Gentle Giant’s ‘Giant For A Day!’ with its gimmicky cover and stronger, straighter rock songs was their first LP I had ever wrapped my ears around and I’m still nostalgic for the set, firmly believing it’s the best of their later output.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: Gentle Giant
ALBUM: Giant For A Day!
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Derek Shulman – vocals * Ray Shulman – bass * Kerry Minnear – keyboards * Gary Green – guitars * John Weather – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Words From The Wise * 02 Thank You * 03 Giant For A Day! * 04 Spooky Boogie * 05 Take Me * 06 Little Brown Bag * 07 Friends * 08 No Stranger * 09 It’s Only Goodbye * 10 Rock Climber
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Over the years I’ve heard stories of people walking out of Gentle Giant gigs when they were a support act in the U.S. Not too difficult to understand as this reviewer was never enamored with their vertically challenged medieval boogie prog either.
And if I had laid down coin to see the likes of Gary Wright, Ted Nugent or even Yes and these guys were on stage, I would have made a ‘feet don’t fail me now’ dash for the beer stands too.
Gentle Giant were like Mead-swilling wandering minstrels with shoddy gear (plenty of stories about that too), playing an unreasonable form of chamber rock with a dearth of melody and by 1977 the avant-baroque crusade had worn thin with their record label. AOR radio was now the lovable streamlined format of choice.
It was picking up plumes of steam by the historically massive successes of Boston, Peter Frampton, Bob Seger, Heart and Fleetwood Mac with no shortage of sun-dappled stadium-sized day on the green’s and world series of rock blowouts to rake in the dough.
Like clockwork in the latter half of that magical year, Gentle Giant released ‘The Missing Piece’ which conspicuously shied away from the dense complexities of the early albums. Reading interviews with the band at the time and even now, no one will admit to any change or bending over corporate conference tables but whatever.
It was plain to see Gentle Giant were grudgingly corralled into the green pastures of AOR and the grazing for hits had begun. The follow-up ‘Giant For A Day!’ with its gimmicky cover and stronger, straighter rock songs was their first LP I had ever wrapped my ears around and I’m still nostalgic for the set, firmly believing it’s the best of their later output.
Hard rocking ‘Words From The Wise’ with a chorus direct from the Starcastle school of vocal harmonies kicks their past in the nuts and slaps it back down with an acoustic driven Little Feat inspired ditty. Yeah, you can just feel the cold wind that must have blown in the faces of old school Giant fanatics after hearing these two tracks.
The wagging fingers of sell-out must have been everywhere and I imagine the punk-y title track warmed few hearts, nor did the instrumental ‘Spooky Boogie’ which sounds like the Atlanta Rhythm Section tracking a Tim Burton flick. More Little Feat on ‘Friends’ and in particular ‘No Stranger’ although my best in show definitely goes to ‘It’s Only Goodbye’ which has a similar melodic thump to top of the game early Kayak.
With poorly attended gigs on ‘The Missing Piece’ tour, the band skipped roadwork this time around which was weird. With their new found commercial aspirations it would have been a perfect time to latch on to a multi-bill arena package as an opening act but it wasn’t on the cards. 1980’s ‘Civilian’ pushed the new wave direction and was a fairly interesting record although it would be the band’s last hurrah.
Of note: Pezband, Granati Brothers, 805 and Face Dancer appeared on scattered dates during Gentle Giant’s farewell tour which closed out at the Roxy in Hollywood, California on June 16, 1980.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)