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View Poll Results: Which is your favourite Gentle Giant album?
Gentle Giant (1970) 5 23.81%
Acquiring the Taste (1971) 2 9.52%
Three Friends (1972) 1 4.76%
Octopus (1972) 8 38.10%
In a Glass House (1973) 5 23.81%
The Power and the Glory (1974) 6 28.57%
Free Hand (1975) 2 9.52%
Interview (1976) 1 4.76%
The Missing Piece (1977) 1 4.76%
Giant for a Day (1978) 0 0%
Civilian (1980) 1 4.76%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 21. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-21-2009, 04:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The Official Gentle Giant thread

Gentle Giant


Left to right: Derek Shulman, Ray Shulman, John Weathers, Gary Green, and Kerry Minnear; 1977.


It's been a long time since Gentle Giant broke up, but this shall be the one thread to bring them all and in it's pages bind them. Yes, I know there's already a thread, but that one suffered from a lack of effort while this one shall not.

British prog group Gentle Giant was formed when brothers Derek, Ray and Phil Shulman who were all multi-instrumentalists met up with Gary Green and Kerry Minnear who were also multi-instrumentalists and then drummer Martin Smith. The longest lasting lineup is the one seen in the picture above after oldest brother Phil Shulman left the band after their fourth album Octopus. Gentle Giant are known for their skills across a wide range of instruments, whimsicality, eclectic sound, vast creativity and complex music with more twists and turns than a snake pit. Their albums also typically have more hooks in them than Hellraiser. Okay, that was a dumb comparison. Anyways, they included a well-known-by-fans proclamation in the sleeve of their second album, "Acquiring the taste" :

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gentle Giant
"...It is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular. We have recorded each composition with the one thought - that it should be unique, adventurous and fascinating. It has taken every shred of our combined musical and technical knowledge to achieve this. From the outset we have abandoned all preconceived thoughts of blatant commercialism. Instead we hope to give you something far more substantial and fulfilling. All you need to do is sit back, and acquire the taste."
I'm not sure if they were unpopular, but their strange sound kept them in the background compared to contemporaries like Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. However, Gentle Giant are much appreciated by prog followers today and they have influenced the sound of many bands out there.

They managed to put out a good amount of albums that are now regarded as prog gems before they buckled under pressure after the punk wave and tried to put out hits at the very end of their discography. For those who want to delve into their discography, their first 7 albums are all highly regarded by fans. I've put up their discography here with links to on-site reviews if available.

( Also, you could have a look under the letter G in the Album Review Index which is more likely to be updated. )



So to summarize; Gentle Giant is a classic and slightly weird prog group with more musicality than most known bands out there today and if anyone wants to give them shot, me, Anteater, Boo Boo and Comus have put our heads together and made for you a small compilation featuring songs from their 7 first albums - from their self-titled released in 1970 to Free Hand from 1975.

Get Gentle Giant Compilation from Megaupload

Tracklist :
  1. Gentle Giant - Alucard
  2. Acquiring the Taste - Pantagruel's Nativity
  3. Acquiring the Taste - Black Cat
  4. Three Friends - Prologue
  5. Octopus - The Advent Of Panurge
  6. Octopus - Knots
  7. Octopus - Think Of Me With Kindness
  8. The Power and the Glory - Proclamation
  9. In a Glass House - The Runaway
  10. Free Hand - Just the Same

That's it. Let's post our favourite vids and find out which albums we like the most. I like Acquiring the Taste and Octopus, but falling more and more in love with Free Hand as well .. I'm still on Octopus though it might change soon. I'll allow for multiple votes in the poll.

edit :

New mix-tape!

I've made a new GG mixtape without the help of Comus, Anteater and Boo Boo which I personally think is a better introduction (of course since it's all my suggestions). Check it out!
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Old 05-21-2009, 06:07 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I've had Octopus for a while, and enjoy it a fair bit whenever I remember to put it on, but it hasn't quite clicked with me yet.
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Old 05-21-2009, 08:43 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fruitonica View Post
I've had Octopus for a while, and enjoy it a fair bit whenever I remember to put it on, but it hasn't quite clicked with me yet.
It's a lovely album! I think both me and Comus clicked with the album after initially listening to it and then suffering from earwigs from it later on - which of course can only be remedied by playing the album more. It don't think all of it's appeal is immediately appearant, but after a couple of spins, something might happen. Interestingly, Wikipedia says this :

Quote:
From the start, Gentle Giant was a particularly flexible band due to the exceptionally broad musical skills of its members. One Gentle Giant album listed a total of forty-six instruments in the musician credits, all of which had been played by group members, and five members of the band sang.
.. yet it does not say which album it is. It might be Octopus, though, at least it has 5 members singing on it.


Some old members of Gentle Giant are still playing concerts by the way. Gary Green and Malcolm Mortimore (drummer on "Three Friends") formed the band Rentle Giant which they played with until they also picked up old Kerry Minnear and changed name to Three Friends. They play old Gentle Giant songs, though sadly still without the Shulman brothers.

To get some vids rollin', here's their song "Funny Ways" from their debut!

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Old 05-21-2009, 09:30 AM   #4 (permalink)
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My second favorite group of all time, sandwiched right there between King Crimson and Yes.

As great as Octopus and some of their later works are though, I consider their debut and Acquiring The Taste to be special due to the somewhat bluesy quality they have on some of their tracks, which was later shed in favor of a more medieval approach.
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Old 05-21-2009, 10:13 AM   #5 (permalink)
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1. Octopus
2. In a Glass House
3. Gentle Giant
4. Acquiring the Taste
5. Power and the Glory
6. Free Hand
7. Three Friends

8. Interview

What I've heard from their last 3 albums is pretty damn awful.
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Old 05-21-2009, 02:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I'm going to decide once I finish reviewing their 7 greats.
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Old 05-21-2009, 07:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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In a glass house was the first I heard from them, and although some of the earlier ones are supposed to be better, its still my favorite, although that may change as I listen to more of their albums(the only other one I have is "three friends")
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Old 05-21-2009, 08:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by blachalaheebow View Post
In a glass house was the first I heard from them, and although some of the earlier ones are supposed to be better, its still my favorite, although that may change as I listen to more of their albums(the only other one I have is "three friends")
Well the earlier albums are great. But IMO Octopus and Glass House are on par with each other as the band's best works.
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Old 05-21-2009, 08:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I've always prefered their first three albums over Glass House, of course we'll see how that changes when I review them all. It's nice to get new perspectives on the albums you love by giving them your full attention.
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Old 05-21-2009, 10:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anteater View Post
As great as Octopus and some of their later works are though, I consider their debut and Acquiring The Taste to be special due to the somewhat bluesy quality they have on some of their tracks, which was later shed in favor of a more medieval approach.
I'm playing the debut now for the first time and noticed that it's more bluesy or maybe even more straight-forward than the later stuff that was more medieval, as you said...though I still hear some of that here ("Isn't It Quiet and Cold" is on now). The oldest one I'd heard up till now was Octopus.
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