In a Glass House
Release Date: May 10, 2005
Tracks: 7 - Time: 48:00
Produced by: Gentle Giant
Format: MP3, CBR 320
Genre: Progressive Rock
It is inevitable that every great band will have lesser-known bands that will be labeled as“the poor man’s xxxxx” (where x means great band). It is almost never a knock on the quality of the lesser-known band but rather a curse and a compliment. It is a curse, as it will normally keep the band under the shadow of the well-known group and a compliment as it acknowledges the inherent greatness for those who can see it. Gentle Giant falls into this category.
Formed in 1966 on the waves of psychedelia, the band eventually moved into progressive rock, which was growing, renaming themselves the prog-friendly, Gentle Giant. Given life by three brothers, Derek, Ray, and Phil (who eventually left the band) Shulman and shored up by 3 more members, Gary Green, Martin Smith (replaced by Malcolm Mortimer who was replaced by John Weathers, all within the span of a year), and Kerry Minnear, Gentle Giant went on to produce some of the best albums of their day in progressive music.
For the 35 th Anniversary of the band, Derek Shulman, (who had become an A&R man after the band’s demise and was responsible for ‘80s bands, Cinderella and Kingdom Come) and his DRT Entertainment company have remastered and repackaged seven of their most important albums beginning with Free Hand and In a Glass House, both the subjects of this review.
In A Glass House, the band’s 1973, 5 th album release, is an interesting release. Although not Gentle Giant’s best, their work on this album is very reminiscent of early Yes. If you haven’t heard of Gentle Giant nor experienced them, that connection alone should entice you. However, there are differences as well that make Gentle Giant unique. Their vocal experimentation is one of those differences. Their music is a carefully mixed sonic blend that pays attention to the instrument without overwhelmingly creating a fabric of sound as Yes later did. Throw in symphonic leanings and this, as well as other Gentle Giant releases, are molded.
The album starts off with the sound of glass breaking from force and is pushed to a rhythm that begins “The Runaway.” On the interesting “An Inmates Lullaby,” with it’s quirky lyrics (like “If I wet my trousers there was no time…”), the music is a collection of various instruments being played individually and collectively showing the willingness to explore sound as a means to communicate rather than perfectly crafting a song that fits in a mold. This is what made Gentle Giant unique and set them apart from other progressives of their time (King Crimson did this but experimented with sound in power). The classical strains of “Experience” is also on this disc as a bonus live track which shows the band’s fine cut as a live act, able to reproduce their work on stage.
The band’s In a Glass House, although not as structured as other releases from the band, certainly doesn’t fail as a recording. It is a strong and enjoyable album as well as revered by loyal fans, many of which felt this album was one of their best.