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Reviews

Gentle Giant — King Biscuit Flower Hour
(King Biscuit Flower Hour Records 70710-88035-2, 1975/1998, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 1998-07-01

King Biscuit Flower Hour Cover art Gentle Giant as a live touring band (1970-1980) were always in a period of transition and refinement. The group would craft a challenging album from the palette of musical ideas by Kerry Minnear and the Shulman Bros., arrange the heck out of them, then record them. When it came to live presentation though, the very same songs would undergo radical surgery by merging, and transforming into a complex piece of modern music unlike any other in rock and roll (save for possibly Zappa). The 35th album in the King Biscuit Flower Hour catalog captures the quintet in a hot bed of change live in early 1975 at the Academy of Music in New York City. Since the group had not yet recorded Free Hand (one of the core albums in their catalog), they can be heard creatively re-working material from Octopus (1972), In a Glass House (1973) and recent album, The Power and the Glory (1973). "So Sincere" is still one of the oddest and most aggressive pieces in the band’s repertoire featuring an intro of quirky cello and violin accompaniment with a Derek Shulman vocal; Gary Green mops up the track with a blistering blues guitar solo over a clavinet line that then transitions into a complete band participative percussion section. Exhaustive liner notes by John Bungey characterize the band near its zenith. Although the live album, Playing the Fool (live in 1976) is a more comprehensive package, this single disc is a welcome addition to peg the strengths of the band as they continued to advance and perfect their live instrumental dexterity unmatched in rock.

Filed under: Archives, Issue 15, 1998 releases, 1975 recordings

Related artist(s): Gentle Giant

 

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