Three Friends Gentle Giant – Three Friends (Columbia) 1972

1. Prologue (6:12)
2. Schooldays (7:33)
3. Working All Day (5:07)
4. Peel The Paint (7:25)
5. Mister Class And Quality? (5:51)
6. Three Friends (3:00)

Three Friends” was Gentle Giant’s third album, their first concept album and their the first LP to be distributed in the U.S. The U.S. release, pictured above, sports a different cover than the European release and is actually the artwork for their debut. Strange indeed. The concept for this album is about three friends who grew up together in school, parted ways, and meet up with each other in the future when each had chosen a career for themselves. While the storyline is somewhat important to the album, I don’t find it

Gentle Giant are mostly known as a progressive rock band. Back before “prog rock” became a stagnant genre, progressive bands tended to “progress” with each album. That is exactly what Gentle Giant did here. Falling between fan favorites “Acquiring the Taste” and “Octopus”, this recording is different than either of these. The music on “Three Friends”  blends melodic, intricate, ambient passages with jazz, rock and even some sublime moments. There are even some darker, haunting moments here and there (see “Schooldays”), though don’t mistake “dark” for heavy, as “Three Friends” is generally not a heavy album. At times I am reminded of bands like ELP, Nektar and Frank Zappa. The Zappa comparison is especially heard in “Working All Day”, both in the songwriting, vocal melodies and the lyrics. Despite these comparisons, Gentle Giant are quite unique and don’t sound exactly like any one band.

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