parts but in the long run a little inconclusive. With the third song begins the rock part of the album, which provides as in the previous two long Lp solos in the central part, jam session style; in this piece the guitars and the voices remember Wreck, then in the instrumental part there are the wind instruments and then the organ (never so exasperated) to act as masters. But the song as a whole does not convince.

End of the first side.

The third long piece, Peel the Paint, is definitely a great piece, which knows how to combine a classical beginning with the violins to hard rock, with a great guitar solo and then drums (it is similar to the long tracks of the first two albums) ; remains one of the best pieces of all the production of the Gentle Giant, and the only true masterpiece of the album. It follows another rock song with a long central jam, but as already for the third of the album, it does not reach the levels of the rock pieces of the first two records. It ends with the short song that gives the title, which after a majestic beginning runs out in a long queue.

In conclusion, it is a transition album, discreet, very accurate but not very inspired, and in fact there are no notable musical passages (apart from Peel the Paint). Compared to Acquiring there are no medium-length pieces and the arrangements are less varied, less orchestral, less windy. Long pieces, only Peel The Paint is up to the masterpieces on both Gentle Giant and Acquiring. In fact there are two interlocutory songs, the first ones, which should be the novelty compared to the past but they are not remarkable; three rock tracks, one of which is noteworthy, and a tail song, negligible; the booty is modest. In addition you can see in the songs more repetitive moments in math rock style, ends in themselves. Vote 7+. Three stars.

Review by Kempokid
4 stars I would say that this is definitely the most accessible of the main era of Gentle Giant (ranging from self titled to Free Hand), having very few moments of dense, experimental works like they are known for, and instead having more moments that are simply beautiful, still maintaining enough of the classic Gentle Giant feel, making a truly great record. This is where the band began making full use of their signature layered vocals, making it more than just a gimmick or cool effect, and instead making it one of the main features of the album.

The first two songs, 'Prologue' and 'Schooldays' demonstrate this perfectly, both using it as a central aspect of the compositions, full of mellotron and pleasant melodies. The main acoustic line in 'Schooldays further improves upon the tone that the album has, being quite pleasant in general, with each element not standing out as quirky or difficult as what is generally the case with Gentle Giant, instead simply making each song quite complex in composition in a subtle way, so on the surface, it seems quite simple. 'Schooldays' also has a really great middle section, becoming mildly creepy as it increases in volume, before going back to the wonderfully happy main section of the song.

After these first two songs, the album takes a harder rock approach, with more catchy elements thrown in. 'Working All Day' makes excellent use of the saxophone and Hammond organ, with the saxophone producing an excellent main melody that is incredibly catchy. The Hammond organ solo is also quite good, providing something to mix up the song, stopping it from being dull. 'Peel the Paint' is easily my favourite song on the album, and one of my favourites by the band as a whole. The way the beautiful classical sound slowly changes into a full blown rock track is such an amazing moment, the powerful vocals further improving this. The song increases in density significantly, full of saxophone and guitar, reminding me of 'Van Der Graaf Generator' in terms of instrumentation, with the heavy use of the saxophone being especially reminiscent. This song also is slightly more jam oriented, including a fairly long guitar solo, something that is fairly against the norm for the band, since they usually focus on making short, dense songs that jump between ideas. I find this a welcome change in this case, as I really think that the rock focused portion of the track really did deserve the longer period of time to flourish. The final two tracks blend into one another, bringing back the heavy use of mellotron and keeping up the building energy. These songs also still sound much more like standard prog compared to their past and future works, focusing heavily on melody rather than cramming ideas in, and make an excellent closer to the album.

Everything about this album is significantly more understated than other Gentle Giant works, relying on subtlety and nuance in each track, rather than the usual quirky experimentation that the band is known for. Even the concept of the album is wonderfully understated and humble in nature, without any majorly bombastic moments or anything of the sort. This is overall one of my favourite Gentle Giant albums, as it feels like one of the most complete works by the band, without a single note sounding out of place and with some seriously strong high points.

Best tracks: Schooldays, Peel the Paint, Three Friends

Weakest Tracks: None

Verdict: The most subtle, complete work of Gentle Giant, sacrificing the fiercely experimental and quirky nature of their first two albums in favour of some more subtle, easygoing moments, while also further solidifying the musical identity of the band.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Review #128! 'Three Friends', the big turning point in Gentle Giant's career where prog influences were moving from noticeable only with sharp ears to in the forefront for all to see (or hear, rather). The band serves up an interesting mix of classic rock, jazz- improvisation-style breakd ... (read more)

Report this review (#2936727) | Posted by Boi_da_boi_124 | Friday, June 30, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Gentle Giant's masterpiece has to be Three Friends. I know all Giant's fans have a different favourite, that is the beauty of their work, but i find Three Friends the most poetic and musical of all the albums. I must say that apart from the last two albums, Civilian and Giant for a Day, their work ... (read more)

Report this review (#2902070) | Posted by Megaphone of Destiny | Sunday, March 26, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I like the concept and the way they deliver it. Their harmonies are beautiful. Their playing is phenomenal. Prologue sets the stage beautifully. Great bass, synths and guitar playing 8.5/10 Schooldays is very playful. Exactly the atmosphere they are aiming to achieve by hearing the lyrics. Th ... (read more)

Report this review (#2857046) | Posted by WJA-K | Friday, December 9, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Three Friends is Gentle Giant's first concept album. It is less wilfully weird and generally more accessible than the previous LP Acquiring the Taste.The concept itself is quite a simple one describing three former school friends and how their lives changed in adult life. Friend1 becomes a lab ... (read more)

Report this review (#2689152) | Posted by Lupton | Thursday, February 3, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Review # 95 I've been listening to this record at least 3 or 4 times per month since 2009 and I never get tired of it. The first and only conceptual album by GENTLE GIANT narrates the lives of three childhood friends that become three very different people when they grow up. In this record, the m ... (read more)

Report this review (#2596473) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Friday, September 24, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of the best bands in the whole prog rock pantheon with one of their best efforts. It's concept album with quite down to earth story (as for prog standards) of three school friends going their seperate ways as the life continues. Nostalgic theme with very busy music to ilustrate it. It's GG l ... (read more)

Report this review (#2533099) | Posted by Artik | Thursday, April 8, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This comes from a period between Acquiring The Taste and Octopus, when the music of Gentle Giant is very complex and experimental. Comparison wise it's a bit like gazing at a painting by George Seurat. Appreciation of the pointillism of post-impressionist art improves with your understanding of ... (read more)

Report this review (#2409197) | Posted by iluvmarillion | Wednesday, June 3, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Make that 4.5 stars. This is one of Giant's more subtle and complex albums Let's start from the start. "Prologue" is superbly crafted. It starts splendidly with melody delivered on piano and sung, the vocals becoming both more sensitive and psychedelic (love that echo!) as the song progresses. S ... (read more)

Report this review (#1918324) | Posted by steamhammeralltheway | Sunday, April 29, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An immature but still amazing Gentle Giant: 8/10 After the successful experiment of ACQUIRING THE TASTE, which denoted that the prog crowd would warmly embrace GENTLE GIANT's peculiar music and acquired the taste for it (that's the pun and objective of the album's title after all), there was ... (read more)

Report this review (#1786462) | Posted by Luqueasaur | Sunday, September 24, 2017 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Classic GG, but Mixed. Each Gentle Giant album shows an evolution over the previous album. On Three Friends, GG take the blusier-rockin' approach from Acquiring the Taste and add choral effects and soft medieval sections. The result is innovative and produced some great music, but like other GG a ... (read more)

Report this review (#1765690) | Posted by Walkscore | Sunday, July 23, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have had a strange relationship with this album. When I first go into GG, this was the one album out of the highly rated ones, that I couldn't get into. As the years went by, Three Friends ended up being one of the GG albums I tend to listen to the most. Even though most of their material take ... (read more)

Report this review (#1533313) | Posted by ster | Friday, February 26, 2016 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Gentle Giant had made a decent profit in the UK upon the release of Acquiring the Taste, and were whole- heartedly ready to output another effort. This time it wasn't a jab at the music industry of the seventies that the last album was based on. Around the time after 'AtT' was released, concept ... (read more)

Report this review (#1340993) | Posted by aglasshouse | Tuesday, January 6, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "After the fourth one, realisation" sings Derek Shulman in the title track of Interview, Giant's eighth LP. Well, it is true that after Octopus, the fourth album, the band has found its unique angular style and went on to create such classics as In a Glass House or The Power and the Glory, but ... (read more)

Report this review (#933848) | Posted by Hailemon | Friday, March 22, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I think which "Three Friends" probably represents the exact moment in the GG career where the band reach their definitive and characteristic progressive rock style. We can find in the albun (for the first time) all of "ingredients" whose mix creates their sound. In the track 1 "Prologue" pres ... (read more)

Report this review (#550838) | Posted by maryes | Saturday, October 15, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Just purchased this whilst en-route across the US by car so I had plenty of time to enjoy it. For $5 brand new how can a fan of prog say no? As this was my first formal introduction to the Giant I must say it is an excellent progressive rock cd in that there is some very nice jazz interludes wi ... (read more)

Report this review (#427614) | Posted by betawave31 | Monday, April 4, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Review #12 Gentle Giant's 1972 album "Three Friends" To me this is where GG found the right formula; experimental but they discovered melody. Their previous offering "Acquiring the Taste" was devised at the expense of melody, too out there and grating IMHO. Three Friends was and is a fantastic pr ... (read more)

Report this review (#393693) | Posted by BarryGlibb | Friday, February 4, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The music of "Gentle Giant" is something very special. You can't compare it to any other band. It is a little bit of symphonic prog, a little bit of eclectic prog, a little bit of Folk-Prog and and and. It's "Gentle Giant-Prog". "Three Friends" was the first Gentle Giant-album I ever heard. It ... (read more)

Report this review (#299699) | Posted by Elveeye | Sunday, September 19, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An album full of the usual Gentle Giant hallmarks. This album, their third album starts with the quirky Prologue. A six minutes long song which sets the tone for the rest of this album. An epic quirky song with many unusual twist and turns. These six minutes both sums up this album and Gentle ... (read more)

Report this review (#296708) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, August 30, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I really love Gentle Giant, now I really do because 10 years ago they were not my favorite group and now It is a different story (only below Rush and King Crimson BTW) but this recording It is a different one . It shows an aggressive band playing killer guitar on some songs (Peel the Paint and M ... (read more)

Report this review (#295934) | Posted by steelyhead | Monday, August 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Gentle Giant is a technical group, sometimes tres difficille, and with a very particular style, a sound indeed has he. If the album has no exceptional air(sight), it is necessary to listen to the whole album, we fall on titrescool, titles(securities) of wait(expectation) everything in sharpness a ... (read more)

Report this review (#227665) | Posted by Discographia | Monday, July 20, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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