GIANT – Shifting Time


Whenever there’s a discussion about the greatest AOR/Melodic Rock albums of all time, it’s almost inevitable that the first two albums by Giant will be part of the conversation. Last Of The Runaways and Time to Burn, released in 1989 and 1992 respectively, were tremendous records, where the songs, the vocals, the playing, all the elements that make up a great record, combined in a way that was almost magical. Despite the brilliance of the albums, the band only had some minor chart success in the States and when guitarist, vocalist, and chief writer Dan Huff quit to become a highly successful producer and writer in Nashville, that looked to be the end. There was a brief reunion in 2001, with the release of a third album, cunningly titled ‘III’, with the original personnel minus keyboard player Alan Pasqua, It was a good record, with some excellent songs, including the terrific ‘You Will Be Mine’ and the sumptuous ballad, ‘Don’t Leave Me In Love’, although it did feel as if it was a tying up of loose ends, but to the surprise of many, a new album under the Giant name appeared in 2010, although with a reworked line up, put together by original members Mike Brignardello (bass), David Huff (drums), and with the addition of Winger and Black Oak Arkansas guitarist John Roth and much respected AOR singer Terry Brock. Again, a decent album, but always in the shadow of the mighty first two albums.

A decade later, after a great response to a one-off charity show by the original line up in Nashville, which made it clear that there were still a lot of fans out there, David Huff, Brignardello and Roth return with another album of songs under the Giant banner. This is all done with the approval of Dan Huff who has also contributed some typically fiery guitar to the single, ‘Never Die Young’. On vocals this time around, and after seeing him perform a terrific acoustic cover of ‘Stay’, a track from Time to Burn, in an online show, they’ve recruited Kent Hilli from the Swedish band Perfect Plan. There’s no doubt he has a quality AOR voice, even sounding reminiscent of Lou Gramm and Kelly Hansen at times, which can be no bad thing,

Like previous Giant albums, this opens with an instrumental scene setter, the suitably atmospheric title track, before kicking into the album’s first single, ‘Let Our Love Win’, which has a great hook, and some fine playing from John Roth. ‘Never Die Young’ follows the same lines, another good chorus, Kent Hilli injecting some real passion into his vocal and the added bonus of a guitar solo that is so Dan Huff, it’s an absolute joy. However, the next few tracks are a little patchy. ‘Don’t Say A Word’ follows the same pattern as the earlier tracks, without quite hitting their standard, ‘My Breath Away’ is another good song, with a fine riff, but sounds as much like Foreigner as Giant, which is not why we’re here.

Highway Of Love’ starts off brilliantly, with a slow, moody opening, some searing guitar and Kent Hilli giving it both barrels, but this is let down when the song becomes a straightforward AOR track. Still a good song but it could have been a great one. ‘It’s Not Over’ is the first real ballad on the album, and it doesn’t really make that much of an impression, and another slower song, ‘The Price of Love’ is another track that brings Foreigner to mind, even with another fine vocal from Hilli, but things look up again with ‘Standing Tall’, with its strutting riff and John Roth playing his frets off, it definitely has Giant stamped right through it, and is one of the best tracks on the album.

Whatever the band do, it will always be compared to the bands near legendary early albums, but as long as it’s released under the Giant name, the comparisons will be made. However, there’s more than enough good music here for it to be enjoyed under its own terms, and on that basis, this is a good album, if a bit inconsistent. When it’s good, as on ‘Never Die Young’, I Walk Alone’, ‘Standing Tall’, and the opening part of ‘Highway of Love’, it can be very good, but there are a couple of flat spots which drag a little, especially the ballads and slower songs, and this does let things down somewhat. I will say, though, I do hope this isn’t just a one off, or that we have to wait another decade for music from Giant. There’s more than enough here to suggest that this line up has much more to offer, and if there’s any possibility of them playing live again, it could be something special.

Track List:

  1. Shifting Time
  2. Let Our Love Win
  3. Never Die Young
  4. Don’t Say A Word
  5. My Breath Away
  6. Highway Of Love
  7. It’s Not Over
  8. The Price of Love
  9. Standing Tall
  10. Anna Lee
  11. Don’t Wanna Lose
  12. I Walk Alone