Exposé Online banner

Gentle Giant — In a Glass House
(Alucard ALU-GG-10, 1973/2009, CD)

Gentle Giant — The Power and the Glory
(Alucard ALU-GG-011, 1974/2009, CD)

Gentle Giant — Free Hand
(Alucard ALU-GG-012, 1975/2009, CD)

Gentle Giant — The Missing Piece
(Alucard ALU-GG-015, 1977/2009, CD)

by Jeff Melton, 2001-07-01:

In a Glass House Cover artThe Power and the Glory Cover artFree Hand Cover artThe Missing Piece Cover art

[Note: This review was written upon the remastered release version of In a Glass House from 2000]

Having owned the re-issue of this album by the Terrapin Trucking Company, I had been happy with the initial analog to digital transfer for sometime. That CD package also included a special jewel case, which captured the original “negative image” artwork quite well. Alucard productions has seen fit to upgrade the second release by re-mixing and re-re-mastering the original six tracks and added two bonus live tracks. The real reason to pick up this new version is that the sound spectrum has been dramatically enhanced, as heard on several tracks: including “An Inmate’s Lullaby,” where the percussion is crisp and more distinct. “Experience” and “Way of Life” now contain improved organ parts with greater depth. The two new live tracks are also key selling points of interest since the medley of “The Runaway/Experience” comes from the Interview tour in the fall of 1976. The track has a better overall mix than the version of the track from Playing the Fool and it also contains a slightly longer guitar solo. The last cut on the disc is the only known live version of the album’s title track, which has been re-arranged with the end section moved to beginning of the piece. The group then rips into another riff, where Gary Green is supported solely by John Weathers. Overall, the new packaging and sound quality are ample reason to discard your old copy and embrace arguably the best album in the band’s catalog.


by Jeff Melton, 2005-09-01:

[Note: This review was written upon the release of the albums on DRT in 2005.]

DRT is Derek Shulman’s US based label, which has taken ownership of the band’s North America CD distribution. His push to make the Gentle Giant catalog a regularly stocked CD in outlet stores has resulted in the reissue of the band’s last seven recordings.

In a Glass House regularly tops the fans' favorites list despite the fact that the original LP was unavailable in the states. The group had come off their strongest tour opening for Tull and it reflected directly in the refinement of the band’s identity. Drummer John Weathers was firmly in place driving the intricate rhythmic structure of the new songs together with bassist Ray Shulman. The new album also reflected a confidence with the new line-up as four of the tracks are among the band’s best. The disc opens with “The Runaway,” where guitarist Gary Green and keyboardist Kerry Minnear establish a melodic interplay that is present through out the album. “Way of Life” and “Experience” continue that evolution of early music meshed with a rock songwriting style. The former piece contains tricky bass work and guitar riffs ending with a hymn-like resolution. The latter track is a contrapuntal piece, which would later be meshed with the opening cut for live performances. The title track closes out the disc on a high point as Green plays a unique acoustic slide solo. The bonus track for “Experience” circa 1976 shows how well the band executed impossibly performed songs on the live stage.

The Power and the Glory is my pick for best loose concept album by the group. The title track is the first evolutionary sign that the quintet has shifted emphasis to political lyrics and a nimble piano part from Minnear. “Playing the Game” is a wonderfully crafted piece that showcases the best aspects of the band from unusual rhythms to quirky organ solos and a catchy verse. Also the title track single has been added to the disc which is a pure toe-tapping delight.

Free Hand is arguably the best collection of pieces the band ever recorded. This is due in part to the same group members maturing across three consecutive albums. Incessant touring inspired tight interplay they applied directly to studio work. The joint songwriting team of Shulman, Shulman, and Minnear had nearly perfected the counterpoint medieval rock concept on pieces like “On Reflection,” which put across a rock and roll round, first vocally then instrumentally. That’s not to overlook the catchy lead track, “Just the Same” with lead-in finger snaps and a most incessant bass line. Other high points include the title track and the intricate ballad, “His Last Voyage,” featuring both Minnear’s finest lead vocal and Green’s blistering outro guitar solo.

What’s most noticeable regarding the remaster of The Missing Piece is the high end has been reduced from the LP's tinny sound, allowing a balanced sound throughout the nine tracks. The first part of record is no-frills rock, epitomized by the self-effacing “Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It.” Electric guitars and drums are pushed out front, propelling the five first songs into new ground. When it works well is heard on “Two Weeks in Spain,” that is centered on a strong guitar riff and moving bass line. Less successful is “Mountain Time,” that includes unnecessary backing vocals and an over-the-top attitude that doesn’t fit. The last four pieces are a direct continuation of Interview with Minnear’s brilliant arranging skills again at the forefront. “As Old As You’re Young” features his lead vocal and baroque keys in another strong presentation of counterpoint and rock. Also notable is “Memories of Old Days” as an acoustic piece the band recorded with the best intertwining guitar parts by Green and Ray Shulman, reflective of their live work. Overall this batch of reissues signals a firm interest by classic rock fans to reevaluate the band with a much better sound and presentation.


Filed under: Reissues , Issue 32 , 2009 releases, 1973 releases, 2009 releases, 1974 releases, 2009 releases, 1975 releases, 2009 releases, 1977 releases

Related artist(s): Gentle Giant

More info

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Il Bacio della Medusa - Il Bacio della Medusa & Giovane Amante – Il Bacio della Medusa (Medusa’s Kiss) are relative newcomers on the Italian prog scene, though like many they’ve been smitten by the sound of the early 70s. Their self-produced debut caught the...  (2008) » Read more

Kansas - Freaks of Nature – Their first studio album in seven years, Freaks of Nature marks the return of Kansas. Well, actually they haven't been gone. Even though this marks the first studio release for the current lineup,...  (1995) » Read more

Various Artists - Montreal Sound Matter / Montréal Matière Sonore – Experimental and Avant-Garde are words that should be used loosely for they reach far too wide. On the surface, that is evidently what we have here in this conglomeration of mainly Canadian artists....  (2007) » Read more

Celestial Oeuvre - This Mortal Coil – The story around this album is a sad one. New Yorkers Celestial Oeuvre had just finished work on the follow up to their 2004 debut Second Chance when keyboard player / bassist / guitar player Jose...  (2011) » Read more

Frequency Drift - Personal Effects (Part Two) – Frequency Drift is primarily the effort of German keyboardist Andreas Hack, though he’s joined by a large group of supporting players that includes three female vocalists, three guitar players,...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues