A little something special for all you aficionados of Gentle Giant music. “Funny Ways” is the second track from Gentle Giant‘s debut album of the same name released in 1970. Vocals were provided mostly by Phil Shulman, with Derek Shulman joining in on the verses. Christopher Nupen, a classical music film director, had invited the band to record the 1974 concert in 16mm film in a Brussels film studio for the German television station ZDF.
From the Songfacts website:
Is their any other song that better illustrates Gentle Giant’s signature style? Xylophones and violins are part of this lengthy, four-movement composition that is defiantly anti-commercial. Thrown in to an album that includes cello, saxophone, trumpet, and tenor horn playing along with the more traditional rock instruments, and we have a group which introduced itself to the world with a presence that lived up to their name.
Click here to read the Songfacts interview with Gentle Giant‘s Derek and Ray Shulman.
16 thoughts on “Gentle Giant’s “Funny Ways” – Brussels, 1974”
Kerry Minnear FTW… I love GG… Playing The Fool is one of the best live albums you will ever hear in my opinion 🙂
Ah, great, great band! (and one of FZ’s favorite “rock” groups as well, of course)!
For those interested, the full television performance (in better picture quality) is available on the ‘Giant On The Box’ dvd.
Derek is singing lead and Kerry Minnear is backing.Phil is not in the band by this point.
[quote post=”4386″]Ah, great, great band! (and one of FZ’s favorite “rock” groups as well, of course)![/quote]
Here’s a short affirmative comment from FZ on GG:
Even Kerry Minnear’s instrumental music used for the menus on the Giant On The Box DVD is stunning, if very brief. It’s a shame he’s left the Three Friends band now. Gary Green and Malcolm Mortimer are still there though i believe.
[quote comment=”17023″]Derek is singing lead and Kerry Minnear is backing.Phil is not in the band by this point.[/quote]
Shows how much of a Gentle Giant education this poster still needs!
[quote comment=”17025″]Here’s a short affirmative comment from FZ on GG:
It’s really not a surprise that FZ liked the music of Queen and Gentle Giant. Experimentally, GG is probably the closest to FZ’s own approach, and I’ve always considered Brian May an incredibly underrated guitarist. If not for Queen’s more pop oriented turn in the late 70s and early 80s, I’m certain Brian May’s guitar work would have come to the forefront a lot sooner than it did (due to Mercury’s death).
[quote comment=”17027″][quote comment=”17023″]Derek is singing lead and Kerry Minnear is backing.Phil is not in the band by this point.[/quote]
Shows how much of a Gentle Giant education this poster still needs![/quote]
I think Steev meant Phil is not in the video.
[quote post=”4386″]Here’s a short affirmative comment from FZ on GG:[/quote]
Wow, I learn something new all the time. I’m not surprised that FZ liked Queen – yes, Brian May is really good – but I wouldn’t have guessed re: GG.
Hey, jonny, for me that would be the exact opposite!
I would have always guessed that Zappa would have liked Gentle Giant: oodles of odd-time signatures, “bluesy” guitar solos, and lots of intricate instrumental counterpoint and multi-vocal arrangements. FZ liked Jethro Tull too and they are somewhat similar to Gentle Giant. (Other than the very English medieval elements of Tull and GG, there are some similarities to Zappa (esp. in the mid-seventies) with a fondness for odd-time rhythms. (Frank, of course, when dealing with multi-vocals would have had a background in doo wop, rather than madrigal, arrangements! 😉
With Queen, i imagine FZ liked May’s guitar tones and multi-layered guitar arrangements (and probably the band’s superb vocal arrangements and harmonies too). But their mostly generic 4/4 rock n’ roll (their drummer is very basic & simplistic, imo) is what i don’t see him really being interested in. But then again, Zappa liked some good old ‘regular’ rock n’ roll like Grand Funk Railroad too! 🙂
also, i would think that Zappa appreciated the colorful usage of tuned percussion in Gentle Giant, whether it be Kerry Minnear’s solos on vibes or marimba on certain songs (like Funny Ways, for instance); or the whole band’s deployment of percussion as the only instrumentation in a song: “An Inmate’s Lullaby” from In A Glass House and “Design” from Interview, as two examples. A very brave and unique concept for a “rock band”.
And in concert (as on this ’74 tv broadcast) they would include a “5 man percussion bash” at the end of “So Sincere” that was very entertaining to hear/watch that FZ would have enjoyed if he had ever witnessed them live(?).
Thanks for the clips UrbanG. 🙂
Harry B., I like to pick up Giant On The Box DVD ( but $27.00 dollars (Amazon.com) is little steep for my budget. 🙁
They were an amazing band live. I caught their last tour in 1980.
I’m also not surprised that FZ enjoyed their music. The members of Giant were on par with Frank’s ensembles. The boys from GG all sang and each played multiple instruments. And they did it well. Zappa would have hired any of those guys!
How about Giant performing “The Yellow Snow Suite” UrbanG? Now that would be fun.
I hope the “Three Friends” band (with former members Gary Green & Malcolm Mortimore) tour again. They put on an excellent show. 🙂
Hey Hugh, i’m surprised the ‘Giant On The Box’ dvd is going for so much on amazon! There’s another popular selling site called “eb@y” that has it for around 13 bucks. (Makes a great “stocking stuffer”! 😉
There is an interview by some british magazine/paper where Frank was asked about british groups , he liked Queens production/sound not actually there music. GG however are amazing for me and that double live album what a classic , one of the greatest british groups ever!
[quote comment=”17592″]Hey Hugh, i’m surprised the ‘Giant On The Box’ dvd is going for so much on amazon! There’s another popular selling site called “eb@y” that has it for around 13 bucks. (Makes a great “stocking stuffer”! ;)[/quote]Thanks for the heads up Harry. 🙂
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