Album Listening Club: Gentle Giant - The Power and the Glory

Lightning That’s Unlikely Heard

Some people like to mix different songs together, or find the experience of live performance unparalleled; but my ultimate pursuit in music is the appreciation of the album as a piece of artwork in the medium of recorded sound.
They never get old, yet you can never hear them all.
But we can try.

How it works:

  • Album suggestions are submitted in this Google Form. Most people submit two or three to begin, then add another when they are chosen.
  • Every Friday (UTC +11), I will use the form submission spreadsheet to randomly select one, post it in this thread, and tag you.
  • Everyone listen to the album and then report back here with honest impressions.
  • If you want to keep up to date, you can select ‘Watching’ at the bottom of the thread to be notified of new posts.

Here are some tips for choosing an album to suggest:

  • Choose one that you are somewhat passionate about.
  • Choose one you suspect has less chance of being familiar to other members of the club.
  • There are no restrictions for age, length, genre, or format (if you feel compilations, live releases, or soundtracks are worth it).
  • Most participants use Spotify. Please choose something that is available on YouTube at the very least.
  • Everyone’s opinion is valid. In the spirit of sharing taste and musical discovery, please attempt to keep discussion constructive.
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The current album selection is: Gentle Giant - The Power and the Glory | (1974, Progressive Rock, until Friday the 1st of April.

Week 01: Jellyfish - Spilt Milk | (1993, Power Pop)
Week 02: The Polyphonic Spree - We’re Heavy Together | (2004, Neo-Psychedelia, Big Band)
Week 03: Grandaddy - The Sophtware Slump | (2000, Indie Rock/Pop)
Week 04: Gurrumul - Djarimirri (Child Of The Rainbow) | (2018, Indigenous Traditional, Chamber Music)
Week 05: Death - The Sound of Perseverance | (1998, Technical Death Metal)
Week 06: Prefab Sprout - Jordan: The Comeback | (1990, Progressive Art Pop)
Week 07: The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground and Nico | (1967, Proto-Punk. Art-Rock)
Week 08: Concrete Blonde - Concrete Blonde | (1986, Punk/Country/Alt Rock)
Week 09: Herbie Hancock - Secrets | (1976, Jazz-Funk)
Week 10: Guerilla Toss - Twisted Crystal | (2018, Neo-psych, New Wave, Noise Pop)
Week 11: Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City | (2013, Indie-Pop)
Week 12: Tim Buckley - Greetings From L.A. | (1972, Funk-Rock, RnB)
Week 13: Eugene McDaniels - Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse | (1971, Funk/Soul)
Week 14: Larry Coryell - Back Together Again | (1977, Jazz-Fusion)
Week 15: Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound - When Sweet Sleep Returned | (2008, Psych-Rock)
Week 16: Ember Knight - Cheryl | (2020, Art Pop)
Brief hiatus
Week 17: Şatellites - Şatellites | (2022, Anatolian, Neo-psych, Pop)
Week 18: Death - For the Whole World to See | (1975, Proto-Punk)

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This is an awesome idea! I’m definitely going to watch this thread develop. (And I’ll give some thought to suggestions.)

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Gonna try not to overwhelm the submissions, but this is an exciting project, and I can’t wait to participate.

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This is my kind of book club!!!

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oooh this is a great idea. submitted an absolute banger. Also, I really hope someone suggests something fucking mental like an RXKNephew mixtape just so I can see how people react.

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Be the change you want to see!
Planning to keep my first suggestions level headed while we establish momentum, but very keen to go deep.

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So I finally realized that this is for all albums, not just Gizz albums. :crazy_face: Totally in.

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Further from King Gizzard the better I think. We already have a few great looking suggestions, so I’m thinking we ready to start maybe once the next wave of the users rolls in and we’re getting consistent daily posts.

I’m having a hard time narrowing down what record to submit :sweat_smile:

Multiple submission are cool, yeah? (Just not too many?)

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Yeah as many as you like really. No repeat selectors per 4 weeks should balance it, but if one person submits a lot more than anyone else to the point that they consistently come up every month I will probably just extend that timeframe.

This idea is so freakin cool. Hype to participate and dig in with yall!

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Just dropped another in there. Trying to pace myself, lol.

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Was going to leave it to one to leave space for everyone else, but I couldn’t help myself and submitted one more, and a real dark horse pick at that, like I’d be very surprised if it ever gets picked.

When’s this kicking off btw @W.B.T.G.Slinger?

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I’ll be selecting them randomly, so you may have to explain yourself sooner than you think!
We have a great looking pool going, so the coming Friday (the 21st) is probably a good time to get cracking. I’ll let the selector know in the next couple of days.

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The selector has been chosen and notified :incoming_envelope: :handshake:
Discussion starts here in a bit over two days time!

Moving The Simpsons GIF

Well, it looks like I’m the first one up and as it turns out, one of my all-time favourites has been picked out of the hat.

The album in question is:

Jellyfish / Spilt Milk (1993)


Open the spoiler below to read a (very long) introduction I’ve written on this album:


Spoiler

OK, so let’s get this out of the way: that is one butt-ugly cover, which is a shame because this album and the band who made it rules; even though they lasted just a few years and made just two commercially unsuccessful albums, Jellyfish have garnered an avid cult following for good reason: they made some of the best and most acclaimed rock music of the 90’s.

Jellyfish was formed in 1989 and revolved around the songwriting duo of vocalist/drummer Andy Sturmer and pianist Roger Manning. Everything about them, from their flower power fashion to their power pop-indebted songwriting, stuck out sharply against the trends of the time, but the strength of their songs still managed to get them a deal with Charisma Records. They were initially joined by Roger’s brother Chris on bass plus Jason Falkner on guitar and with this line-up they recorded their first album Bellybutton in 1990 which, despite great reviews, was met with mediocre sales largely due to the dominance of hair metal on the airwaves of the day.

After this, the band was reduced to Andy and Roger following an acrimonious split with Falkner, and Chris following suit. Despite this setback, the duo spent the ensuing months writing and recording with even greater verve. To fill in for Falkner and Chris in the studio, they hired Jon Brion (now a legendary producer and film composer) and Tim Smith respectively. The sessions have become infamous for their extravagant budget (costing over $600,000) and the toll they took on it’s creators. After six months of ceaseless writing and another six months in the studio, they emerged with Spilt Milk in early 1993, an album they proclaimed as their masterwork and the fulfilment of their initial vision.

Spilt Milk is straight up one of the best albums of the 90’s and one of the best power pop albums ever; this really is where the band realised their potential and joined the echelon of genre greats like Todd Rundgren and Cheap Trick while still forging their own idiosyncratic path. Spilt Milk is power pop songwriting at it’s absolute zenith: endlessly catchy but not remotely disposable or lightweight. The songs here are just overflowing with hooks that never get old and the production perfectly complements it with a perfect blend of 90’s alt-rock heaviness and 70’s studio hermit mindfuckery; if you have a nice pair of headphones, this is a good album to bust them out for. There’s so many great touches in the arrangements too, from the gorgeous pedal steel work on Russian Hill to the klezmer instrumentation on Bye Bye Bye. Sturmer’s vocals were the best part of Bellybutton, and his work here is even better; his performance on Joining A Fan Club borders on virtuosic and the lyrics he penned for the album, which encompass everything from pop fandom as religion to the horrors/joys of unexpected fatherhood, are joyously twisted. There’s no shortage of obvious reference points here from Queen (All is Forgiven) to XTC (The Ghost at Number One) but to dwell on them would be a disservice to the imagination and songcraft on display; nothing comes off as a tired pastiche despite the obvious influences. Taken together, the 12 songs on Spilt Milk represented a huge step forward for Jellyfish and took everything that was merely good on Bellybutton and turned it into something outright exceptional.

On release, the album was met with rave reviews but even worse sales than it’s predecessor; released at the apex of grunge, Jellyfish clearly didn’t fit into in with the flannel-wearing grunge depressives of '93 any better than the hair metal dorks of '90, so it didn’t even crack the top 150 on the Billboard 200. Before starting work on a third album, differences and disagreements emerged between Sturmer and Manning regarding the band’s musical direction, lack of commercial success and their ensuing dire financial straits. The band unceremoniously split a year after Spilt Milk’s release and the two haven’t spoken face-to-face since.

In the ensuing years, the stature of the band has only grown, they’ve gained a devout cult following who are more avid and numerous than the fanbase they had when they were actually active, and both of their albums, especially Spilt Milk, are recognised as sorely-underrated classics, with second-hand copies fetching hundreds on the second hand market.

As critic Dave Everly put it:

They either arrived a decade-and-a-half too late or were so far ahead of their time that they’re still waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. More than 20 years after their split, Jellyfish practically define the notion of the cult band. To the small but ardent following they attracted, they remain lost geniuses whose promise remains unfulfilled.

Since their disbandment, Sturmer has largely shunned the spotlight and now works composing music for children’s television. Manning has released a handful of solo albums, pursued several side projects and tours as a sideman with Beck alongside Falkner. The members have repeatedly refused any consideration of a reunion despite several lucrative offers.

I’m super jealous of anyone here who’s about to listen to this album for the first time. There’s a good reason I penned this overwrought introduction and spent way too much on importing a vinyl copy from Japan a few months ago: it’s pop music at it’s most inventive and infectious, and even though it’s taken over 30 years, it’s finally getting it’s due.


Listen to the full album here:

(note: everything past 46:18 is bonus material)

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Wow, neat pick Pb. Will listen for the first time soon

Totally unfamiliar with this, but if its anything like its age and aesthetic suggests I’m very keen.

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