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Old 05-22-2009, 05:06 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Wreck is probably my least favorite song from the album but everyone seems to consider it a favorite for some reason.

Favorite tracks:
Pantagruel's Nativity
Edge Of Twilight
The House, The Street, The Room
Black Cat
Plain Truth.

But Black Cat especially, I love how the lush strings and that spooky chamber music break in the middle, and how it contrasts with that groovy bassline from Ray (such an underrated bassist). I wonder why songs like this aren't FM radio staples, it should be playing right alongside ELO, Procol Harum and The Moody Blues.

I think GG are at their best when they go for bombast and whimsy, weither its the medieval stuff or the symphonic stuff or "everything and the kitchen sink" type stuff. I like some of their bluesier stuff but that's not what really draws me to this band.
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Old 05-23-2009, 12:31 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Gentle Giant – Three Friends



Tracklist:
  1. Prologue
  2. Schooldays
  3. Working All Day
  4. Peel The Paint
  5. Mister Class And Quality
  6. Three Friends

Year: 1972

Gentle Giant take the prog plunge and finally make a concept album, about, you guessed it, Three Friends. However, if you have only heard their two first albums, this album marks yet another departure. Gentle Giant has however decided to strip down the overall sound of the album, in favourite of a slightly more minimalist approach. That’s not to say it doesn’t have that trademark Gentle Giant sound, there’s just slightly less layering here.

That doesn’t however; mean that it’s a bad album. Prologue is a lovely album opener; it introduces the story and sets the mood very well. Already you are introduced to the more minimalist and repetitive sound of Three Friends, but it won’t be long until you’re hooked. Prologue flows brilliantly into Schooldays which talks of the three friends in, naturally, their schooldays. In come the lovely little melodic hooks and instrumental passages you know and love by now. However again you’ll feel that it’s far simpler than other Gentle Giant releases.

One interesting little thing you should be able to pick up is Kerry Minnear’s keyboard playing. Especially on Schooldays, it’s very noticeable that his playing has improved, or at least matured. On the other side of the spectrum, you’ll notice the drumming is a bit more restrained. This is because Martin Smith has left the band to be replaced with Malcolm Mortimore, who will only stay with the band for this one album.

The story continues with Working All Day, which accounts for the move from school life into the professional world. Overall the song continues the minimalist theme well but also manages to keep all the melodies and vocals catchy and memorable. The slightly abrasive vocal style continues into Peel The Paint, one of the stronger and most layered tracks on the album. And of course, a brilliant guitar solo ensues, this is my favourite part of the album, and the solo wouldn’t feel out of place on a 1972 hard rock album either.

As I said a lot of the trademark Gentle Giant sound still remains on this album, and you’ll get a bit of their lovely British whimsy towards the end here. The closing track Three Friends is a nice reminder of what Gentle Giant can do when they are at their best.

Unfortunately for the album a lot of things do let it down. It often feels like it’s lacking direction especially for a concept album. The delivery of a lot of the vocals and instruments here seem a bit lacklustre and rushed. But I think what lets this album down the most is the other Gentle Giant albums, these three friends can indeed find it hard to stand in a field of Giants.

8.4/10
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Old 05-23-2009, 02:01 AM   #13 (permalink)
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It's a damn good album but I do agree that it's the weakest of the classic 7. I guess because it's more miminalistic like you said. And I'm not a huge fan of the story concept. Lyrics were never one of GG's strong points.

That being said. Prologue is easly one of my favorite Gentle Giant songs.

Kerry shines a bit more on this album I agree, the bombastic instrumentation GG use is a bit toned here, there's more of a mellotron/moog sound.

Boobs' picks: Prologue, Schooldays, Mister Class & Quality.
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Old 05-24-2009, 12:04 AM   #14 (permalink)
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This is an album that will grab you by the throat and force itself deep into your subconscious. Every single track here will undoubtedly get stuck in your head at some point in time. Usually it starts with Raconteur Troubadour, but then it’ll become The Advent of Panurge. From there it will just get worse and worse. If you make the glorious mistake of listening to this album, there’s no way that it’s going to let you escape its clutches.

The album start swith Advent of Panurge, and immediately we’re re-introduced to the classic Gentle Giant sound that was slightly absent on Three Friends. We’re also joined by yet a new drummer, one John “Pugwash” Weathers who will stay with them throughout the rest of their classic period. The Advent of Panurge really does give a very accurate reflection of what to expect. The playing is tight, upbeat and sporting great production, you’ll love all the melodies and little quirks that make this so re-listenable.

Raconteur Troubadour is the most instant of all the songs, the vocals will immediately stick on first listen and I can almost guarantee that you’ll be singing along the second time around. All the little melodies work so well together, and it’s impossible to pick up on everything in one listen, this literally forces you to listen to it again and again. Of course there’s also all the unexpected twists and turns that just make this band absolutely delightful as well.

While every song here represents Gentle Giant incredibly well, you’ll be surprised at the actual range of songs that this band can pull off. You’ll never feel that all the songs sound the same, or have the same structure, the album just changes time and time again. Knots is an incredibly powerful halfway point for the album, and along with The Boys in the Band provides a brilliant middle point to keep you interested for the final few songs.

The Boys in the Band is probably the tightest song on the album, and makes for a great instrumental interlude with some very interesting melodies. Which brings us to my favourite song on the album; Dog’s Life. This little ditty has some of the loveliest quirky lyrics of any album, and it just encapsulates what Gentle Giant are all about. It’s very whimsical, funny and tongue in cheek. An argument can be made that the latter half of Octopus is even stronger than the first, with Think of Me With Kindness and River finishing off the listening experience.

The second last track is a beautiful, sombre and intense experience. It would have probably worked better than River as the final track, it is truly beautiful. You’ll notice some brilliant keyboard work as well here that just makes it all the more brilliant .The album ends on a high with the irresistible River. River has probably some of the catchiest melodies and most interesting production on the album. That and one of the more badass guitar solos you’ll find, accompanied by vocals copying some of the notes Vas Dis style.

Overall this is a masterpiece, there is no doubt about it, and I have been debating with myself whether or not it deserves the big 10. I’m really not sure what to do about it, but I’m very much leaning in favour of it getting maximum marks. Before I started doing these reviews I would have undoubtedly given it maximum points, but I’m not sure if it’s worth setting a maximum points around with three albums to go.

fuck it

10/10
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Old 05-24-2009, 12:47 AM   #15 (permalink)
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This truly is their finest album (well it or In A Glass House, I rate both of them a 10) and it's hard to pick favorites.

Boobs' picks: Errrrr. All of it.
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Old 05-24-2009, 02:01 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Another nice review As most know, Octopus is my favourite as well, but as you say - with so many good songs it's near impossible to pick one favourite. More than any other GG album I've listened to, it has some kind of weird appeal and I guess it's must be the Gentle Giant sound itself which works so well across every track despite them being quite different. Excellent album!
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Old 05-24-2009, 11:51 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Gentle Giant – In A Glass House


  1. Runaway
  2. An Inmates Lullaby
  3. Way Of Life
  4. Experience
  5. Reunion
  6. In a Glass House

Year: 1973

Come 1973 Gentle Giant had some rather big shoes to fill after their masterpiece Octopus. It also marks yet another slight departure in sound for the Canterbury based band. This was the album that never made it officially to US shores because it was “Not commercial enough” and what a shame that is. It also marks their first album without Phil Shulman and as such represents yet another noticeable change in sound. All this of course makes this album an incredibly fresh and unique experience, who would want to listen to the same albums being done over and over again?

It is fair to say the whole sound of the album bears more resemblance to Three Friends than to Octopus, but in this instance it’s done a lot better. Runaway opens the album in a good high, you’ll love all the little quirks and awesome passages and unique solos. The production has changed in tune once more and you’ll notice a lot of little extra effects that add to the experience well. The album does however feel more driven, and less fun in comparison to their first four.

An Inmates Lullaby is a good example of that, it offers a stripped down very ambient form of Gentle Giant’s trademark sound. It’s clear the band has once again matured as musicians, because the creation of tension and atmosphere has improved remarkably. Fear not however, because there’s still lots of that Gentle Giant spunk on the next track; Way of Life. It stars with a high energy riff supported by a nice range of instruments and some of the whimsical vocals we know and love.

I can’t however help but feel that a lot of the songs of this album follow the same formula. Starting with an interesting melody, stripping it down, and then building up atmosphere and subsequently a climax, rinse and repeat with a few nice melodies thrown in for good measure. It makes the album very consistent, but it also lacks that air of unpredictability that made the earlier Gentle Giant albums so enjoyable. Probably the strongest song of the album, Experience offers an incredible listening experience. With some brilliant guitar work, vocals, production and interesting melodies.

Reunion is a beautiful little interlude to lead into the final track, and can be sort of thought of as Think of Me With Kindness’ sister track. It certainly has the same form of lovely atmosphere and sense of melody. The album finishes on a good high with the title track, but I can’t help but feel something is missing from it.

Yet another departure this album does indeed see Gentle Giant, with one member less, go into darker and more serious territory. They can still write great songs and melodies, however they’ve given a lot of it up for the sake of atmosphere. This album is far less instant than their previous works and as such is not one for the prog beginner. This is for progressive rock fans, while the rest of their albums are pretty much universal this is far more of an acquired taste.

9/10
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:00 AM   #18 (permalink)
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You've convinced me to try Octopus out (so the thread's working). If it's anything less than a 10 i'll have harsh words.
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Old 05-25-2009, 12:51 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I disagree with you on this one Comus. While it's a very experimental album it's also, I think, one of their most accessible and one of the first abums I'd recommend to those who want to get into the band. There's still some blues that pops up in Experience and the title track. But thankfully they started putting less emphasis on it and are beginning to explore their own sound more fully.

The lyrical subjects are a lot darker and more serious than their other work. An Inmates Lullaby for example is about a mental patient, but it's a very beautiful song, and it's an odd one because it's all percussion instruments like vibraphone and xylophone.

But the music itself on the album is very upbeat sounding. There's more of a bubbly folk sound on this record than the rest of their work. This is the only GG album where Green plays the mandolin, so that gives it a very unique flavor when compared to the other albums.

I do miss Phil very much, his brass instruments gave the first four GG albums a lot of their bombastic power, though his absence allowed the band to evolve once more.

So Piss, if you like Octopus enough to check out another album, make sure In A Glass House is the first.

Boobs' picks: The Runaway, Way of Life, Experience, In A Glass House.
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Old 05-25-2009, 10:05 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I disagree with you on this one Comus. While it's a very experimental album it's also, I think, one of their most accessible and one of the first abums I'd recommend to those who want to get into the band. There's still some blues that pops up in Experience and the title track. But thankfully they started putting less emphasis on it and are beginning to explore their own sound more fully.

The lyrical subjects are a lot darker and more serious than their other work. An Inmates Lullaby for example is about a mental patient, but it's a very beautiful song, and it's an odd one because it's all percussion instruments like vibraphone and xylophone.

But the music itself on the album is very upbeat sounding. There's more of a bubbly folk sound on this record than the rest of their work. This is the only GG album where Green plays the mandolin, so that gives it a very unique flavor when compared to the other albums.

I do miss Phil very much, his brass instruments gave the first four GG albums a lot of their bombastic power, though his absence allowed the band to evolve once more.

So Piss, if you like Octopus enough to check out another album, make sure In A Glass House is the first.

Boobs' picks: The Runaway, Way of Life, Experience, In A Glass House.
It's a great album, but I think it's on par with Aquiring the taste, which is in no means an insult, it's tied second at the moment, but I'd say their debut is more accessible, while not as strong as Glass House.
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