Giant

III

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If the powerful yet slick AOR of Giant's first two albums -- 1989's Last of the Runaways and 1992's Time to Burn -- had already seemed stylistically out of step with the times (hence their resounding commercial failure), then the group's next studio effort, 2001's III, would, by rights, have to sound positively prehistoric...right? Well, yes according to the whims of pop charts everywhere, but not in the eyes of European label Frontiers, which aggressively courted three of the four original bandmembers until they agreed to reconvene for these recordings, nearly ten years after their breakup. In the interim, vocalist/guitarist Dann Huff, his drumming sibling David Huff, and bassist Mike Brignardello (keyboard player Alan Pasqua did not take part in the reunion) had resumed their prior existence as in-demand session musicians, with the first Huff also stepping behind the mixing desk to produce the odd country artist and, rather infamously, a pair of LPs for thrash metal legends Megadeth. The point of all this background is that all three of the returning musicians were doing just fine in their careers behind the scenes, and therefore had no reason to resurrect the Giant name beyond their love of the music, and a pure desire to rock! And rock they did across most of III's new tunes (and with virtually no discernible Christian undercurrents to boot), but with the exception of the hard-driving "You Will Be Mine" and Van Halen-esque "The Sky Is the Limit," Giant rarely showed the same urgency heard on their oftentimes borderline metallic Time to Burn. Instead, groovy mid-paced rockers like "Over You," "Love Can't Help You Now," and "Oh Yeah" cruised along with the studied precision to be expected of lifelong session players, recalling in that sense the technically pristine but also sometime soulless Last of the Runaways. And, at the opposite end of the spectrum, III felt conspicuously "light" (or not "light" enough, as it were) in the power ballad category compared with its two predecessors, with scant examples like "Don't Leave Me in Love" (memorable, but perhaps too energetic to actually qualify), the half-hearted "It's Not the End of the World," and even the exceptionally catchy "Can't Let Go" ultimately lacking the over the top commitment to maudlin schmaltz that typifies the best and truly timeless AOR tearjerkers. So, at the end of the day (and the album's conclusion, via a snappy cover of the Robert Palmer hit "Bad Case of Loving You"), III felt like a competent but rather workmanlike production, not quite on par with Giant's earlier LPs -- perhaps because it lacked the desperate hunger and fire that only a true desire to make it could have inspired. Luckily, Giant's collective songwriting and performing talent was such that even another day at the office was a very good day by most any standards, and that seemed to be more than enough for the die-hard fans who went to the trouble of seeking out this album.

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