Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Rock

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The Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock (GEPR) is a collection of opinions of progressive rock bands, both mainstream and obscure. Here's what it has to say about Gentle Giant. Each paragraph was written by a different anonymous writer.

  • The paradigmatic progressive rock band. They captured almost everything that was great about the 1970s progressive rock movement and ignored most of the unfortunate pretensions. Starting with their fourth Octopus album in 1973, the band churned out a bunch of flawless albums. All are highly recommended.
  • Actually I'd recommend just about anything these guys do, and we can't forget the classics (albeit hard to get into) Gentle Giant (with the monstrous "Why Not?"), Acquiring The Taste (with the highly innovative "Pantagruel's Nativity"), and Three Friends (which gets my vote for the best side of GG ever - side 2).
  • Most people do not like Gentle Giant at first listen. They definately take some getting used to, but once you get used to them they are great. A good album to start with is Three Friends simply because it is their album that is most like what the other progressive groups of the day were doing. From their I would go on [to] Octopus and Free Hand.
  • I found GG to be a very difficult band to get into. While a lot of prog rock can take 2 or 3 listens to fully appreciate, Gentle Giant took me many more. Most people I talk to who like GG didn't care much for them at first listen. I started with The Power and the Glory, and most of that has grown on me, but there are still one or two tracks that I find tough to listen to. I also have Three Friends, which isn't as good as The Power and the Glory, and Octopus, which has some good stuff and one very good instrumental. Generally speaking, the music is excellent; it's the vocals that can be irritating. The vocal melodies are often the same as the instrumental bits, and the layered harmony vocal thing is just overdone. I prefer vocals with more of a bite to them, like Fish's or Roger Waters'.
  • Acquiring the Taste is the hardest album to start with but I think its their best. Octopus and Power and Glory are ok, but not as great as everyone says. This is quintessential prog rock. Free Hand is also good.
  • Outstanding group...I like the live CD Playing the Fool best, for some reason I like the live versions of their songs better than the studio versions, maybe they were more musically mature in developing their sound when this live album was recorded. Studio albums are hard to get into, I have Octopus, Free Hand, and Three Friends. Music is really complex, each member of the groups seems to be able to play 10 different instruments. They do lots of different styles of music...an essential progressive rock band.
  • Gentle Giant are awesome, but you have to have a PHD in music to understand what they're doing. The music is so stunningly complex that it's sometimes difficult to absorb, After listening to albums like Octopus and The Power and the Glory 50 times or more, I still hear something new each time that was different from the last time. Multi-part vocal harmonies galore. The best place to start would be with one of their more accessible albums, maybe Three Friends or In a Glass House.
  • Brilliant 5 piece. Medieval Rock. Unique. Virtuoso musicianship.
  • It's not a coincidence that these guys are among the most frequently mentioned bands on alt.music.progressive - they're GR-R-R-REAT! (to quote Tony the Tiger). What's most often alluded to, I think, is the amazing vocal harmonies they pull off. Vocally, they've learned a thing or two from Yes, although GG's voices are far more ... down-to-earth, shall we say. Not gruff or raspy, just a far cry from Anderson/Squire's airy-fairy, upper-registers-of-the-male-range act. And the instrumentation is wonderfully quirky, all sorts of neat things thrown in to keep the listener busy. I have three GG albums, which I recommend heartily and with roughly equal weight: Gentle Giant, Acquiring the Taste, and the incredible live album Playing the Fool.
  • One of the better known progressive bands, Gentle Giant were a style unto themselves. This is one of the bands to which others are always compared. GG themselves are comparable to no one. Incredibly tight vocal and instrumental interplay that you'd swear they couldn't pull off live, yet the do so with grace and ease. Influences are Baroque and Renaissance styles. My personal favorite is Octopus followed closely by Acquiring the Taste but any except for the last two or three are great.
  • What can I really say? The quintessential prog band. They are very tight, have some pretty complex musical pieces. Some of their stuff shows strong influence from madrigals and motets of the Medieval period, and I've even noticed a fugue or two. Some people don't like the vocals, but I love them (but then I really like madrigals a lot). For some reason, many people complain about having difficulty getting into this band. Someone sent me a tape of [albums/playing.the.fool.html Playing the Fool] and within a week I owned 3 of their CDs. This band just really did it for me. My favorites are: Free Hand, Three Friends, Playing the Fool, The Power and the Glory, In a Glass House, and Octopus (roughly in that order). The others that are on CD don't do as much for me, but I still like them a good deal.
  • Truly progressive English band. I've never heard anyone like them. Sometimes they sound vaguely Tull-ish, but they're no clone. Definitely influenced by that medieval sound Tull became famous for, as well as jazz and straight forward rock. Tough to get into, but worth trying out. Took me many listens to really enjoy this stuff. Early albums are pretty `heavy', they peaked around their 6th-7th album, then put out a few poppy albums after that. Lots of vocal harmonies on each album. Titles with ratings for the ones I've heard: Gentle Giant (***), Acquiring the Taste (**), Three Friends (***), Octopus (***), The Power and the Glory (****), Free Hand (****).
  • One of the greatest bands ever. After much searching, I now have all of their albums on CD. Everything album up to and including Interview is superb and they are all utterly recommended. Starting with The Missing Piece, they were in a race for success with Genesis (so the liner notes say). Both went comercial about the same time but, due to their higher profile, Genesis won. After The Missing Piece, Giant put out a couple of pretty bad commercial rock albums before ending up recording Civilian in the US and splitting up for good. Civilian is slightly better than Giant for a Day ... not a terrible note to go out on but it's best to stick to pre TMP. Rumours abound about a re-union.