|Listen to a CD-quality audio excerpt|
By the early part of 1992, Advent was fortunate enough to have received interest from two major labels, EMI Angel and PolyGram. Especially due to the latter, we figured it would be prudent to suspend our compositional and recording activities for a while in order to prepare a respectable live set. Although our repertoire already included two original arrangements of classical pieces, we had never taken on any covers in the area of rock music up until that point. It was around this time when we first decided that it would be both enjoyable and practical to have a go at Gentle Giant’s “The Boys in the Band.” Adding a Gentle Giant piece to our set seemed incredibly logical, as Giant had been a profound influence in the formation of Advent—both at the outset (trio) and what was then the current five-piece lineup.
Based on transcriptions that Henry had started several years earlier, we prepared an arrangement that was very faithful to the original studio version (with the minor exceptions of synths covering parts whose instruments we did not play, and the lack of a fade-out). Although ideas about enhancing the arrangement (for instance, composing a powerful “live album” sort of ending) were entertained, there was never enough time to get around to doing a proper job of it. We never did get a chance to play the tune on stage, but did receive some interesting feedback from other musicians at the rehearsal studios where we practiced.
A short while later, events occurred that reduced Advent’s lineup back to its original three-piece core—and since we could no longer function as a live act, “The Boys in the Band” was dropped from our playlist. In fact, thoughts of almost everything associated with live performance had disappeared from our minds when, several years later, we became aware of what was then an unnamed Internet-based Gentle Giant tribute project. Suddenly, and with much enthusiasm, we decided to commit a recorded version of what later became retitled as “BITB” to the project. Within this new context, however, our previously unfulfilled interest in “enhancing” the piece took on a whole new light. What could be done to offer, at minimum, a viable alternative to a master work by a masterful band?
Eventually, we decided that it might be fun to try to combine the live and studio versions of “Boys”—using the 6/8 feel common both to that song and “Knots”—to propel the arrangement through a series of mood changes we wanted to explore in the middle section. The idea was to attempt to use the references to GG’s work thematically, as development material rather than literal transcriptions laid end-to-end. The hoped-for outcome of this was to have less of a GG musical free association (though that could be fun too)—and more a kind of medley/fantasia hybrid of “Excerpts from Octopus” (and elsewhere) and something like Ralph Vaughan-Williams’s English Folk Song Suite, but substituting GG themes in place of English folk songs. Needless to say, the GG themes abound, especially in the coda (“Excerpts from Interview,” anyone?). As for the rest of them, well … that would be telling. (Have fun!)
With the return of our original (and most talented) drummer Mike—and the generosity of a good friend (Rich Bosisio) who offered the use of his digital eight-track studio—all the pieces were in place. The first recording sessions occurred on the weekend of January 27–28, 1996, and a rough mix was immediately submitted to meet what was then a 1/31 deadline. As the project went on, subsequent deadlines were issued, affording us the opportunity to go back and apply the desired finishing touches, as well as a chance to refine the mix. We sincerely hope that you enjoy the results.
For anyone interested in the words from the “Knotes” section, they are:
We thought they might help to console anyone who ever woke up at 4 A.M. still wearing headphones after having burned the midnight oil trying to decipher GG’s harmonic language and voicings. Someone, call Scotland Yard!
Visit Advent's web site at http://www.angelfire.com/nj/adventmusic/advent.html!
Guitar/Stick: Charvel model 6, Ibanez Radius, Stick Enterprises "Standard" (10-string) model Synthesizers/samplers/MIDI: E-mu Emulator II+, Korg DW-8000, Korg M1, Roland D-50, Roland D-110, Roland Juno-106, Roland P-330 (Clavinet) String amplification: A.R.T. SGX-2000 preamp (with "Express" upgrade), Jim Dunlop "Original Cry Baby" pedal, Electro-Harmonix volume pedal, Gallien Krueger 250ML amp (Stick), Music Man 112 RD amp (guitar), Olympus microcassette recorder Percussion: Yamaha kit, Paiste and Zildjian cymbals