Release Date: 1971

Track Listing
1)  Pantagruel's Nativity 6:50
2)  Edge of Twilight 3:47
3)  The House, The Street, The Room 6:01
4)  Acquiring the taste 1:36
5)  Wreck 4:36
6)  The Moon is Down 4:45
7)  Black Cat 3:51
8)  Plain Truth 7:36

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Member: progfellow (Profile) (All Album Reviews by progfellow)
Date: 7/26/2001
Format: CD (Album)

This is somewhat of an obscure album in Gentle Giant's already obscure catalog. Their second album, it is leaps and bounds above their first in terms of ingenuity and complexity. Although the pieces are each very precise and fine-tuned, there is a very experimental quality to it. The liner notes state their mission, from which I quote the second of three paragraphs:

"It is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary music at the risk of being very unpopular. We have recorded each compostion with the one thought- that it should be unique, adventurous and fascinating. It has taken every shred of our combined musical and technical knowledge to acheive this."

They acheived this goal beautifully.

A number of the songs are somber without being dark or depressing, evoking the mood of a starlit and earily quiet nighttime in a sleeping village. And if you like assorted instrumentation in your music you'll hear it all here- violin, cello, saxophone, glockenspiel, timpani, recorders, trumpet, vibes among others, not to mention the standard rock instruments.

Due to many of the above mentioned qualities some love this album and put it at or near the top of the GG catalog, while others, including some serious GG fans, don't really care for it or even like it. Although I could do without the plodding last song on the album and dislike the cover quite a bit, it still is great enough that it sometimes rises above The Power and the Glory as my favorite GG album. Sometimes.
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Member: doh (Profile) (All Album Reviews by doh)
Date: 9/19/2004
Format: CD (Album)

While not as famous and commercially successful as some of the early pioneers of progressive rock like Yes and Genesis, Gentle Giant is just as influential. Acquiring the Taste is one their most progressive early releases. This album was my introduction to Gentle Giant, and in many ways, my introduction to classic progressive rock. And, what an introduction it was! After the first 30 seconds of "Pantagruel's Nativity", I asked myself if I had just wasted a CD purchase. After a few minutes, I realized that through all of the odd chords and time signatures, there was a beautiful song being created. I was hooked. Although I've added to my collection since then, Acquiring the Taste remains my favorite Gentle Giant album.

"Pantagruel's Nativity" is a complex piece involving an ethereal vocal part and many counter-pointing instruments. Somehow, it all harmonizes and then adds thrills as the music rises and falls. The piece is slow and methodical, but not plodding. One highlight is the glockenspiel solo section. "Edge of Twilight" keeps the same somber feeling as the first track. Although simpler as a whole, the song somehow has a more complex melody and has an extended percussion (including timpani's) section that temporarily threatens to promise more excitement. "The House, The Street, The Room" brings a change in vocal style, but not in mood. Less sweet and gentle than the first two tracks, it still keeps us "here in reverie together" as one line promises. "Acquiring the Taste", although the title track, is the shortest song and is not very memorable. It is just a short instrumental. "Wreck" continues the progression towards more raw vocals with the repeated almost Indian-like cries from the background vocals. Still, it settles down at times and provides some wonderful musical moments. "The Moon is Down" is more similar to the first track as the vocals combine with and then counterpoint the instruments. This is one of the better tracks. "Black Cat" is unsurprisingly about a cat. The instruments create feline imagery through the meowing of the violins alternating with the pizzicato of the plucked violins. While very interesting, it's not as appealing as other tracks. The most interesting part of "Plain Truth" is listening to how the violin and guitar play with each other. Other than, it is not very interesting and seems more mainstream.

Gentle Giant is one of those bands which is very hard to describe. Instead, they must be experienced. In Acquiring the Taste, they continually push the boundaries of classic rock and it is obvious that they cared more about the musical aspect of the album than any commercial success.

Score: 8/10. Not every song is a winner, but you can't go without this album.
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