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Gentle Giant: Three Friends LP
[Tapestry Records]

Gentle Giant's third effort 'Three Friends' was their first concept-album, and may I add that they managed to keep on exploring consistently in their own abilities to expand creatively the boundaries of rock. The remiscences of childhood and schooldays and the respective portraits of the three characters are used in order to provide some intellectual unity for the repertoire, though clearly each track works as an individual for its own merits. Generally speaking, it doesn't equal the level of perfection incarnated in its immediate predecessor ('Acquiring the Taste') and successor ('Octopus'), since the repertoire doesn't exhibit as much exquisiteness as in the aforementioned albums - yet it's appropiate to consider it as one of their greatest achievements, both in their own career and in the general context of the prog genre. The overall sound in the album feels at times rockier than ever before, specially in the fairly aggressive and/or distorted guitar and organ sections, and sometimes the wah-wah electric violin (pay attention to tracks 3, 4 and 5), as well as new drummer Malcolm Mortimore's solid playing: his stylings are as jazz-infected as his predecessor's, but Mortimore displays a tighter punch in his performance. As always, the vocal parts are delicious and varied, the sax parts are colourful enough, and last but not least... both master keyboardsman Kerry Minnear's and bassist extraordinaire Ray Shulman's playing are immaculately precise. The weird melodic lines and chord progressions of 'Prologue' are actually quite catchy, and so is the half-Celtic/half-bluesy hard rocker 'Mister Class and Quality?'... and let's not skip the sweet, deceitfully naive melancholy of 'Schooldays' or the cynical disappointment of 'Working All Day'. But the absolute highlights IMHO are 'Peel the Paint' and the closing title track. The former is an awesome two-part minisuite, featuring an exciting guitar/drumkit Cream-meets-TenYearsAfter jam in the second part's interlude. 'Three Friends', which completes the musical ambience delivered by 'Mister Class and Quality?', is built upon beautiful layers of organ and mellotron: it comprises an eerie, brilliant choral coda that still echoes in the listener's ears after the song ends. Undisputedly, this is one of the best vocal arrangements in GG's history. What a way to end an album!! Once you know this song, it doesn't leave your mind - in fact, it's the first sound that comes to my mind everytime I evoke this album's title. Well, as I said before, this is an excellent work that doesn't reach the status of perfection... but almost - a sort of masterpiece, anyway.

This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 04 April, 2017.
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