Review Summary: The last Gentle Giant album finds the underground proggies far from their prime...3 of 3 thought this review was well writtenGentle Giant
lost it somewhere along the way, and that was inevitable. Civilian
was their final work. Since their album The Missing Piece
, they had become a shadow of themselves, deeply lost in a mixture between pop and progressive because of the more and more dominating position of commercial music. This shift in style proved to be fatal for the group, and so they sadly broke up shortly after they completed the tour for Civilian
Mainstream music had never been made for Gentle Giant at all, and they should never have given up the progressive sound that worked best for them. After their last great album, Interview
, they got under a lot of pressure. Together with their record label, they tried to increase interest in their work, and by doing so, they took the risk of their career. Sometimes, these risks turn out to be the positive turning point for a group’s career. More than often enough, however, this is not the case, and Gentle Giant was no exception to that second scenario. They lost their established fan base, abandoned the cello, vibes and flutes, and in effect their entire, unique soundscape. Civilian
shouldn’t even be called a Gentle Giant record, and contains not a single gem for the band.
This is not surprising. Frontman Derek Shulman confessed that Civilian
was created in a very short time, three to four months at most, which most clearly shows. It is as if the band had decided to clean up what was left on shelf, in order to offer one last album. Sadly, the only traces left of their original style were limited to the excellent 'Inside Out'
wich is by far the best track on here. The song is mid-tempo, driven by a quiet electric guitar picking, well supported by the solid rhythm section that builds and builds until it becomes more imposing, loud and heavy. Shulman’s voice lends itself well to this surge of adrenaline, and generally displays a lot of emotion throughout the album.
'Shadows On The Street'
is another highlight. It is led by a beautiful and melodic piano all the way, accompanied by Shulman’s fine vocals. Two other great moments are 'Convenience
. Both songs are excellent rockers, although they also show Gentle Giant’s lessening progressive sound. Luckily, there are a few good moments scattered throughout the album, but those are not enough to save the record.
and the fantastic live album Playing The Fool
(a must have) were Gentle Giant’s last releases with solid material. The Missing Piece
, Giant for a Day
and this last album Civilian
were all disappointing and forgettable releases, the real Gentle Giant spark having almost completely vanished. The game was over.