Much to the excitement of Gentle Giant fans worldwide, the band’s final album “Civilian” remastered CD will be released on May 20, 2022! The vinyl LP release of the album will follow later in the year. Gentle Giant’s “Civilian”, was originally released in the spring of 1980, a little over a decade after the bands’ formation. The album was to be the band’s swan song after ten studio albums and one double live album in the ten years of their existence.
Gentle Giant by then had built up a formidable back catalogue of highly inventive and distinctive music and amassed an ardent live fanbase in North America and Europe. The band’s music continually defied categorization. True, there had been a steady shift toward a more accessible style, especially after the release of “Interview” in 1976, but the diverse influences which had been so adroitly combined on their earlier recordings had continued to set their music apart throughout their career.
“Civilian” was the final stage in Giant’s move toward a more concise and direct approach while still maintaining its musical integrity. It was unique among their albums in that the material was written and recorded in North America. With a view to achieving a more streamlined feel while retaining the musical virtuosity, Gentle Giant moved temporarily to Los Angeles, where the material for “Civilian” took shape over a five-month period stretching into early 1980.
The band recruited Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick to man the console at Sound City and Bijou Studios in Hollywood to record “Civilian”. What emerged from these sessions was a comparatively straightforward high-energy rock album, with hook laden songs and clever choruses. Undoubtedly a musical vindication of Giant’s decision to move further towards the ‘progressive rock mainstream’, and the logical conclusion of the work begun on 1976’s “Interview”. Despite having paired down earlier characteristic elements, Gentle Giant retained their quintessential brilliant musicianship moving forward into the new decade.
Starting with “Convenience (Clean and Easy)”, a blistering opener which focuses on the American way of life, “Civilian” once again shows Giant’s ability to write and play in a number of styles. Although the medieval influence had lessened, the brooding magnificence of “Inside Out” and the delicate keyboard work on “Shadows on the Street”, the latter reminiscent of mid-Seventies pieces such as “Freehand” and “No God’s a Man”, maintain the Gentle Giant tradition. Elsewhere, upbeat rock numbers are littered with the prominent motifs and complex instrumental interplay which had always characterized the band's output.
As a bonus on this, the newly mastered reissue of “Civilian”, and therefore its first official outing on CD, a rare previously-unissued track is included. “Heroes No More’ was recorded during the “Civilian” sessions but failed to appear only because of the need to keep running times down on the old vinyl format. Remastered, it is a fantastic addition to the album.
Despite the obvious strength and immediacy of “Civilian”, opinions differed widely at the time of the original release in February 1980. At the time “Civilian” was unable to satisfy the die-hard fans craving the arcane thrills of Gentle Giant’s ambitious earlier LPs, but it is nonetheless a consistent and compelling rock record of the highest musical order. Sadly “Civilian” was to be Gentle Giant’s final album. After a short break, the band met in New York for some promotional work prior to their scheduled Spring tour of the States. It was there that the decision was made that the group would fulfill their live obligations in the knowledge that it would be their last.
“Civilian” was the last in a line of strikingly original albums, each with its own character, but each recorded with the same care and attention to detail. Gentle Giant were a unique proposition, five talented musicians with the ability to blend widely differing musical traditions into a coherent whole.
Decades after the initial release of “Civilian” fans of the band old and new have come to realize what an incredibly strong and superbly written and produced album it really was. It is with this knowledge that we are proud to announce the re-release of the final album of a truly innovative and original band.
Remastered by Pete Reynolds
To pre-order: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09X1W8BVQ
“Civilian” will be available on streaming channels as well as the first time available digitally in North America.
For more information: https://linktr.ee/gentlegiantband