Gentle Giant — Artistically Cryme
(Glass House GLASS104CD, 1976/2003, 2CD)
Gentle Giant — The Missing Face
(Glass House GLASS105CD, 1977/2003, CD)
Gentle Giant — Playing the Cleveland
(Glass House GLASS106CD, 1975/2003, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2004-09-01
Gentle Giant’s headlining and support tours are further documented in three more marginal bootleg renditions from Voiceprint in the UK. Artistically Cryme is the first release, and a complete two disc show form the European tour in support of Interview in late 1976. The band’s set list had expanded to cover a few new pieces from that album which lent themselves to live performance: “Interview,” “Timing,” and the odd mesh of “Peel the Paint” with “I Lost My Head” that somehow worked well together. The group marched through “Just the Same” and “Proclamation” much like a tornado through a cornfield. “On Reflection” benefits from the noticeable switchover of instrumentation from guitar/bass/drums to violin/vibes/acoustic guitar. “Interview” (the lead track from the album of the same name) in this live incarnation serves as platform for a brutal, obtuse riff and a smoking electric guitar solo from Gary Green. Disc two opens with the band staple “Excerpts from Octopus” before eventually coming to “Timing” which in its studio form was a vehicle for further adventures in orchestral percussion. Onstage however, Ray Shulman turns the piece into a violin tour de force (much like his old solo spot in “Plain Truth”). Overall it’s a great mostly complete show but with dodgy sound on the low end.
A local group, “Myles and Lenny” opened for the band at the Agora Ballroom in early January 1975, but that didn’t seem to stop Giant from giving a good set. Playing the Cleveland documents the group’s show, opening with a blistering version of “Cogs in Cogs,” probably one of the most difficult first songs for any live performance. Emphasis on this set list was the new The Power and the Glory album where the five piece group excelled in jarring riffs and instrumental dexterity. “Proclamation” has a slightly slower tempo at the end of the track (predating the inclusion of “Valedictory”). This then transitions into the band’s sad legacy ballad “Funny Ways,” where Kerry always got to show his vibraphone chops. The last three pieces are from ten months later and were probably appended onto the disc to shore up the length. The added version of “Cogs in Cogs” is also a blinding flash of inspiration and most certainly scared audience and other bands on the bill.
The Missing Face is the newest of this batch of recordings, from mid-way through The Missing Piece tour featuring five pieces from that album. Again sound quality is fair at best. The studio sound of the original LP and CD transfer has always been a bit high on the treble side so it’s great to hear strong pieces such as “I’m Turning Around” with a balanced lower end. The highlights of the show, including a great version of “On Reflection,” which was featured also a highpoint of Playing the Fool from the previous year. Gary Green’s guitar solo on “Playing the Game” shows a nod to a bluesy rave-up. For those of you who haven’t heard the comparable second disc of the BBC Sight and Sound gig from some months earlier as the group does well to shift emphasis on many pieces to their half rock and roll “Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It” and their multi-instrumental expertise (demonstrated on “Funny Ways”). A rare version of “The Face” from The Power and the Glory was next to closing piece as the group demonstrates handling a difficult piece of gypsy violin atop clavinet and heavy rock.
Related artist(s): Gentle Giant
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more