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Gentle Giant – Edge Of Twilight

Review: 048
Date: 29 Oct 01

 


Rating: 4 Stars

Musicians:
Octopus lineup:
1. Kerry Minnear – keyboard, vibraphone, percussion, cello, moog, vocals.
2. Gary Green – only guitar very disappointing. 
3. Ray Shulman – bass, violin, guitar, keyboard, percussion, woodwind, vocals.
4. John Weathers – just the drums, well what do you expect from a drummer, brain surgery
5. Derek Shulman – vocals, sax, flute, alto sax, recorder, soprano sax, lots of sax.
6. Phil Shulman – vocals, sax naturally, trumpet, mellophone, keyboards, acoustic guitar, mandolin, and a Gentle Giant.

Tracks Listing:
CD. One
1. The Advent Of Panurge
2. Funny Ways
3. Peel The Paint
4. Acquiring The Taste
5. Cogs In Cogs
6. The House, The Street, The Room
7. The Boys In The Band
8. Schooldays
9. Raconteur Troubadour
10. Wreck
11. Nothing At All
12. Why Not?
13. Playing The Game
14. Mister Class And Quality?
15. Three Friends

CD. Two
1. Proclamation
2. A Cry For Everyone
3. Isn’t It Quiet And Cold?
4. Plain Truth
5. Knots 
6. Alucard
7. Aspirations
8. Pantagruel’s Nativity
9. River
10. The Face
11. The Moon Is Down
12. Edge Of Twilight
13. No God’s A Man
14. So Sincere
15. Think Of Me Kindness
16. Valedictory

 


Gentle Giant were one of the first bands to manage to successfully merge medieval madrigals with snippets of classics into some of the most unique sounding progressive rock. They created a style of almost traditional sounding early English music that seemed to hop around, taking in all their influences, from verse to chorus. Gentle Giant have been labeled as one of the most complex groups of any age.

“In Britain it’s not been low profile, it’s been no profile”, that’s how Derek Shulman once summarized the career of Gentle Giant, one of progressive rock's best kept secrets. There is no other band quite like Gentle Giant, held in the highest esteem by their fanatical fans, but meaning little to all else.

What accounts for this strange inconsistency? When the Shulman brothers, Derek, Ray and Phil, decided to reinvent themselves after an unsatisfying two hit career as “Simon Dupree & The Big Sound” (their biggest success coming with 1967; U.K. top ten hit “Kites”) as the nucleus of “Gentle Giant”, whilst adding the superb Gary Green on lead guitar and the classically trained keyboard player Kerry Minnear (drummers came and went during the first four albums).

Vowing to go their own way, they signed with the prestigious vertigo label, home of many great progressive rock outfits of the era. They decided to concentrate on compositional quality, rather than use clichés and flashiness to please the masses. As a result they created a strange and wonderful music that may not appeal immediately to the ear, but like fine wine, sits in the soul and slowly ferments into something pleasureful. This turned away potential fans who did not have the time to listen closely.

“Edge of Twilight” is a double C.D collection concentrating mainly on their first four C.D’s of uneasy listening which basically invited the listener to “Take us or leave us“ something that was certain to get up the rock presses collective nose.

That they remained an underground cult band for most of their eleven year career from 1969 – 1980 was due to the antipathy of the music press which steadfastly refused to grant them column inches despite their burgeoning reputation at fan level.

The secret of Gentle Giant longevity is in the variety, depth and beauty of the music. Their influences spanned rock, jazz, blues, renaissance, 20th century classic music, and the just plain outright bizarre. Between them they played over 30 instruments, even in their live shows, adding strings, brass, woodwinds harpsichord, and homemade percussion to the usual rock line up. All band members sang (which is finely shown on the song “Knots”, where their voices is all they use forsaking all instruments), with lead vocals mainly shared between Derek for the hard rock songs, Kerry for the ballads, and Phil for the in-betweenies.

Of the four albums this compilation brings together “Gentle Giant” was a strong debut album, tinged with elements of blues and 1960’s British soul. The music is strikingly original ranging from rock ensemble to string quintet. “Acquiring The Taste” was perhaps Gentle Giants most experimental album. The liner notes state that the bands goal was to “expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music”, which sounds a little pretentious now in 2001.

“Three Friends” encompasses many styles as it follows the lives of three school friends, and was Gentle Giants first concept album. The title track, in my opinion, represents their most beautiful work. “Octopus” is a harder rocking album (with the addition of hard bashing drummer John Weathers). The many stand-out tracks on this album make it a favorite of most fans.

“Edge Of Twilight” gives you over two and a half hours of Gentle Giants unique sound, so is excellent value, especially with the excellent 16 page booklet that comes with it.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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