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Gentle Giant – Acquiring the Taste (Reissue) Award winner

Gentle Giant
Acquiring the Taste (Reissue)
by Mike McMahan at 22 April 2020, 11:15 PM

Acquiring the Taste” was GENTLE GIANT’s second album (coming on the heels of their 1970’s critically acclaimed debut), and their first to be released in the United States. The record continued the band’s usage of a broad scale of influences, combining folk, jazz, soul, and classical music with rock to create a complex wall of sound; even more so than some of their better-known peers such as GENESIS, YES, KING CRIMSON and EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER. The album could almost be an extension of the debut release, with similar themes and complexity, although it does seem to carry a more matured feel throughout.

Opening the record is the seven-minute epic “Pantagruel’s Nativity,” inspired by the books of Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais. Kerry Minnear aptly handles the vocal duties on this cut, which spans styles and time signatures as if it were changing shirts. Minnear’s presence actually makes itself more evident on this second release, noticeable in the writing and arrangement of the percussion for the second track “Edge of Twilight” and the handling the keyboards and vocals. There is a trace of jazz influence in the vocals of this track, as well as (like the debut) more chaotic moments which bring to mind certain parts of Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew.”

With “The House, The Street, The Room,” we find the band exploring more with various styles and instrumentation, including the addition of the clavichord. The song also finds musicians trading off roles, as Green handles some of the bass work and adds a mandolin to his arsenal. Midway through, the song switches gears with a very impressive guitar solo, which almost brings to mind some of the heavier moments of Ritchie Blackmore and DEEP PURPLE.

A very well-rounded and well-executed record, all in all; and another essential listen to any fan of the Progressive Rock genre. It certainly keeps you on your toes.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Pantagruel’s Nativity
2. Edge of Twilight
3. The House, The Street, The Room
4. Acquiring the Taste
5. Wreck
6. The Moon is Down
7. Black Cat
8. Plain Truth
Gary Green – Guitars, Mandolin, Bass (Track 3)
Kerry Minnear – Hammond Organ, Minimoog, Mellotron, Clavichord (Track 3), Piano, Tympani, Xylophone, Vibraphone, Cellos, Bass, Backing and Lead Vocals
Derek Shulman – Lead and Backing Vocals, Percussion, Clavichord
Phil Shulman – Clarinet (Tracks 2 and 3), Trumpet, Alto and Tenor Saxophones, Treble and Tenor Recorder, Backing and Lead Vocals
Ray Shulman – Bass, Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Violins, Percussion, Triangle, Backing Vocals
Martin Smith – Drums and Percussion

Additional musicians:
Paul Cosh – Trumpet and Organ (Track 3)
Tony Visconti – Recorders, Bass Drum and Triangle (Track 7)
Chris Thomas – Moog Programmer (Tracks 1-5)
Record Label: Alucard Music


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Edited 28 January 2023

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