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Old 05-26-2009, 12:21 AM   #21 (permalink)
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The beginning of the end of Gentle Giant’s classic period, another shift in sound marks their venture into more poppy material. That’s not to say however, that it’s not done very well. The Power and the Glory is an example of the sound from In A Glass House being taken and made more palatable. This whole release is still unmistakeably Gentle Giant, but with yet another, more mature, sound. The album is stripped down in the form of instruments used, however the layering and usage of melody makes it seem far deeper.

The epic build up of atmosphere returns yet again, but this time it reaches far more satisfying and tangible climaxes. Proclamation is a great album opener and it establishes a good flow into So Sincere. The early style vocal delivery that were quite missed on In A Glass House return in good form, and make the experience all the better for it. The whole album is based on the great Graham Greene book of the same name, I’ve never picked up on it before despite liking the book and the album. Shows how much I pay attention, thank you wikipedia.

The whole album has a feel of mysticism around it, the flow, production and atmosphere all create a very powerful listen. That naturally means that this is one where it can be quite important to turn up to 11 to get the full, power and glory of the delivery. Songs like Playing the Game always have something new to discover, there’s some great single performances moulded together to become more than their parts. This of course is the whole appeal of Gentle Giant, and as such there’s always something new on subsequent listens.

One thing I can’t stress enough about what makes this album unique in the Gentle Giant spectrum is the guitars, the wonderful guitars. Judging on their earlier albums it almost seemed impossible that they’d give the guitar such priority for such a large part of the album. There have been hints of strong guitar driven songs, or at least a nice solo here and there, but it seemed like they’d never take the dive. Especially given the depth of the talent in the band, of course this isn’t a bad thing, it may seem like a bit of wasted talent, but it sounds so good.

Cogs in Cogs is manic Gentle Giant at it’s best, this song has so much going on it’s hard to concentrate on actually putting anything down on paper, or in this case, word document. But naturally, Gentle Giant aren’t going to let you get some rest in, with the challenging No God’s A Man. Everything can seem a bit overwhelming at times here, but things get a lot clearer with a few more listens. The interesting additions of Violin and Cello come a bit more into the forefront here, especially on The Face and again add some more depth to the listening experience.

I said at the start of the review that this was the beginning of their more poppy phase, well let me clarify that. On the surface a lot of the songs on this album, especially in the first half can seem very simple, pop driven songs (not a bad thing in itself). However venture deeper in, and especially in the second half and you’ll discover an album just as complex and interesting as Octopus. The classic sound is mostly gone, but the whole progressive spirit of the band lives on in a new adaptation of the Gentle Giant we know and love.

There is so much to this album, and it’s arguably one of the best in their catalogue, this is one you could play again and again and not get tired of. I should know, I’ve listened to it three times in a row now for the review, and it’s even more interesting. This is one that definitely gets stronger with subsequent plays, especially if you haven’t heard it in a long while. Highly recommended for prog and rock fans alike.

9.8/10
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Old 05-26-2009, 07:56 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Funny, I'd always heard mixed reviews on The Power and the Glory, so as a a result its the only album from their classic period that I've never gotten.

Your review convinced me though; I'm dling as we speak!
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Old 05-26-2009, 08:01 AM   #23 (permalink)
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^Haha, same goes for me, roughly .. I have it, but it's the only GG "great" I haven't given a total spin yet and the only song I know from the album at the moment is "Proclamation". I'll give it a spin once I get home later today. Of course, I know it's gonna be good.
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:01 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I'm falling behind! Luckily I've heard the last 3 posted...but I plan to revisit them along with the thread. Octopus sometime today.
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:21 PM   #25 (permalink)
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So Piss, if you like Octopus enough to check out another album, make sure In A Glass House is the first.
First listen was encouraging, very odd but has charm which i feel is missing with what i've heard with other prog bands. I won't judge this early but it's looking good!
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Old 05-26-2009, 11:17 PM   #26 (permalink)
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First listen was encouraging, very odd but has charm which i feel is missing with what i've heard with other prog bands. I won't judge this early but it's looking good!
Don't listen to boo boo though, if you want charm you need Acquiring the Taste and the self titled debut, once you've tried them Get Power and the Glory and then you can make your own choices about where to go next.
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Old 05-26-2009, 11:25 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Since I'm on a DL'ing rampage atm I think I'll get Octopus a try.
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Old 05-27-2009, 01:12 AM   #28 (permalink)
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And this album brings us nicely to the end of a five year journey spanning seven great albums. Free Hand, as you’d expect is yet another departure, marking a Gentle Giant tethering on the edge of prog obscurity. The complex layering is mostly gone; however the lovely melodies and vocals still remain in small doses. You’ll find a lot more solo driven material here rather than repetitive, catchy vocals. The first track, Just The Same is a perfect example of this, solo after solo with a few melodies thrown in to keep the song together.

The charming edge of Gentle Giant remains with little touches like the all vocal introduction to On Reflection which sports some fantastic melodies. Overall it’s a very simple vocal driven song. Which works very well in the short context of the start of the album, however it shows a focus towards the less complex arrangement Gentle Giant is know for. The trend continues with Free Hand, everything seems properly stripped down here, while still keeping some of the quirkiness from their earlier albums with random melodies.

As with all Gentle Giant albums this one is guaranteed to keep you on your toes, they never really get predictable. Even with a stripped down sound you’ll notice a lot of new things on subsequent listens. One thing you’ll notice is because of the stripped down sound, the songs seem to just flow away, the title track feels like a 2 minute song instead of a 6 minute one. Especially if you’re used to there being a lot of melodies, it seems like it would work in a completely opposite way, but it seems to just flow really well.

My main problem with this album is that the whole band seems detached. It’s like they’re no longer putting their entire attitude into the music. It can start feeling a bit mechanical and stale and not to mention safe. For a band that was created due to a collective distaste for what they felt was 60’s pop they’ve started losing their edge. The album is by no means poor, but you rarely catch the glimpses of Gentle Giant at their best here.

This is probably the last album you should get, prog fans seem to love this album for some reason I can’t really understand. It’s great, but it doesn’t really surpass any of their other classic albums. It’s a shame to end on a low, but in the end this album would probably be the pinnacle of a lot of bands.

8/10
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Old 05-27-2009, 03:05 AM   #29 (permalink)
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I agree with you that the second half of Power and the Glory is more complex and more like their older stuff, as opposed to the first half which is a bit stripped down. Cogs in Cogs especially sounds like it could have been on Octopus.

I like that there's more guitar and keyboards, and for once, no blues rock jams. I always felt that those didn't quite fit in with their sound.

Boobs' picks: Proclamation, So Sincere, Playing the Game, Cogs in Cogs, No God's a Man.

Free Hand certainly shows them taking a more straightforward rock direction. But it's still a quality record.

Boobs' picks: Just the Same, Free Hand, Talybont, Mobile.
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Old 05-27-2009, 10:59 AM   #30 (permalink)
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The one and only time I listened to Free Hand I was still warming up to Gentle Giant, and did not like it at all. It seemed relatively cheesy and kind of 80s (the album cover didn't help). I disliked the vocals in particular. I'm curious to see what I think this time around. I need to revisit In a Glass House and The Power and the Glory first.
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