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Gentle Giant - Acquiring The Taste CD (album) cover

ACQUIRING THE TASTE

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.26 | 1355 ratings

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Frenetic Zetetic
4 stars 4.5/5 stars. Essential progressive rock with perfect early 70's production.

Gentle Giant were never a "straight shot", conventional band. They were always ahead of the curve. Acquiring The Taste (1971) behaves almost like a sampler platter of what the band would offer moving through the decade.

The record opens with Kerry's bleeping-blooping synthesizer line, and calm, gentle vocal entry. The acoustic guitar and synthesizers follow and slowly build, until'DER NER NER NER'that infectious jazz guitar lick! Soon flutes and recorders join the fray for the next "verse". It should be noted that Gentle Giant were never really one for conventional arrangements. Their work is almost like a painting in music; the big picture best for viewing. Sabbath-like chords and riffs follow. I really, really enjoy how the song ends on the particular sustained note.

Edge of Twilight is a fantastic display of progressive rock instrumentation. Kerry's vocals and lyrics really set the mood here. It makes me think of a frosty village, mid-winter at night time. "Figures" moving in the dark'the dreamy synth and tones are picturesque. Derek and company join in for the backing vocals "whisper'". Kerry then comes in with a synth line that reminds me of Final Fantasy for the NES. That's the only way I can describe it! We're then treated to marching drums and xylophone exposition. Gentle Giant somehow manages to never make this seem pretentious. Fantastic, diverse, dynamic track.

The House, The Street, The Room was once a favorite track of mine, but I've seem to grow beyond it a bit. It's catchy to first time listeners compared to some of GG's more infamously-complex stuff. Derek's vocals are great, however! Gary's guitar solo is spot on. I love the baroque bass lines. Not much more to say here honestly.

Acquiring The Taste (title track) immediately reminds me of Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts on the Super Nintendo. The game developers clearly ripped off GG here! Anyone who's played this will know what I'm talking about! I love the moog display here. Killer prog piece.

Wreck is a fan favorite, and for good reason! The jaunty riff and vocals will be caught in your head forever. This one has to be heard to be understood. The guitar and builds and swells are perfect. This song alone brings this record up another half star!

The Moon is Down is another creepy little track with picturesque imagery. "The horse riding up through the red sky" instantly gives you set and setting. Harp-like chords ring in the first verse and sections. The organ/harpsichord sound of the keys really sets the tone. More classic GG choral vocals ensue.

Black Cat is arguably my favorite track from this record. Phil Shulman takes the vocal and lyrical lead here. He seems to have an affinity for animals, which is great because he does them serious justice in his art! The way he wraps his voice and harmonies around words - his vibrato is top notch. Even if he's singing a bit low in the mix, it fits very well with the atmosphere here. "River" from Octopus is another one where his vocal appearance is worth noting!

Plain Truth closes the album with its Hendrix-like riffing and anthem feel. Fantastic guitar work and vocal delivery. This is GG doing hard rock. They really can't go wrong, and you can't either once you Acquire the Taste!

I'm a massive GG fan, and I can give this an honest 4.5/5 stars. This is essential progressive rock. The production is perfect. It arrived on shelves a full year before Yes' Close to The Edge (THE apex of progressive rock music), and already displayed elements that other bands would explore into the late 1970's. Gentle Giant have always been ahead of the curve. This is a great sampler platter of latter offerings from this criminally underrated progressive rock group!

Frenetic Zetetic | 4/5 |

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