30-disc studio & live box coming from Gentle Giant

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by spice9, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. John Kelman

    John Kelman Writer/Photographer, AAJ Senior Contributor

    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    For those interested....

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    My review of Gentle Giant’s super-mega-box (30 discs!), Unburied Treasure, today at All About Jazz. And be warned: it’s a long one!

    Of all the so-called progressive rock bands that emerged in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, Gentle Giant has, perhaps, been the most misunderstood, and the one which failed to reach the same deserved commercial heights of its creatively innovative brethren, like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd. Of the bigger names from that time, only Van der Graaf Generator could be considered in the same breath when it comes to missed commercial success opportunities, and even that group has fared better, if for no other reason than that it resumed active service in 2005 and continues to release new music and, occasionally, to tour to this day.

    Still, there was (and remains) no band that sounded quite like Gentle Giant; even today, its influence on today’s more reductionist progressive rock scene represents a group that has, at times, inspired contemporary groups: imitated and cited, to varying degrees, but never quite capable of being copied. Transatlantic/former Spock’s Beard co-founder and solo artist Neal Morse, Flower Kings and, alongside Morse, fellow Transatlantic co-founder Roine Stolt, Steve Hackett/Agents of Mercy’s Nad Sylvian, Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt, Steven Wilson, Big Big Train, Gungfly’s Rikard Sjöblom, Premiata Forneria Marconi’s Franz di Cioccio, Tim Bowness and many others have all sung high praises of Gentle Giant’s decade-long, unparalleled innovations, documented over eleven studio sets and one live album. Plenty of lesser names, too, collected on recordings like <em>A Reflection</em> (GORGG-O-Sonic, 2008), continue to be inspired by and fan the flames of the Giant’s reputation in the 21st century as one of the finest (and, certainly, most inimitable) bands to emerge from progressive rock’s infancy.

    Why were Gentle Giant’s attempts to garner the greater commercial success it deserved during its final couple of years met with such abysmal failure, despite an extant reputation for creative excellence that mirrored (and, in some cases, exceeded) contemporaries like Yes, Genesis and Emerson, Lake & Palmer? It can easily be argued that Gentle Giant’s failure and ultimate dissolve was, sadly, the direct consequence of deserting its most ardent fans (and, it could equally be argued, itself) by shifting gears in an attempt to achieve greater commercial success and adapt to a changing musical landscape, becoming something it most certainly was not.

    Still, Giant’s attempt to become more commercially viable was also the understandable consequence of slogging it out on the road as much (or, in some cases, more) than many. As the band, beginning in 1971 but with greater emphasis between 1974 and 1977, toured quite relentlessly, it watched groups like Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and, most notably, Genesis become increasingly/massively successful, selling millions of albums and filling increasingly sizeable venues. Not that Giant didn’t have its share of success but, compared to its contemporaries, the group always seemed to have to work harder and tour harder to get what it did (not, however, suggesting that these other bands had a cakewalk).

    Despite some surprisingly bad decisions beginning, in part, with the contrasting shift of 1977’s The Missing Piece (Chrysalis/Capitol), it’s an absolute truth that Gentle Giant’s name and reputation remains significant fifty years after it first rose, Phoenix-like, from the ashes of R&B-turned-psychedelic band Simon Dupree & the Big Sound in 1970. Giant’s debut, Gentle Giant (Vertigo, 1970), may not have achieved the iconic, game-changing success of King Crimson’s 1969 debut, which shook the music world (and beyond), n the Court of the Crimson King (Island). It was, nevertheless, a strong first shot across the bow of creative rock music, and a portent of even greater things to come.

    Continue reading here...
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
  2. GreggF

    GreggF Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Wow! Great piece, John.
    I had a few reservations about preordering the box because, as others in this thread have pointed out, Gentle Giant's music was so intricate that poorly sounding live shows fail to reveal the band's greatness.
    Your review allays my concerns.
    As I read the review, I made a few notes so I could post a question or two to you on this forum. However, by the time I finished reading it you had answered all my questions. Thank you.
     
  3. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    Does this box render the older boxes-- Old Days, I Lost My Head, Scraping the Barrel--redundant?
     
  4. John Kelman

    John Kelman Writer/Photographer, AAJ Senior Contributor

    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    Thanks, man, my pleasure. Thank YOU, for taking the time to slog through reading it, if nothing else, but I’m glad your fears have been allayed. True, the audience recordings aren’t as rich in detail, but they capture enough, and certainly the energy that always represented Giant in performance.

    I have to admit: this is, by about 5-6,000 words, the absolute longest piece I’ve ever written....and it was a total blast, start to finish, doing it. From immersing myself deeply into the music, to reading the copious written material, to finally getting around to the actual writing. I always try, FYI, to listen to all the music 8-10 times, if at all possible - often it is, occasionally it isn’t - to everything, even in a box this size. Anyone who says they can review an album after one listen? Just my opinion, but it’s possible they can..but I honestly don’t think they should. Sure, there are first impressions that have value, but for me, to write, I have to be able to assimilate the music so well that I almost don’t have to listen to it while writing (though I always do)...it has to become so ingrained that I can really hear it in my head, even when I’m not playing it.

    Want some more high praise for this box? Usually, when I’m done writing up one of these box sets, after being immersed for about a month or so and as much as I love the music, I am well and truly ready to put the band away for awhile. But this box has? I’m having difficulty putting it away. I’m still listening to Giant...albeit in between my current new focus: the Floyd Later Years box, which I’ve also been listening to for the past 2-3 weeks, in between and around Giant. I hope to finish that box review by Wednesday (started working on it today), in order to be published by next weekend. It’ll be in-depth, but nowhere near as long as this Giant one. It’s been a revealing set as well, but not to the same extent. And there’s a lot less music to absorb.

    Anyway, I just wanted to thank anyone who takes the time to read my work; I really do appreciate it. So I wanted y’all to know that, while I’m not always checking forums when I’m deep in writing, if anyone has questions and I can answer them, I’ll be happy to, as soon as I get back to the forum...I’ll try to check at least once a day over the next few. I am happy to help and, after all, I always hope that my articles will engender discussion.

    Cheers!
    John
     
  5. John Kelman

    John Kelman Writer/Photographer, AAJ Senior Contributor

    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    No. A lot of the bonus material is NOT in this box (I actually address this pretty early in the review). Other than my separate copy of King’s College 1971, which is replicated in the box (albeit remastered), I’m not getting rid of anything because while there is some crossover there’s still a lot of stuff not included here. For example, the Pinewood Studios Rehearsal from January ‘77 is in the 5-disc Memories of Old Days box (albeit sounding better and restored to correct track sequence), but that box has plenty of stuff not found in Unburied Treasure.

    I know there are pluses and minuses, but that this box doesn’t render a lot of past releases redundant is a good thing, I think. For the avid fan.
     
  6. dubious title

    dubious title Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ontario
    I don't think it makes Scraping the Barrel redundant nor Under Construction. Scraping the Barrel and under construction are both a fun and a very weird collection of miscellany.

    On the fence too, but really know I won't be getting it. I have UK originals, CDs, boxed sets, DVDs and a nifty old fanzine. The two things I would really like are the two great looking books. The Stump GG book was never that good and is expensive now.
     
  7. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston MA
    No, because so much of Barrel is pre and post Gentle Giant. Apparently some of the live stuff on the data disc is repeated.
     
  8. ostrichfarm

    ostrichfarm Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    Sorely tempted to get this, but the expense is considerable and I just bought the Gong box.

    Still, if any band deserves going the extra mile to support...well, it's Gong, but Gentle Giant does too. :D
     
    John Kelman likes this.
  9. steve gilmour

    steve gilmour Forum Resident

    John. Amazing review...one as diverted thank you and look forward to my box arriving soon. Re the Floyd box I have that on pre order too so would love to read your review...Can you post the link here when you're done..Thanks!!
     
    John Kelman likes this.
  10. John Kelman

    John Kelman Writer/Photographer, AAJ Senior Contributor

    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    If there’s a thread about the Floyd box' I can post a link to my review. That’s my agreement with the kind board admins, who when I first came aboard received some complaints that I was spamming the forum. It was very nice of them to work out a solution: if there’s already a thread ongoing on a certain subject, I can post my reviews; if not, I cannot.

    Totally fair....and I’m sure there’s a thread on the subject, so hopefully by next weekend if all goes well.
    Thanks for reading, for the kind words...and for your interest. It won’t be as long or extensive (I got all the video and audio material, but only a PDF of a 12-page picture book, not the all the printed material in the box as advances, curiously (I asked, they said they can’t provide), and I won’t get the actual box until street date or after. I may update the article if so, but usually I don’t.

    Still, o hope to make it in-depth enough to be of interest, though I’ll bet there are bigger and more knowledgeable Floyd fans here than yours truly (not that I don’t love ‘em, but not to the same degree as, say, Giant, for whom I’ve been a constant fan since 1971)....
     
  11. John Kelman

    John Kelman Writer/Photographer, AAJ Senior Contributor

    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    And as I say in the review, nobody has ever had their careers as well-served in a box set as Gentle Giant wit Unburied Treasure. Not to want to entice people to spend money they don’t have, but given the extremely limited nature of these set, if its niggling at you at all, you really should get it (and I am in no way connected to the band or label, so, despite being a writer, this sentiment comes from a major fan)...
     
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  12. dubious title

    dubious title Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ontario
    John, you don't make these things easy..... I'll admit to not reading the exceptional full review (I'll wait till I possibly buy the set), but I assume the books are excellent, not just a bunch of album cover reproductions and promotional ads, but a wealth of informative text.

    I don't like to buy from Amazon anymore, but looks like 428 CAD is about these best option for Canada. Burning Shed comes to more than 500 CAD.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
    John Kelman likes this.
  13. Mike burgess

    Mike burgess Forum Resident

    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    John K, you are a swine! I read your review, I’ve now ordered the box after indecision. My wallet hates you! I know if I read one of your reviews, I’ll buy the damned thing you’re reviewing! Keep up the good work!
     
  14. John Kelman

    John Kelman Writer/Photographer, AAJ Senior Contributor

    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    Indeed they are! And thanks for reading any of the review....I know I don’t make it easy!
     
  15. John Kelman

    John Kelman Writer/Photographer, AAJ Senior Contributor

    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    Thanks for the kind words; I’m surely you’ll enjoy the box!
     
    Mike burgess likes this.
  16. tlake6659

    tlake6659 Forum Resident

    Location:
    NJ
    Can you give a list of shows that are from soundboards from this box set?
     
  17. GreggF

    GreggF Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Can be found here under the 'Tracks' tab:
    Unburied Treasure
     
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  18. KCLizard

    KCLizard Forum Resident

    Location:
    Montréal
    It seems that I have some common ground with you, my wallet...and I also liked his review. When life is that bad....
     
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  19. dennis the menace

    dennis the menace Forum Veteran

    Location:
    Montréal
    Wow, I received my box set this afternoon from Burning Shed...three days early from the ETA !!!

    It looks absolutely amazing. I`ll dive into the music this evening but right now I feel like a kid on Christmas Day !! :pineapple:
     
    Butzi, giantleech, Dok and 4 others like this.
  20. dennis the menace

    dennis the menace Forum Veteran

    Location:
    Montréal
    Wow, thank you very much for this great review. I don`t think someone could write a better summary of GG`s highs and lows. It`s all here in your words. Thank you !
     
  21. dennis the menace

    dennis the menace Forum Veteran

    Location:
    Montréal
    I live in Canada and pre-ordered from Burning Shed. It cost me $477 shipping included. I don`t think Amazon is much better than that once sales tax and shipping is included to the box price.
     
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  22. KCLizard

    KCLizard Forum Resident

    Location:
    Montréal
    Actually on AMZ Canada it will cost about $492,You did not have to pay any fees from the carrier + no Taxes? Would it be possible to give us any idea of the DR values of this set? I am very curious about this.

    Thanking you in advance.
     
  23. John Kelman

    John Kelman Writer/Photographer, AAJ Senior Contributor

    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    Also in the detailed track listing at the end of my review ;)
     
  24. John Kelman

    John Kelman Writer/Photographer, AAJ Senior Contributor

    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    Well, thank you very much kind sir! You are, indeed, welcome!
     
    dennis the menace likes this.
  25. John Kelman

    John Kelman Writer/Photographer, AAJ Senior Contributor

    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    If you live in Canada and order from amazon.ca you would be charged taxes (I live in Canada, and do). The current price is $428.72 + $55.73 tax = $484.45, but you won’t pay for shipping because of the big ticket price. So close to par with BS, but since they’ve already shipped, and they only do courier, even Canadian buyers ought to have it pretty soon...maybe even before Amazon!

    As for DR values? That’s where I get lost on this forum, man. For me, and it may sound ignorant so advance apologies, it’s all about the music and what my ears experience. I know the numbers have value, but I just can’t get past the music and what I hear. Plus I’ve no idea how to get DR values, so someone else will have to oblige you I’m afraid....

    Sorry!!
     

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