Gentle Giant - The Power And The Glory

Year of Release: 1990
Label: Capitol
Catalog Number: CDP 7 91848 2
Format: CD
Total Time: 37:13:00

Gentle Giant released their sixth album, The Power And The Glory in 1974. They were still feeling the sting of band/management squabbles, and a change in representation and record label. The lyrics on The Power And The Glory dealt with, not too surprisingly, the use and misuse of power, implicitly in government and business. Beset by conflicting forces, the band was urged to write "hits," but was better suited to producing the complex, weighty and thought provoking work that has guaranteed Gentle Giant a place alongside the pillars of the progressive genre, now, and into the future.

This is an album that touches many bases, fills many needs, and satisfies many tastes. This album was reissued more than once, and some CD reissues have an extra track, "The Power And The Glory," missing from my 1990 Capitol reissue, and the original 1974 vinyl issue.

This album is a brilliant piece of work, containing some of Gentle Giant's most challenging work and some of their most accessible moments as well. They show off their mastery at writing and arranging, presenting again and again their ability to break already complex musical statements into smaller chunks, assign a portion to each instrument, and then reassemble them into mind boggling melodies, played by some of the best musicians in England, or anywhere.

Listen to, as an example of this technique, the opening track, "Proclamation," at 6:48 the albums longest song. It begins unassumingly, as a bouncy melody played on electric piano, sounding at first like something by their countrymen Supertramp. They quickly move beyond anything that could be handled by Supertramp though, introducing the familiar, yet always impressive multi-layered vocals that are Gentle Giant's calling card. The number changes tempo a couple of times in its relatively short length, before knocking the listener back on their heels with the amazing vocal prowess shown in the line "Hail to power and to glory's way," repeated several times, and arranged to form dissonant chords of voices. Notice the rising pitch during the word "Hail" and the bands perfect ability to maintain proper relative pitch during this extremely difficult passage. The effect on me the first time I heard this piece was utter amazement, a feeling I still get now when listening to this, my favourite Gentle Giant album. This piece is revisited and, of course, re-vamped in the albums closer, "Valedictory."

This must have CD also contains a couple of the most beautiful and memorable songs by Gentle Giant. "Aspirations," a stunning and moving piece, has the best vocal track ever by keyboardist Kerry Minnear. I listened to this track many times, marvelling at the great voice of Gentle Giant's usual lead vocalist Derek Shulman, not realizing that this vocal was the work of the keyboard player. I have since come to appreciate Kerry's great voice almost as much as his visionary, just plain "different," approach to his instruments.

Following "Aspirations," comes a song usually overlooked in many reviews, so I will gladly comment on "Playing The Game," another favourite of mine, as well as an example of the accessibility of this recording. It is probably one of Gentle Giant's less complex tunes, but that in no way diminishes it, in my opinion. It is closer to a radio friendly song than anything I have heard from Gentle Giant up to that point in their recording career. The song is a great example of Kerry Minnear's command of his arsenal of keyboards, and has a short section of vocals by Kerry as well. There is an instrumental interlude with a feverish B-3 solo. Any time Kerry plays the B-3, my ears perk up, and I am never disappointed with his playing.

Every song on this very satisfying and yes, just plain fun and enjoyable, work deserves to be described and praised till the writers fingers cramp and the screen locks up, but I will end now by saying that this disc is a great piece of art in a world that needs art and artists like the members of Gentle Giant.

Hey! All you comfortable record company executives, you successful media types! Get out from behind your desks and give us a re-union of Gentle Giant! Why not play at a festival or somewhere else that suits you! Derek, Kerry, I mean you! Just once? Please?

Proclamation (6:48) / So Sincere (3:52) / Aspirations (4:41) / Playing The Game (6:46) / Cogs In Cogs (3:08) / No Gods A Man (4:28) / The Face (4:12) / Valedictory (3:21)

Gary Green ? guitars
Kerry Minnear ? keyboards, cello, vocals
Derek Shulman ? vocals, saxes
Ray Shulman ? bass, violin, vocals
John Weathers ? drums, percussion, vocals

Gentle Giant (1970)
Acquiring The Taste (1971)
Three Friends (1972)
Octopus (1973)
In A Glass House (1973)
The Power And The Glory (1974/1990)
Freehand (1975)
Interview (1976)
The Official Live Gentle Giant: Playing The Fool (1977)
Pretentious (1977)
Civilian (1980)
Missing Piece (1977)
Giant For A Day (1978)
In Concert (1994)
The Last Steps (1996)
Out Of The Woods (1996)
Under Construction (1997)
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents... (1998)
Out Of The Fire (1998)
Live (Playing The Fool)/Civilian (1999)
Totally Out Of The Woods (2000)
Live In Rome 1974 (2000)
In A Palesport House [live] (2001)
Experience [live] (2002)
Endless Life [live] (2003)
Artistically Cryme [live] (2003)
The Missing Face [live] (2003)
Way Of Life (2004)
Playing The Cleveland [live] (2004)
Prologue (2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: April 18th 2004
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 2230
Language: english


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