Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Rare England Import, 10trx.
Cut along the dotted line...
Jeffrey J.Park | Massachusetts, USA | 12/09/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Gentle Giant established a reputation in the 1970s as quite possibly one of the most contrapuntal groups in all of progressive rock: their music was staggeringly complex. This 1978 album however, shows a simplification of their music on all levels. Even the cover art, which depicts cutout masks of the bands "mascot" (the gentle giant) on the faces of a boxer; a beauty pageant winner etc. is suggestive of "populist" trends - that is, anyone could be a "giant for a day". This is not to say that the music on Giant for a Day is without redeeming qualities - there are some really nice melodies and as far as pop music goes, this stuff is well-written.
The band at this point was comprised of the lineup that made their definitive music: Derek Shulman (vocals); Ray Shulman (bass guitar, vocals); Kerry Minnear (keyboards,vocals); Gary Green (electric and acoustic guitars, vocals); and John Weathers (drums, vocals). While the playing on Giant for a Day is in no way reminiscent of albums like Octopus (1973) or Free Hand (1975), these guys do turn in some solid, albeit watered down performances - the dense counterpoint and intricate ensemble work is pretty much gone. The use of instrumentation is also simplified and the band favors the standard bass/guitars/drums/vocals with splashes of keyboards here and there.
Tracks on the album that I enjoy include the acoustic textures and sweet melodies on Thank You, Take Me and Friends, in addition to the instrumental Spooky Boogie (the closest thing to classic Gentle Giant as it gets on the album). The remaining tracks show the band trying to adopt styles popular at the time including New Wave, British symphonic pop and American stadium rock. While I do not like New Wave at all, I really enjoy some of the British symphonic pop and American stadium rock bands and those tracks appealed to me the most. Unfortunately, whereas those bands were not afraid to incorporate aspects of British progressive rock, Gentle Giant did not share this enthusiasm and stuck closer to the traditional pop song format.
As far as the DRT remasters go, this is one of the better ones and the CD booklet folds out to display the cut out mask that would enable the listener to be a "giant for a day". The sound quality is very good. While there are no bonus tracks, there is a music video of Words from the Wise. I have not watched the video so I can not comment.
Giant for a Day is yet another example of progressive rock musicians embracing mainstream musical styles in the late 1970s. The followup album Civilian (1980) is purportedly similar to Giant for a Day, although I have not heard it. I guess it is worth noting that the cover art on Civilian took the cover art of Giant for a Day one step further and simply depicted "faceless masses". After Civilian, the band dissolved when it became obvious that trying to emulate a New Wave or American stadium rock band was not going to sell records.
Recommended starting points for folks who are just discovering Gentle Giant include Acquiring the Taste (1971), Three Friends (1972), Octopus (1973), In a Glass House (1973), The Power and the Glory (1974), Free Hand (1975) and the excellent live album Playing the Fool (1977). If you like those albums, check out the eponymous 1970 debut Gentle Giant, Interview (1976), and The Missing Piece (1977)(The Missing Piece markes the beginning of the commercialization of their sound yet is still pretty good)."