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Gentle Giant - The Power And The Glory CD (album) cover

THE POWER AND THE GLORY

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.30 | 1375 ratings

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Tapfret
5 stars "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely"

Even prior to the statement attributed to Lord Acton in his 1887 letter to Archbishop Mandell Creighton, the premise behind this statement was, and continued to be used to tell many a tale. And of course it is no secret how many times it plays out in real life. The point being, this is the premise behind Gentle Giant's outstanding 1974 concept album, The Power and the Glory. As a concept it is clear that they can lay no claims to originality. However, the manner in which it is presented musically and lyrically is unrivaled and unique.

Not being in any regard a language specialist or connoisseur, it is difficult to properly relate the manner in which the story is so poignantly delivered with precision and brevity. The band had previously demonstrated a love for the alliterative ruminations of RD Laing; using a lot of the same words in rounds to say what could likely be said with a couple short sentences. In The Power and the Glory, the lyrical patterns use some of the Laing influenced metrics, but with more being said with far fewer words. In particular, So Sincere, with its in-line antinymn contradictions. It is one of the few albums that I have been truly able to feel the lyrical content as an essential. That point has been solidly driven home by the recent re-master that include a Bluray disc with video lyric presentations. The word are often in a jumble and seemingly pulled at random or displayed in reverse. A brilliant underscore of the concept as it pertains to double talk in political speaking or drawing example to fit a narrative. Again, its an outstanding bit of lyrical brevity to convey a grand process.

Musically The Power and the Glory is deeply complex. It is an essential complexity that drives the album's theme home. The opener Proclamation uses oddly metered instrumentation in a talkback style that seems to mimic a public discourse that escalates in speed and intensity to eruption of the ultra-dissonant "Hail..." chant. So Sincere uses a freely dysjunctional rhythmic pattern with the previously mentioned use of in-line antonyms to further keep the listener off balance in analogy of political subterfuge. Every little subtlety is a mechanism for storytelling. It is no doubt challenging to the listener to be present in the story. And it is a level of challenge that is well documented in making some uncomfortable. Surely it is not too much to expect that the given subject does come with a little discomfort.

The presentation has been further augmented in recent years by a 5.1 remaster by the 5.1 master of re-master, Steve Wilson. It is for that reason that I have chosen to engage in a review of this already thoroughly reviewed masterpiece. For many years it occurred to me that The Power and the Glory was absolutely made for a surround mix. And, indeed, Mr. Wilson has once again hit the mark. That aforementioned talkback sequences with each instrument coming in one-by-one leading into the final verse of Proclamation was everything I had imagined. The mix adds another amazing element to one of my favorite works of all time.

The Power and the Glory was one of the most routinely bashed albums among mainstream critics in the mid- 70's. And with good reason, its an album that is not a passive listening concept. For my part I find every aspect of this album a delight. From the talent of the players and their individual multi-instrumental capabilities to the completeness of concept, it is a 100% essential piece to any prog collection. 5 stars.

Tapfret | 5/5 |

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