CD Review – Gentle Giant – Unburied Treasure

This is a mammoth release by GG, a stunning 30-disc box set to be released as a limited edition on 6th December 2019. It includes the twelve albums they released between 1970 and 1980, fifteen new concert albums, seven of which have never been released, another seven never officially released before and one which has never been on CD before. Also included are two ‘posthumous’ live/outtake albums and a Blue-ray bonus disc. There are also books, posters, replica promotional items and much more (such as signed photo and a replica jigsaw used to promote the Missing Piece album). Phew!

The contents of the Unburied Treasure box set include:
• Signed photograph by band members Derek Shulman, Ray Shulman, Gary Green, Kerry Minnear & John Weathers • Brand new cover artwork illustration by Bob Venables based on original illustrator George Underwood’s design for the band’s debut album
• The 12 original albums released during the band’s active years, including live album Playing the Fool
• Two albums released after the disbanding: Winchester 1971 (live) & Pinewood Rehearsal 1977 (outtakes)
• 15 officially previously unreleased live albums: 1. Essen 1972 * 2. New Orleans 1972 (feat. three previously unreleased BBC recordings) 3. Hollywood Bowl 1972 * 4. Vicenza 1973 * 5. Torino 1973 6. Munster 1974 * 7. St Gallen 1974 * 8. Cleveland Agora 1975 9. Basel 1975 * 10. Dusseldorf 1976 Part 1 † 11. Dusseldorf & Brussels 1976 Part 2 † 12. Munich 1976 † 13. Paris 1976 † 14. Chester 1977 15. Roxy 1980 * Audience recording remastered for the highest possible quality † Unreleased material from the ‘Playing the Fool’ gigs remixed by GG expert Dan Bornemark
• All music on the 29 CDs has been newly remastered by Pete Reynolds
• Blu-ray disc with a listening experience second to none – featuring the full debut album Gentle Giant remixed by Steven Wilson in high resolution 96/24 Stereo LPCM, 96/24 5.1 surround LPCM and DTS-HD 5.1 surround. Also included are the instrumental mixes for every track
• 136-page hardback coffee table book featuring the band’s in-depth story as told by GG expert Alan Kinsman, as well as: rare photographs, posters, passes and unburied memorabilia from the band and fans
• Exclusive 96-page tour history book compiled by Jack Skelly, comprising: set lists, memorabilia and gig review notes including commentary on the new live recordings
• Two replica posters of their first gig at Portsmouth Polytechnic 1970 and ‘The Power & The Glory’ – voted as the most popular poster on the official band website
• Replica ‘Playing The Fool’ booklet, which was originally given away with the first 10,000 sales of the album
• Replica ‘Giant For A Day’ mask, which was included in the original 1978 album
• Replica Missing Piece jigsaw, which was a promotional item for the album when originally released. One randomly chosen boxset will also include the MISSING GOLDEN PIECE, which, when claimed, will award the owner with the coveted ‘The Power & The Glory’ screen printed mirror

Gentle Giant never quite made it to the prog rock big time, although they did well enough. But they are never considered as being one of the “Big Six” in prog, the bands that made it big time on the world stage too: Yes, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Genesis, ELP and King Crimson. Gentle Giant actually arose from the ashes of Sixties chart hitmakers Simon Depree and the Big Sound and frequently shied away from the commerciality of their pop past, an uncompromising attitude that gained them a strong following in Europe and to a degree here in the UK. In the United States they were more of a cult status band, although being name checked by Frank Zappa in 1978 would have done them no harm. But they always produced interesting and complex music, particularly the six albums from 1971’s Acquiring The Taste through to Free Hand in 1975, but all the albums are worth a listen. Founder member Derek Shulman has said that he would “like Gentle Giant to remembered as a group with integrity. It wasn’t done for any other reason than simply being together playing music and challenging ourselves to be better. We hated compromise, and we had a lot of integrity in terms of what the music was about.” Gentle Giant had some influence too, not least on Echolyn and Jordon Rudess.

The review material for this release is a bit restrictive it must be said. For a thirty-disc set to be reduced to a single disc of six songs for review is awkward. All the tracks are live so you’d guess the studio are represented by remasters that are already available. The live tracks on the sampler sound good for the most part, although given their vintage the source problems are evident. The tracks are not pristine and not as sharp sonically as you might expect of a modern live recording. The track ‘Excerpts from Octopus’ from Torino in 1973 has a lot of background hiss. But remember a lot of this material is heading for fifty years of age and over cleaning the sound detracts from the music itself. But the examples of ‘Alucard’, ‘The Runaway’, ‘Just the Same/Proclamation’, ‘Free Hand’ and ‘Memories of Old Days’ sound really good and as you’d almost expect from a band of this ability, the performances are excellent. You’ve got to think that the band members as individuals are all under estimated as musicians and should surely be more spoken about in prog circles when the perennial “best of” conversations start.

Besides the audio part of this release, much else is promised too. There is a 136-page coffee table book which includes rare photographs and memorabilia with a painstakingly researched history by Alan Kinsman. He has been a fan of the band for forty-five years and has managed the near impossible by interviewing all members of the band in depth, including the quite elusive Phil Shulman who left the band in 1973. It is hoped that the resulting tome will unlock many mysteries, clear up misunderstandings and give the music the context it deserves.

As this release is restricted to two-thousand copies you might not want to hang about if you want one! There’s unlikely to ever be a more comprehensive take on a fascinating band.

CD 1 – Gentle Giant 1. Giant [06:22] 2. Funny Ways [04:27] 3. Alucard [06:01] 4. Isn’t It Quiet And Cold? [03:46] 5. Nothing At All [09:07] 6. Why Not? [05:31] 7. The Queen [01:40]
CD 2 – Acquiring The Taste 1. Pantagruel’s Nativity [06:49] 2. Edge Of Twilight [03:48] 3. The House, The Street, The Room [06:04] 4. Acquiring The Taste [01:36] 5. Wreck [04:37] 6. The Moon Is Down [04:45] 7. Black Cat [03:53] 8. Plain Truth [07:42]  
CD 3 – Three Friends 1. Prologue [06:11] 2. Schooldays [07:33] 3. Working All Day [05:08] 4. Peel The Paint [07:27] 5. Mister Class And Quality? [05:51] 6. Three Friends [03:02]  
CD 4 – Octopus 1. The Advent Of Panurge [04:40] 2. Raconteur, Troubadour [04:01] 3. A Cry For Everyone [04:01] 4. Knots [04:08] 5. The Boys In The Band [04:32] 6. Dog’s Life [03:10] 7. Think Of Me With Kindness [03:32] 8. River [05:52]  
CD 5 – In A Glass House 1. The Runaway [07:24] 2. An Inmate’s Lullaby [04:30] 3. Way Of Life [07:53] 4. Experience [07:50] 5. A Reunion [02:11] 6. In A Glass House [08:08]  
CD 6 – The Power And The Glory 1. Proclamation [06:47] 2. So Sincere[03:48] 3. Aspirations [04:38] 4. Playing The Game [06:43] 5. Cogs In Cogs [03:07] 6. No God’s A Man [04:28] 7. The Face [04:11] 8. Valedictory [03:17] Bonus Track 9. The Power And The Glory – single [02:52]  
CD 7 – Free Hand 1. Just The Same [05:34] 2. On Reflection [05:43] 3. Free Hand [06:15] 4. Time To Kill [06:06] 5. His Last Voyage [06:27] 6. Talybont [02:40] 7. Mobile [05:03]  
CD 8 – Interview 1. Interview [06:51] 2. Give It Back [05:09] 3. Design [05:02] 4. Another Show[03:31] 5. Empty City (Interview) [04:39] 6. Timing [04:34] 7. I Lost My Head [06:59]  
CD 9 – Playing The Fool – live 1. Just The Same/Proclamation [11:13] 2. On Reflection [06:21] 3. Excerpts From Octopus [15:36] 4. Funny Ways [08:28] 5. The Runaway/Experience [09:29] 6. So Sincere [10:19] 7. Free Hand [07:37] 8. Sweet Georgia Brown [01:18] 9. Peel The Paint/I Lost My Head [07:32]  
CD 10 – The Missing Piece 1. Two Weeks In Spain [03:06] 2. I’m Turning Around [03:59] 3. Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It [02:21] 4. Who Do You Think You Are? [03:32] 5. Mountain Time [03:23] 6. As Old As You’re Young [04:21] 7. Memories Of Old Days [07:19] 8. Winning [04:14] 9. For Nobody [04:04]  
CD 11 – Giant For A Day 1. Words From The Wise [04:12] 2. Thank You [04:47] 3. Giant For A Day [03:47] 4. Spookie Boogie [02:52] 5. Take Me [03:34] 6. Little Brown Bag [03:24] 7. Friends [01:58] 8. No Stranger [02:28] 9. It’s Only Goodbye [04:15] 10. Rock Climber [03:51]  
CD 12 – Civilian 1. Convenience (Clean And Easy)[03:13] 2. All Through The Night [04:23] 3. Shadows On The Street [03:16] 4. Number One [04:44] 5. Underground [03:49] 6. I Am Camera [03:32] 7. Inside Out [05:52] 8. It’s Not Imagination [03:58] Bonus Track 9. Heroes [04:47]
CD 13 – Winchester 1971 1. Giant (Winchester 1971) [05:31] 2. Hometown Special (Winchester 1971) [05:24] 3. City Hermit (Winchester 1971) [05:56] 4. Funny Ways (Winchester 1971) [08:42] 5. Plain Truth (Winchester 1971) [10:46] 6. Alucard (Winchester 1971) [08:47] 7. Isn’t It Quiet And Cold? (Winchester 1971) [02:30] 8. Why Not? (Winchester 1971) [04:59] 9. The Queen (Winchester 1971) [02:58] 10. Peel Off The Paint (Winchester 1971) [08:51]  
CD 14 – Essen 1972 1. Alucard (Essen 1972) [07:44] 2. Funny Ways (Essen 1972) [10:32] 3. Nothing At All (with Malcolm Mortimore drum solo) (Essen 1972) [12:55] 4. Plain Truth (Essen 1972) [09:21] 5. The Queen (Essen 1972) [02:10]  
CD 15 – New Orleans 1972 1. Prologue (New Orleans 1972) [06:04] 2. Alucard (New Orleans 1972) [06:23] 3. Funny Ways (New Orleans 1972) [07:32] 4. Nothing At All (New Orleans 1972) [02:23] 5. Funny Ways (BBC Session 1972) [07:15] 6. Plain Truth (BBC Session 1972) [06:42] 7. The Advent Of Panurge (BBC Session 1972) [04:47]  
CD 16 – Hollywood Bowl 1972 1. Prologue (Hollywood Bowl 1972) [08:16] 2. Alucard (Hollywood Bowl 1972) [08:00] 3. Funny Ways (Hollywood Bowl 1972) [08:24] 4. Nothing At All/Plain Truth (Hollywood Bowl 1972) [23:56]  
CD 17 – Vicenza 1973 1. Prologue (Vicenza 1973) [06:12] 2. Alucard (Vicenza 1973) [08:05] 3. Funny Ways (Vicenza 1973) [09:42] 4. The Advent Of Panurge (Vicenza 1973) [07:08] 5. Nothing At All (Vicenza 1973) [13:49] 6. Plain Truth (Vicenza 1973) [14:21]  
CD 18 – Torino 1973 1. The Runaway (Torino 1973) [05:42] 2. Way Of Life (Torino 1973) [07:10] 3. Funny Ways (Torino 1973) [08:50] 4. Excerpts From Octopus (Torino 1973) [12:46] 5. Nothing At All (Torino 1973) [15:27] 6. Plain Truth (Torino 1973) [07:16]  
CD 19 – Münster 1974 1. The Runaway (Munster 1974) [10:04] 2. Prologue (Munster 1974) [06:13] 3. Funny Ways (Munster 1974) [09:22] 4. Excerpts From Octopus (Munster 1974) [13:14] 5. Nothing At All (Munster 1974) [15:53] 6. Plain Truth (Munster 1974) [13:53] 7. In A Glass House (Munster 1974) [09:26]  
CD 20 – St Gallen 1974 1. Cogs In Cogs (St Gallen 1974) [04:20] 2. Proclamation (St Gallen 1974) [05:14] 3. Funny Ways (St Gallen 1974) [09:26] 4. The Runaway (St Gallen 1974) [03:41] 5. Experience (St Gallen 1974) [07:08] 6. Excerpts From Octopus (St Gallen 1974) [14:35] 7. Nothing At All (St Gallen 1974) [16:42] 8. Plain Truth (St Gallen 1974) [13:19]  
CD 21 – Cleveland 1975 1. Cogs In Cogs (Cleveland 1975) [03:12] 2. Proclamation (Cleveland 1975) [05:02] 3. Funny Ways (Cleveland 1975) [08:48] 4. The Runaway (Cleveland 1975) [03:54] 5. Experience (Cleveland 1975) [05:59] 6. Excerpts From Octopus (Cleveland 1975) [13:27] 7. So Sincere (Cleveland 1975) [09:21] 8. Mister Class And Quality? (Cleveland 1975) [05:08]  
CD 22 – Basel 1975 1. Cogs In Cogs (Basel 1975) [05:51] 2. Proclamation (Basel 1975) [05:03] 3. Funny Ways (Basel 1975) [08:29] 4. The Runaway (Basel 1975) [03:56] 5. Experience (Basel 1975) [03:52] 6. Excerpts From Octopus (Basel 1975) [15:36] 7. So Sincere (Basel 1975) [10:44] 8. Plain Truth (Basel 1975) [09:04] 9. Free Hand (Basel 1975) [08:38] 10. Just The Same (Basel 1975) [06:10]   CD 23 – Düsseldorf 1976 Part 1 1. Just The Same/Proclamation (Dusseldorf 1976) [13:04] 2. On Reflection (Dusseldorf 1976) [06:10] 3. Interview (Dusseldorf 1976) [06:58] 4. The Runaway/Experience (Dusseldorf 1976) [10:41] 5. So Sincere (Dusseldorf 1976) [10:03] 6. Excerpts From Octopus (Dusseldorf 1976) [17:16] 7. Funny Ways – snippet (Dusseldorf 1976) [00:43]  
CD 24 – Düsseldorf  1976 Part 2 1. Timing/Violin Solo (Dusseldorf 1976) [10:45] 2. Free Hand (Dusseldorf 1976) [08:47] 3. Peel The Paint/I Lost My Head (Dusseldorf 1976) [07:24] 4. Timing/Violin Solo (Brussels 1976) [11:22] 5. Free Hand (Brussels 1976) [09:42] 6. Peel The Paint/I Lost My Head (Brussels 1976) [07:21]  
CD 25 – Munich 1976 1. Just The Same/Proclamation (Munich 1976) [12:19] 2. On Reflection (Munich 1976) [06:18] 3. Interview (Munich 1976) [07:26] 4. Excerpts From Octopus (Munich 1976) [17:22] 5. Funny Ways (Munich 1976) [08:45]  
CD 26 – Paris 1976 1. The Runaway/Experience (Paris 1976) [10:13] 2. So Sincere (Paris 1976) [10:49] 3. Excerpts From Octopus (Paris 1976) [18:02] 4. Funny Ways (Paris 1976) [08:34] 5. Timing/Violin Solo (Paris 1976) [11:21] 6. Free Hand (Paris 1976) [08:59] 7. Peel The Paint/I Lost My Head (Paris 1976) [07:23]
CD 27 – Pinewood Rehearsal 1977 1. The Runaway/Experience (Pinewood Rehearsal 1977) [09:52] 2. As Old As You’re Young (Pinewood Rehearsal 1977) [05:18] 3. On Reflection (Pinewood Rehearsal 1977) [06:35] 4. Just The Same/Playing The Game (Pinewood Rehearsal 1977) [10:00] 5. Memories Of Old Days (Pinewood Rehearsal 1977) [06:58] 6. Winning (Pinewood Rehearsal 1977) [07:47] 7. For Nobody – part (Pinewood Rehearsal 1977) [02:52] 8. Funny Ways (Pinewood Rehearsal 1977) [07:47] 9. The Face/Plain Truth (Pinewood Rehearsal 1977) [04:17] 10. So Sincere (Pinewood Rehearsal 1977) [09:17] 11. Free Hand (Pinewood Rehearsal 1977) [02:34]  
CD 28 – Chester 1977 1. Two Weeks In Spain (Chester 1977) [03:00] 2. Free Hand (Chester 1977) [08:10] 3. On Reflection (Chester 1977) [05:59] 4. I’m Turning Around (Chester 1977) [04:07] 5. Just The Same/Playing The Game (Chester 1977) [09:51] 6. Memories Of Old Days (Chester 1977) [07:45] 7. Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It (Chester 1977) [04:20] 8. The Face (Chester 1977) [14:25] 9. For Nobody (Chester 1977) [04:28] 10. Excerpts From Octopus – part 1 (Chester 1977) [06:05] 11. Excerpts From Octopus – part 2 (Chester 1977) [09:56]  
CD 29 – The Roxy 1980 1. Convenience (Clean And Easy) (The Roxy 1980) [03:21] 2. All Through The Night (The Roxy 1980) [04:12] 3. Free Hand (The Roxy 1980) [08:28] 4. Knots (The Roxy 1980) [02:41] 5. Playing The Game (The Roxy 1980) [06:05] 6. Memories Of Old Days (The Roxy 1980) [08:13] 7. Giant For A Day (The Roxy 1980) [05:19] 8. Inside Out (The Roxy 1980) [06:03] 9. It`s Not Imagination (The Roxy 1980) [03:52] 10. Underground (The Roxy 1980) [03:40] 11. 5 Man Drum Solo (The Roxy 1980) [06:47] 12. Band Member Introductions (The Roxy 1980) [02:09] 13. For Nobody (The Roxy 1980) [04:51] 14. The Advent Of Panurge (The Roxy 1980) [07:14] 15. Number One (The Roxy 1980) [06:29]  
Blu-Ray – Gentle Giant (remixed by Steven Wilson) 1. Giant (Gentle Giant) [06:22] 2. Funny Ways (Gentle Giant) [04:27] 3. Alucard (Gentle Giant) [06:01] 4. Isn’t It Quiet And Cold? (Gentle Giant) [03:46] 5. Nothing At All (Gentle Giant) [09:07] 6. Why Not? (Gentle Giant) [05:31] 7. The Queen (Gentle Giant) [01:40]

Band Members

Derek Shulman – lead vocals, saxophone, recorder, keyboards, bass guitar, drums, percussion, “Shulberry” (3-string custom electric ukulele)[31] (1970–80)
Phil Shulman – lead vocals, saxophone, trumpet, mellophone, clarinet, recorder, percussion (1970–73)
Ray Shulman – bass guitar, trumpet, violin, vocals, viola, drums, percussion, recorder, guitar (1970–80)
Gary Green – guitar, mandolin, vocals, recorder, bass guitar, drums, xylophone (1970–80)
Kerry Minnear – keyboards, lead vocals (on recordings only), cello, vibraphone, xylophone, recorder, guitar, bass guitar, drums (1970–80)
Martin Smith – drums, percussion (1970–71)
Malcolm Mortimore – drums, percussion (1971–72)
John “Pugwash” Weathers – drums, percussion, vibraphone, xylophone, vocals, guitar (1972–80)

Madfish Records
Catalogue No. SMABX1091
Release date: 6th December 2019

Pre-order here: https://madfish.lnk.to/GGburiedtreasure

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