With “The Chop House,” we explore classic performances from bands with — you know — “chops.” Genres like progressive rock, art-rock, jazz-fusion — they’re nearly extinct in our current music culture. These days, we live (and consume art) impatiently, favoring a quick fix over a challenge. But here at Hidden Track, we refuse to let the dazzling, confrontational spirit of these wonderful bands die.
Gentle Giant is arguably the most challenging, schizophrenic, and technically gifted band in the history of progressive rock. Across 11 studio albums in the 1970s, the British act mixed symphonic atmospheres with Baroque formality, medieval arrangements, Zappa-esque absurdity, and dazzling rock riffs. They were never as popular as prog’s big guns (Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer), nor were they as influential. But their music is just as rewarding: All these decades later, no band has struck up such a unique (and polarizing) blend of sonic textures.
In today’s edition of “The Chop House,” we direct you toward the band’s BBC Sight & Sound concert, which was filmed at London’s Golders Green Hippodrome on January 5th, 1978. This was a divisive period in the band’s history: Their previous LP, 1977’s The Missing Piece, is regarded by most fans and critics as their last semi-classic album. Their subsequent release, 1978’s Giant for a Day!, was unanimously panned as a bland grab for pop-friendly accessibility.
But this concert offers a glimpse at the band at the height of their technical powers. Though their best studio albums (like 1972’s Octopus) were years in the rear-view, they were still as mind-blowing as ever on-stage: swapping instruments with ease, balancing intricate virtuosity with exotic hooks and sheer muscle.
Full Band Line-Up: Derek Shulman (Lead Vocals), Gary Green (Guitars), Ray Shulman (Bass/Violin), Kenny Minnear (Keyboards), John Weathers (Drums)
1. Two Weeks In Spain 0:22
2. Free Hand 3:33
3. On Reflection 11:10
4. I’m Turning Around 16:57
5. Just The Same 21:06
6. Playing the Game 26:03
7. Memories Of Old Days 30:50
8. Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It 38:14
9. JP Weathers presents 40:53
10. Funny Ways 42:40
11. For Nobody 51:23
12. Mountain Time 56:00