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GENTLE GIANT

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Gentle Giant biography
Formed in the late 60's by the Shulman brothers, GENTLE GIANT is known as the paradigmatic progressive rock band. With an uncomparable musicianship, they went as far as no one ever did into unexplored grounds in the progressive music, navigating over dissonant 20th-century classical chamber music, medieval vocal music, jazz and rock. The multi-instrumentation capabilities of the musicians gave such dynamic to their music, which set parameters to a whole coming generation up to these very days. They explored Moogs, Mellotrons and Fender Rhodes usage with such majesty! Not to mention other instruments like oboes, violins, cellos and horns among others.

The band was able to come across the 70's maintaining an outstanding level on their music, altering their style over the years and keeping the quality as only a few bands were able to do. Among their magnificent discography, all the albums from "Acquiring the Taste" through "Playing the Fool" are essential progressive rock releases (with the possible exception of "Interview"). This portion of the band's career would see a fittingly grand conclusion on the live "Playing the Fool" album. What more is there to say about these masters of progressive music?

Compilations Albums: Numerous collections and greatest hits albums have appeared over the years.

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In A Glass HouseIn A Glass House
Remastered
Alucard 2010
Audio CD$6.03
$5.39 (used)
Free HandFree Hand
Remastered
Alucard 2010
Audio CD$6.03
$7.13 (used)
The Power And The Glory (Mixed By Steven Wilson) [CD/Blu-ray Combo][Deluxe Edition]The Power And The Glory (Mixed By Steven Wilson) [CD/Blu-ray Combo][Deluxe Edition]
Alucard 2014
Audio CD$13.48
$14.76 (used)
OctopusOctopus
Remastered
Alucard 2011
Audio CD$12.31
Acquiring The TasteAcquiring The Taste
INgrooves Fontana/Mercury 1990
Audio CD$4.36
$2.74 (used)
InterviewInterview
Remastered
Alucard 2010
Audio CD$6.02
$6.99 (used)
Gentle GiantGentle Giant
Import
Island Def Jam 1990
Audio CD$4.13
$2.34 (used)
Octopus (Remixed by Steven Wilson)Octopus (Remixed by Steven Wilson)
Alucard 2015
Audio CD$10.99
$9.99 (used)
Playing The Fool - TPlaying The Fool - T
Remastered
Alucard 2010
Audio CD$7.99
$10.02 (used)
Live At The Bicentennial [2 CD]Live At The Bicentennial [2 CD]
Alucard 2014
Audio CD$9.23
$9.94 (used)
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Three Friends Gentle Giant Japanese vinyl LP album record BT-5166 VERTIGO 1978 USD $48.59 Buy It Now 3h 8m
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GENTLE GIANT discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

GENTLE GIANT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.90 | 1030 ratings
Gentle Giant
1970
4.25 | 1274 ratings
Acquiring The Taste
1971
4.11 | 1052 ratings
Three Friends
1972
4.29 | 1635 ratings
Octopus
1972
4.35 | 1423 ratings
In A Glass House
1973
4.30 | 1317 ratings
The Power And The Glory
1974
4.28 | 1269 ratings
Free Hand
1975
3.75 | 636 ratings
Interview
1976
2.94 | 463 ratings
The Missing Piece
1977
2.32 | 397 ratings
Giant For A Day
1978
2.77 | 361 ratings
Civilian
1980

GENTLE GIANT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.49 | 380 ratings
Playing The Fool - The Official Live
1977
3.57 | 23 ratings
In Concert (BBC Radio 1)
1994
4.12 | 55 ratings
Out Of The Woods
1996
2.41 | 33 ratings
The Last Steps
1996
4.12 | 53 ratings
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents
1998
4.05 | 25 ratings
Out Of The Fire
1998
1.89 | 16 ratings
In A Palesport House
1999
4.14 | 39 ratings
Totally Out Of The Woods
2000
1.98 | 18 ratings
Live Rome 1974
2000
2.28 | 14 ratings
Interview In Concert
2000
1.78 | 9 ratings
Artistically Cryme
2002
3.74 | 22 ratings
Experience
2002
1.47 | 6 ratings
Endless Life
2003
3.92 | 10 ratings
Missing Face
2003
1.95 | 13 ratings
Way of life
2003
2.25 | 8 ratings
Prologue
2003
3.00 | 1 ratings
Playing the Cleveland
2003
4.00 | 1 ratings
Live In New York 1975
2005
3.00 | 5 ratings
Santa Monica Freeway
2005
3.39 | 20 ratings
King Alfred's College Winchester
2009
3.89 | 25 ratings
Live In Stockholm '75
2009
3.93 | 21 ratings
Live at the Bicentennial
2014

GENTLE GIANT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.63 | 180 ratings
Giant On The Box
2004
4.25 | 90 ratings
GG At The GG
2006

GENTLE GIANT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 1
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Original Studio Gentle Giant - Vol. 2
1974
3.46 | 19 ratings
Giant Steps...The First Five Years 1970-1975
1975
3.13 | 4 ratings
Pretentious For The Sake Of It
1977
0.00 | 0 ratings
Circling Round The Gentle Giant
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Il Grande Rock
1991
4.38 | 52 ratings
Edge of Twilight
1996
3.13 | 59 ratings
Under Construction
1997
4.28 | 33 ratings
Free Hand/Interview
1998
3.21 | 31 ratings
Scraping The Barrel
2004
4.21 | 19 ratings
I Lost My Head - The Chrysalis years (1975-1980)
2012
2.14 | 12 ratings
Memories Of Old Days
2013

GENTLE GIANT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
Rock Power
1971
4.62 | 13 ratings
Prologue
1972
4.50 | 16 ratings
In A Glass House
1973
4.34 | 22 ratings
The Advent Of Panurge
1973
4.42 | 12 ratings
The Power and the Glory
1974
3.33 | 6 ratings
Give It Back
1976
3.00 | 6 ratings
I'm Turning Around
1977
3.75 | 8 ratings
Two Weeks in Spain
1977
4.10 | 10 ratings
Just the Same (live)
1977
2.40 | 5 ratings
Mountain Time
1978
1.50 | 7 ratings
Thank You (edit)
1978
3.25 | 4 ratings
Dando Vueltas
1978
3.17 | 6 ratings
Words from the Wise
1978
2.33 | 3 ratings
Underground
1980
2.20 | 5 ratings
All Through The Night
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
In A Power Free In'terview
2009
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Power And The Glory
2010

GENTLE GIANT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Thank You (edit) by GENTLE GIANT album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1978
1.50 | 7 ratings

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Thank You (edit)
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

1 stars It amazes me how friendly ratings (without reviews, of course) this single has received here. I recently listened to all the post- Interview albums of GENTLE GIANT, and it's easy to pick Giant for a Day (1978) as their worst album ever. Its biggest problem is that the songs go nowhere, they're ripped bare of progressive characters. A good example is the opening track 'Words from the Wise' that starts sharply sounding more or less like the classic GG with its vocal harmonies, but as the song goes on and on unimaginatively till the end, the listener realizes that the band, once so innovative, original and skillful, had truly lost their touch, as the preceding uneven album The Missing Piece had indicated. I even prefer the last, equally forgettable album Civilian (1980) in which the former prog group and now an average pop group at least managed to update their sound fairly convincingly.

'Thank You' is an extraordinarily boring, forgettable, country-flavoured middle-of-the-road song from Giant for a Day, actually among the poorest tracks of the poor album. Like it's said in the 4-CD set "I Lost My Head - The Chrysalis Years 1975-1980", it could be a harmless little song by an American midwest band called Montana or something like that, without anyone giving a second thought on its strengths or weaknesses. But being a Gentle Giant song, it's like an acclaimed Nobelist writing a technical manual.

Instrumental 'Spooky Boogie', another outtake from the album, is mildly humorous and witty, definitely better and more original (Gentle Giant -ish) than 'Thank You', but still missing the progressive final touch. At least I don't care to listen to it more than a couple of times. Featuring only weak album material and even having a poor cover design, I see no valid reason to give more than one star to this miserable single.

 The Power And The Glory by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.30 | 1317 ratings

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The Power And The Glory
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Tapfret
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Acquiring The Taste by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.25 | 1274 ratings

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Acquiring The Taste
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Shade Of Time

5 stars Sometimes after listening to the contemporary and dynamic prog rock I feel an urge to listen to something more deep and sophisticated, and that is why I've just listened to this album once again. And once again I got convinced that it is one of the three best albums of Gentle Giant. Due to many styles and involvement of astonishing number of live string instruments and woodwinds It is probably the most serious and strongest albums of my favorite group. What's also impressive ? extraordinary vocal parties of all 5 singers, well-arranged canons and choral parties. I cannot stop admiring at how organically and at the same time unusually the compositions are developing. The way how the guys played their instruments is impressive even now. It would be really great if new groups could not only copy the Gentle Giant style, but could develop it further. I am looking forward to such projects.
 Three Friends by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.11 | 1052 ratings

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Three Friends
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars Historic preambles seem to be in vogue when writing reviews on this website, so here's a little one. After the groundbreaking "Acquiring The Taste", Gentle Giant decided to do their own take on the increasingly popular concept album. So they devised a concept about three childhood friends who go down their separate paths or something like that. The actual lyrical content of the album is pretty vague, and it would suffice to say that "Three Friends" was a bit of a failed concept. So if you're the kind of person who likes digging deep into concept albums to get a full immersion into the story, you probably won't care for this one, but personally I don't listen to concepts - I listen to music. So let's get on to discussing that, shall we?

The album certainly shows a transition in terms of sound from the band's past two adventures. Gone are the grim, nocturnal vibes of the debut and "Acquiring The Taste"; a lighter sound has taken its place. This is no doubt Gentle Giant's bluesiest album, and most soulful, perhaps harkening back to the Shulman brothers' days as "Simon Dupree and the Big Sound" in a way. You can hear this change right away in the introductory "Prologue", which grooves its way along through pleasant, but largely forgettable, melodies and riffing. There's an ever-so-slight jazz fusion undertone to their delivery; it sounds almost like something Camel would be putting out in a year or two (think "Six Ate").

Following the relaxed intro, "Schooldays" greets the listener to a very soft treat, with plenty of soulful vocals and tasteful vibraphone playing. Many credit this as one of Gentle Giant's most nostalgic tracks and it is an understandable fan favourite. With the first third or so of the album delivering very little punch, "Working All Day" comes along to spruce things up a bit. One would be wont to assume that this track is there to fill the spot of the archetypal heavy jazz rock Gentle Giant number that served as centrepieces on their first two albums, but it comes across as a tad flaccid compared to the assault of, say, "Alucard". No, that title really belongs to the side two opener: "Peel The Paint". This is the first track on the album that gets me genuinely excited to listen to it, acting as a strong analogue to "The House, The Street, The Room", though not quite as hectic.

The album ends off with a lukewarm blues jam on "Mister Class & Quality?" before concluding with its highest peak, the divine-sounding "Three Friends", a short 3 minute coda with a chord progression akin to ascending to heaven. In sum, "Three Friends" presents some very interesting and enjoyable material, but it's interspersed among a bit too much "filler", especially given the short length of the album to begin with. Still, this is an album that all fans of the early, more soulful, Gentle Giant should pick up, and not a bad starting point for those who are looking to get into the band but finding their more well-regarded albums too difficult. Good, but non-essential; 3 stars.

 Three Friends by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.11 | 1052 ratings

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Three Friends
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Three reasons to love this album

Not often cited by fans, "Three Friends" yet remains one of Shulman brothers and co.'s best opuses as well as their most accessible. First concept-album and first auto-production from the band, the lyrics narrate the story of three childhood friends who will later belong to different social class and cease to understand each other's way of life. A track is dedicated to each character: the worker, the painter and the white collar. Less adventurous and demanding than its predecessor, "Acquiring the Taste", this third effort includes shorter compositions with more catchy melodies. This stylistic direction might not always satisfy complex and always changing songs hardcore fans, however this time the musicians somehow take a break by proposing very pleasant and inspired spacey symphonic progressive rock.

Alternating rocking passages and mysterious aquatic keyboards sonorities, "Prologue" is quite an efficient opener. With its modified vibraphone opening, the nice and strange "Schooldays" is pure gentle giant-ish, to then turn into a calm jazzy piano tune. Now come the three songs of the friends. "Working All Day" is the worker's song and may be my least favorite of the disc. A saxophone rock piece with a cool Hammond organ solo. Not bad but fails a little to really lift off.

The painter's song, "Peel The Paint", is rather misleading. Starting discretely, the music becomes suddenly raging and heavy. There are even unexpected furious Hendrixian guitar sections! Wow! Are we still listening to GENTLE GIANT here? Surprisingly, the record concludes with its two best tracks. "Mister Class And Quality?" is the white collar's song. This powerful composition possesses catchy melodies and great instrumental sections. It rocks! The title track simply finishes the album in apotheosis. Quite atypical in the band's discography, it features a religious- like chorus offering a particular ethereal and contemplative ambiance, like if you were about to enter the heaven. Superb!

As promised, here are the three reasons to love these three friends. First, the music remains sophisticated, playful, featuring many changes, while never going too complex or elitist. Second, there are nice rocking passages and catchy melodies. Finally, the particular aquatic organ sound and floating chorus displays a specific floating atmosphere, which is rather singular for the band. Although the middle of the album may contain weaker moments, this is probably my favorite opus from the Shulman brothers and co.

A bit apart considering GENTLE GIANT's other releases, "Three Friends" is their spaciest record, as well as one of their most accessible. The one to start with for newcomers, with their self-titled debut, and an essential listen for symphonic prog rock fans!

 The Power And The Glory by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.30 | 1317 ratings

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The Power And The Glory
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by poito

4 stars 4.5 This album meant a strong change of direction for the band. In previous work GG used to craft 6-7 min long themes spotted with multiple experimental and dissonant sounds, apparently never caring about the overall taste of the tracks. In this, all but two of the tracks are 3-4 min, the experimental imagery gets limited to a few successful bits harvested in previous work (that is, no experimental any more), and a rocker Yessistic style gets dominant. For the first time, the themes appear compact, and the album too appears to be uniformly oriented. The keys by Kerry Minnear are superb, growing at every new release. The voices are kind of unusual, more mainstream, but it has an undefined not very pleasant timbre, a step back in this section. I particularly like the combination of bass and keys: the bass takes the lead in some themes, like the great opening Proclamation. Guitars are somewhat obscured, by the way. It seems departure of brother founder Philip is to be blamed for many of these changes, but the result is excellent. In my view, they were not that convincing when they tried unsuccessfully to rival the truly experimental bands like King Crimson, Soft Machine and Caravan or Yes. This sound is more believable, more natural.
 In A Glass House by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.35 | 1423 ratings

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In A Glass House
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by poito

3 stars The GG keeps on the same track initiated in OCTOPUS, experimenting and composing at 50-50. In those years, an immense amount of similar music was being released and their contribution does not stick out as before. The experimental side begins to sound worn-out; it is easier to recognize fragments derived from King Crimson or Yes with whom they appear to rival in uneven suicide battle in some tracks (Way of Life). The voices are less surprising and sound a bit tired. The Gregorian chant formula does not seem to work anymore and it blends with rocker singing in impossible combination. The composition was still notable, but they recreate more in the use of an infinite number of instruments that follow one after another in crazy succession, while they disregard somewhat the compactness of the theme, although they never cared much about this. There are brilliant moments, but not brilliant themes. It is difficult to follow the music; unless you are a hardcore fan, you'll forget about every note after the tracks end. The more recommendable themes for a general audience are the opening and closing ones, The Runaway, and In a Glass House, this in a rocking style interrupted several times for nailing bits of whatever they had in mind. It's worth mentioning also the title Experience, but better in the live version that you may get in remastered copies; playing live limits quite their use/abuse of infinite instruments and they concentrate on the theme itself, which then appears better crafted.
 Octopus by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.29 | 1635 ratings

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Octopus
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by poito

4 stars 3.8 stars. GG released two albums in the same year. It was not unusual in those years, many bands appeared to have an excess of creativity, or it may simply be that material that would have normally remained in the shelve for being too experimental, found a suitable audience in the late 60's and early 70's and they were pushed or forced to publish by the always insatiable industry. The first was Three Friends, which in my view marked the start of a new time for GG, when they finally forgave themselves for abandoning their origins and felt comfortable with what they were doing. The result was a bunch of near perfect themes, with highly inspired creative moments blended with melodic bits. This Octopus is similarly well crafted, and has some memorable themes like The Boys in the Band and the opening The Advent of Panurge. Other themes have won notable worship, like Knots, but even if it is impeccably crafted with a great combination of voices, it re-uses the style of the early albums by pioneers Yes and The Soft Machine, the latter a band that is poorly known by the growing Prog audience, but who undoubtedly was seedbed for bands like GG and most others of the time. Let's remember the mainstream Beat and R&B origins and musical breeding of the Shulman brothers far away from experimental music. A number of sounds and musical experiments are erroneously attributed to this and other bands. In fact, the Canterburian air that flies over GG most experimental compositions actually derive from Caravan and the Soft Machine early albums. Anyway, this Octopus is far more experimental than Three Friends, but the experiments are not all original, nor successful, in my view. Musicianship is however highly improved compared to former albums, and that makes this one sufficiently enjoyable to have it in the reachable shelves of your record library, near the Greats, but a step behind.
 Three Friends by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.11 | 1052 ratings

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Three Friends
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by poito

5 stars Finally, after two exploratory albums, GG became true giants. You can feel it from the opening theme entitled in a premonitory way as Prologue, for their new path, not just the album's story. The former albums were kind of where-I-am, who-brought-me-here, is-this-what-I-want-to-do. Well, it took some time for the Shulman brothers to kill their many ghosts and frustrations. And what came out is simply a totally new band, different music, new ideas, new sounds, a stream of creativity, all of it well furnished by music mastery they lacked before in essential instruments as the keys and guitars. Of course there are elements of their contemporary lads, some Caravan here, a bit of Yes there and The Soft Machine flying over, but in small doses. The GG crafted in this album six perfect themes, inspired, fun, creative, musical, new, they found some melodies that blended beautifully with the experimental style (maybe not that experimental in 1972, but a true way of composing). My view: the symphonic Prog had become dominant and the standard mainstream Rock was retreating, at least in Europe, so they felt their move out of commercial had been a lucky strike, they suddenly were covered up and confident enough; and they began to enjoy. There are fewer wind sections, the keys take over, and the improvisational air had disappeared. This they did it on purpose. I particularly like the majestic sound of the guitar taking the melody in the album title theme. Although the album hasn't got the magic of major compositions by contemporary bands like Caravan, Yes, and The Soft Machine, it is close and it well deserves a place between them.
 Acquiring The Taste by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.25 | 1274 ratings

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Acquiring The Taste
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by poito

3 stars 2.5 If the debut album was a fantastic opera prima that broke some molds, the second release by the GG was not that surprising. Only one year has passed, but what a year for the music! An impressive amount of new stuff had seen the light that had changed forever the way music would be made thereafter. I really expected more from this one. It sounds to me a bit forced, as if they had initiated a path with a lucky strike and did not know well how to keep on the track. Let's not forget where the Shulman brothers came from. All in this album indicates they were still mad at the industry. You cannot produce art for the revenge. It does not sound natural. There are some curious themes, but in general, inspiration is missing. There are no new elements, nor sounds or ideas, they just keep on experimenting with voices, and a composing style close to improvisational, but the result is neither appealing nor groundbreaking. We should remember that by the time this was released, King Crimson had already launched four gorgeous albums, the same number as Van der Graaf Generator and The Soft Machine, two by ELP and Caravan, etc, etc. I do not see the fireworks in this album. Certainly, a step back after a great debut. I'll rescue from the wreck a few tracks, The House The Street The Room, a nice Crimsonian cut, Plain Truth, and some parts of The Moon Is Down, but not precisely for their originality. They play around with other's recent contributions (from pioneers to followers).
Thanks to Ivan Melgar M for the artist addition. and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates

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