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Despite the Cover: "Acquiring the Taste" (1971) by Gentle Giant

On the 16th of July, in 1971, British prog-rock band Gentle Giant released their second album, Acquiring the Taste. They had established a bluesy, soulful sound in their self-titled debut album. However, their second album completely destroyed that sound with an experimental and more diverse set of songs. In fact, this is explained by the band in the album's sleeve text:

"It is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular. We have recorded each composition with the one thought – that it should be unique, adventurous, and fascinating. It has taken every shred of our combined musical and technical knowledge to achieve this. From the outset, we have abandoned all preconceived thoughts of blatant commercialism. Instead, we hope to give you something far more substantial and fulfilling. All you need to do is sit back, and acquire the taste."

In the same sense, in an interview in a 20th-century music magazine, Ray Shulman states: ''I think Acquiring The Taste, our second record, was probably the purest in terms of making music. We just made music and it was never for any other reason. There were no business concerns because we weren't even known. I think that is when you make the purest music because you don't even have an audience.''

Unfortunately, this album was also the last album in which Gentle Giant's original drummer from the Simon Dupree and the Big Sound days, Martin Smith played. He was later replaced with Malcolm Mortimore.

The album's cover features a tongue licking a strangely shaped object that is thought to be, well, an ass, but upon opening up the cover, you find out that it is a peach and have a sigh of relief. Thus, it is not surprising that Pitchfork featured this album in their list of "The Worst Record Covers of All Time." No matter how the cover is, or that it is the last GG album Martin Smith played on, Acquiring the Taste is certainly one of prog rock's most influential albums with its instrumental variety and uniqueness.

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