Gentle Giant
The Power and the Glory


5.0
classic

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (186 Reviews)
October 13th, 2013 | 41 replies


Release Date: 1974 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Magnificent.

Gentle Giant were sort of the "odd-man-out" group when it came to popular 70s progressive rock bands. While maintaining a solid fanbase, they never really achieved the stardom that bands such as Rush or Yes received; when you start listening to the band's music, it quickly becomes evident why this was the case. In the liner notes of their second album Acquiring the Taste, the band stated: "It is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular." During their prime, they'd follow this quote and shun the commercial world as the commercial world generally shunned them in return. It's really quite unfortunate though, as the group made some of progressive rock's finest works; they'd mix technicality and multi-faceted arrangements with an emotional weight and depth rarely seen in progressive rock. Nowhere does that seem more wonderfully represented than in their 1975 masterpiece The Power and the Glory.

The record is a concept album about a man who wants to use his political power in a beneficial way. However, as he becomes more power-hungry and dictatorial, the man ultimately becomes no different than the leaders who came before him. It's a pretty typical concept, but it also allows for Gentle Giant to get creative with their themes and musical settings. For instance, the opening track "Proclamation" has a very frantic discordant section in the middle, suggesting panic stemming from either the previous leader or the position of this new leader in the story. Also, every song references the previous song by title; so for instance, "So Sincere" would put "Proclamation" somewhere in its lyrics, "Aspirations" would put "So Sincere" somewhere in its lyrics, and so forth. It's a clever way to tie each song and theme together, all leading to the climactic "Valedictory" which displays the complete reinvention of the main character; the song is essentially a more distorted and dark version of "Proclamation," leading the story and album to come full circle. A great concept indeed.

Musically, Gentle Giant were better than ever here. You've got the typical sudden changes and instrumental shift displayed in other albums by the band, but there's a greater sense of cohesion at the same time. The concept and certain compositional choices led to this album being a bit more streamlined than In a Glass House (contrary to popular belief, this album is not as complex as you might think), but in a good way. While technically challenging numbers such as the multi-layered violin-led "So Sincere" or the incredibly nimble, dissonant-sounding (for the most part anyway) "Cogs in Cogs" are on the album, a song like "Aspirations" is a completely different tune. Instead it's a heartfelt ballad that's very quiet and keyboard-driven; also unusual for Gentle Giant is how the 4/4 time signature is the main beat of the song. Almost as if it's... conventional??? Well, it doesn't go that far; there are still a few odd breaks and diversions here and there that add the band's unique touch to the music. You've also got "No God's a Man" which goes for a similar slow pace with occasional instrumental diversions, as if separate musical "conversations" are putting their stamp on the atmosphere of the song. And that's what makes this album work so well... it has a very healthy mix of simplistic accessibility and complex multi-faceted technical moments. It's a perfect combination of the two, and the band are very keen on not giving the listener too much of either at a time. For every "So Sincere," there's an "Aspirations" to follow. It's so pleasing to the ears to hear two musical thoughts collide into one cohesive whole. "Playing the Game" and "The Face" have a tendency to be a bit weaker and less played (by me, at least) than other songs on the album, but they have their own share of highlights too. The 6/8 portion of "The Face" is a great shift from the main 4/4 melody played during the verses. The violin's a highlight here just as it was in "So Sincere," working well as a lead instrument against the complex rhythm parts.

This is an amazing record. Not only is it a very technically accomplished progressive rock effort, but it also has a cleverly-executed concept and numerous emotional moments to balance out the virtuosity. It may be a bit tough to find this in stores, but I'm sure it's pretty cheap online. No matter how you get it, just get it. If you like progressive music, you won't be disappointed in the slightest.



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user ratings (141)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
ProgressiveTheory (4)
"Hail to Power and to Glory's way"...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Necrotica
October 13th 2013


10145 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

sup proggers

What did you think of this album? Did you love it? Did you hate it? Why? And what should I... review
next?
Brendan Schroer... Gentle Giant... The Power and the Glory... forever.

Y'all know this is just my opinion, right?

OmairSh
October 13th 2013


11924 Comments


Still haven't listened to this, damn

Necrotica
October 13th 2013


10145 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

You should, it's fantastic :]

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 13th 2013


16163 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn, you are reviewing some good stuff, nice job

oh just small thing "This is in amazing record" - an

Digging: Suzanne Vega - Suzanne Vega

JokineAugustus
October 13th 2013


6653 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Still haven't listened to this, damn[2]

Digging: Alpinist - Minus.Mensch

Nagrarok
October 13th 2013


8323 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Gentle Giant rules but 5 seems a little high for this one.

HenchmanOfSanta
October 13th 2013


1927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cogs in Cogs is nuts.

manosg
October 13th 2013


6746 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Still haven't listened to this, damn[3]

I seriously need to change that.

Digging: Whitesnake - Slide It In

scissorlocked
October 13th 2013


3511 Comments


awesome band



Digging: Low Roar - Low Roar

KILL
October 13th 2013


72295 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is like the 4th best gg but sweet

Digging: Throwing Muses - Throwing Muses

MO
October 13th 2013


19086 Comments


fuck yea

Jethro42
October 13th 2013


12662 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Proclamation; 5/5
So Sincere; 4/5
Aspirations; 5/5
Playing the Game; 4/5
Cogs in Cogs; 5/5
No God's a Man; 3/5
The Face; 2.5/5
Valedictory; 5/5
The Power and the Glory (bonus track); 2.5/5

I didn't know anything about the concept of this album. It brings some additional power, but not enough to upgrade my rating. Excellent review, Necrotica.

DrHouseSchuldiner
October 13th 2013


5643 Comments


5th best GG for me ...nice rev,album rules
review In a Glass House next, cuz its my fav : ]

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
October 13th 2013


3559 Comments


dude try reviewing some hardcore brostep next

Digging: Nicki Minaj - The Pinkprint

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
October 13th 2013


20166 Comments


Nice review I gotta hear this one again now. Band rules

Digging: Johann Sebastian Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050

Veldin
October 13th 2013


1680 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh, i see, theneedledrop reference. heh.

I've only listened to Acquiring the Taste, but this review has inspired me to check this out right meow.

Necrotica
October 13th 2013


10145 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Haha, I was wondering when someone was going to notice the reference :P

And thanks for the feedback, guys.

Chortles
October 13th 2013


18109 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

pre good album

Digging: Cocteau Twins - Treasure

Gyromania
October 13th 2013


16115 Comments


try reviewing something new (lol i'm one to talk).

great write-up though - you've convinced me

Necrotica
October 13th 2013


10145 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Yeah, I've been on sort of a classic rock/prog rock binge lately :P I'll get around to something different though as well



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