If there’s ever a recount of the wonders of the world, Gentle Giant have to be in with a shout. Even at a time (the 70s) and within a genre (prog, duh) that majored in miraculous musicianship, Gentle Giant’s self-testing multi-instrumental abilities were confoundingly Herculean. The crossroads where they made their deal with the Devil must have been Spaghetti Junction.
I Lost My Head (four CDs covering six albums) anthologises the era in which Gentle Giant were compelled by changing tastes and record company intervention to temper their more recondite impulses. Less madrigals, essentially. Nevertheless, their appetite for quasi-medieval vocal counterpoint went largely unchecked (On Reflection from 1975’s Free Hand, Design from the following year’s In’terview), while their 1976 tour intro tape – one of six bonus tracks on Disc One – must have made audiences feel they were about to watch a joust.
The band’s innate arrogance and the flinty bark of Derek Shulman’s vocals enabled them to take the onset of punk on the chin, unlike most of their prog peers – witness the reckless Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It from 1977’s The Missing Piece – while the seductive acoustic thrum of Thank You from 1978’s Giant For A Day finds them stirring their long-dormant pop muse.