Gentle Giant
Three Friends


3.0
good

Review

by Thomas Bambaataa Ghidrah Towers USER (67 Reviews)
March 29th, 2006 | 28 replies | 5,447 views


Release Date: 1972 | Tracklist


5 of 5 thought this review was well written

Great friends come in three, right? Maybe not, the Three Stooges were sad bastards who were forced to hang out together because of mental handicap, and rage problems that made society shun them. Countless trios have dissolved over the course of history, but Hall & Oats, Bill & Ted, Cheech & Chong, still go strong today (sure thereís the odd Wham! or Regis & Kathie Lee to sour the reputation, but still.) Such is the concept of Gentle Giantís third album, and their debut concept album. Itís the story of three boys who begin as best friends at childhood, choose different career paths (construction worker, artist, and yuppie), and when they reunite after so many years as adults, they no longer understand or relate to each other, because of their different ways of life. Truly heartbreaking. If it were just two friends, this probably wouldnít have happened. Just like if Gentle Giant only had two brothers, instead of three, they probably wouldíve gotten the mainstream attention they so badly deserved.

Gentle Giant had a unique, complex sound of classical with hard rock. They found their way to more mainstream ways later, but this album still features many classic Gentle Giant traits. Songs split in two different moods, one loud, one quiet. The crazy winding interludes with long forgotten instruments. Gregorian chant-style singing. Led Zeppelin type jamming and a big, bluesy solo that come unexpectedly. The problem on this album is how it was all brought together. At some times in the album, the song is entirely linear, structure-wise, becoming too repetitive for Gentle Giant. Other times on the album, everything zooms by too quickly, the brilliantly quirky bridges, or sections of the song, leaving the listener lost, or uninterested. Three Friendsís pace is hard to adjust to for any listener, really. The bursting creativity that the band had in their early years is out of control on the album.

Nonetheless, Gentle Giantís virtuoso arrangement still pull through. Their strange instruments are almost unidentifiable at times; the beginning of Working All Day has an instrument that has such a unique sound, that itís hard to say whether a synth or guitar-like string instrument was used. These old-fashioned, and forgotten instruments mould the medieval sound into Gentle Giantís various modern styles. Other influences the album brings are widely varied, but are featured only for a short time, or under the current of the main influence. Over the whack of genre mixes everywhere, Three Friends once again proves to be a difficult listen to focus in on.

Overall, Gentle Giantís sound truly can only be defined in one way; taking heaps of loud, upbeat, outspoken music, mixed with mounds of quieter, sophisticated, orchestral music and mixing into one epic, eclectic, complex mega pile. This is also characterized by the two main vocalists Phil, and Derek Shulman. Phil sings all the quiet parts, often in choir style with many backing voices. Derekís voice is gruff, and resemble the likes of mid-seventies King Crimson vocalist John Wetton. He, of course, sings all the harder songs, ditching the choral chants of brother Phil. He would make certain songs on the album sound like a meat and potatoes rock tunes if it were not for the exceptional amounts of backing instruments spicing everything up. In fact, Working All Day is too much of a rock song for Gentle Giant, while other songs are split between quiet and loud, itís all loud here. Itís for a good cause though, as Kerry Minnear performs a great organ solo, proving that every prog band needs to show off every once in a while.

The other downfall for Three Friends is the way the vocal melodies on the album works. Regardless of the vocalist, the voice always wraps around the music exactly, thereís no uniqueness added, besides whenever the boys get into a trademark Gentle Giant chant, to the music. The vocals hold no melody of their own, they just follow every note of the music, adding to the repetitiveness some points in the album have. Of course, the vocals are the only truly repetitive quality to the album, and can be seen as the weak point in Gentle Giantís masterful composing. Three Friends is an extremely hard album to digest at first. The first time I heard it, it was just a total mess, and I lost interest. For anyone getting into Gentle Giant, check out Acquiring the Taste or Octopus, to get a taste of an entirely original band fully in control. Once the overwhelming feeling of so much music crammed into one album has past, itís a great Gentle giant album. Until then, be prepared for a potentially frustrating album.



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user ratings (134)
Chart.
4
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Comments:Add a Comment 
robo2448
March 29th 2006



132 Comments


Hehe awesome cover art.

I've been meaning to check out Gentle Giant, I guess I'll try one of the albums you recommended first for n00bs.

Great review.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
March 29th 2006



15732 Comments


The bands you review just get weirder and weirder...

Good stuff.

tom79
March 29th 2006



3367 Comments


[quote=Galapogos]the Three Stooges were sad bastards who were forced to hang out together because of mental handicap, and rage problems that made society shun them.[/quote]
Huh? :confused:
Anyways, good review, I also keep meaning to check GG out, but haven't got to it yet.This Message Edited On 03.29.06

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

pulseczar
March 29th 2006



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's best to not take anything too seriously in most of my intro paragraphs ;)

tom79
March 29th 2006



3367 Comments


Right.. :thumb:This Message Edited On 03.29.06

Storm In A Teacup
March 29th 2006



12712 Comments


Hehehe, Moz will kill you for the Wham! comment.
As usual, funtastic review! I'm undecided on this, but it's close to a 3.5 for me right now.

Zebra
Moderator
March 29th 2006



2647 Comments


Good review. Gentle Giant is awesome but I haven't heard much from them. I'll probably download the title track, and then look for some of their more recommended albums.

Storm In A Teacup
March 29th 2006



12712 Comments


Zebra, Octopus is where it's at.

pulseczar
March 29th 2006



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'd Acquiring the Taste is a definite to check out at some point, Zebra.

Hehehe, Moz will kill you for the Wham! comment.


I was actually refering to the fact that Wham! broke up pretty quickly. Don't hurt me, Moz

CaptainWaits
March 29th 2006



21 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I listened to this album, as well as "Octupus" last week, and even though I'm on a Progressive Classic Rock obsession, I didn't like what I heard of Gentle Giant. Review was well done though.

musicforlife
March 29th 2006



81 Comments


Never heard of this band before.

temporary
March 30th 2006



207 Comments


Gentle Giant are one of the most underrated prog bands, you did a great job on the review

dosia
November 18th 2012



57 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The last comment was written 6 years ago, but I have to tell it.

What a band.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
November 18th 2012



15907 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea good stuff

Digging: Hominido - Estirpe Litica

greg84
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2012



7365 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great band, but I don't dig this as much as their other LPs.

Digging: 68 - In Humor and Sadness

dosia
November 18th 2012



57 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Don't know. Definitely not their best, but I can't find many flaws here. And I haven't listened to Octopus yet. And Free Hand. And In A Glass House... yessssss

ButteryBiscuitBass
February 6th 2013



9916 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Such a good album.

GentleGiant
June 16th 2013



1 Comments


Love this band and this album! mister class and quality..

ButteryBiscuitBass
July 9th 2013



9916 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

EASY TO SAY THAT EVERYBODY'S EQUAL THEN LOOK AROUND AND SEE IT AINT TRUE
WORKING ALL DAY, YEAH!

NeroCorleone80
July 9th 2013



28838 Comments


p/

Digging: Howlin Wolf - Howlin' Wolf/Moanin' in the Moonlight



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