The Last Giant Step
About The Album
(Contributed by a fan.)
Another Italian release, on the Microphone Records (!) label (MPHCD 08 1991). The sleeve claims the recording is from a Long Island, New York concert on 24th May, 1980, the last Gentle Giant tour in support of the Civilian album. Derek confirms the Long Island gig in a stage announcement. There are brief sleeve notes in both Italian and English:
"Born as a polished rock band, the Gentle Giant then opted for a more modern sound sustained by solid electrical instrumentation, but without renouncing the tendency to baroque and the precious accomplishments which in each musical passage reveal the suberb technique of these musicians. This excellent recording was made during the last Gentle Giant tour in the USA with a set which centres on the repertoire of the band's last valuable but unacknowledged LP, Civilian."
There is a certain amount of compression and tape hiss, wow/flutter and dropouts, but overall the quality is quite listenable, given this disc's questionable origins, definitely an audience recording. There is a large amount of crowd noise and feedback, especially during the quieter numbers such as Memories Of Old Days.
The set does indeed centre around the Civilian album, which may alienate those who feel that the Giant had sold out by then, but the performance is as full of energy as any I ever saw or heard. The Civilian cuts add another dimension to the album versions, the version of All Through The Night is as solid and driving as any. Listen to Gary's soloing on Number One -- this does not sound like a band going out with a whimper! The customary drum/percussion extravaganza appears in Underground, complete with stage-whispered jokey count-ins! The self-deprecating humour continues as Derek, after introducing 'the boys in the band', introduces himself as "Ted Nugent"...
Apart from the Civilian cuts, the show includes Free Hand (song) from [[Free Hand], The Advent Of Panurge and Knots (credited as "On Reflection") from Octopus, and Playing the Game from The Power And The Glory. The rest of the cuts are from the later albums, Giant for a Day and The Missing Piece.
All in all this is a good record of how the Giant sounded at the end of the road. The playing is tight and captivating, although Derek's vocals only just cut it in parts - and they still pull off Knots! All who dismiss this period should at least try to hear this final live outing - it's well worth it, and may even change your viewpoint on the later albums!