Gentle Giant - 'Three Piece Suite'

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Gentle Giant - 'Three Piece Suite'

I'm not sure this will convert anyone to the cause, but existing fans will delight in these new mixes and excellent package.

It was only a matter of time before the Gentle Giant back catalogue got the Steve Wilson 5.1 Surround Sound treatment, but in this case not all the master tapes could be found. That's not unusual and Wilson has managed to produce pseudo 5.1 mixes from the stereo versions of albums before, but here the decision was made to use only the nine tracks from their first three albums where the multi-track tapes were available, and what they've achieved is to essentially create a new album.

Such was the consistency of the band over these three albums ('Gentle Giant', 'Acquiring The Taste' and 'Three Friends') you can't tell the difference between releases and it therefore sounds like a coherent collection. The album is rounded out with a previously unreleased track and a single edit of 'Nothing At All'. The edit excludes the closing drum solo, how Prog is that? The unreleased number, 'Freedom's Child', couldn't be fitted on the debut album, but it's a welcome addition as it's a fine composition.

The band came to prominence at the outset of Prog and they were truly Progressive with a variety of unusual instruments being utilised, A Cappella vocals and a dizzying array of time signatures. It's certainly not hard to see where the likes of Neal Morse and Echolyn derived their influences. On paper, they'd appear to be too eclectic for my taste, but I really like them, particularly after alighting on their live album 'Playing The Fool'.

The album and material sound fresh and incredibly contemporary, and far from the forty-five years old that they are. It's intriguing that Gentle Giant didn't achieve the same level of success and exposure as contemporaries such as Genesis and Jethro Tull. Maybe they were just a bit too eclectic despite their material having hooks and melodies, albeit these can be interspersed with left field moments.

If variety is the spice of life, then there's plenty to enjoy on this release as the band move between pastoral and grandiose, through the Blues and many other points in between. This release comes in a multitude of versions from a single CD up to the Blu-ray which features an instrumental version of the album plus re-mixes of the three albums represented in their entirety. There's a substantial and informative booklet too. I'm not sure this will convert anyone to the cause, but existing fans will delight in these new mixes and excellent package.

Gary Marshall

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