Gentle Giant — Scraping the Barrel
(Alucard ALU-GG-04, 1980/2004, 4CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2005-03-01The title of this second volume of Gentle Giant audio and audiovisual archives is simply a long time fan’s obsessive labor of love. Dan Bornemark has been a charter member of the band’s on-line fan club for many years as well as a knowledgeable audio expert with access to extremely rare session outtakes, songwriting snippets, backing tracks, unreleased post band efforts and even 8MM B&W film. Discs one and two are continuations of the band’s Under Construction set that indirectly serves as a high quality proof of concept for this release. The Three Friends and The Power and the Glory recordings provide the most examples to scrutinize. Kerry Minnear’s home demos of piano parts provide enthusiastic insight as to how well developed little bits and pieces were to begin with. Gary Green’s mid-section solo on “Peel the Paint” in fact shows a bit more fluidity than the LP version in my opinion. My favorite takes are alternate version of “Mr. Class and Quality” as well as the angelic swelling vocal part and Mellotron which close out the Three Friends title track. The all instrumental version of “Think of Me with Kindness” is also quite precious. Disc three spotlights radical departure solo efforts by various members. Minnear’s eleven keyboard based songs are in a much traditional singer songwriter mode which fits quite well. Both “Home Again” and “Moog Fugue” would have been good inputs into any Giant recording effort. Plus the childlike introduction into Green and Ray Shulman’s “On Safari” is a bit of modern Duane Eddy that works. Their other two efforts are a bit of 80s modern rock much like The Fixx that is a bit dated but could have materialized into something bigger. Green’s solo guitar pieces are also pretty inspired as well. Disc four is the deep well of a fan’s odds-and-ends wish box: from rare photos of Simon Dupree with Elton John to black-and-white film of a giant walking through a miniature town. Plus some wild band rehearsals, warts and all, are presented in complete form with over eight hours of files to decipher and digest. Live performances from Plymouth and what sounds like a mixing board boot of Torino '73 sound pretty good too. The early instrumental versions of “Just the Same” and “Time to Kill” are powerful as well as the unused vibes arrangement for “On Reflection.” Overall this presents the best of the rest of the material the band has to present and I’m thankful that the archive retrieval process though arduous has been a blessing for devoted fans.
Related artist(s): Gentle Giant
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more
Joel Vandroogenbroeck RIP – Word has reached us of the death of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, best known as one of the founders of Brainticket, He also recorded electronic music under a variety of names. He was born August 25th, 1938 in Brussels, Belgium and died December 23, 2019 in Arlesheim, Switzerland, aged 81. » Read more