Gentle giant free hand - Gentle Giant - Free Hand (Full Album) - YouTube


For their third album, Gentle Giant decided they were going to expand their conceptual horizons - and ended up writing a mini-rock opera. Not that the album really feels as a rock opera, mind you; for the most part, I sense the concept as merely as an excuse for loads and loads of pleasant, but rather unrelated jamming. The concept itself is rather simple and not all that thought-provoking: basically, they tell the story of three friends (how did you guess?) that were friends in school and later went their own ways, one of them becoming a road worker, the other a painter, and the third a businessman or whoever. Apparently, they never met after school, and that's the way it goes. So there's a 'Prologue' ( not an overture), a song devoted to their school experience, a 'personal' tune for each of the friends (why does that remind me of Quadrophenia ?), and an epilogue. And the whole thing is just about thirty minutes long; Gentle Giant always made their albums short, that's why there's so many of them.

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Foreword

Almost three years have passed since The Gentle Way II was published. Yet as many success stories as that book contained, I have continued to receive truly unique stories from people all over the world requesting most benevolent outcomes (MBOs) and asking for benevolent prayers (BPs) for their families, friends, other people, and other beings. It just proves that there are no limits to this modality, which is becoming a gentle movement as people discover how much better their lives are with these simple yet powerful requests.

Free Hand is perhaps Gentle Giant 's most realized effort. After the excellent In a Glass House , the group further developed its Renaissance-medieval approach, producing one of the most creative and complex recordings in progressive rock history. Their vocal approach to the four-part fugue "On Reflection" was revolutionary for its time and is looked upon as one of the genre's defining moments. Despite the complexity of the arrangements, the music never sounds academic and in fact is very accessible thanks to several melodic hooks. The combination of superb musicianship, dry wit, and creative compositions make this an essential and historical recording.

Another opportunity to compare the new material with earlier efforts came with the release of Giant Steps - The First Five Years , a Phonogram retrospective issued late in 1975. Drawing from all six previous albums, this collection demonstrated that these elements had all been present in Giant's music from the outset, but never before had they been brought together so convincingly.

Duly signing a new deal in Britain with Chrysalis Records, their seventh album Free Hand (1975), again only found a paying audience (and Top 50 status) across the water. However, it did contain impressive vocal gymnastics, much in evidence on jewels in the crown, "Just The Same" and the renaissance/retro, part a cappella/part folk-rocker "On Reflection"; the latter combining four pieces of group scribed fugue. Minnear's un-medieval meanderings on the ivories for the pure-prog title track was just the ticket for a group still going strong despite others such as ELP and the aforementioned Genesis and King Crimson were collapsing under rock's evolution. Although at times exquisitely off-kilter, tracks such as "Time To Kill", the beautiful "His Last Voyage", the folkie "Mobile" and Tudor-esque instrumental ditty "Talybont", gave the set an aura of accessibility – a classic! [4]


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