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Gentle Giant - The Missing Piece CD (album) cover

THE MISSING PIECE

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

2.95 | 530 ratings

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Zargasheth
3 stars The way I see it, this album was somewhat of a clumsy compromise with the sudden sweeping of prog from the public's sphere of appreciation. The first side (Two Weeks In Spain through Mountain Time) contains a bunch of Giant-tinged attempts at pop songs, which are quite a mixed bag; the second side (As Old As You're Young through For Nobody), on the other hand, takes a distinctly more complex approach, as is clear from (among other things) the interwoven vocals on As Old As You're Young and For Nobody, the sound effects of Memories of Old Days, and the unusual percussion of Winning. The thing is, while the first side is merely okay, the second side is some of the better material they ever recorded, so I feel fairly confident in giving this album a 3. Two Weeks In Spain is probably the best song from the poppy side; it's energetic and contains catchy main themes, and the synth-powered instrumental part about halfway through is great. Although it's not particularly complex, I quite enjoy listening to it. I'm Turning Around, however, is utterly boring. It's certainly not unpleasant to listen to; it's just a completely bland ballad. I Betcha Thought We Couldn't do it is a joke, a poor attempt at playing vaguely punklike music. But that being said, it's still fun, and short enough that it's reasonable to listen to (which it would probably not be if it exceeded its 2:20 span.) Who Do You Think You Are is the other pretty good song from the first side; the chorus isn't all that great, but the quirky halting quality of the music keeps it interesting. It has an excellent bass part as well. Finally, Mountain Time is also a pretty boring rocker, based around a theme that doesn't really go anywhere. Now, the second side kicks off with one of my favorite Gentle Giant songs, As Old As You're Young. Not only are the vocals in the "Follow your youth, and you'll find that the time goes..." section a cool and interesting contrast with the rest of the song, but the primary tune is one of the most absurdly catchy themes I've ever heard. After hearing this song as a kid (long before I was aware of prog, or any other Gentle Giant songs), I had it stuck in my head, on and off again, for 2 or 3 YEARS before finally hearing the song again and thinking "So that's what this tune was! Man, this song is pretty good!" I would say that this song does an excellent job of walking the line between prog and pop. Memories of Old Days is also stellar, slowly building to a sort of mysterious atmosphere full of layered guitars and Hammond organ. Unlike the other tracks on here, it's willing to take its time, which does wonders. Winning is filled to the brim with creative and interesting percussion. Although the main tune isn't as pleasant as those on the rest of the album, it's driving and active. For Nobody is a return to the energy that drove Two Weeks in Spain, but it's also quite a bit better, with a break in the middle for some harmonized vocals with an interesting phasing effect applied to them. Gary Green also has a great solo in the middle, and this song is overall exciting throughout. So, is this essential listening for a Gentle Giant fan? Well, the second half is really good, but balanced out by the first half this is a solid three. Highlights include As Old As You're Young, Memories of Old Days, and For Nobody.
Zargasheth | 3/5 |

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