Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ian McDonald & Michael Giles: McDonald & Giles

I saw a video this week that had similar colors to the cover of today’s album feature. While the effect on the video was created with a color negative filter, it appears that the album photo was shot with infrared film. This similarity prompted me to consider the album simply titled “McDonald and Giles.”

Back in the mid to late 1970s, I purchased this album due to my familiarity of the work of these two musicians in King Crimson. Ian McDonald and Michael Giles recorded their only album in 1970 and it was subsequently released in 1971. Nearly all of the instruments were played by the duo.

The liner notes credit Ian McDonald as supplying guitar, piano, organ, saxes, flute, clarinet, zither, vocals and sundries. His partner, percussionist Michael Giles, contributed drums, percussion (including milk bottle, handsaw, lip whistle and nutbox), and vocals. Michael Giles’ younger brother Peter was the album's bassist. It begs the question why the album was not released name Giles, Giles, and McDonald – in similar fashion to their first band Giles, Giles, and Fripp, which later included McDonald.

When Peter Giles left the band and was replaced by Greg Lake, Giles, Giles, and Fripp morphed into King Crimson. Only two other musicians appeared on the “McDonald and Giles” LP: Steve Winwood provided keyboard solos on “Turnham Green” and Michael Blakesley who added trombone to “Tomorrow’s People.” Another King Crimson alumnus, Peter Sinfield, provided lyrics to the “Birdman Suite” that constitutes the album’s second side.

Flight of the Ibis

While I am not certain why the title of this piece is “Flight of the Ibis,” it is my favorite song on the LP. The song has an eerie similarity to King Crimson’s “Cadence and Cascade” from the “In the Wake of Poseidon” LP that Michael and Peter Giles played on after McDonald left Crimson.

Tomorrow’s People – The Children of Today

This is the horn heavy song on the album that showcases’ McDonald’s prowess as a saxophonist and flautist. The song was written and sung by Michael Giles. It is also provides an example of Peter Giles bass playing.

Is She Waiting?

The third cut on the album is a nice ballad written by Ian McDonald. It is the shortest track on the LP coming in at 2:36. It reminds me of an early Genesis ballad.

The Album in its Entirety

Here’s a YouTube playlist with the album in its entirety.

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