Wednesday, November 16, 2011

McDonald & Giles – McDonald & Giles 1971

Multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald and drummer Michael Giles first teamed in early 1969 as founding members of the pioneering British art rock band King Crimson. However, after appearing on their landmark debut In the Court of the Crimson King, the duo -- dissatisfied with the group's musical direction and the strain of touring -- left the lineup, reuniting a few months later to record an LP of their own. Titled simply McDonald & Giles, the album continued where their work in King Crimson left off and featured a guest appearance by Steve Winwood; McDonald and Giles nevertheless went their separate ways soon after, with the former going on to co-found Foreigner. Following the meltdown of the original King Crimson lineup, Ian McDonald and Michael Giles brought brother Peter Giles back, which helps to account, in some ways, for the resemblance of this album to the 1968 Giles, Giles & Fripp recordings -- though the songs here tend to go on at some length, combining prog rock's traits of length and multiple sections with some of the lighter feel of the GG&F days. The 20 minute "Birdman" tends towards self-indulgence, while "People of Tomorrow (The Children of Today)" loses focus halfway and spends the next four minutes being a blithering -- if pretty -- musical idiot. The main attraction is really the performances turned in by McDonald and the Giles brothers -- they all sound fabulous, even when waffling musically, while Michael Giles has a unique drum tone that never has been duplicated (Giles himself abandoned the sound for his later career in Jackson Heights and as a session drummer). Peter Giles returned to the accounting trade, alas, while Ian McDonald eventually wound up as part of Foreigner, which is another tale entirely. AMG.

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