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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 | 1380 ratings

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Luqueasaur
5 stars One of the most complex albums Gentle Giant released, which of course means one of the most complex albums released: 10/10

I'll begin this review with a note (which includes two recommendations): this review is mostly a meta-musical (or 'musicological' if you like fancy names) & contextual analysis than an album review properly said. If you're looking for some commentary about the history of the album or maybe what it represents in GENTLE GIANT's history, it's spot on; if instead you're looking for an album review properly said I highly recommend reading corbet's (who succinctly describes the record) and Peter's (where the concept is greatly explained as well as what each song sounds like) reviews. The review title is actually a paraphrase excerpted from corbet's review which in my opinion explains pretty briefly... everything a newbie needs to know about GENTLE GIANT.

The Shulman brothers' multi-instrumentalist upbringing was fruitful, as in 1970 they founded the legendarily innovational GENTLE GIANT. Throughout their career, they consistently progressed on their musical approach, every time exponentially increasing the complexity. Phil Shulman left the band prior to an Italian tour in 1973. As Gary Green recalls it, "There was too much stress being on the road and the family. Plus the brothers were having a bit of a difficult time". Coincidentally or not - in no way I'm undermining Phil's importance to the band - it was precisely after his departure that GENTLE GIANT released one hell of a complicated production: IN A GLASS HOUSE, followed by their most groundbreaking and challenging release, THE POWER AND THE GLORY, and paradoxically, the decline of the insanely ingenious era of the band.

GENTLE GIANT were the masters when it comes to conceptual albums: they are able to weave connections between the subjective idea the album proposes and the materialistic evidence. It's a no-brainer that the band members had ease in constructing the most unimaginable sounds, so it probably wasn't difficult technically to create the aforementioned link. The way each song develops, as well its position and significance to the album, is carefully constructed - for instance, you'll see a shift in the music when the conceptual mood swings, this example being particularly visible on Proclamation.

I mentioned the tranquility the band had with constructing technically complex songs. Well, if you think about it, the explanation is rather simple. All members were excellent musicians - the Shulman brothers were raised in an environment where they contacted countless instruments and developed musical ability since always; Kerry Minnear was graduated from the Royal College of Music with a Composition degree (sounds classy! Because it is); John Weathers (the drummer and only lad with a fixated role) was a seasoned and virtuoso player; and Gary Green was... just plainly badass, really - therefore there were fewer moorings that chained their music to mediocrity (or simplicity); if something insane was brought up, everyone could play it. In this way, the multi-instrumentalist ambitions could soar sky-high without fears of the personnel being unable to reach the equally skyrocketed demands. Spoiler: the ambitions DID soar sky-high.

Well, in this album GENTLE GIANT constantly sculpts their music on the most bizarre, unintuitive but still amazing shapes, with terrifying odd time signatures that are actually common time and chaotic polyrhythms that feel as fluid as common time. We observe constant experimentation without losing enjoyability, in a form that, although completely chaotic, is still easily identifiable as music, with normal instruments, normal sounds, made by normal people, to normal people. It feels natural, and not some sort of madman's highly pretentious crazy wankery. Since ACQUIRE THE TASTE it was widely known that GENTLE GIANT's objective was to "expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular. We have recorded each composition with the one thought - that it should be unique, adventurous and fascinating". No release is truer to their motto than this one, and for that matter, I consider this their magnum opus l album and the highest point of their career. Indeed, the climax.

... but climaxes are followed by calmness; in the same way the tranquility of open, blue skies, soothes the oceans after a devastating storm. Their following release, FREE HAND, is much more commercially attractive and different from THE POWER AND THE GLORY. I'm not arguing the album is bad, but just that it's pretty much the post-climax conclusion, or, to make myself short, not as good. Their creativity peak was over, and the successful syncretization between radio-friendliness and relative experimentality connoted that they were looking for 'em pounds - something that Gary Green agrees on me. However, this is a tale for some other moment...

Luqueasaur | 5/5 |

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