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Acquiring The Taste

4.4 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 8, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Only one band could mix Gregorian chant and hard rock (okay, two, the Yardbirds did it), and that was Gentle Giant, and never better than on this, their second record, released by Vertigo in 1971. Featuring such masterpieces as Pantagruel's Nativity and Edge of Twilight.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 8, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: INgrooves Fontana/Mercury
  • ASIN: B000001FW9
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,553 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 9, 1999
Format: Audio CD
I first listened to this album many years ago when my older sister gave me an original vinyl record. She had bought it on the recommendation of a friend but had no idea what to make of it. I listened to it a few times, thought it rather odd but interesting then filed it away and forgot about it for over twenty years. Some months ago while unpacking from a move, it fell out of a stack of records and I set up the turntable to give it a spin for old times sake. What a revelation! I've never heard a group that has tried such an ambitious and unique mix of styles and sounds. I suppose that my maturation has helped me to appreciate what I could not quite "get" as a teenager. It certainly does not contain any radio-friendly cuts, but if you have the time to sit and listen with an open mind you will be greatly rewarded. Especially "tasty" are "Black Cat", "Pantagruel's Nativity" and "The House, The Street". I have since listened to most of the later albums by the Giant but find that they pale in comparison. Could it have been the production by Tony Visconti that makes the difference? He seems to have been the "hidden hand" behind the seminal works of some other talented groups and artists in the early 70's. Whatever the secret, Aquiring the Taste is a remarkable achievement that has held up very well over the years.
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Format: Audio CD
"It is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular," read the 1971 liner notes to the second album by this unique British progressive rock band. At this remove, the statement sounds combative, even defensive, and time would show that Gentle Giant indeed would have liked to have won the kind of broad acclaim and sales enjoyed by such colleagues as Yes, Genesis, and Jethro Tull. Such, alas, was not to be, but their courage was impressive at the time, and over the course of a decade and nearly a dozen albums they would achieve their aesthetic goals and record some amazing and unforgettable work.
Sporting three lead vocalists at this point and playing an aggregate of more than 30 musical instruments in studio and on stage, Gentle Giant wedded classical to rock, madrigals to blues, and simple sweet ballads to near heavy metal and complex time signatures. Theirs was a music that demanded sophisticated musical taste and concentration of its listeners as much as emotion and an urge to dance.
Some Giant fans count this album among their favorites. I find it a bit too atmospheric and meandering on certain cuts, though never boring. "Edge of Twilight" is languid, dreamy, a little ominous, with an instrumental break that moves from delicate arpeggios and feathering of the keyboard to timpani and xylophone. "Black Cat" is another sly tune with electric guitar and keyboards quietly meowing under Kerry Minnear's understated vocal.
For the title cut Minnear plays a brief (1:36) and gentle Baroque theme on calliope-like keyboards that whistle and bomp in counterpoint.
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Format: Audio CD
I love what Gentle Giant wrote on the inside of their second album, 1971's "Acquiring The Taste": "It is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular." That pretty much sums up this daring British band, never achieving big commercial success in their 10 years together but not really caring either, as long as they made great music, and on their own terms. And they did. "Acquiring The Taste" is one of Gentle Giant's finest efforts, a superb prog-rock disc. My personal favorites: "Pantagruel's Nativity" is a stunning piece, with the band mixing classical, folk, rock, mellotron, and operatic vocals into a supreme musical blend. The title track is a brief but very-cool Moog synthesiser instrumental, courtesy of keyboardist Kerry Minnear. "Wreck" is a great rocker. "Black Cat" is one of my all-time favorite GG songs, a spooky little number with excellent string decorations throughout, and the 7 1/2 minute "Plain Truth" is another favorite Gentle Giant staple. The band's boldness, musicianship, and studio experimentation is mighty impressive on this album. "Acquiring The Taste" is another terrific prog-rock offering from the terrific Gentle Giant.
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Format: Audio CD
This second outing by Gentle Giant is much more ambitious than their debut. The musical ideas here are also much more complicated. It takes repeated listenings for the power of this album to sink in. The highlights here, though, are excellent. "Plain Truth" is probably Gentle Giant's best song. "The House, The Street..." and "The Moon is Down" are also very memorable. This is probably not the best place to start if you're new to the band (Try Octopus or Free Hand first) but certainly this is an album that all established Gentle Giant fans must have.
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Format: Audio CD
Gentle Giant were one of the truly great bands from the Seventies , their music was totally indefinable . Well I suppose that is not initially true , it was sort of a mixture of Rock/Jazz/Blues/ Progressive Rock/ Folk/ Medieval/Dance/ Pop/ Heavy Metal/Fusion/Classical/Big Band/New Age/World/ and of course original Gentle Giant sound . So as you can imagine it was just a little bit difficult to find the exact pigeon hole to file them under ,listening to them, you can only conclude that they should have had their own little section so everybody could find them.

The band started when the three brothers Shulman , Derek,Ray, and Phil, got fed up with life as part of Simon Dupree and The Big Sound , who were semi-famous for having a couple of hits in the late Sixties, most notably 'Kites' from 1967 . Wishing to go onto something with higher (sic) ideals than their pop band, like wise musicians were sort out . This search started in 1969 , when of course there was an absolute abundance of very talented muso's around all having been brought up on a heavy diet of Robert Johnson, Chuck Berry,Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones , Hendrix ,Vanilla Fudge,etc and were now ready to spread their own wings . A butterfly plucks a chord in Memphis can lead to a whole musical movement in London.

Three like-minded musicians were selected. Keyboard wizard Kerry Minear was obviously going to be a very useful limb to the Giant , as he could also sing lead vocals on the more rock orientated songs , plus play the odd bass note when Ray Shulman had other duties , Martin Smith got the seat behind the bins as he was found to be a drummer that was prepared to adapt to whatever musical style the rest decided to change to , even if it was three or four times during one song .
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