Sonicbond Publishing [Publication date 17.08.20]
The only time I saw Gentle Giant live was when they “supported” a film about Jimi Hendrix at Liverpool Stadium. Due to the poor PA system it was just cacophony. Giant’s music is so full of subtleties with clever layering and instrumentation that it also accounts for a large number of poor quality live releases that Steel documents in his book. Soundboard and audience recordings don’t usually cut it.
Thankfully the band’s music has been revered in recent years and rewarded with the ubiquitous Steven Wilson remixes as well as an impressive box set which Steel rightly notes is beyond the reach of all but the well heeled fan.
Once we get Steel’s fan-based exposition and personal context out the way, we get the dissection and here it will only be of any interest to the guy (I am sure only guys like Giant and then probably those who collect butterflies) who can afford the box set. It’s all very subjective. And we can all read lyric sheets.
Steel does trace the story back to the 1960s origins and Simon Dupree and the Big Sound and at the other end of the spectrum there is good analysis of post- Civilian (1980) output and the myriad of material some dubious and some definitive.
A recent fan video compilation on YouTube celebrating the song ‘Proclaimation’ (and featuring original band members) is one of the highlights of Zoom-filled Lockdown but it came too late for a reference in this book. Steel simply describes the song in layman’s terms when all that is needed is a receptive ear and a large Gin.
I would say the “On Track” series sets itself quite a challenge. The premise is to dissect individual albums and their component songs, with a usually brief introduction about the album itself.
This works better for some of the books in the series than others.
Future tomes in this series would definitely benefit from input from the artists/writers/producers themselves. I am sure they would be happy to contribute and it may provide greater insight and context. Certainly a few more anecdotes.
The series is very much based on one man’s subjectivity and secondary sources. And, again, where the hell is the index to make this a more compelling (and useful) offering? ***
Review by David Randall
Book review (On track…Hawkwind plus more review links)
GENTLE GIANT Proclamation (Official Fan Video)
The classic Gentle Giant line-up reunited for the first time since 1980 for a unique new video.
Pieced together over the last few months, it’s a brand new performance of “Proclamation” (originally from the band’s 1974 album “The Power & The Glory”) including appearances from Gentle Giant alumni Derek, Ray and Phil Shulman, Gary Green, Kerry Minnear, John Weathers and Malcolm Mortimore.
There are also guest appearances by numerous notable musicians including Jakko Jakszyk (King Crimson), Billy Sherwood (YES), Lee Pomeroy (ELO/Steve Hackett), Dan Reed (Dan Reed Network), Richard Hilton (Chic) and Mikey Heppner (Priestess).
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Featured Albums w/c 14 September (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 PERFECT PLAN Time For A Miracle (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 OVERLAND Scandalous (Escape Music)
14:00-16:00 ANNIE DRESSNER Coffee At The Corner Bar (indie)
Power Plays w/c 14 September (Mon-Fri)
GALLOWS CIRCUS Medicine Man (indie)
ROY ZIV Currents (indie)
NOVATINES Honey (indie)
KILFEATHER Never Stop (indie)
VANILLA FUDGE Immigrant Song (Golden Robot Records)
BROKEN MACHINE Sweet Mary Jane (indie)
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