Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Album of the Day

Playing the Fool, by Gentle Giant (1976): Seems like I'm on a bit of a roll when it comes to live albums. This one, recorded on the band's tour following Free Hand, is a dazzling display of musicianship. Given the complexity of their tunes in the studio, I figured they'd have to dumb things down to make them work live. Thankfully, no, although some of the tunes got rearranged a bit. The reworked "On Reflection" benefits from an extended recorder intro (yup, you read that right), while "So Sincere" devolves into a full group percussion frenzy. And, of course, everybody plays multiple instruments (sometimes on the same tune), so they retain the sonic variety that marks the studio albums. This album, along with the recently released archive videos from around the same time, really drives how what an impressive live act these guys were.

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