Links to Peel
The band, much like Peel favourites Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson, had a different approach from the typical 'mainstream progressive rock band' that John was known to dislike. In live performance, they had none of the showmanship and gimmickry which he found so annoying in some successful progressive bands, so he grew quite fond of them and they were booked for seven Peel sessions in the first half of the 1970s. Also, lead singer Derek Shulman's use of the voice is quite similar to Roger Chapman of Family, another band which John admired. In the booklet of the 2000 archivial release "Totally Out Of The Woods", which compiles every BBC session who survives from the original master tapes, guitar player Gary Green acknowledges Peel as one of the few DJs who would play their music:
At the time there weren't many ways for a band like Giant to get its music on the airwaves [...]. We didn't make hit-singles that could be played [...], so our options were limited. There was, however, a radio program called 'Sounds of the Seventies', which featured music from less well-known bands (sounds like us!). It was hosted by various DJ's, but eventually became the predominant domain of John Peel who seemed to take something of a 'shine' to us. We never met the DJ's in the course of recording, the go-between being the PRODUCER (capital letters please!) of the session . We did invite John Peel down to Portsmouth once - he arrived late and fell asleep on [bassist] Ray [Shulman]'s couch! The rest of us spent the rest of the afternoon talking in hushed voices lest we woke him up!
Gentle Giant broke up in 1980 without ever reforming so, between this and the fact that Peel was much more interested in punk in the late 70s, they were not featured again in his programmes. They did, however, retain a cult following into the twenty-first century; their records were reissued and played on shows such as Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone on BBC 6 Music.
Seven sessions. Sessions #5, #6 and #7 available on "Out Of The Woods - The BBC Sessions" (Band Of Joy, 1996) and its expanded edition "Totally Out of The Woods" (Hux Records, 2000), #7 also available on John Peel Session (16th Sept 1975).
- Alucard / Plain Truth / Giant / Funny Ways
- Mr Class And Quality / Prologue / Schooldays
- Plain Truth / The Advent Of Panurge / Funny Ways
4. Recorded: 1972-12-11. First broadcast: 14 December 1972.
- Prologue / The Advent Of Panurge / Cry For Everyone
5. Recorded: 1973-12-04. First broadcast: 08 January 1974.
- Excerpts From Octopus / Way Of Life
- Proclamation / Experience / Aspirations / Cogs In Cogs
- Just The Same / Free Hand / On Reflection
"Funny Ways" from session #1 was scheduled to be broadcast on the 04 February 1972 repeat but, apparently, it was not so this particular track may have been left unaired.