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discover: Gentle Giant

By Anthony Garone

Complex medieval blues/rock with a twist of avant garde.

Who was Gentle Giant?

Gentle Giant was a progressive rock band that was more influential than famous in its 10-year existence. Their multi-instrumental virtuosity, enthusiasm, and perfectionism made them a very powerful live act throughout the 1970s. Several videos of their performances have survived and are available for purchase. It is clear they were a formidable act to follow.

How many instruments can one group of people play?!

The band rotated a few members, but the lineup with the greatest longevity included:

  • Derek Shulman: Lead vocals, saxophone, recorder, keyboards, bass, drums, percussion
  • Ray Shulman: Bass, trumpet, violin, vocals, viola, drums, percussion, recorder, guitar
  • Kerry Minnear: Lead vocals, keyboards, cello, vibes, xylophone, recorder, guitar, bass, drums
  • Gary Green: Guitar, mandolin, vocals, recorder, bass, drums, xylophone
  • John Weathers: Drums, percussion, vibes, xylophone, vocals, guitar

How diverse can one group of people be?

They were also incredibly diverse in their musical style. They used hockets, vocal fugues, odd time signatures, elements of medieval music and modern blues/rock within the same song, tension, atonal harmony, and many other techniques that made their music weird.

What you should listen to first

Some of my favorite songs include:

The Torch Still Burns

Two of the original members are keeping the band’s music alive with live performances in a lineup called Three Friends. They are excellent! Check out this great performance of Schooldays from, also called Three Friends.

Gentle Giant is a big influence on many other interesting bands. There are several tribute albums, one of which features this fantastic vocal fugue by Kevin Gilbert:

Steven Wilson Remixes

In July 2014, Derek Shulman interviewed with the Huffington Post (scroll to the middle of the long page) and announced the BluRay edition of The Power and the Glory. It is a little surreal reading about Gentle Giant in the news, but here we are. Anyway, the new releases are remixed and remastered by Steven Wilson of the band Porcupine Tree. He’s also responsible for rereleases of several King Crimson and Jethro Tull classics. Very exciting news for weird music fans.

Just a few weeks earlier, Derek did a longer interview with Hit Channel. Cool!

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