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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Gentle Giant

In A Glass House – Remastered

Review by Gary Hill

One of a series of new remasters of Gentle Giant discs, this one represents their classic In A Glass House album. The disc is quite an intriguing mix of music and changes frequently (usually within the same piece). I’d have to say that the title track that closes the set is the strongest piece here. The sound is quite good thanks to the new mastering from the original tapes.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Runaway

The sound of glass breaking leads us out here. Eventually this becomes the rhythmic pattern for the song and then we get a build up that seems ready to start the song. Instead, they swerve out into a new fast paced, angular jam. The vocals have a weird lilting up and down approach and this thing works through a number of killer changes. It’s weird, but oh so tasty. A little Genesis-like interlude gives way to a keyboard dominated motif that’s quite ELP-like. Several twists and turns emerge and then we’re dropped way down for some vocals. They get punctuated by a return to the harder rocking music, but again it drops back for more vocals. When the rock returns, it continues onward with some new melodic concepts introduced and they use this motif to take us forward to a xylophone solo. Several segments return to eventually take us out.

An Inmates Lullaby
This is an odd piece with the main focus on tuned percussion and strange vocals. It’s got a lot of Frank Zappa built into it, but also plenty of early King Crimson.
Way Of Life
With a shouted “go” they fire out into a fast paced progressive rock journey. This is a bit off kilter and strange, but also pretty cool. Again I’m reminded quite a bit of Frank Zappa, but it also works out to more pure jazz territory. They take it through several changes and alterations and then later work this out into a killer triumphant sounding jam that reminds me a lot of Kansas. That doesn’t stay around long, though. Instead they drop back and build up in one of the most King Crimson-like journeys of the disc. Of course, this isn’t there for long either and they go from there into some ELP-inspired territory before moving it out into the song proper. Than another Emerson Lake and Palmer like movement comes out after that. It drops to just keyboards after a while and that element takes us out. 
Experience
The first half of this wanders through several trademark Gentle Giant fast paced and slightly off-kilter musical directional shifts. From there they drop it way down to a classically inspired chorale type movement and then fire out into a guitar dominated real rocking section. They return to several of these themes during the course of the track. A different off-kilter jam comes in later, but this is also a more hard rocking one. 
A Reunion
This is essentially a classically tinged and very mellow ballad. It would be easy to consider that to be all this is, but yet, if you listen carefully there is a lot more going on around under the surface.
In A Glass House
Violin and guitar based progressive rock dance around one another in a fast paced and energized rock motif. Of course, this is Gentle Giant, so you can't expect it to stay in one place for very long. They take us through a series of killer changes and alterations in what is without question the musical highlight of the set. This thing rocks out better than anything else on the disc and also works through enough changes and odd bits to keep it prog. They give us a little reprise of the album right at the end, complete with breaking glass.
 
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