842 917-2 Acquiring The Taste
Produced by Tony Visconti
Released on 1971
no chart information
Find it at GEMM
842 917-2 cover
[gatefold photo]
 

T he group’s second album lays it out in the liner notes: “We have recorded each composition with the one thought - that it should be unique, adventurous and fascinating.” Although they’d come closer to that lofty goal on subsequent records, you can hear the various magical elements that make up Gentle Giant’s best work coalesce on this effort. The complex vocal harmonies found here are some of the band’s most ambitious, while medieval interludes and unexpected musical shifts (in keys and meters) make their appearance. Produced by Tony Visconti (again), Acquiring The Taste does feature a sludgier attack than later albums, at times suggesting King Crimson or even Black Sabbath (though much lighter on their feet than the latter). Wisps of mellotron can be heard in the opening “Pantagruel’s Nativity,” while heavy saxes lurk in works like “Edge of Twilight.” Filled with dark and portentous sounds, Acquiring The Taste might be initially off-putting to listeners enamored of GG’s more limber arrangements, but as the album progresses the band seems to visibly lighten up. The playful interaction on “The House, The Street, The Room” is one example of this, though its ending is as heavy as anything they’ve recorded (recalling the apocalyptic sounds of Van Der Graaf Generator). Using a similar musical theme, “The Moon Is Down” adopts a lighter approach, showcasing the interweaving of sounds from Kerry Minnear, Gary Green and Ray Shulman that otherwise seems to exist only in fits and starts. Given a little time, Acquiring The Taste will work its way under your skin like all good Gentle Giant albums do. Some of the songs will strike you immediately (e.g., the brilliant “Wreck”), others may take more time. If it all sounds like Gentle Generator rather than the Gentle Giant of Octopus, I say more power to them.

842 917-2 gatefold sleeve
842 917-2 gatefold sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. PANTAGRUEL'S NATIVITY    6:50
  2. EDGE OF TWILIGHT    3:47
  3. THE HOUSE, THE STREET, THE ROOM    6:01
  4. ACQUIRING THE TASTE    1:36
  5. WRECK    4:36
  6. THE MOON IS DOWN    4:45
  7. BLACK CAT    3:51
  8. PLAIN TRUTH    7:36

    All pieces written by Derek Shulman/Philip Shulman/Ray Shulman/Kerry Minnear (arranged by Gentle Giant).

CREDITS

GARY GREEN --
KERRY MINNEAR --
DEREK SHULMAN --
PHILIP SHULMAN --
RAY SHULMAN --
MARVIN SMITH --
Paul Cosh -- ace trumpeter and good viber
Chris Thomas -- moog programmer
Martin Rushent, Big A and Garybaldi -- engineers at Advision Studios
Bill Price -- engineer at A.I.R. Studios

return to GENTLE GIANT discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK/GER 1971 Vertigo LP 6360 041 gatefold cover
US/CAN 1971 Vertigo LP/CS VEL 1005 gatefold cover
CAN   Mercury LP SRM-1-1155 gatefold cover
US   Vertigo CD 842 917  


SUGGESTED READING

Though I've never been a big fan of his, Gentle Giant has apparently boned up on Francois Rabelais' classic Gargantua and Pantagruel. I've had two separate English professors bore me to tears with this tale, once in a class on the early development of fiction and another in a study of the development of the novel (specifically, the picaresque tale). I'll take Cervantes or Henry Fielding myself, but if you want to read about the adventures of these grotesque giants, you can find a used copy of Gargantua and Pantagruel on GEMMbooks.

 

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