It's here...it's finally here! At long last, quality historical footage of one of the most important progressive rock bands of the 1970's is presented in DVD format, in a deluxe package for all fans to enjoy. Almost two hours of vintage Gentle Giant, taped from 1974-75 at various locations in Germany, Brussels, the USA, and Italy. Most of this material has been floating around the market on poor, bootleg, multiple generation VHS tapes over the years, and now the footage has been restored and presented for the best possible viewing and listening pleasure. This special edition set also contains an extra bonus CD with the audio portion of the 1974 show in Brussels aired on the German TV station ZDF, which was a fantastic performance of the band. Now you get the best of two worlds-watch the show, and listen to the show on your home or car stereo as well.
The ZDF performance was taped in a television studio in front of a somewhat tranquil audience, perhaps put there not knowing who in the world Gentle Giant was. Throughout the 50 minute set, the folks in attendance barely applaud (perhaps told to do so by the TV crew), which one would think would be a confidence buster for the band. Not necessarily for this band, as Gentle Giant tears through songs from Power and the Glory, Octopus, In a Glass House and their self titled debut. The highlights-well there are many. The rocking, complex "Cogs in Cogs", the gorgeous melancholy of "Funny Ways" featuring some great violin and cello from Ray Shulman and Kerry Minnear(plus a monumental vibes solo), the amazing "Features from Octopus", the recorder quartet ripping out "Yankee Doodle Dandy", and the five-man drum finale. Simply a powerful performance in every way. Sadly, the one drawback is that the camera crew shot very few full band sequences, as most of the filming was of individual players, and many head shots. One enjoyable aspect of this fact though is you get to see drummer John Weathers close up-this guy was a monster player, and you get to see his nimble and manic style up close, not to mention his many facial expressions. Overall, the band was firing on all cylinders, and this remains one of their best recorded performances.
The 1975 US TV Concert footage (California) is another quality performance from the band, with a similar set list, and brings perhaps better audio & video clarity than the ZDF footage. Roughly 31 minutes, the band runs through four tunes, the most powerful being the rampaging "Advent of Panurge", as well another top-notch "Octopus" medley. Seeing the acoustic guitar duo between Ray Shulman and Gary Green is a marvel to behold, and the two seem to be connected telepathically. Green always was an underrated guitar player in my book, and Shulman could really do it all on many instruments. Brother Derek Shulman's vocals are a little stronger on this set than the ZDF show, and the virtuoso keyboard work of Minnear is as impressive as always.
Also included is a short clip from Szene 1974, with mostly Gary Green and John Weathers jamming to an instrumental part of "In a Glass House" (with some heavy guitar work from Green), as well as some B&W live and interview clips from Italy from that same year. There is also a nice photo gallery section from Gary Green's archives, which is mainly studio stuff (including shots of older Shulman brother Phil), plus the previosly mentioned bonus CD.
An essential purchase for Gentle Giant fans, that goes without saying. While it would be perfect had some earlier or later footage of the band be available to complement this set and give some song variety (most of the material covers the same songs), that can easily be overlooked seeing how much historical value this DVD contains. One huge surpise is the inclusion of new instrumental music from Kerry Minnear that is featured on the intro to the DVD and the main menu. Once GG fans hear this brief musical bliss they will be clamoring for more new music from Minnear & the rest of the band!
German TV ZDF 1974-Brussels
1) Cogs in Cogs
3) Funny Ways
4) The Runaway
6) Features From Octopus
7) Advent of Panurge
8) So Sincere
US TV Concert 1975
2) Features From Octopus
3) Advent of Panurge
4) Funny Ways
1) Guitar & drums from In a Glass House
1) Baroque & Roll-black and white film from Italian TV featuring live footage & interviews
2) Photo Gallery from Gary Green's private collection
same set list as German TV ZDF 1974