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Gentle Giant Import

4.3 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, May 8, 1990
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Gentle Giant by Gentle Giant

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  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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6:24
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2
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4:23
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3
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6:01
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4
30
3:53
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5
30
9:08
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6
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5:31
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1:40
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 8, 1990)
  • Imported ed. edition
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Island Def Jam
  • Run Time: 37 minutes
  • ASIN: B000001FUI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,675 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Alan Caylow on August 24, 2003
Format: Audio CD
What do you get when you cross the madrigal, folk-rock of Jethro Tull with the avant-garde, experimental leanings of King Crimson, and you add a dash of classical influences for extra measure? You get Gentle Giant. Always sitting next to Genesis in the music store bins, but never achieving the massive success of Genesis or other well-known progressive rock groups, Gentle Giant were certainly an acquired taste, but for the progressive rock fan who's open to the band's complex time signatures, arrangements, and vocal harmonising, there is great music aplenty to be found in their work, as the band recorded 11 studio albums (plus one live album) between 1970 & 1980. The group, led by vocalist Derek Schulman & keyboardist Kerry Minnear, were a terrific progressive rock outfit that deserved much bigger success than what they got. They never rose above cult status (and they're one of the few progressive bands to never make a comeback, either in the 1990's or now), but their impressive catalog of albums speak for themselves. If you love prog rock, then you'll certainly love Gentle Giant.Their self-titled debut from 1970 is an excellent album that displays quite plainly what this group were all about. The title track is a powerful blend of all of the band's Tull/Crimson/classical influences rolled into one. "Funny Ways" is a lovely song with fine singing & string arrangements. "Alucard" is an awesome prog-rocker. "Isn't It Quiet And Cold?" is the lightest number on the album, an acoustic/classical confection, but it works wonderfully. The exquisite, Traffic-esque "Nothing At All" is an all-time Gentle Giant favorite. "Why Not?Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
What would you think of a band that has three different lead vocalists, plays up to 30 different musical instruments (not only in the studio but live on stage!), and mixes elements of blues, jazz, Baroque, rock, and madrigals in its compositions?
Gentle Giant was that band. A challenging quintet that put out 11 studio albums and one double live between 1969 and 1980, the Giant developed a considerable following on the European continent, and fanatical but small fan bases in the U.S. and their native Britain.
This was their auspicious debut. A bit rough around the edges, it features many of the distinctive styles that would coalesce and blossom so impressively on their fourth through eighth albums in the mid 1970s: cello and multi-tracked violin under a bittersweet ballad with a jazzy vibes solo ("Funny Ways"), heavy blues rock with delicate Baroque-style bridges on keyboard and recorders ("Why Not?" which resembles the later "Peel the Paint" or "The Runaway"), offbeat rhythms punctuated by long, humming instrumental breaks ("Giant," similar to the later classics "Just the Same" and "Interview").
"Alucard" calls to mind the Edgar Winter Group's "Frankenstein" (not surprising, since the title is "Dracula" backwards), with pounding keyboards echoed by an unobtrusive sax, but it adds chilly vocals, then blasting blues lead guitar. In contrast, "Isn't It Quiet and Cold?" is jaunty and sweet: acoustic guitar and cello support a sly lead vocal, with interjections by toy piano and "bones-y" xylophone.
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Although it is the overwhelming technical virtuosity of Gentle Giant that I respond most favorably to; I have to admit that this 1970 debut (along with Acquiring the Taste, 1971) is an absolute favorite. I really can't nail it down to one single thing; my guess is that it is some combination of the haunting melodies; baroque period classical; loads of mellotron; and the more "rocking" nature of the music. In general, the complexity is there, yet it is stripped back a bit more than that on albums like Octopus (1973) and the overall sound is very warm.

This initial lineup included Derek Shulman (lead and backing vocals); Ray Shulman (electric bass; violin; guitars; lead and backing vocals); Phil Shulman (saxophone; trumpet; recorder; lead and backing vocals); Kerry Minnear (Hammond organ; mellotron; mini-moog; acoustic piano; cello; tuned percussion; lead and backing vocals); Gary Green (electric and acoustic guitars); and Martin Smith (drums and percussion). Supporting the group is Claire Denis (cellist on Isn't it Quiet and Cold?) and Paul Cosh (tenor horn) on Giant. Even off of the starting block, this was a group of superb skills and there is some great ensemble work on this album. The individual playing is great too and there are some ripping solos on the Hammond organ and electric guitar. The vocal harmonies are also very sophisticated and would become a hallmark of the classic Gentle Giant sound.

The seven tunes on the album range in length from 1:40 to the comparatively lengthy track Nothing at All (9:08) and present a nice mixture of English progressive rock, classical, Magical Mystery Tour period Beatles; English proto-progressive rock (Procul Harum/Moody Blues), and even a tiny smidge of the European avant-garde.
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