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Gentle Giant - The Missing Piece CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

2.98 | 664 ratings

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4 stars Acquiring the Taste for "The Missing Piece":

As an eclectic prog fan, I am somewhat new to being a Gentle Giant fan. "Three Friends" languished at the back of my collection for a few years, as I had considered it, based upon a couple of listenings, to be somewhat pompous and boring. At this time, I was venturing off into jazz, blues and fusion, and I could not be bothered to listen to "crusty, old prog-rock dinosaurs.

Fast forward to the year 2012...

I was downsizing and reorganizing my music library, when I decided to give "Three Friends" another try. Lo and behold! This stuff was actually pretty good, and I initiated a deeper exploration of Gentle Giant's oeuvre culminating with "The Missing Piece".

"The Missing Piece" appears to be unpopular with Gentle Giant's hardcore fans and is in my opinion a vastly underrated album. Most of Gentle Giant's albums start out with a strong first track, and "The Missing Piece" is certainly no different. "Two Weeks in Spain" is rollicking and fun, but still manages to maintain a progressive vibe. "I'm Turning Around" is one of their best ballads, comparing favorably to "Aspirations" from "The Power and the Glory". To me, this song sounds way ahead of its time and is reminiscent of Genesis, Phil Collins or Mike + The Mechanics ballads from the 1980s, despite being released in 1977.

The next track "Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It" sounds a bit forced and shares more than a passing resemblance to "Rock and Roll Music" by the Beatles. It's not great, not bad and pretty nonessential. Yet there are worse things one could do with two and a half minutes. "Who Do You Think You Are?" and "Mountain Time" seem to be more AOR/mainstream rock, and while retaining some of Gentle Giant's quirkiness, they are pleasant but disposable.

"As Old As You're Young", "Memories of Old Days", "Winning" and "For Nobody" stand up with some of Gentle Giant's best progressive works. "Winning" sounds like it could have been lifted from "In a Glass House", and that is a very good thing. So what we have here is a Gentle Giant album with six excellent songs and three mediocre songs. My rating really has to be at least 3.5 stars (or 4 stars for the version with live bonus tracks of "Two Weeks in Spain", "I'm Turning Around" and "For Nobody").

Truly, if this is one of Gentle Giant's worst albums, this band at their worst are still better than are most bands at their best. Perhaps if this album had come before (instead of after) the great sequence of classic Gentle Giant albums from 1970 to 1975, it would have been more highly regarded rather than considered a letdown.

Fenrispuppy | 4/5 |


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