MCDONALD AND GILES
McDonald And Giles PANEGYRIC
IInaugural ’71 curio from former Crimson co-founders.
t took under a year for King Crimson’s original line-up to progress from formation to implosion. Their success was so swift that they’d neither time nor motivation to bend to each other’s differing artistic ambitions, so they split.
Ian McDonald and drummer Michael Giles’ next move was to recruit the latter’s younger bassist brother Peter to record the unfussily titled McDonald And Giles. Essentially a Crimson lite album – rich in invention, but lacking their old band’s intrinsic darkness – McDonald And Giles is often dismissed as a footnote but is easily the equal of Crimson’s first entirely M&Gfree album, the jazz-rock-infused Lizard.
Suite In C, a pastoral song cycle that revolves around the Canterbury-tinged baroque pop accessibility of its ‘Turnham Green’ section, a Steve Winwood keys cameo parachuted in from Traffic’s John Barleycorn Must Die and actual strings and brass.
Flight Of The Ibis, echoing the melody of Cascade And Cadence (released the previous year on
Crimson’s In The Wake Of Poseidon) follows, an ethereal Floyd-alike love song that unintentionally showcases the elder Giles’ unique, unmistakable drum style, before decidedly pretty, percussion-free acoustic bon-bon Is She Waiting lights the way to album highlight Tomorrow’s People. With an opening segment redolent of Studio 69, Alan Hawkshaw’s punchy Dave Allen At Large theme, Tomorrow’s People’s sax-driven groove breaks down into a much-sampled (most famously by the Beastie Boys in Body Movin’) drum figure one imagines clattering through Tony Visconti’s subconscious as he set to work on T.Rex’s Electric Warrior.
Closing 22-minute, six-movement epic Birdman employs Beach Boysinspired à capella before perking up, jazzying out and ultimately – and satisfyingly – concluding in weary reflective resignation that predated
Roy Harper’s When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease. A period piece, perhaps, but prog’s l’age d’or was a period without peer.