Gentle Giant – Gentle Giant & Acquiring the Taste
BGO Records continues to impress with their repackaging of great albums that time forgot. It is very important, from both an artistic and historical point of view, to make sure that bands like Gentle Giant are both remembered and revered.
Gentle Giant never had the same success as their contemporaries Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Yes and Genesis. The other bands were progressive with enough elements of mainstream rock to appeal to an audience outside of prog rock nerds. Not Gentle Giant, as they were prog rock nerds and made very progressive records, that while brilliant, were not made for mass consumption.
The bands self-titled debut from 1970 is a great example of just what this band was trying to accomplish. One listen to “Funny Ways” and you will either get it or you won’t. There is no in-between with these guys. However, just like a strong shot of espresso, you may suffer from sensory overload, but if you keep going back and trying it again, you will become accustomed to the taste and, eventually, find yourself craving it. Such is the case with the first album. “Isn’t It Quiet and Cold,” “Nothing at All” and “Why Not?” all feature brilliant musicianship and are just waiting there to be rediscovered.
Acquiring the Taste was an apt title for the other album included in this set. The liner notes to the 1971 release stated, “It is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular."
On this album Giant mixed blues, classic and rock with three vocalists and other talented musicians. Again, the taste had to be acquired, as this is demanding music that challenges the listener. The best songs on this one include “Edge of Twilight,” “Black Cat” and Plain Truth.”
If you missed out on Gentle Giant, or have left them in the deep recesses of your mind, and you love complex prog rock with sweeps and swoons and odd time signatures, then this double disc is custom made for you.
By Jeb Wright
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