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McDonald & Giles biography
After recording "In the Court of the Crimson King" as founding members of KING CRIMSON, Multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald and drummer Michael Giles made a blunder of a career move and left the band, forming the no-so-cleverly titled MCDONALD AND GILES. Lack on originality aside, they managed to record one self-titled album of fine quality prog music. The style is a less bombastic take on the first two KING CRIMSON albums. Steve Winwood guested on the album. It's recommended to fans of early KING CRIMSON.

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MCDONALD & GILES discography

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3.36 | 140 ratings
McDonald & Giles
2.56 | 13 ratings
Driver's Eyes

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 McDonald & Giles by MCDONALD & GILES album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.36 | 140 ratings

McDonald & Giles
McDonald & Giles Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

2 stars McDonald And Giles is one of those albums that definitely falls into "could have been great" category if it wasn't for ego raising it's ugly head. True, Ian McDonald and Mike Gilles are heavyweight musicians that added greatness to King Crimson's first classic album In The Court Of The Crimson King before casting off and thinking they could do as well on their own. ItCotCK, more than any other early prog album, is an absolute sum of it's creative parts. (The duo is joined on this album only by Giles' brother Peter on bass on all tracks and the great Steve Winwood on organ, but only on the album's opening track.) If M&G had understood that and bolstered this self titled collaboration album with a powerfully dynamic singer and a top shelf guitarist, the results would have been staggeringly different. Not a classic perhaps like ItCotCK, but a 4 star album would not have been out of the question. Both McDonald and Giles are merely adequate but extremely colorless vocalists that totally dull out any beauty or power of this music. And a decent guitarist with an emotional solo would have helped the boring epic finale titled "Birdman" tremendously. But the result is what we have. Well written and well played songs that cry out for so much more. 2 stars for such a frustrating listening experience.
 McDonald & Giles by MCDONALD & GILES album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.36 | 140 ratings

McDonald & Giles
McDonald & Giles Crossover Prog

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

2 stars McDonald & Giles is a supergroup created after both of these gentlemen's departure from King Crimson. They invited some special guests such as Steve Winwood and Peter Giles. I have mixed feelings about this album. I expected it to be a masterpiece and what came was quite a disappointment. This album is very boring, full of unfinished ideas and many fillers. There are some nice moments like "Suite in C including Turnham Green, Here I Am and others" which has sort of a Beatles-y vibe, reminiscent of "Rocky Rackoon" with great flute improvisation and a pleasant groove, but even this one has some serious flaws to it. Other songs on the Side 1 are similar - they have a potential at times, but are rather uninteresting and grey. "Birdman" suite, which takes up the whole side is no exception. Has a vibe that could be turned to a nice piece, but is created out of the wrong type of clay.

The instrumentalism on this album is great, that is what saves it in my eyes. They were good players and they show a pretty high amount of know-how. However, something is out of place here, it just does not click, the campfire does not catch fire. Two stars in their higher register is a fair rating. Once again, this does have its moments.

 McDonald & Giles by MCDONALD & GILES album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.36 | 140 ratings

McDonald & Giles
McDonald & Giles Crossover Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars My prog snob doppelganger wanted to be outraged by this record. Two founding members of the first KING CRIMSON willfully split up one of the strongest rock groups ever assembled, after recording arguably the most powerful debut album of all time...for this? I hate to sound undiplomatic, but seriously: what the heck were they thinking?

On its own slim merits the new band's first and only album can still be a very pleasant experience. But it was a retrograde career move, closer in style to the benign whimsy of GILES, GILES AND FRIPP than to the sometimes malevolent darkness of the Crimson King ("it's like a pastel black", as David St. Hubbins might have said).

It's true the album was overproduced and undermixed, by the duo's own admission. But there's more than a token measure of charm in every song, and lots of musical ideas were crammed into the two longer compositions. The opening mini-epic "Suite in C" includes a horn section, real strings, and a jazzy middle interlude very much in the current Crimson vernacular, circa 1971. And the grand finale of the ambitious "Birdman" opus anticipated the rising chords in the orchestral title track of the "Islands" album, released by KC a mere eleven months later.

An even closer overlap can be heard in "Flight of the Ibis", a sibling separated at birth from the song "Cadence and Cascade", off the parallel Crimson album "In the Wake of Poseidon". Robert Fripp would later refer to the individual LPs as "two halves of a record never made", suggesting that if the often colorful but inconsequential prog-pop of McDonald and Giles had been combined with the erratic retread of "Poseidon" the results might have been stunning. Maybe so, but I doubt if a budding maverick like Mr. Fripp could have played a melody as rinky-dink as "The Inventor's Dream" without squirming on his guitar stool.

I'm also not surprised that the offspring album failed to reach an audience. It would have been a tough sell to Crimheads expecting another "Schizoid Man" or "Epitaph", and an even harder proposition for anyone unfamiliar with these two guys (and who couldn't have cared less about their girlfriends). And yet it's really not too underwhelming an album if approached without any expectations...not exactly a glowing endorsement, but here it appears I'm leaving the last word to my less generous alter ego.

 McDonald & Giles by MCDONALD & GILES album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.36 | 140 ratings

McDonald & Giles
McDonald & Giles Crossover Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

3 stars King Crimson's debut album really took off in 1969. Principal songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald and his drummer buddy Mike Giles decided to leave the band less than a year after they formed - though Giles stayed to drum on the 2nd album as a guest. The two of them made this album with Mike's brother Peter on bass, plus a few guest players (including Steve Winwood on organ), and then moved on to other things. Giles continued with session drumwork, and Ian went on to be a founding member of... Foreigner? It could happen. For the time being, though, McDonald and Giles were still in King Crimson mode, meaning the songs are long, progressive, and jazzy, but taking full advantage of McDonald's Beatles-like way with melody, arrangement, and song structure.

Fun Fact: The remastered CD version I just got actually changes one of the lyrics in "Suite in C" (compared to the LP version I grew up with). The line "some pussy on her knee" is changed to "black kitten on her knee", which was the intent in the first place. Ian's lesson learned: Don't refer to cats using the "p" word if you don't wish to be misunderstood.

"Suite in C" opens the record, and is the clear standout track, a nearly perfect extended suite. Themes are introduced and developed, the melodies are strong, and the solos are lovely. Pure genius. "Flight of the Ibis" , which follows, is gentle, pastoral folk-pop. Supposedly this was developed out of an early version of the Crimson song "Cadence and Cascade", and the two songs are similar but this one's a tad better in my opinion. "Is She Waiting?" is next.... Just acoustic guitars and a smidgen of piano are all this one needs. For this song, Ian paints a picture of his wife at home, biding her time until he comes back home. Sad but hopeful, and ultimately uplifting. Unbelievably beautiful and poignant. So far, we've got three incredible songs. Unfortunately, it starts to tail off just a tad from here....

"Tomorrow's People - The Children of Today" is Mike Giles's feature. He sings it, and decorates the rather simple melody with some fine drumming as always. A touching if somewhat naive ode to children, with a rocking horn-charged arrangement and some nifty percussion features. At 7 minutes, it kind of wears out its welcome, but it's a pretty pleasant song, and Giles has a charming voice.

Side Two is taken up entirely by the "Birdman" suite, featuring lyrics by Peter Sinfield, the King Crimson lyricist at the time. In fact, "Birdman" was apparently a King Crimson leftover that was never recorded. Ian wrote the music inspired by Sinfield's story-telling lyrics of a guy who figured out how to fly. As a sidelong epic, it's not the greatest one I've heard, in fact it's probably the weakest song on the album, but it still has some fine moments. The final two sections are as majestic and poignant as the album gets, and the "Workshop" section has a really funny toys-marching kind of melody. Charming stuff - but overall it falls short of my hopes and expectations. It could have used a bit more excitement and dramatic development (like "Suite in C" has), and the sections could have been integrated a little better with each other. To be blunt, it's kind of boring.

If you're a fan of early King Crimson, you need this album. It's a revealing piece of the early Crimson puzzle, and it's an inspired piece of work by two extremely talented men. However, as a piece of progressive album rock, I would grudgingly have to admit that it is not an essential work for most fans. Consider this a 4-star review if you love McDonald and Giles' work with Crimson, 3 stars for everybody else.

 McDonald & Giles by MCDONALD & GILES album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.36 | 140 ratings

McDonald & Giles
McDonald & Giles Crossover Prog

Review by Werneflo

4 stars This album is grossly underrated, in my opinion (3.36 as of writing).

This album would get 5 stars without question if not for the two filler-ish songs "Flight of the Ibis" and "Is She Waiting", the latter being the worst of the two with a weak vocal performance from McDonald and a forgettable structure and melody on a whole. Fortunately, these are the shortest songs on the album (a bit over 5 minutes together).

Now, as for the rest of the album: it's fantastic. Comparisons to King Crimson are unavoidable, of course, but on a whole this is a completely different album than what the aforementioned band produced during this time. It's jazzy and complex, jumping with joy and almost feels like it can't contain itself. McDonald and Giles stated that they left King Crimson due to KC's music being too sad; and when listening to this album, that's pretty evident. Master Fripp, on the other hand, said McD&G had left the band because of their girlfriends - and a quick look at the cover of this album either confirms that, or perhaps it's just a humorously intentional reference to the aforementioned implication. The highlight of the album on a whole is, quite obviously, Giles' drumming and McDonalds "woodwinding", but also Michael's brother, Peter Giles, delivers the best bass playing he has ever put on tape.

Suite in C - 5/5 - This song moves from frantic jazz to atmospheric soundscapes and back several times to great effect, a terrific song.

Flight of the Ibis - 2.5/5 - A pretty weak and cheesy song, but it doesn't exactly kill you.

Is She Waiting? - 2/5 - Nothing to see here, move along.

Tomorrow's People - 5/5 - Usually seen as the highlight of the album, and I'm not one to disagree. Driven forward by Giles' fantastic jazzy and heavy drumming and stellar performances from the other musicians, it's really top notch.

Birdman - 5/5 - Well, what can one say about a 21-minute song? The style is similar to that of the first song, from jazzy to floating, twisting and turning through a story about a man who builds a flying machine.

Taking in to account the length of the songs when calculating the final score, this album lands at 4,6 out of 5. In reality, though, the whole is slightly less than the sum of it's parts, so I'll give it 4,25 out of 5.

 Driver's Eyes by MCDONALD & GILES album cover Studio Album, 1999
2.56 | 13 ratings

Driver's Eyes
McDonald & Giles Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Welcome to McDonald's!

The man who wrote or co-wrote all the music for In The Court Of The Crimson King, returns here with a selection of jazzy Soft Rock tunes exactly 30 years after the release of the famous King Crimson debut. Old collaborations are revived and old band mates are brought in to participate. The original King Crimson drummer, Michael Giles, with whom McDonald made an album in 1971, provides drums for a couple of tracks here. Peter Sinfield, the lyricist associated with King Crimson, ELP and others contributes words to one track. John Wetton, another former King Crimson member, is present here even if he were never in the band at the same time as McDonald. The two of them did, however, play live together as part of Steve Hackett's one-off band in the 90's (as can be seen on the excellent live DVD The Tokyo Tapes where both King Crimson and Genesis classics are performed). Hackett is here too and provides a guitar solo and some harmonica. Yet other famous guests include Gary Brooker (Procol Harum), Lou Gramm (Foreigner, with whom McDonald played in the late 70's) and Peter Frampton. McDonald himself plays flutes, guitars, various keyboards and sax.

While the cast is clearly something to be excited about, the actual music they produce is sadly not. If you expect some late follow-up to the classic In The Court Of The Crimson King you are way off the mark. Driver's Eyes contains some jazzy instrumentals and some rather conventional Rock/Pop tunes. The level of "progressiveness" is about as high as on an Alan Parsons Project album of the early 80's. Given the multitude of participators, the comparison with the Project is apt.

I cannot recommend this album to anyone but serious collectors and hard core fans

 McDonald & Giles by MCDONALD & GILES album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.36 | 140 ratings

McDonald & Giles
McDonald & Giles Crossover Prog

Review by Einsetumadur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 10/15P.: A great, but not really essential buy: a mixture of Caravan and King Crimson with more folk and jazz - and a slight tendency to be 'more style than substance' on the side of concept & creativity. Still this album is the first in prog history to feature a 20-minutes-plus epic!

1969 saw the first incarnation of the highly influential and progressive British group King Crimson go down. At first consisting of guitarist and composer Robert Fripp, bassist-singer Greg Lake, drummer Michael Giles and multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald, the line-up-roundabout turned so that only Giles and Fripp were left in 1970, except for Greg Lake who still provided some vocals for King Crimson's second album, In the Wake of Poseidon. On that aforementioned record Michael Giles's brother Peter (the second Giles in "Giles, Giles and Fripp", the band existing in the late 60s that is considered to be the first King Crimson incarnation) was featured as the bassist.

The now solo-musician Ian McDonald, actually being able to play everything but the drums, then planned to record an LP with Michael Giles on drums and Peter Giles on bass guitar, and the result of this effort can be heard on this record McDonald & Giles.

At a glance, this album is the lighter pendant to the In the Court of the Crimson King-album, without many of the symphonic and elaborated elements like Mellotron and heavy use of the electric guitar, but with a jazzier and more psychedelic approach. The big fascination of the record are mainly the great and transparent arrangements: at many places only bass guitar, drums, vocals and acoustic guitar are to be heard. And who knows the rhythm section of King Crimson on songs like the title track of In the Wake of Poseidon knows well how fresh and simply great this sounds; and the very clear remaster makes this even better.

Michael Giles explains in the booklet how he manipulated his drum sound by mic-ing his drum set very closely - without adding any special effects (except for some tape delay bits). In combination with his elegant and innovative drumming style and with the cut-down arrangement, this is the most transparent drum sound which I have ever heard - listen to the crystal-clear saw-meets-wood-rhythm in Suite in C or the groovy samba rhythm in Tomorrow's People.

But unfortunately there are some minor problems with the music. The ideas are entirely brilliant, but especially in the big longtrack McDonald seems to have overburdened it all a bit: he somehow loses the overview about the compositions sometimes and hence cannot keep these fragilely structured pieces together. I know about the central motif of the piece which is repeated in many different contexts throughout the piece, and it's composed quite nicely, but cohesion sounds too formulaic.

The opener Suite in C, written in the winter '69/'70 and kind of a hymn for McDonald's then-girlfriend, actually works out fine as a relaxed psych-jazz-piece. The track begins with McDonald's thin, but suitable vocals and some discreet clean electric guitars, later accompanied by the sounds of a saw and nice acoustic guitar licks Turnham Green. During the textless, folk-orientated refrain the already mentioned rhythm section plus McDonald's rhythm guitar enter, jolting brilliantly in the background: one of the highlights of the record. The next refrain brings in some unobtrusive orchestra music until the band begins a crescending jazz improvisation featuring "Traffic"-keyboarder Steve Winwood on a mean piano-plus-organ-solo and McDonald on flute. Very fascinating is the way how Giles changes from a simple 4/4-beat to a much faster jazz rhythm by simply putting in more beats into a bar. Into the slowly retarding jam break McDonald's high vocals (Here I Am) which return the piece into the psychedelic/folk realms, again with effective orchestra background. The next part is a funky section including some multi-tracked saxophones and a nice rhythm with handclaps and a scrooping bass guitar by Peter Giles. Unhappily, the vocals are mixed completely into the background which leaves the listener asking what the actual effect of the lyrics shall be then. They aren't the best, but I believe that they should either be mixed loudly enough to be heard or left out completely. The bluesy doo-wop ending somehow is the top of the lyrical crown (...Come inside and have some tea, brewed by me for thee, my love...): optimistic, naive hippy poetry which doesn't hurt. At first, I thought this piece to be kind of unstructured, but - given that it was planned as a piece like the Beatles's Abbey Road Medley - I have given it a try more often and think it to be big fun, even though it sounds heavily 'zeitgeisty'.

Flight of the Ibis is the original version of Cadence and Cascade and is one of my personal favorites with its delicately arranged sound. Contrary to the version that was issued later by King Crimson, this track features drums and bass guitar and is an optimistic folk-pop-track in the late-60s-style. I like the prominent use of the zither (fine solo in the middle) and the electric piano here, as well as the great rhythm section again. A great song and probably the one of the LP that I listen to most frequently.

Is She Waiting?, written in the summer of '69, is a melancholic Beatles-She's Leaving Home-type ballad with notable baroque-influences featuring McDonald singing and playing along on the acoustic guitar and the piano. The different melodies that counterpoint each other here are quite trickily linked.

Tomorrow's People, written by Michael Giles in 1967, is for me easily the best track on the album. A typical King Crimson brass introduction with many overdubs (trombone, saxophone, organ) leads into a really fat groove with smashing cymbals, Giles's edgy vocals, nice Hammond organs and simple, but astonishing guitar licks. After a short highspeed drum fill-in the brass also enters until after two minutes a funky jam with plenty of percussion and an awesome samba rhythm starts while the flute improvises along. In this song, the quality of the drum sound reaches its peak: each rattle, tom, cymbal or whatever can be defined very well. You should really listen to that with a good pair of headphones, especially the first stanza (0:16) with some powerful hi-hat-strokes. The second part could be a lost part of I Talk to The Wind - with lush trombones, flutes and discreet ride cymbal hits - which is however only a connection to another reprise of the stanza. The soft ending takes its time and fades out gradually, then fading in again and ending with a pleasing major chord. Great, as one seldom hears the three of them play that 'straightly'.

Birdman, the sidelong piece of the album, is actually not the best epic. But I have to admit that it is one of the first - I sometimes tend to forget that. The different sections, lasting from 40 seconds to six and a half minutes and the only thing that holds this bunch of tracks together is a loose topic based on Pete Sinfield's lyrics about man's wish of flying. There seems to be a certain melody which reoccurs in this piece, but even this doesn't change it that this is no epic, but a collection of (good) ideas. Probably the division of the longtrack into several programmable tracks on the CD is a sign for that as well, that this is meant to be just a suite, a 'suivre' of several ideas, but this doesn't make it more successful. But of course it isn't as bad as it might sound now as the parts regarded solely are mostly quite okay. The first section, The Inventor's Dream is based on quite intelligent vocal choirs with lots of reverb by McDonald and Giles, creating a mighty church-like atmosphere. Dissonances that solve in consonances in an interesting manner and the way how McDonald's high and Giles's low voice harmonize together are quite impressing here. Then sound effects come in, something like the spring reverb in combination with pulling out the drawbars of the Hammond organ as an illustration for the dream of flying until synthesizers, zithers and percussion fade into the soundscape to show how the inventor wakes up. This 'mickey-mousing', the effect when the music does exactly what is happening in the text just like the melody descends when Mickey Mouse falls down the stairway, can be found everywhere in the longtrack and ranges somewhere between inventive and predictable. McDonald probably seems to have clinged to the lyrics too much. An oddly minimal, but very interesting part follows, with very exact fourths played on the organ accompanied by a slightly offset rhythm which creates a nice triolic sound. The vocals provide a somewhat dadaistic Canterbury mood which fits nicely to the year when the piece was mainly composed (1968). In the end of the piece we get to hear fast acoustic guitars to illustrate the sound of a pencil (formulaic, ain't it?) while the next part The Workshop is a fast-paced blues jam with nice saxophone work by McDonald and again a fascinating rhythm section consisting of McDonald on electric guitar and the two Giles brothers on saw, drums and bass. Wishbone Ascension lifts the piece up with sacral Hammond organ and prepares the listener for the bombastic parts of "Birdman". A jazzy part features Giles again on vocals and prominent saxophones and leads into the next section via some fine towering vocals. Then we get into the very lengthy Birdman Flies section where a chord progression is exercised with the orchestra, starting with simple electric piano, organ and ride cymbals and going on (chronologically) with flute, drums, acoustic guitar, leslied electric guitar and then the orchestra which succeeds in adding texture to the piece. It might be a bit long, but it doesn't become boring either. Wings In The Sunset serves as a very short segue to the last part by exposing its (second) main theme in a vocal version. The piano-dominated, romantic The Reflection is a nice way of ending the longtrack. The general character of this section is similar to "Birdman Flies" as at first there is only the piano playing a melody and later drums, textless vocals, drums, saxophones and orchestra are added. A trumpet is looped in the very end and slowly fades out. It's pretty much similar to Anthony Phillips' Sleepfall which ends his The Geese and the Ghost album: similar melody and similar arrangement.

All in all this is a good record, one that I love listening to, but also one that is - seen from the progressive point of view - somehow mediocre on side B. Especially the "Birdman" suite has got some problems with the fluency as there are often very homogeneous longer parts linked with shorter parts. But which other band from the progressive rock realms had recorded an epic side-long track at that time? Birdman was recorded in May-June 1970 - and King Crimson's Lizard in autumn 1970. The only inspiration could have been Pink Floyd's masterwork Atom Heart Mother (performed live without orchestra in April 1970) and Soft Machine's Rivmic Melodies (but which isn't an epic), but in fact most of the Birdman parts were already conceived between 1967 and 1969. All in all a historic recording, in a way.

Nevertheless, I recommend the record to everyone who is interested in the early King Crimson, Canterbury and jazz rock, and to those who are interested in delicate arrangements because this one is extremely impressing. I would give 10/15 points for this record, which means a really good 3/5 points-rating.

 McDonald & Giles by MCDONALD & GILES album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.36 | 140 ratings

McDonald & Giles
McDonald & Giles Crossover Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars When I heard about the existence of this album in the 70´s I knew I had to get it, since I was a huge fan of King Crimson and In The Court Of The Crimson King is definitly one of my favorite CDs of all time. It took me a long, long time to finally put my hands on one copy of Mcdonald & Giles (already the CD version in the early 90´s). It was some disapointment! Maybe my expectations were very high after all those years. The fact is: what made King Crimson MK I so great was the chemistry between all band members, not one or even two specific guys, no matter how talent each one was as individuals.KG was bigger than the sum of its parts.

And definitly, there are some missing parts here. The vocals are very weak (not a Greg Lake or even a Gordon Haskell in sight...). The guitar parts are nonexistent (man.. do I miss Robert Fripp!). Of course everything is well done and the playing is good, the music in general is nice, but some parts are simply silly and pointless. The best tracks are Birdman and Suite in C. If you are a fan of jazz and 60´s psychodelic influenced jams, welcome. But this is not my cup of tea.

Production is only average and my CD version sounds poor, so I really don´t know if there is a better, remastered version available. Be aware.

Not really a bad record, but this is not the kind of CD I wanted to hear, specially when there are so many talented people involved. Mcdonald & Giles? I expected more. For collectors and fans only.

 McDonald & Giles by MCDONALD & GILES album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.36 | 140 ratings

McDonald & Giles
McDonald & Giles Crossover Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars More than half of the early Crimson are together for this effort. They are supported by no less than Steve Windwood on the keys and Peter Sinfield also gave them a hand for the lyrics.

On paper, these are great ingredients and when you listen to this album, this positive feeling is confirmed. The Crimsonesque style is to be felt during the long opening track which combines complex passages, jazzy parts and tranquil moods.

The short Flight Of The Ibis denotes an evident Beatles influence and the pastoral Is She Waiting sounds a bit childish: it is full of innocence and not very much memorable.

The second song which is more KC oriented is Tomorrow's People. It features a beautiful flute part as well as atmospheric keyboards. It is a very enjoyable track as well.

The pièce de résistance of this album is of course the epic Birdman. It is a fine song which is mostly symphonic (keyboards, flute). It might lack of texture and inspiration but is not boring at any moment. The finale is a moving moment IMO (but I am maybe too sentimental here.);

This album should please all KC fans who were enthusiasts about their symphonic and more accessible part of their early repertoire (to whom I fully belong). It is a pity that this effort remained the sole example of this collaboration. I would have liked to listen more of this type of music.

Four stars.

 McDonald & Giles by MCDONALD & GILES album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.36 | 140 ratings

McDonald & Giles
McDonald & Giles Crossover Prog

Review by febus
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam


I grew up with this album as it always had a special place in my collection and heart. Not that i got it when i came out in 1970 (i was too young) but i remember owning the LP back then i 1972 when i discovered all this prog music with IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING.

Do i need to present these 2 gentlemen? Certainly not to the King Crimson alumnis. Ian Mcdonald was the main composer and architect of this famous IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING LP. He is the only one who is credited on all the tracks of this album, not counting the lyricist Peter Sinfield. He was also instrumental to the sound of the band back then with his mellotron,keys, flutes and other saxes .

Mike Giles was only the drummer, but what a drummer, full of finesse and a very inventive player. Our 2 guys don't paly alone on this LP. Brother Peter Giles came to help on bass..just adding a little more to the Crimson connection as he played with Fripp and bro before Crimson and again with the band for IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON. Also guest-starring, no less than Traffic leader STEVE WINWOOD on organ and piano!

Why did they live KC? clash with Robert? looking for musical indepence? thinking of making it big alone? For sure, looking in the rearview mirror, it didn't look as a wise ''business'' decision as both will fall into obscurity, except for the occasional reemergence before disappearing again. (remember that Ian McDonald came back with....Foreigner!!!!)

So do we have a KING CRIMSON kind of album? yes and no!! This is lighter than KC, the instrumentations and arrangements are thinner as there is curiously no mellotron and of course no guitar craziness from Robert Fripp. The melodies of the songs on the other hand could have find a way on ITCOTCK, Greg Lake would have liked to sing.

This album is no masterpiece by no means because of a few shortcomings. As i said, the music could have sounded better with more lavish ''proggish'' orchestrations. There are magnificent parts, also a few childish ones. The best example is the 21:45 suite BIRDMAN with some fantastic symphonic parts with choirs, saxes, great,great drumming from Giles sadly interupted by some silly singing parts and 2 touch organ notes like in the beginning. But overall, this is very pleasant music, very early prog of course.

SUITE IN C is another 11mn extravaganza going from Caravan/K.Ayers folkish athmosphere with silly singing parts to chaotic Crimsonlike instrumental section with crazy piano and crazy horns, but very well done. The vocals at the end of this suite are very influenced by Paul McCartney. The Beatle wouldn't have mind, i am sure, coming up with the 2 sweet ballads of this album FLIGHT OF THE IBIS and IS SHE WAITING.Both gorgeous melodies and great McDonald vocals who proves he can sing and nicely at that.

Everything is composed by Ian Mcdonald except the energetic TOMORROW'S PEOPLE who was composed by M. Giles bringing some needed fire to this LP after the more contemplative McDonald tunes .Great trombone start, hurried drumming, good song!

To resume, i would say that MCDONALD AND GILES sounds like a naked KING CRIMSON. This is a good to great album but it could have used some more arrangements (mellotron, mellotron, please!) and the guitar of the seated man is sorely missing.

Nevertheless, the CD looks very nice on my rack sandwiched by ITCOTCK and THE WAKE OF POSEIDON. So i can say this is an excellent addition to any prog collection. Lovers of early KC, go for it!! Don't expect EPITATH, but you know there is only one EPITATH!

3.5 STARS!!!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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