A Memory of a Gentle Giant Project
The Giant Tracks Tribute CD Project was one of the most interesting exercises in community building I ever participated in. It began with me realizing in the late 80s that CDs were being released of the music of my two favorite bands from the early 70s. These bands were Egg and Gentle Giant. So I bought a few CDs and started listening again to both.
Using samples from my new discs in 1989 I composed for my own enjoyment a piece I called In Memory of Gentle Giant. At some point I discovered in back of one of their CDs a note from a fan group advertising a newsletter. Curious to learn more about the band, I signed up.
Meanwhile, in the early 90s my friend and colleague, percussionist Jan Williams, took an interest in the piece and began to perform it. In 1994, Jan and I did a two-day tour of two cities, Toronto (Canada) and Buffalo (NY) and took the opportunity to record the pieces from the tour, amount them In Memory.
Quite happy with it and excited to have it, it occurred to me to share a copy with the folks in the Gentle Giant Fan Club. Soon thereafter I was contacted by the group with an invitation to become part of the Giant Tracks Tribute CD project. I was flattered since I thought my contribution may sound out-of-place in such a CD. They didn’t. So we all pitch in an amount.
Those savvy about merchandising took over different tasks. We all were called in to help in whatever way we felt we had experience and expertise about. I don’t think, aside from the monetary investment (yes, it turned out to have been an investment), I was able to contribute at the level others really shined.
Anyway, the time arrived, the CD was curated and mastered, a nice packaging was designed, it was sent to press and was published in what I remember was record time. The tool we used to coordinate this enterprise was a simple email group. Everyone with an important task kept reporting on the progress.
Within days of its release, the CD began selling and after only a few months we were faced with the dilemma of whether to print a second run, or simply cash out our earnings. My memory of this is vague, but I do remember joining with those that wanted to print more—I believe we all did.
In the end it was a very satisfying community project. We were also lucky the members of the band were supportive. I loved the result and I am proud to have been part of these project. My deepest thank you’s to GG and all the talented people involved. —Gustavo Matamoros
On Reflection Records
What happens when you mix Gentle Giant, 42 musicians, and the Internet? The answer is Giant Tracks: a 2-CD tribute album of Gentle Giant compositions arranged and performed by artists from four countries. GG fans are likely to recognize many participants’ names:
Mike Keneally (ex-Zappa guitarist turned solo artist)
Kevin Gilbert (Toy Matinee, Giraffe, Thud)
Steve Hahn (Stickburst)
Alan Benjamin (and his progressive rock band, Advent)
Richard Hilton (well-known producer and session player)
Dan Barrett (creator of the Gentle Giant Home Page)
…and many more musicians from On-Reflection, the Internet’s Gentle Giant fan network.
About The Album
Most pieces on Giant Tracks are significantly different from the originals, but are dedicated to the same spirit of experimentation, compositional attention, and humor that were Gentle Giant’s trademarks. For example, A medley of Cogs in Cogs and Aspirations played on Chapman Stick; An insane rendition of No God’s a Man with instrumentation that changes every few seconds; Wreck as a heavy metal song; A reggae-influenced River; A modernized Just The Same with a blistering violin solo; A Brazilian-influenced Give it Back with female vocals; A punk Two Weeks in Spain complete with banjo, ukelele, and lip-squeaks. Reviews are available.
Two pieces on Giant Tracks are original and previously unreleased. Kevin Gilbert‘s Suit Canon – Fugue of the A&R Staff is a multi-part vocal performance (fugue) in the style of On Reflection. Gustavo Matamoros‘s In Memory of Gentle Giant is a 20th-century classical work based on bits and pieces of Gentle Giant themes.
If you’re planning on listening to a lot of tracks, consider downloading the Giant Tracks Collage first.
Disc One (60 minutes)
1 Suit Canon – Fugue of the A&R Staff Kevin Gilbert [CD]
2 Spooky Boogie Phil Beane [CD]
3 Cogs/Aspirations Steve Hahn [CD]
4 No God’s a Man Mike Keneally [CD]
5 BITB Advent [CD]
6 Pantagruel’s Nativity Jeff McClelland [CD]
7 Heroes .com [CD]
8 Talybont Ian McGrath [CD]
9 Minnear Medley Richard Hilton [CD]
10 Raconteur Troubadour Alberto and Enrico Minetti [CD]
11 Funny Ways John Hagewood [CD]
12 In Memory Of Gentle Giant, Part 1 Gustavo Matamoros [CD]
Disc Two (51 minutes)
1 Just The Same Glass Haus [CD]
2 I’m Turning Around Arlo West [CD]
3 Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It Alan Wiseman [CD]
4 Wreck Pangaea [CD]
5 River Rob Rosen [CD]
6 Thank You Glen Burg [CD]
7 Give It Back Eclipse [CD]
8 Two Weeks in Spain Bug Choir [CD]
9 Number One Dan Barrett [CD]
10 In Memory of Gentle Giant, Part 2 Gustavo Matamoros [CD]
The Giant Tracks Collage
Here’s a quick way to preview every Gentle Giant piece on the album. Our collage contains a very short excerpt of each piece – shorter than the full excerpts above – to give you a flavor for the whole album. The two original pieces by Gilbert and Matamoros are not included. Can you identify every piece in the collage? [CD] Excerpts from all Gentle Giant tracks
Conceived by: Rob Rosen
Produced by: The individual artists
Supervising Producer: John S. Hagewood for Hybernation Music
Associate Producer: Michael Applegate
Mastered by: Mack Evans at Magnetic Technology, Nashville, TN
Legal legwork: Dan Barrett
Cover painting: Patricia Deschamps
Cover concept: Glen Burg
Cover and booklet layout: Phil Beane and Roger Eller
Additional artwork: Travis Jiorle (concept), with Tiffany Laine De Mott (photographs)
Additional art assistance: Chad Bacho
Liner notes: Michael Applegate (essay), Dan Barrett (remainder), Alan Benjamin (copyediting)
Web site: Dan Barrett
Special thanks to Tom Dubé, Mike Fink of Chrysalis Songs, The Harry Fox Agency, Geir Hasnes, Kerry & Lesley Minnear of Alucard Music, On-Reflection, Marc Ostrow, Bob Parker, Jon Rubin and the Estate of Kevin Gilbert… and all the members of Gentle Giant.
Giant Tracks is dedicated to Kevin Gilbert.
Mike Keneally appears courtesy of Immune Records.