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Gentle Giant: Live in New York 1975

Live In New York 1975 is the latest in a series of 'official bootleg' recordings from Gentle Giant released on the Glass House/Voiceprint label. Recorded on October 3rd, 1975, at the White Plains Music Hall in White Plains, New York, this set features six songs, very indicative of the set list that Gentle Giant were playing at the time on their tour of the classic album Free Hand. The sound quality here is pretty good considering the source, and the band as always plays excellent.

After an opening keyboard blast (probably a tape of Kerry Minnear) the band come out and tear into the impossibly complex "Cogs in Cogs" from The Power and the Glory. That segues into one of their more charming pieces from earlier in their career, "Funny Ways", a real majestic number with vintage keys, violin, cello, acoustic guitars, vibes, and horns. As with almost every live recording of this song I have ever heard has sounded, this version is just stunning. The band then launches into their In a Glass House medley of "The Runaway/Experience", which becomes a real workout for guitarist Gary Green and keyboard player Minnear. Derek Shulman's vocals here are quite effective and full of whimsical qualities, giving these pieces a full-on British flair, but the rest of the band adds some nice backing vocals as well. Listen closely for some very muscular bass work from Ray Shulman and John Weathers' always nimble drum fills, which never fail to impress. Another visit to The Power and the Glory comes in the form of So Sincere, another complex number both musically and vocally, opening with Ray's violin dueling with Derek's vocals, then becoming a full rave-up for the entire band. The final two pieces come from the Free Hand album, the heavy rock of the title track and the upbeat and quirky "Just the Same", each one a classic in its own right. The sound quality of these two songs though seems to suffer a bit from the rest of the set for some reason.

All of these songs were all previously available on the CD Endless Life, which contained the full set from that night that also included "Proclamation", "On Reflection", "Excerpts from Octopus", and "Plain Truth", plus another show from California on the same tour. I'm not really sure why Voiceprint would release this seeing as the material is already available, and the fact that they didn't include the full show here is rather mysterious, which makes you wonder if these songs were actually from the White Plains headlining show or an opening act slot from another gig. A little track by track listening comparisons between the two CD's might have to be done to figure this all out. Despite these uncertainties, this is still a pretty smoking set from one of progs most respected and unique bands in their prime.

Track Listing
1. Cogs In Cogs
2. Funny Ways
3. The Runaway/ Experience
4. So Sincere
5. Free Hand
6. Just The Same

Added: February 12th 2008
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Gentle Giant Website
Hits: 3125
Language: english

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Gentle Giant: Live in New York 1975
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-02-12 15:36:23
My Score:

Recorded on October 3rd, 1975, Live In New York 1975" presents Progressive meets Avant-garde Rock pioneers Gentle Giant delivering a knock down set for a very appreciative crowd at the White Plains Music Hall. It's actually an officially released "bootleg" which was recorded and it sounds fantastic when it's compared to other such recordings of its type. The musicianship is tight in the band and it comes across very clearly on the surprisingly sound production that this has. Perhaps this was a sound board recording, or the result of several carefully placed microphones because I have heard official live albums that didn't sound half as good as this "bootleg" did. The oddity comes in why an incomplete set of material has been released as opposed to a full recording of the show which has to be in the archives that this came from somewhere. If you are already a Prog-Rock aficionado and have some level of experience in Gentle Giant and their experimentation for the betterment of the genre this might appeal to you based on is historical place in the bands career. However this is hardly the place for a new listener to begin their own journey. Yes the six tunes that comprise this recording are strong songs in the bands catalog but a new listener is better served by finding the full album's "Free Hand" and "In A Glass House" first to better prepare them for the adventure that surely lies ahead. "So Sincere" and "Free Hand" are among the best offerings on the CD and with only four more choices to make it's rather safe to say that the full product is a good one. As you listen you can appreciate the level of skill that the guys possessed on their instruments and just how fluent they were on all of them. The lineup on the recording for the unaware are Derek Shulman (vocals), Kerry Minnear (keyboards), Ray Shulman (guitars), Gary Green (guitars) and John Weathers (drums). The great thing that I took from this was the reminder of how far ahead of the pack this band was in terms of how a tune was composed and what directions they allowed it to take when executing it. There are time signature and tempo changes galore everywhere you turn and I am not only talking about those standard easy changes in time, I am speaking of the really unconventional stuff that pushed the envelope in their very avant-garde display of music. While this is a fine piece it might be more for the fan who must have every release, outtake, or rarities CD for their collection. I could be wrong, but as mentioned only a few sentences above, there are a couple of full albums that would be much more the rewarding experience over this release. Choose your course wisely.

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