GENTLE GIANT - Brothers of Muts

20. September 2017

Gentle Giant

GENTLE GIANT - Brothers of Muts

For ten years Gentle Giant kept the progressively oriented part of the rock world in suspense with their extraordinary cosmos of sound. The sextet around the brothers Derek, Phil and Ray Shulman - all of them gifted singers, all of them gifted multi-instrumentalists - was between 1970 and 1980 no experiment in the spectrum of classical music, rock, folk or pop too daring not to get involved with it. These days the sampler "Three Piece Suite" mixed by Steven Wilson has been released, including eleven pieces of the legendary first studio albums "Gentle Giant", "Acquiring The Taste" and "Three Friends".

In the mid-sixties the exceptionally musical brothers Derek, Phil and Ray Shulman decided to start a career together and founded their first band The Howling Wolves in their native Scotland. The R&B group soon became The Road Runners and in 1967 finally the psychedelic Simon Dupree And The Big Sound. With "Kites" they could record a top ten hit - and knew for a short time a keyboard player named Reginald Dwight by their side, who would soon start a world career as Elton John. Since nothing but "Kites" happened in the commercial "Big Sound" career, the formation broke up in 1969. The Shulmans founded Gentle Giant the following year, pursuing a radically different musical approach.

Influenced by young acts like Genesis, Yes or King Crimson, the brothers worked out a style that didn't stick to borders, styles or norms. Progressive, that is. And even if Gentle Giant with their eleven studio works and the live classic "Playing The Fool" only saw the charts from behind or not at all, the daring bunch of connoisseurs is still one of the pillars of classical prog today. After Gentle Giant disbanded in 1980, the musicians scattered all over the place. The brothers remained in loose contact, but pursued different professions: Ray wrote music for cinema and television and distinguished himself as a producer, Phil ran a gift shop with his wife, Derek was first vice-president of PolyGram Records, today he runs his own label.

It is also Derek who gives eclipsed information about the now released sampler "Three Piece Suite".

eclipsed: Why did you choose exactly these eleven tracks from your first three albums, which can now be found on "Three Piece Suite", and have them remixed by Steven Wilson?

Derek Shulman: (laughs) The answer is simple, they were absolutely the only pieces we found the master tapes for. All the other originals have disappeared into the orc of time. They'll probably never show up again. But we are convinced that exactly this dozen songs offers a very representative cross-section of what Gentle Giant stood for in their early days.

eclipsed: What influence did Steven Wilson have on this project?

Shulman: An immense one, because this man has not only been a friend of ours for years and a big Gentle Giant-Fan since his youth, but he's also a studio crack, who feels extremely into every piece he works on, giving him the necessary transparency, the modern touch. It's just a shame that Steven only had 24-track tapes. If he had gotten some in better quality, he would definitely have gotten more out of the songs. Whatever the case may be, the lad has performed a grandiose act of revival on acoustic memories that were believed to have been almost lost. Everyone involved is very proud of the result.

Lest mehr im eclipsed Nr. 194 (10-2017).