Gentle Giant

Giant on the Box

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There is now more Gentle Giant material in print than at any time since the group's heyday in the mid-'70s, and whether this is a good thing or not depends upon one's outlook regarding art rock in general and Gentle Giant's particular brand of it. Topping off the anniversary editions of the portion of the catalog actually controlled by the ex-group members is this DVD/CD combination, which assembles in one place the surviving television appearances of the group from German, American, Italian, and other sources and which includes some interview material in addition to the live performances. Gentle Giant wasn't all that interesting visually, but their live sound was busy enough and the directors evidently intrigued enough with what they were doing to make them look fascinating, and hearing some of their early- to mid-'70s repertoire, such as "Funny Ways," "Knots," and "Advent of Panurge," done live is, at the very least, diverting. The performances are strange to watch, however, because the audiences are incredibly enthusiastic -- the group has been the butt of so many jokes about prog rock's flaws that it's refreshing to see the outpouring of support manifested here. Some of the musical elements are also intriguing, especially a searing, high-wattage rethinking of one section of In a Glass House as a heavy metal guitar jam, circa 1974 -- not bad for a band that, just six years before, was doing light pop psychedelia.

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