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Gentle Giant

Formed at the dawn of the progressive rock era in 1969, Gentle Giant seemed poised for a time in the mid-'70s to break out of its cult-band status, but somehow never made the jump. Somewhat closer in spirit to Yes and King Crimson than to Emerson, Lake & Palmer or the Nice, their unique sound melded hard rock and classical music, with an almost medieval approach to singing. Gentle Giant was born out of the ruins of Simon Dupree & the Big Sound, an R&B-based outfit led by brothers Derek, Ray, and Phil Shulman. After switching to psychedelia in 1967 and scoring their only major hit that year with "Kites," as Gentle Giant the group abandoned both the R&B and psychedelic orientations of the previous band; Derek sang and played guitar and bass, Ray sang and played bass and violin, and Phil handled the saxophone, augmented by Kerry Minnear on keyboards, and Gary Green on guitar. Their original lineup also featured Martin Smith on drums, but they went through several percussionists in the first three years of their existence. In 1970, Gentle Giant signed to the Vertigo label, and their self-titled first album -- a shockingly daring work mixing hard rock and full electric playing with classical elements -- came out later that year. Their second effort, 1971's Acquiring the Taste, was slightly more accessible and their third, Three Friends, featuring Malcolm Mortimore on drums, was their first record to get released in the U.S. (on Columbia). Their fourth album, 1973's Octopus, looked poised for a breakthrough; it seemed as though they had found the mix of hard rock and classical sounds that the critics and the public could accept, and they finally had a permanent drummer in the person of John Weathers, an ex-member of the Graham Bond Organisation. In 1974, however, Gentle Giant began coming apart. Phil Shulman decided to give up music after the Octopus tour, and became a teacher. Then the group recorded the album In a Glass House, their hardest-rocking record yet, which Columbia's U.S. arm rejected as too uncommercial. The two-year gap in their American release schedule hurt their momentum, and they weren't heard from again until the Capitol release of The Power and the Glory in 1975. Gentle Giant released Free Hand, their most commercial album, in 1976, but then followed it up with the jarringly experimental Interview. After the 1978 double-album Playing the Fool, the group went through a seeming change of heart and issued a series of albums aimed at mainstream audiences, even approaching disco, but by the end of the 1970s their popularity was in free-fall. Gentle Giant called it quits in 1980. Ray Shulman later became a producer and had considerable success in England working with bands like the Sundays and the Sugarcubes, while Derek Shulman became a New York-based record company executive. ~ Bruce Eder
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Stations Featuring
Gentle Giant

    Progressive Rock

    Progressive Rock
    21 songs

Albums by
Gentle Giant

Top Songs by
Gentle Giant

  1.   Song
  2.   Experience
  3.   The Boys in the Band
  4.   Free Hand
  5.   The Runaway
  6.   Way of Life
  7.   Time to Kill
  8.   Empty City
  9.   Wreck
  10.   I Lost My Head
  11.   The Face
  12.   Mister Class and Quality?
  13.   In a Glass House
  14.   Black Cat
  15.   For Nobody
  16.   Just the Same
  17.   Proclamation
  18.   The Power and the Glory
  19.   Cogs in Cogs
  20.   No God's a Man
  21.   Peel the Paint
  22.   Working All Day
  23.   On Reflection
  24.   Think of Me With Kindness
  25.   Two Weeks in Spain
  26.   I'm Turning Around
  27.   His Last Voyage
  28.   Alucard
  29.   The Advent of Panurge
  30.   Knots
  31.   Acquiring the Taste
  32.   Giant for a Day
  33.   Prologue
  34.   Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It
  35.   An Inmates Lullaby
  36.   On Reflection (John Peel Session, 16 September 1975)
  37.   Free Hand (John Peel Session, 16 September 1975)
  38.   Just the Same (John Peel Session, 16 September 1975)
  39.   Breakdown in Brussels
  40.   Why Not?
  41.   The House, The Street, The Room
  42.   Peel the Paint/I Lost My Head
  43.   Medley: Peel the Paint/I Lost My Head
  44.   Excerpts From Octopus
  45.   Mobile
  46.   Talybont
  47.   Rock Climber
  48.   It's Only Goodbye
  49.   No Stranger
  50.   Friends
  51.   Take Me
  52.   Spooky Boogie
  53.   Thank You
  54.   Words from the Wise
  55.   Winning
  56.   As Old as You're Young
  57.   Who Do You Think You Are?
  58.   The Queen
  59.   Giant
  60.   Timing
  61.   Another Show
  62.   Design
  63.   Give It Back
  64.   Interview
  65.   Valedictory
  66.   So Sincere
  67.   A Reunion
  68.   Playing the Game
  69.   Memories of Old Days
  70.   Mountain Time
  71.   Raconteur Troubadour
  72.   A Cry for Everyone
  73.   Dog's Life
  74.   River
  75.   Isn't It Quiet and Cold?
  76.   Excerpts from "Octopus"
  77.   Aspirations
  78.   Funny Ways
  79.   Schooldays
  80.   Nothing at All
  81.   Three Friends
  82.   Plain Truth
  83.   Pantagruel's Nativity
  84.   The Moon Is Down
  85.   Edge of Twilight
  86.   Little Brown Bag