Gentle Giant

Live in Santa Monica 1975

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Considering how sonically intricate and perfect Gentle Giant were in their vinyl prime, it's a little surprising -- and very dismaying -- to discover how far the standards of their recordings have fallen in recent years. Yes, there's a market for Gentle Giant live discs, and one that happily devours every morsel it's offered. But with the sound quality firmly locked in the basement, and little regard for anything beyond bootlegging the bootleggers, this is the kind of album that could give barrel-scraping a bad name. The Santa Monica show mumbles through five of the seven tracks; the closing two-part "For Nobody" was taken from a Dallas gig two years later, and doesn't really add anything beyond chronological confusion to the party. Neither should the liner notes be granted more than a cursory glance -- one side of the booklet reproduces a music paper interview from 1972 (so it, too, is irrelevant to the proceedings); the other half reproduces it again, in smaller print. So, shoddy packaging, lousy sound, and very little regard for any of the niceties that a serious CD archive campaign could allow them to exercise. Looks like the bootleggers weren't the only ripoff merchants around.

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