Giant - 2003 Live And Acoustic: The Official Bootleg

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ARTIST: Giant
ALBUM: Live And Acoustic: The Official Bootleg
LABEL: Frontiers
SERIAL: FRCD 131
YEAR: 2003

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: Dann Huff - vocals, guitars * David Huff - drums * Mike Brignardello - bass * Larry Hall - keyboards * Mark Oakley - guitars

TRACK LISTING: I'm A Believer * 02 Shake Me Up * 03 Innocent Days * 04 I Can't Get Close Enough * 05 Cause We Ended As Lovers * 06 See You In My Dreams * 07 Chained * 08 Thunder And Lightning * 09 The Big Pitch * 10 Lay It On The Line * 11 I'm A Believer (acc) * 12 Chained (acc) * 13 Stay (acc)

Background

For my money, Giant were one of the best melodic rock bands of the early '90's. The glory days of AOR may have passed, but Giant proved they were a band who could very much hit the mark. Their two studio albums from that time ('Last Of The Runaways' and 'Time To Burn') have aged remarkably well and still make great listening now, as we move further into the 21st century.

Needless to say, I was more than happy to see the guys return in 2001 with the 'Giant III' album. It wasn't quite up to the standard of the first two albums, but considering it was allegedly made up largely of left-overs, it was still a great record. Two years further on, this live CD makes a more than welcome addition to the Giant back catalogue.

The Songs

The first nine tracks are electric performances and a lot of old favourites are here. The opening guitar strains of 'I'm A Believer' are still as exciting as ever to me, it's one of those intros which could raise neck-hairs and 'I Can't Get Close Enough' still sounds like a very solid tune, which rocks in a no-nonsense and fashion-unconscious style.

'The Big Pitch' is testament to how well the Giant material has aged and Huff's guitar playing is spot on. A great musician and vocalist, life just isn't fair, is it? I have to say, one of the best things about this live release is the overall sound. It sounds quite raw, there has been very little work by the way of post-production (if any). The sound is not too far removed from the excellent bootleg from the 'Last Of The Runaways' tour, which I suspect will be in the collections of many Giant fans reading this review.

The weakest link in the electric set, for me, is the cover of Stevie Wonder's 'Cause We Ended As Lovers' (previously heard on the 'Don't Leave Me In Love' EP). Dann Huff and Co approach the song as a guitar led instrumental, the same way Jeff Beck did on his 1975 LP 'Blow By Blow'. It's funny, despite being written by Stevie Wonder, I always think of it as a Jeff Beck number, and hearing the Giant version, I think Dann Huff does too. I find his approach a little heavy-handed when compared to Jeff Beck, but still, if I could play guitar that well, I wouldn't complain.

For most of you, the main reason for buying this CD will be the inclusion of four acoustic tracks, recorded live at The Borderline in London, just before the release of 'Time To Burn'. It's a real eye opener hearing a couple of my favourites played in a stripped down arrangement. The slightly sultry 'Lay It On The Line' works rather well, as does 'Stay' (not the version from the CD single), but 'I'm A Believer' sounds a little strange, not to mention small.

In Summary

Being a big Giant fan, I found this to be essential listening, I think most other long time fans will too. If you've not heard Giant before, where have you been?


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