R-233848 Playing The Fool
Produced by Gentle Giant
Released on 1977
US CHART POSITION #89
Find it at GEMM
R-233848 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

T he Giant’s 1976 tour marked the end of an era, captured here on two elpees that draw out the jewels from their earlier masterpieces. Of course it’s brilliant, faithful to the originals but free in execution, the celebration of a genius that spills over. However, an appreciation of this album is predicated on an understanding that the originals were flawless creatures. Only then do you really enjoy the license given to songs like “On Reflection.” Not that Gentle Giant departs from the original blueprints, they simply add some ornamentation to suit the live milieu (drum solos, complex vocal harmonies, a chorus of recorders) and keep listeners on their toes a little. I remember when I first heard Playing The Fool, amazed that the band could capture so much of the original detail in a live setting. Kerry’s keyboards sound the same, Gary’s guitar has all of the old grit, Derek’s voice stays the original course point for point. Song selection is a non-issue for me, since it’s a delight to hear the band conjure any of the old wonders so faithfully. A medley of Octopus is a highlight, the combination of “Peel The Paint” (from Three Friends) and “I Lost My Head” (the lone track from Interview) a good way to cram as much great music as possible into two pieces of plastic. Not by accident, the first three sides are introduced by sounds from the original elpees: Free Hand’s gears grinding (side one), a spinning coin (side two, from Interview I think), breaking glass from In A Glass House (side three). In part because of this, Playing The Fool feels like Gentle Giant’s studio albums come to life. It doesn’t add much new music to the canon (only a short violin/guitar rendition of “Sweet Georgia Brown”), but serves rather to underscore how talented an outfit they were.

R-233848 inner gatefold R-233848 back cover
R-233848 inner gatefold R-233848 back cover

TRACK LISTING

    record one
  1. JUST THE SAME    6:08
  2. PROCLAMATION    5:07
  3. ON REFLECTION    6:24
  4. EXCERPTS FROM OCTOPUS    15:35
  5. FUNNY WAYS    8:35

    record two
  6. THE RUNAWAY    3:57
  7. EXPERIENCE    5:53
  8. SO SINCERE    10:22
  9. FREE HAND    7:40
  10. SWEET GEORGIA BROWN (BREAKDOWN IN BRUSSELS)    (Bernie/Pinkard/Casey)    1:15
  11. PEEL THE PAINT/I LOST MY HEAD (MEDLEY)    7:35

    All songs written by Shulman/Shulman/Minnear

CREDITS

GARY GREEN -- electric, acoustic & twelve-string guitars, alto and descant recorders, vocals and percussion
KERRY MINNEAR -- all keyboards, cello, vibes, tenor recorder, vocals and percussion
DEREK SHULMAN -- vocals, alto sax, descant recorder, bass and percussion
RAY SHULMAN -- bass, violin, acoustic guitar, descant recorder, trumpet, vocals and percussion
Paul Northfield -- engineer
David Zammit -- live mix
Murray Carden & Geoff Allman for "Spoken" Image -- sleeve design and production
Chris Clover -- airbrush

return to GENTLE GIANT discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK 1977 Chrysalis 2LP 1133 gatefold cover
US 1977 Capitol 2LP SKBB-11592 gatefold cover
AUS'L 1977 Chrysalis 2LP L 45707/8 gatefold cover
US   Capitol 2LP R-233848 dist. by RCA Music Service
UK 1989 Essential 2LP/CD ESS/ESSCD006 gatefold cover
US March 16, 1996 One Way CD 18466  
US 1999 Beat Goes On 2CD BGOCD435/6 repackaged w. CIVILIAN
US August 23, 2005 DRT Entertainment 2CD 354/5 35th anniversary ed., repackaged w. CIVILIAN

 

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