Gentle Giant
Gentle Giant


4.0
excellent

Review

by Brien C. Stevenson USER (37 Reviews)
May 25th, 2010 | 48 replies | 9,459 views


Release Date: 1970 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Making prog just a little quirkier...

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

Music is riddled with tremendously talented artists that quietly pass under the radar of popular culture and fade from a collective memory outside a small but devoted fan base. Progressive-rockers Gentle Giant unfortunately found themselves uncomfortably crammed into this little niche, finding fans of the progressive genre aware of their presence, but still overshadowed but a select number of their peers. Gentle Giant has often been cast in a light as something of a younger, less popular sibling to the likes of say, a band like Pink Floyd or King Crimson. This little brother was really no less talented or innovative, but had the unprivileged disadvantage of following in an already traversed pathway.

The progressive genre is a pretty unforgiving one, so it’s not hard to imagine a band like this getting swept away under acts like the aforementioned prog-kings. It’s a pretty quirky style of music, with a pretty loyal following and some casual listeners that are much harder to please. This is probably where GG lost a lot of their popularity; with ground already being covered by established acts, the band put new spins on the music. Putting its goal as to “expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of becoming very unpopular”. Though they won the hearts of their fans by doing just this, it also served as a means of alienation as well.
Formed in 1970 by the multi-instrumentalist Shulman brothers, Phil, Derek and Ray after meeting a pair of fellow musicians with a variety of talents, and the quintet quickly set off to recording their debut offering. Coming from a variety of musical backgrounds and all possessing the gift to play multiple instruments, Gentle Giants sound swiftly left the (loose) confines of the progressive rock of the era. The resulting LP, Gentle Giant, released in the same year, was an eclectic mix of blues, rock, jazz, soul, bluegrass, and more, and the band was quickly regarded as one of the most experimental acts in the game. Consisting of seven diverse tracks totaling thirty-seven minutes, the record is a treat for fans of quirky progressive music that steps more than a little outside the norm, while retaining quality musicianship.

It’s pretty tough to argue the uniqueness of Gentle Giant without really experiencing it. Progressive rock is always a tough sell, and most fans have waded through more than enough pretentious bunk in an attempt to find some quality listening. Despite the fact that this band sounds like the 70’s precursor to Mr. Bungle, flirting with more styles than one can rhyme off in a music review, Gentle Giant has managed to stave off pretention for the majority of their career; their debut outing is a pretty good example of a band that really didn’t take itself all that seriously. This doesn’t translate into piss-poor compositions or something that doesn’t feel like it’s worth your time, but rather a fun musical outing that can make you think, but really doesn’t have to to be enjoyed. Oh yeah, and the extended jazz number with the drums and keys in the middle of Nothing At All is pretty damn dynamite, too.



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user ratings (136)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
May 25th 2010



7956 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'd already heard this was excellent-though-unknown prog, so I should probably check it out sometime.

Jethro42
May 25th 2010



12034 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Try this Nag:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6n8-b7uk9E

'Nothing at All' rules. Yeah its extended number is a well known classical piece played through the drum solo. God I love GG!!

NeutralThunder12
May 26th 2010



8742 Comments


great album

CrazyFool84
May 26th 2010



1078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

thanks for the comments/pos's

definitely a fun album Nagrarok, I'd give the band a whirl.

That solo did sound recognizable, couldn't put my finger on it. Do you know the original piece Jeth?

Jethro42
May 27th 2010



12034 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

It's apparently a quote from Liszt's "Liebestraum no.3".
Edit: Confirmed

CrazyFool84
May 27th 2010



1078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Haha k I'm impressed Jeth, thanks for the info. Love the conversion to the GG version, didn't realize their drummer was that fun to listen to

Ovrot
January 26th 2011



10253 Comments


That album art is truly frightening.
I will check it out.

Jethro42
January 26th 2011



12034 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'd say 'Acquiring the Taste' and the live 'Playing the Fool' is the best way to start. Try my link above.

Ovrot
January 27th 2011



10253 Comments


I did, Acquiring the taste rules.

Jethro42
January 27th 2011



12034 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I suggest you to investigate on their entire discog then. At least up to Interview. Have fun.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2011



7162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"this band sounds like the 70’s precursor to Mr. Bungle"

^This is an apt observation sir. Pos'd. I like to think these guys are pioneers of avant garde/experimental genre. This album is amazing. One of their best.

Digging: Floor - Oblation

Jethro42
August 30th 2011



12034 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

''Pioneers of the avant garde/experimental genre'', I like it. They are above all a unique prog rock band with multi-instrumentalist (impressive to see them interchanging their instruments when performing live) musicians that managed to combine ultra-complex songwriting and beautiful melodies without trouble. Their countless influences (including their flair to incorporate medieval) and their uncomparable musicianship led them into unexplored ground in Progland.
Greg, I'm not surprised with your generous rating here, since the album is more ''hard rock'' oriented than any other GG album.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 31st 2011



7162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

There's a lot of blues on this album too. The only song I don't like very much is "Isn't It Quiet And Cold?" Other than that, this record is awesome.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2011



18198 Comments


I need to hear this. What I've heard from this band is great.

Digging: Benoit Pioulard - Hymnal Remixes

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 31st 2011



7162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Check out Octopus first (if you haven't already). It's their best and most immediate album imo.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2011



18198 Comments


Ok. I've only heard Acquiring the Taste and In a Glass House so far.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 31st 2011



7162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

So you also need Free Hand. My top5 GG releases:

1. Octopus
2. Gentle Giant
3. Free Hand
4. In A Glass House
5. Aquiring The Taste


JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2011



18198 Comments


Noted. Thanks Greg.

Jethro42
August 31st 2011



12034 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

There's a lot of blues on this album too

We can detect some Blues in every GG albums. Their guitarist roots is Blues all the way. Another cool thing is the guitar riff on 'Nothing at all'' that reminds me the one on ''Hands of Doom'' by Sabbath (Nagrarok disagree with me on that, but w/e).
As for the GG ranking, It's not an easy task. My top 3 are prly Acquiring the Taste, In a Glass House and Free Hand.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2011



18198 Comments


In A Glass House is my favourite out of the two I've heard.



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