Giant for a Day

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About the Album

Gentle Giant's second "pop-influenced" album. Many fans rank it as GG's worst album.

Help! We've heard of an alternate version of this album, seen in Sweden, with an additional guitarist mixed onto some of the tracks. Anybody know anything about this? (See contributing material.)

Musicians

Gary Green - Guitars, vocals

Kerry Minnear - Vocals, keyboards

Derek Shulman - Vocals

Ray Shulman - Bass, vocals

John Weathers - Vocals, drums

Other liner notes:

  All songs by Ray, Derek and Kerry
  except "Friends" written by John
  and "Take Me" lyrics co-written by John and Derek
  Published by Alucard Pub. Ltd./Chrysalis Music Ltd.

  A Gentle Giant Production
  Engineered by Paul Northfield at Ramport Studios, Battersea
  - assisted by Neil.
  Maison Rouge, Fulham.
  Scorpio Sound Studios, Euston
  - assisted by Steve.
  Remix at Scorpio Sound Studios.
  Recorded April/May, 1978.
  Copyright Alucard/Friday Music.

  Cover concept: Ray, Tanner, Eve and Pils Lager
  Front cover illustration: Peter Owen
  Back cover photography: Gered Mankowitz
  Equipment: Michael Ambrose
  Acoustic guitars courtesy of Norman Guitars, Quebec, Canada.

Note: "Ray, Tanner, Eve, and Pils Lager" means Ray Shulman, his wife Barbara (nicknamed Tanner), someone unknown named Eve, and beer. That's Ray Shulman, his wife Barbara (nickname Tanner), someone unknown named Eve, and beer.

Track List

  1. Words From The Wise (4:10)
  2. Thank You (4:45)
  3. Giant For A Day (song) (3:45)
  4. Spooky Boogie (3:31)
  5. Take Me (2:45)
  6. Little Brown Bag (3:32)
  7. Friends (1:58)
  8. No Stranger (2:27)
  9. It's Only Goodbye (4:16)
  10. Rock Climber (3:50)

Lyrics

All lyrics reproduced with the permission of DRT Entertainment (USA) and Alucard Publishing, Ltd. (UK).

- submitted by Arlo West

Words From The Wise

Lead vocals: Derek and ensemble

Words from the wise, encourage you, carries all your taking on,
Words from the wise, discourage too many people when things go wrong.

Chorus:
Words from the wise, encourage you, carries all your taking on,
Words from the wise, discourage too many people when things go wrong.
I have my doubts, as everyone. Little isle in a stormy sea.
Words from the wise, believe in you,  All I do is believe in me.

If the going looks to strong, And a little seems too long
Only darkness in the night, Turn the darkness into
Light the fire inside of yourself
I'm the one it's nobody else
Listen out. But remember always
Your the wise, The wise.

(Chorus)

When it feels so hard to try, Just a weight, a chain, a lie,
Even though you need to fight, make the changes into
Light the fire inside of yourself
I'm the one it's nobody else
Listen out. But remember always
Your the wise, The wise.

(Chorus)...

Thank You

Lead vocals: Derek

THANK YOU, for staying around so long, I know it's been hard.
You spend half your life, just testing the ground.
THANK YOU, I thought you would come to along, I don't know when,
And all of those years, Just foolin' around.
THANK YOU, for taking me as I am. No better than you.
You give me your love, You take it from me.
THANK YOU, for staying around so long, I know it's been hard.
You spend half your life, just testing the ground.
THANK YOU, You like all my funny ways, the things that I do.
We both understand, To give and to be.
Chorus:
THANK YOU,
For waiting such a long time, And strange that it just had to be.
It's true,
You look, you keep on trying,
Had to keep on trying,
Search for half a life time, suddenly it's there.
THANK YOU, for being here where I am, It's better by far
Not living alone, The future to share.
THANK YOU, for loving me like you do, for being my friend,
And taking my hand, and sharing my cares.

(Chorus)

Giant For A Day

Lead vocals: Derek

You can be President Carter, maybe Idi Amin, or say Muhammed Ali
Make yourself Marlon Brando, Mickey Mouse, anyone you can see.

Chorus:
Listen to all these songs tell yourself that it's wrong to even go
  your own way
Throw away your old cloak, put on your mask, be a Giant for a Day.

Think to yourself you're in Paris, Tel Aviv, Istanbul, or maybe London or Rome.
Close your eyes to be there, even though you may be sitting at home.

(Chorus)

Sitting in a Rolls Royce, if it's the car of your choice or just a black
Cadillac.
And if you don't think these suit you, just a Porsche or a plain Pontiac.

(Chorus)

GIANT FOR A DAY, GIANT FOR A DAY
PUT ON YOUR MASK IMAGINE YOU'RE A GIANT FOR A
GIANT FOR A DAY

You can think your Jack the Ripper, Mama Belle the stripper, you can fight in
the streets.
You can be the French Connection, Harvey Oswald, or the boys on the beat.

(Chorus)

GIANT FOR A DAY, GIANT FOR A DAY
PUT ON YOUR MASK IMAGINE YOU'RE A GIANT FOR A
GIANT FOR A DAY

Spooky Boogie

Instrumental

Take Me

Lead vocals: Derek

Smooth-talkin', slow-walkin' tell no lie
Cool is the fool with the eagle eye
Spending my time
Drunk and living fast
Nobody knows what lies in my past.
I'm lookin' back
My life is cryin' out
What did I do
What was I all about?

Chorus:
OH, take me
Save me from my misery
OH, take me
I want to be free
OH, take me
Take my hand and help me on
OH, take me
I will soon be gone

Good-timin', all-nightin' in the shade
No thinkin' nobody's had it made
Stole no control on my evil hands.
I tossed a coin blind to where it lands.
My how the time flies
It just passes by.
I turned around
It looked me in the eye.

(Chorus)

My how the time flies
It just passes by.
I turned around
It looked me in the eye.

(Chorus)

Little Brown Bag

Lead vocals: Derek

HOLD ON;
To the little brown bag. If it's all (that) she has to show,
Torn like a rag, Crazy lady she doesn't know,
LOOK IN;
Cos there's nothing inside, Was there anything anytime
Little Brown Bag;

She'll be there in the morning, sitting alone with her world in her hands,
No goodnight in the evening, The city it understands, the circumstance.

DREAM ON;
In the, little brown bag. Maybe here she's better than you
Torn like a rag, Look away it's good that you do.
MAYBE;
As you're, staring too hard, You could see that somehow it's real
Little Brown Bag.

What did she turn her back on, Was it the nightmare she couldnt face;
Look around, It may tell you, She only puts a good case,
So lady,
HOLD ON...

Friends

Lead vocals: John

FRIENDS
Where would I be without friends, to take good care of me,
My friends,
What would I do I would be alone
On my own.

Chorus:
Enemies, some say add spice to your life
But I've always hated to be so disliked
I can't see why in this short span of time
Anyone does without friends.

FRIENDS
Will always help when you're feeling down,
On the ground,
You're friends
Will put a shoulder to the wheel
I feel

(Chorus)

FRIENDS
This is a song to thank you all
For being good friends,
You only number just a few,
But you are my good friends.

No Stranger

Lead vocals: Derek

Chorus:
No stranger, No danger in your home.
It's walking, It's talking on it's own.
No stranger, No danger in your home.
It's walking, It's talking on it's own.

One staring eye with no sight or feature
It only winks, when there's time to think.
It tells you nothing, but still your teacher.
And still you take it, It makes you hate it,
Takes care that you're always there.

(Chorus)

It makes you safe moving with protection.
A mind for you trying very hard.
And still you cant make the disconnection.
Does all it's told to,tells what it wants to,
Says all that you have to know.

(Chorus)

It's Only Goodbye

Lead vocals: Derek

Strange though we made it, in those days that were bare
What pulled us through them, something was there.
I can remember, drifting apart,
Thoughtless ways much stronger,
As the time grew longer
One for one not always,
Then you said to me...

Chorus:
It's only goodbye, a smile and a cry, and suddenly over, when
I think of you know, in kindness allow. My memory lingers, then
It's only goodbye, my strength telling lies, Just facing what had to be.

Mixed my reflections, did we think it was real
Was it forever, fear not, just feel.
You had your troubles, yes I had mine.
Weren't we both for sharing, No not really caring,
I would realize that, when you said to me...
(Chorus)

IT'S ONLY GOODBYE..

Rock Climber

Lead vocals: Derek

Chorus:
Rock climber, Good-timer, Backstager, All-nighter
Rock climber, Good-timer, follows the songs through the night
In the night
Backstager, All-nighter, Fills you with praise till it's light.

She's waited for you (or me). She saw you there on T.V.
And said you looked good, not like you could, You're better in life you see.
Remember her friend last year, Knew John with the lighting gear,
You've such a nice face, what time what place,
Do you want to meet me tomorrow not there, she's a...

(Chorus)

And then when she's in your room, it's over she calls your tune.
She crazes your head, takes you to bed,
All over for her too soon.
No tears when you say goodbye, You'll write, well you say you'll try
She goes like a dream, to dream new schemes,
Tonight there's more faces, in all the same places, she's a...

(Chorus)

Liner notes

These liner notes are reproduced with the kind permission of Terrapin Trucking (UK) Ltd.

In Britain, the late Seventies proved a difficult time for many established bands, and Gentle Giant were in some respects in a less favorable position than most. With the arrival of Punk Rock and the New Wave, the standards by which bands were judged changed suddenly and dramatically. Those playing straight-ahead, guitar-based rock, especially those who tended to play it faster and louder, stood a reasonable chance of being accepted in the new scheme of things - Motorhead being a good example - but those whose music was rooted in progressive rock had no such escape route.

For Giant, a short-term answer was to look to America, where the AOR market remained largely undisturbed by the young rebels for rather longer, and where they had enjoyed considerable success during the middle of the decade. In doing so, they were forced to turn their backs on British audiences forever. for some years, the lavish productions Giant had mounted on European and American tours had proven economically unviable on home soil, and scaled-down versions had been used. Now, even these became too expensive, and from the British viewpoint Giant disappeared from sight.

The commercial pressures on the band to broaden its audience, and a desire from within to harness some of the energy of the New Wave, led to an increasingly direct musical style, the first effects of which can be heard on 'The Missing Piece', the album which preceded this one. By the time 'giant for a Day' was released in 1978, the transition was complete, bit it had been a difficult process. Bassist Ray Shulman remembers it as an uncertain period: 'There was pressure to make a commercial album, certainly some of it from outside the band, but it had a lot to do with us wanting to capture a bigger audience... It was probably a folly, in retrospect, but at the time it seemed the thing to do. there was a sense of searching for a new identity, doubts about where we should go next...'

Nevertheless, 'Giant for a Day' includes some very good material. 'Words from the Wise' is a powerful opener which combines elements of their earlier vocal style with a strong driving backbeat, while 'Thank You' is an understated Mid-Western style ballad featuring some deft touches from Gary Green's guitars. Both tracks were lifted as singles, but both sank without trace. Further nods to Giant's past include the instrumental 'Spooky Boogie', a distant cousin of 'Alucard' from the band's self-titled 1970 debut album, and the verses of 'Take Me' which are reminiscent of 'The Power and the Glory' era. The album also boasts two delicately melodic pieces in 'Friends', drummer John Weathers' first and only solo composition for the band, and 'It's Only Goodbye', which keyboardist Kerry Minnear recalls as 'my attempt to write a single'.

Overall, 'Giant for a Day' features significantly more guitar work than previous Gentle Giant albums, and noticeably less keyboards, both factors lending the set a more mainstream rock feel.

Whatever the aims of the album, it failed to excite much interest on either side of the Atlantic when first issued. The reasons for its commercial failure in Britain are not difficult to see - it was released with minimal record company promotion, and, of course, there were no live shows to accompany its appearance. The British music press, absorbed with the spit and sawdust of the New Wave, completely ignore it, and long-standing fans were presented with a marked change of style, even from the relative simplicity of 'The Missing Piece'. In the States, its poor showing is harder to understand - perhaps 'Giant for a Day' fell between two stools, being neither complex enough to please their old audience, nor straightforward enough to attract a new one.

The album's packaging probably didn't help. the sleeve, reproduced here, invited buyers to cut out their own Gentle Giant mask. It was rather gimmicky, and tended to cheapen the band's image at a time when a more serious approach might have paid greater dividends. According to Kerry Minnear, it wasn't a conscious effort to shake off their intellectual image, nor was it intended to be particularly flippant. 'There was never an deliberate attempt to insult the intelligence of those who were into what we had done before... It was just thought of as a bright idea, a fun idea, to see loads of people at a concert wearing these masks. there's no doubt that it doesn't have the intrigue of say 'In a Glass House' or the seriousness of 'The Power and the Glory', but I just look on it as the hallmark of the album...'

During the winter of 978/79, Giant toured North America to promote 'Giant for a Day', then everything went quiet. It seemed as though the band had decided to throw in the towel in the light of the poor reception the album had received, but two years later they reconvened to write and record what really would be their swansong, 'Civilian', before moving on to very different futures.

By the early Nineties, Derek Shulman was a record label boss, his brother Ray had established himself as an in-demand producer, and John Weathers was still playing and recording with Welsh legends Man. Kerry Minnear was making a living from teaching music, whilst Gary Green had moved to a remote part of Illinois, and played occasionally with local bands.

Unjustly shunned when originally released, 'Giant for a Day' is now making its first appearance on CD. True, in this format the mask will prove difficult to get into, but the music shouldn't - this album remains as accessible as it ever was, and once more confirms Giant's ability to master widely differing musical styles.

- Alan Kinsman. Many thanks for their assistance to Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman.

Music files

MIDI files

No MIDI files found for "Giant for a Day"

Sheet music

No sheet music files found for "Giant for a Day"

CD releases

This list is not necessarily complete, and various releases are out of print.

Country Label Information
UK Terrapin Trucking/Road Goes On Forever, RGF CD 1007
(Remastered as TRUCKCD 007) (Out of print)
USA One Way Records, S21-18470
UK BGO (The Missing Piece & Giant for a Day)
USA DRT Entertainment

Reviews

See also