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Gentle Giant - Three Friends CD (album) cover

THREE FRIENDS

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.11 | 1090 ratings

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Luqueasaur
4 stars An immature but still amazing Gentle Giant: 8/10

After the successful experiment of ACQUIRING THE TASTE, which denoted that the prog crowd would warmly embrace GENTLE GIANT's peculiar music and acquired the taste for it (that's the pun and objective of the album's title after all), there was no barrier that discouraged the band from further exploring their potential and wildest ideas. GENTLE GIANT wanted to try something new, namely, a concept album, and their first bid was THREE FRIENDS. Its concept is based on, well... three friends; as they grew older they grew further apart socially and even ideologically (for instance, the first friend values physical work while the latter prefers intellectual, leadership roles). There's no doubt the storyline is weak and feebly constructed, but it was more an experiment on how to create a concept album rather than trying to output a masterpiece. This is visible as the concept is barely linked to the music. Subsequent efforts (IN A GLASS HOUSE, THE POWER AND THE GLORY) would depict heavy interconnection between them both, creating a conceptuality that would transcend the "lyrical plane" and be perfectly reflected in the song structure and its instrumental interludes. To make it shorter, the "concept" part of THREE FRIENDS is crude, rudimentary. That detail is crucial to understand why THREE FRIENDS didn't achieve, for me, the status of a masterpiece.

But, in terms of enjoyability, all that stuff really doesn't matter. THREE FRIENDS is still a GENTLE GIANT album, and although I'm not sure whether it is an evolution or regression compared to ACQUIRING THE TASTE, it's pretty fun still. The tracks offer several multilayered solos - just like GENTLE GIANT always does, after all - focused on the keyboards; more precisely, on the organs (heck, never before I have listened to a GENTLE GIANT album with SO MUCH organs). It's eclectic as you'd expect, with some highly dynamic instrumental parts, but there's also a lot of calmer moments (not bad, but I'd rather have more of their typical complex and amusing technical jams). GENTLE GIANT is, apparently, not fully matured - at least from a progressive perspective - as there is still a big influence from blues and hard rock in their music in counterpart to their emblematic "genre neutral" style that would later become the norm. The blues is especially visible on the first part of Working All Day and the hard rocking Peel the Paint, which features four minutes of Gary Green freestyle-soloing a la Jimi Hendrix. Of course, this isn't a complaint, neither a reason why this isn't proggy because duh it's GENTLE GIANT and they are, by default, proggy (at least until FREE HAND).

Overall, it's a great album, not their best, but definitely far from their worst, or from being universally bad for any matter. Bluesy, hard-rockin'. A sturdy album.

Luqueasaur | 4/5 |

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