Gary Brooker wrote music and lyrics for all the songs on his second album and acted as his own producer, resulting in perhaps his most personal statement as an artist. Unlike No More Fear Of Flying, on which he sometimes just seemed to be the singer on his own record, here Brooker delivered his songs with feeling, enabling him to overcome the star power of his backup musicians, who included Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and Phil Collins. This was partly because Brooker no longer felt the need to separate himself from The Procol Harum sound that was so much a part of his natural musical identity. Brooker's lyrics weren't as philosophical as longtime writing partner Keith Reid's, but they could be just as intriguingly oblique.
After 10 albums with Procol Harum, lead singer, composer, and keyboard player Gary Brooker launched his solo career with this album. Of course, there were Brooker's familiar characteristics – the steady piano work, the butterscotch soul voice. But he switched lyric partners for this set (except for the title track), trading longtime Procol wordsmith Keith Reid for Pete Sinfield, who had performed the same function for Procol contemporaries King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Brooker also tried a couple of tunes by Stiff Records pub-rocker Mickey Jupp (Jupp's versions are better) and Murray Head's "Say It Ain't So, Joe" (Roger Daltrey's version is better). The result was a varied set that succeeded in sounding like something other than Procol Harum's 11th album, although it did not demonstrate that Gary Brooker solo was going to be an improvement over the group.
Essential: A masterpiece of progressive rock music.
Admittedly, many prog rock fans with otherwise excellent taste in music find Gentle Giant rather hard to get into. Their music certainly is challenging, and very varied in flavour. At times it evokes Medieval music, at other times there are a cappella vocals delivered in a quasi-“round” format, in company with passages that veer from moments of delicate beauty to “rocking out.” All of these musical paths, and more, are often explored within the space of a single song. (Of course, that could be part of a generic description of progressive rock.) Gentle Giant have an inimitable style that is difficult to categorize; they must be heard to be understood. Perhaps only those with the most open musical minds will find them at all accessible. Certainly, though major players of the 70s prog scene, “Giant” never fully rose above their cult status to approach the popularity and critical acclaim of contemporaries like Genesis, Yes, ELP, Pink Floyd or Jethro Tull. (Though Gentle Giant don’t really sound like any of those heavyweights, their music bears a somewhat closer resemblance to that of ‘Tull, than any of the others mentioned.)
In 1975, Poco left Epic Records after six years and jumped to ABC Records. Less than a year later, Epic released this 38-minute live album recorded at a series of November 1974 shows. By this time in their history, Richie Furay and Jim Messina were long gone, and steel guitar player Rusty Young and guitarist Paul Cotton were the dominant musical personalities in the group, between them providing all but one of the songs represented here.
Excellent addition to any Progressive-Rock music collection.
A hugely successful album on its release, “How Dare You” spawned two monster hits “I’m Mandy Fly Me” and “Art for Art’s Sake”. I remember I hardly had this off the turntable at the time. Each song is a gem, there is no filler on this brilliant album.
Excellent addition to any jazz-fusion music collection
I'm afraid I cannot discuss this album in terms of "meribolant soul melodies" or such, but if you're looking for a peaceful and relaxed solo album from one of the top jazz guitarists, CHARACTERS might be just right for you.
Excellent addition to any Progressive-Jazz music collection.
I knew nothing about The Flock when this LP was released, but I bought it since I thought the cover promised a great album.