Thursday, June 14, 2012

McDonald And Giles: McDonald And Giles

While Robert Fripp tried to keep King Crimson going despite a revolving door of players, two original band members made a stab at continuing on their own. Ian McDonald, who’d provided the saxes and keyboards, and drummer Michael Giles made one self-titled album together, which snuck out on the marketplace in mild competition with their old band’s latest.
McDonald And Giles does carry on slightly from Crimson, down to labeling parts of songs; the biggest difference of course would be the absence of a prominent electric guitar. While it avoided the “demonic” character of the first Crimson album, the music was still elaborate, not quite prog, not quite pastoral, but still kinda jazzy. It provides something of a different perspective to the second and third Crimson albums, while never being harsh at all, and even predicts some sounds on the fourth, which hadn’t been written yet.
“Suite In C” runs all over the place through musical styles for eleven minutes, even including a cameo appearance by Steve Winwood on piano and organ. The much more pleasant “Flight Of The Ibis” sports lyrics by hip hype man B.P. Fallon, while the music itself is very close to “Cadence And Cascade” from the second Crimson album. “Is She Waiting?” is even quieter and prettier, and “Tomorrow’s People—The Children Of Today” is even more of a continuation of the mild whimsy of the Giles, Giles And Fripp, from the traffic jam horns to the flute-led boogie in the middle.
All of side two is given over to “Birdman”, a conceptual tribute to the first British aviator. (In a further connection to the larger Crimson history, the lyrics are supplied by Peter Sinfield.) This too is all over the place stylistically, the music occasionally intended to evoke action, such as the cacophonous machinery in the “Inventor’s Dream” section. The sadly brief “Wishbone Ascension” sequence is noted on the sleeve as having been once part of a larger Crimson piece, but “Birdman Flies!” builds nicely, leading into the chorale of “Wings In The Sunset”, the melody continued instrumentally on “The Reflection”.
There’s enough on McDonald And Giles to make it worth hearing, though it doesn’t latch on immediately. The boys didn’t tour, seemingly happy to stay home with their old ladies, as lovingly displayed on the album sleeve, and who could blame them. Michael Giles didn’t do much more musically, but not to worry about Ian McDonald; within a few years he’d be a key member of Foreigner.

McDonald And Giles McDonald And Giles (1971)—3

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