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Gentle Giant - The Missing Piece CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

2.96 | 614 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars This album might well represent the most precipitous decline in all of prog. But that depends on how you view its predecessor, 'Interview'. For my money, 'Interview' is the climax of the Gentle Giant journey, easily one of the greatest moments in their highly impressive 8-album string. Then a year later, the bottom drops out of from under them. As if they had run out of ideas, 'The Missing Piece' is largely bland and boring. You'll hear a few excellent songs wandering in and out of an unusually high number of duds. Unfortunately they would never recover, as the following two albums are even weaker.

THE GOOD STUFF: "Two Weeks In Spain", an ultra-bouncy opener that sees every musician operating at their usually high level. Completely tight, with their godlike syncopation intact.

"Memories Of Old Days", which holds a pensive, melancholy tone throughout its 7+ minute duration, a wonderful song that could've been on any of their previous albums.

"Winning" offers the deliberately awkward groove of prime G.G., and though it's not exactly as memorable as their best material, it's yet another fascinating chunk of music that only this band could've come up with.

"For Nobody" is the best song here, a high-energy track with an arrangement that melts great part into great part into great part with the ease of a band that possesses a rare chemistry. A delightful listen.

THE BAD STUFF: Let's get "As Old As You're Young" and "I'm Turning Around" out of the way first. The former is not necessarily bad, I can't identify anything about it that outright stinks, but it lacks personality and seems under-baked. We can probably call this one filler, but it's certainly not horrendous, just a little lame and ever so slightly twee. "I'm Turning Around" is the band's first obvious attempt at radio-ready material. It reminds of Genesis' "Follow You Follow Me" and much of the 'Duke' album, in terms of production and attitude. Somehow I also hear Supertramp and Asia in this song, and as far as I'm concerned, that's Gentle Giant slumming. Skip it.

"Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It" is basic pub-rock, boogie-ing its way into a black hole. Awful, unnecessary and totally forgettable.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" is a light, funky, fluffy number, complete with jangly guitar and loose grooves that maybe should've been called "Man, Are We Tired Or What?". Boring, boring, boring. This track sees Gentle Giant veering dangerously close to the middle-of-the-road AOR that was infecting many rock bands by 1977.

Ditto on "Mountain Time". Who the hell let Bob Seger in the studio? I have a friend who would call this "plumber rock". No offense to plumbers, but that works for me.

This is the first way-below-average Gentle Giant album. It's not a total loss, but remember that this band wrote in their second album, 'Acquiring The Taste': "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 one thought: that it should be unique, adventurous and fascinating." No doubt the band achieved that goal for most of their career. But it seems that with 'The Missing Piece', they were no longer interested in impressing anybody and were instead settling into the less-is-more mindset that afflicts a vast majority of great-but-aging prog bands.

slipperman | 2/5 |


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