Free Hand

Album: Free Hand (1975)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • "Free Hand" is the title track from the album of the same name. The Free Hand album is the most successful one for the band, being the only one to show up on the Billboard album charts at #48, and the only one of theirs to chart in Britain. Free Hand was their first Chrysalis label release and their seventh album.
    Incidentally, Gentle Giant got introduced to Chrysalis while touring with Jethro Tull. Keyboardist Kerry Minnear reportedly referred to Jethro Tull as the only friends they made on the road. It makes sense that these two bands would get along.
  • In our interview with Derek and Ray Shulman of Gentle Giant, Derek refers to this song as an example of why he feels that Gentle Giant writes "pieces of music" instead of songs. Ray goes on to say, "The way we composed, I'd write a part, and then Kerry (Minnear) would write a part, and we'd write them individually. And then Derek would supply lyrics and help with the vocal line, etcetera, and then go back to Kerry, who'd arrange some vocal parts, and then come back to me to do different arrangements. So they were all kind of mixed up that way."
  • As the liner notes say, this song was "a defiant parting shot at WWA, and an expression of the optimism which swept through the band once their problems were resolved." The WWA here is Phonogram subsidiary World Wide Artists, not to be confused with that wrestling thing. Our apologies if you briefly pictured the Shulman brothers pile-driving each other.
  • In the USA, the first CD release of Free Hand by One Way Records had such terrible sound quality that they had to recall it. It was muddy and lacking treble. Customers complained and One Way recalled it, only to reissue a second CD which used a quickly-made rough mix tape of the finished multi-tracks. There are a number of flaws with this issue as well; some of the lines have a different vocalist, the drums on one song enter half a verse early, and the drums are all but omitted on the climax of one song. And the albums incorrectly say they were made in 1972. The way One Way added insult to injury, it's almost like they didn't care or something!

Comments: 1

  • Saboiar from BrazilI had the One Way Records first release. It sounded exactly as described.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Amy Grant

Amy GrantSongwriter Interviews

The top Contemporary Christian artist of all time on song inspirations and what she learned from Johnny Carson.

Grammar In Lyrics

Grammar In LyricsMusic Quiz

Lyrics don't always follow the rules of grammar. Can you spot the ones that don't?

Steely Dan

Steely DanFact or Fiction

Did they really trade their guitarist to The Doobie Brothers? Are they named after something naughty? And what's up with the band name?

Laura Nyro

Laura NyroSongwriting Legends In Their Own Words

Laura Nyro talks about her complex, emotionally rich songwriting and how she supports women's culture through her art.

Top American Idol Moments: Songs And Scandals

Top American Idol Moments: Songs And ScandalsSong Writing

Surprise exits, a catfight and some very memorable performances make our list of the most memorable Idol moments.

Experience Nirvana with Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt

Experience Nirvana with Sub Pop Founder Bruce PavittSong Writing

The man who ran Nirvana's first label gets beyond the sensationalism (drugs, Courtney) to discuss their musical and cultural triumphs in the years before Nevermind.