Gentle Giant's third album (and their first self-produced effort, Tony Visconti having run the sessions on the two previous records) was another advance, this time in the direction of a harder rock sound -- everything sounds turned up here, especially the guitars, the bass, and the electronic keyboards. Three Friends hardly sacrificed any of the group's progressive intentions, however, and there are some softer moments here, such as the playful, sprightly first half of "Schooldays"; the harmonies and arrangements still had a distinctly medieval feel, and the melodies, though a little harder to discern here (which made them even more appealing when they did become obvious), were quite engaging. This is supposed to be a concept album, about the relationship between three friends across a lifetime, and the original notes and lyrics have been reprinted, but none of that is necessary in order to enjoy the songs here.
by Bruce Eder ~ allmusic.com
Gentle Giant's third album, was the ironicly named, Three Friends. A concept album about three friends who grew up together in school, parted ways, and meet up with each other in the future when each has choose a career for themselves. Unfortunately, none of them like what the others are doing. Not exactly the best idea for a concept album, but not bad for a first try. Throughtout this album is strong playing, excellent music, and GG started to hone in on their sound that would carry them through their career (although it is altered very much when Weathers joins the band). Personally this is one of my favorite albums from the early period of Gentle Giant, which really shows the listener what they can do.
Things start off strong with Prologue. This instrumental track has some killer keyboard riffs and a excellent bass line. It progresses nicely through all six minutes, even through the repeats. A top Giant track from any time period. The next song I'd like to mention is Working All Day, a stellar sax driven song, which seems to be underrated, IMO. The lyrics (which are about the blue collar worker, working in the sun and having a poor family background) can be a little trite, but are delivered well by Derek. A personal favorite from Giant. Next up is Peel The Paint, the masterpiece of the album. This track shows what it means to be Gentle Giant. Starting soft and easy with quiet vocals and minimal instrumentation, growing ever stronger to a stunning, explosive conclusion. With this song, that formula is executed perfectly. Starting with Kerry's soft voice and light instruments (what i believe to be violin and bass), the song takes us through the life of a painter. It then progress with some nice sax and guitar work (and Dereks ballsy vocals). Cap this song off with a monsterous guitar solo from Gary and a sweet little guitar/drum duet, and you have, again, one of the best songs of Giants repitore. The last two tracks are usually thought of as one (most likely due to the fact that the breaker for the songs is placed in the wrong spot, making Mister Class And Quality? shorter then intended and Three Firends, longer). Mister Class And Quality? is a nice mellower song, where Ray gets to show off his violin skills some more. Three friends brings the album to a majestic close, with a solid bass line (and ever so brief bass solo) and tons of organ.
As you've probably noticed I didn't mention School Days. Well that is because I feel it is the weakest song on the album, and one of the two downsides. IMO, it goes nowhere and the middle section (with Calvin Shulman) is just boring. The other dissapointment is the production. But, its 1973, and you really can't expect much, so its not that bad of a downside. (Also, i never mentioned the drummer. Although Mortimore is my least favorite of the Giant's drummers, he is great in his own right, and his controbution shouldn't be overlooked.)
All in all this one of Giant's many shining moments. All fans of the band should own this, and any one looking for great music, and/or excellent examples of progressive rock should buy this.
Man With Hat ~ progarchives.com
Peel The Paint:
1. Prologue (6:12)
2. Schooldays (7:33)
3. Working All Day (5:07)
4. Peel The Paint (7:25)
5. Mister Class And Quality? (5:51)
6. Three Friends (3:00)
Total Time: 35:08
Gary Green - guitars, percussion
Kerry Minnear - keyboards, vibraphone, percussion, Moog, vocals
Malcolm Mortimore - drums
Derek Shulman - vocals
Phil Schulman - sax, vocals
Ray Shulman - bass, violin, 12 string guitar, vocals
Assisted by: Calvin Shulman, Ray's son (boy's voice on Schooldays)
[ Rip and Scans by CrunchyFrog ]