Gentle Giant — Under Construction
(Alucard alu-gg-01, 1980/1997, 3CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 1998-07-01
Gentle Giant was at its best when adding polyphonic arrangements to aggressive rock music. Determining who was responsible was merely a scan of the writing credits, where "Shulman, Shulman and Minnear" was typically credited with the bulk of the work. Under Construction goes the extra step to pinpoint keyboardist Kerry Minnear as the gifted brains of the band. Maybe the package should be called Minnear’s Revenge since we’re now privy to a bird’s eye view of his ideas and their development from those piano based themes ( chronicled on disc two). Disc one is a combination of different sources, including unearthed 1970 BBC out-takes from the very first album. "Hometown Special" features what may be the first vocal rounds which would later be an important element in the repertoire. "A Round" appears to be a clever rehearsal for "Playing the Game" with chorded electric guitar playing over looped sections of the track (including unison recorder and additional electric guitar). Also included are excellent live versions of "Interview" and "Timing" (known for the heavy drum and percussion arrangements) from a German concert.
Disc two focuses on licks, riffs, fragments and the little bits that Minnear has salvaged from his personal tapes and sorted into a listenable order. Check out the demo for "Peel the Paint," with his abrasive organ style. Core band members were involved in contributing to liner notes including now record executive, Derek Shulman and his hot shot producer brother, Ray. The set should appeal to the ardent collector as well as provide a keen introduction to a rare and wonderful genius.
Related artist(s): Gentle Giant
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
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
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
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