Gentle Giant ‘Memories Of Old Days – A Compendium Of Curios, Bootlegs, Live Tracks, Rehearsals and Demos 1975-1980’

memories of old days

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Playing The Game” Live 1978 by Gentle Giant

They were one of the premier Progressive Rock groups in their day…right up there with King Crimson, Yes and Genesis. Highlighting the stellar musicianship of brothers, Derek and Ray Shulman, Kerry Minnear, Gary Green and John Weathers, the Giant were adept multi-instrumentalists who would dazzle in concert with their intricate vocal arrangements and odd time signatures.

The group’s “purple period” of greatness was roughly from the 1972 release of Octopus through 1975’s Free Hand, and encompassed the albums In A Glass House (1973) and The Power And The Glory (1974). In America, their early albums were released by Columbia Records and starting with The Power And The Glory, they were released by Capitol. They, once again, returned to Columbia for Civilian, their final album which was released in 1980.

In England, their early albums through 1974 were all released on the Vertigo (or Vertigo/WWA) label, and all records from Free Hand onward were released by Chrysalis. This past week a new import five CD set called Memories Of Old Days – A Compendium Of Curios, Bootlegs, Live Tracks, Rehearsals and Demos 1975-1980 was released covering the Chrysalis years.

By 1977 Gentle Giant were trying to score a radio hit. Their last three studio albums featured shorter tracks in an attempt to get themselves played on radio. However, Punk Rock was burgeoning and the band found themselves totally irrelevant to that fan base, and with their new radio friendly material, they were also becoming irrelevant to their own fan base as well.

Much of the material from Memories was culled from a 12-hour rarities collection released as an import in 2004 called Scraping The Barrel which was programmed by Dan Bornemark with the participation of the members of Gentle Giant. That collection featured four CDs, plus another 8 hours of material presented in the MP3 format. Memories Of Old Days is a five-CD distillation of that 12-hour set, featuring much of the material that was originally presented only in MP3 format. While some of the recording quality is subpar, the band’s performances are never less than exceptional.

This collection is for die-hard fans only andGentle+Giant features tour rehearsals from 1975, 1977 and 1980, BBC concert recordings from 1978, and studio sessions from Free Hand, Interview and Giant For A Day. (For the uninitiated, I would recommend passing on this set and beginning with either Free Hand or The Power And The Glory.)

Today’s Song Of The Day originally comes from The Power And The Glory and is seen here from a 1978 performance of unknown origin. This song turns up in several different guises on Memories, as it was a staple of their concert sets from 1974 onward.  I was fortunate enough to see the band on the day before the Bicentennial (7-3-76) at the Calderone Concert Hall in Hempstead, New York, and I’m here to tell you that they were one of the most technically proficient and exciting bands I’ve ever seen!

By 1980 and the advent of Punk and New Wave, the purveyors of prog walked the earth like dinosaurs on the verge of extinction, so Gentle Giant packed it in. Derek Schulman went on to become a top A&R guy for Mercury Records and was responsible for signing Bon Jovi to the label…but let’s not hold that against him…

Eric Berman's Song of the Day Eric BermanPlease visit and LIKE our facebook page

Track Listing

Compact Disc 1

  1. Just the Same (Studio Excerpt – Instrumental Backing Track)
  2. On Reflection (Studios Excerpt – Instrumental Clavinet Composing/Improvising)
  3. Free Hand (Studios Excerpt – Piano Composing/Improvising)
  4. Time to Kill (Studio Excerpt – Instrumental Backing Track)
  5. Mobile (Studio Excerpt – Instrumental Violins)
  6. On Reflection (Live – White Plains, New York 1975)
  7. Proclamation (Live – White Plains, New York 1975)
  8. Free Hand (Live – California 1975)
  9. Interview (Rehearsal)
  10. Another Show (Instrumental Hammond Hi Notes)
  11. Empty City (Instrumental Acoustic Guitar)
  12. Empty City (Instrumental String Machine)
  13. Timing (Rehearsal)
  14. I Lost My Head (Composing 2)
  15. I Lost My Head (Rehearsal)
  16. Peel the Paint/I Lost My Head (Live in Sweden)

Compact Disc 2

  1. As Old As You’re Young (Pinewood Tour Rehersals 1977)
  2. The Face – Plain Truth (Pinewood Tour Rehersals 1977)
  3. For Nobody (Pinewood Tour Rehersals 1977)
  4. Free Hand (Pinewood Tour Rehersals 1977)
  5. Funny Ways (Pinewood Tour Rehersals 1977)
  6. Just the Same/Playing the Game (Pinewood Tour Rehersals 1977)
  7. Memories of Old Days (Pinewood Tour Rehersals 1977)
  8. On Reflection (Pinewood Tour Rehersals 1977)
  9. The Runaway/Experience (Pinewood Tour Rehersals 1977)
  10. So Sincere (Pinewood Tour Rehersals 1977)
  11. Winning (Pinewood Tour Rehersals 1977)

Compact Disc 3

  1. Memories of Old Days (Guitar) (Rehearsals & Studio Excerpts)
  2. I’m Turning Around (Rehearsal) (Rehearsals & Studio Excerpts)
  3. Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It (Guitar) (Rehearsals & Studio Excerpts)
  4. Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It (Moog Solo 1) (Rehearsals & Studio Excerpts)
  5. Mountain Time (Piano) (Rehearsals & Studio Excerpts)
  6. Winning (Rehearsal) (Rehearsals & Studio Excerpts)
  7. Opening (Live in Cleveland, Ohio)
  8. Two Weeks in Spain (Live in Cleveland, Ohio)
  9. Free Hand (Live in Cleveland, Ohio)
  10. On Reflection (Live in Cleveland, Ohio)
  11. I’m Turning Around (Live in Cleveland, Ohio)
  12. Playing the Game (Live in Cleveland, Ohio)
  13. Memories of Old Days (Live in Cleveland, Ohio)
  14. Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It (Live in Cleveland, Ohio)
  15. Funny Ways (Live in Cleveland, Ohio)
  16. The Face (Live in Cleveland, Ohio)
  17. For Nobody (Live in Cleveland, Ohio)

Compact Disc 4

  1. Two Weeks in Spain (BBC Sight & Sound in Concert)
  2. Free Hand (BBC Sight & Sound in Concert)
  3. On Reflection (BBC Sight & Sound in Concert)
  4. I’m Turning Around (BBC Sight & Sound in Concert)
  5. Just The Same (BBC Sight & Sound in Concert)
  6. Playing The Game (BBC Sight & Sound in Concert)
  7. Memories of Old Days (BBC Sight & Sound in Concert)
  8. Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It (BBC Sight & Sound in Concert)
  9. Funny Ways (BBC Sight & Sound in Concert)
  10. For Nobody (BBC Sight & Sound in Concert)
  11. Mountain Time (BBC Sight & Sound in Concert)
  12. Words from the Wise (Demo)
  13. Thank You (Demo)
  14. Spooky Boogie (Demo)
  15. Little Brown Bag (Demo)
  16. It’s Only Goodbye (Demo)

Compact Disc 5

  1. All Through the Night (Rehearsal)
  2. It’s Not Imagination (Rehearsal)
  3. Convenience (Clean and Easy) (Live – New Haven, CT 1980)
  4. All Through the Night (Live – New Haven, CT 1980)
  5. Free Hand (Live – New Haven, CT 1980)
  6. Knots (Live – New Haven, CT 1980)
  7. Playing the Game (Live – New Haven, CT 1980)
  8. Giant for a Day (Live – New Haven, CT 1980)
  9. Inside Out (Live – New Haven, CT 1980)
  10. It’s Not Imagination (Live – Roxy, CA 1980)
  11. Underground (Live – Roxy, CA 1980)
  12. Five Man Drum Bash (Live – Roxy, CA 1980)
  13. Band Introductions (Live – Roxy, CA 1980)
  14. For Nobody (Live – Roxy, CA 1980)
  15. The Advent of Panurge (Live – Roxy, CA 1980)
  16. Number One (Live – Roxy, CA 1980)

Posted by Larry Carta

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