When have you heard this before, "One of the best live albums just got better"? Probably here, and probably from this writer, numerous times in the past thanks to the wonderful process we call remastering. Former Gentle Giant singer and multi-instrumentalist Derek Shulman and his label DRT Entertainment have remastered a good amount of the latter day Gentle Giant catalog, the live Playing the Fool however being one of their greatest achievements. Sure, Free Hand, The Power and the Glory, and In a Glass House each sounded leagues better than the original, but this live album takes on new life here, crystal clear sound with plenty of nuances audible, as if you were sitting right there in the front row directly in front of the band. Recorded in 1976 on their European tour, this is prime Gentle Giant at the height of their powers.
Highlights? Well, the entire album is just wonderful from start to finish. Kicking off with the sparklingly robust "Just the Same" from the Free Hand album, the band launches into one killer cut after another, like "Proclamation", the complex ditty "On Reflection", the mammoth medley "Excerpts From Octopus"(complete with uncanny Gary Green/Ray Shulman acoustic guitar solo), the classic and meditative opus "Funny Ways", to songs like "Experience", the rollicking "So Sincere", the hard rocking "Free Hand", to the heavy sounds of the medley "Peel the Paint/I Lost My Haed". Most Gentle Giant fans don't need me to go into detail here-this is simply a classic album that now has improved sound and packaging that duplicates the original LP. Add in the live video of "Proclamation" from Brussels 1974, and you have a great all around live album that will long live in progressive rock history as one of the best ever from one of the most unique bands of the genre.
1) Just the Same
3) On Reflection
4) Excerpts From Octopus
5) Funny Ways
6) The Runaway
8) So Sincere
9) Free Hand
10) Sweet Georgia Brown (Breakdown in Brussels)
11) Peel the Paint/I Lost My Head (Medley)
Enhanced with Video of Live Performance of "Proclamation" Performed Live in Brussels 1974