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Gentle Giant The Missing Piece album cover
2.99 | 686 ratings | 64 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Two Weeks in Spain (3:00)
2. I'm Turning Around (3:54)
3. Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It (2:20)
4. Who Do You Think You Are? (3:33)
5. Mountain Time (3:19)
6. As Old as You're Young (4:19)
7. Memories of Old Days (7:15)
8. Winning (4:12)
9. For Nobody (4:00)

Total Time 35:52

Bonus track on 2005 DRT reissue:
10. For Nobody (live) *

* Recorded in Cleveland 1977, previously unreleased

Line-up / Musicians

- Derek Shulman / lead vocals
- Gary Green / electric & acoustic (7) guitars
- Kerry Minnear / Hammond, piano & electric piano, synth (1,4,7), Minimoog (3,6,8), percussion (8), clavinet & backing vocals (6)
- Ray Shulman / bass, 12-string guitar (7), percussion (8)
- John Weathers / drums, tambourine, percussion, rhythm machine (8)

Releases information

Artwork: Ray & Barbara "Tanner" Shulman

LP Chrysalis ‎- CHR 1152 (1977, UK)

CD Terrapin Trucking ‎- Truck CD 006 (1993, UK)
CD DRT Entertainment ‎- RTE 00356 (2005, US) 35th Anniv. w/ 1 bonus Live track
CD Alucard ‎- ALU-GG-015 (2009, US) 24-bit remaster by Fred Kevorkian

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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GENTLE GIANT The Missing Piece ratings distribution

(686 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(19%)
Good, but non-essential (49%)
Collectors/fans only (19%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

GENTLE GIANT The Missing Piece reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As disco died a quick (but hopefully painful) death with the emergence of "new wave," and the sound of radio mercifully changed, many established Prog bands -- sometimes labeled "dinosaurs," or irrelevant, by the 'hip" spokespeople for the new music -- began to change too.

"The Missing Piece" reveals a "kinder, gentler" Giant, moving to shorter, less overtly-experimental songs that were almost radio-friendly. I believe that the song "I'm Turning Around" speaks at least in part to this issue: compromise, or starve. (Not that the new approach garnered them much air-time in my area....) One might therefore think that a long-term fan like myself would have hated this more "accessible" Gentle Giant, but not so: I always loved this album , because even "commercial" Giant is still wildly original music

From the rocking, rollicking fun of "Two Weeks in Spain," "Betcha Thought we Couldn't do It" (a barb for their critics), "Mountain Time," and "Winning" (which really rocks), to the delightful and uplifting "As Old as You're Young," to the sentimental pure-Prog majesty of "Memories of Old Days," this is one of the best latter-day GG albums. When I said that it showed a "kinder, gentler Giant" it was mostly because I couldn't resist the expression. But make no mistake: though the material often simpler than the classic early stuff, this album rocks! (For the record, I also liked the even more "updated" and hard-edged Civilian.)

Review by corbet
4 stars Now, it must be said, I'm inclined to love just about anything Gentle Giant ever released or even breathed on. Thus, with the following praise in mind, unprepared fans of the band's earlier work may get to this album, and a song like "I'm Turning Around," and laugh their pants off. This would be an unfortunate reaction. Okay, so there is definitely a shift in direction evident on this album -- there are less overtly "proggy" songs, more purely rocking songs, and a general lifting of the intense burden of creating "yet another insane experimental masterpiece!!!" that every album preceding seemed to bear. That said, what this album ends up doing is expressing the band's musical personalities in an especially direct fashion that will delight the true Gentle Giant fan, and they will especially treasure this music. "As Old As You're Young" is one of my favorite GG songs, with an uplifting and magical vibe that seems to me to be so essentially Kerry Minnear. "Memories of Old Days" is absolutely spellbinding, featuring layers of shimmering acoustic guitar and electric piano that fill the air with an almost palpable melancholy. "For Nobody" is a balls-out prog charger that leaves no doubt that the boys could never lose their edge. It's all the more remarkable to me that this is all contained in one album with such gems as the aforementioned ballad (!) "I'm Turning Around." If you've already been convinced of Gentle Giant's previous albums, don't entertain any doubt about this one -- there's nothing but goods to be found.
Review by Sean Trane
2 stars This is the end, really. Just one song (the last one and the longer one) and it is very aptly named Memories of Old Days, that would fit into the previous Lp, but it was a staple in their later live shows too. But for the rest: the songs would be good for another rock band that might have done their masterpiece with this material but simply not for this Giant. Everything spells different on those tracks of the first side of the album, starting with Derek's increasingly irritating vocals, but the most obvious being the "simplified" songwriting. Don't get me wrong, here?. GG didn't turn into Status Quo. The songs are still well written and arranged, but they are written with the conscious effort of conquering the US market and therefore the temptation to beef up the tunes and AOR-izing them is unfortunately all too present. And of course , it doesn't work very well since it is un-GG-like. A real let-down. I do not rate highly Power & Freehand but for other reasons, not for mediocrity of this one. And the worst is yet to come........
Review by daveconn
3 stars What's missing here is the creative spark that allowed earlier albums to catch fire. From the opening bars of "Two Weeks In Spain", which initially sounds to be on the wrong speed, it's clear that GENTLE GIANT has tampered with the formula or tapped out their well of inspiration. Thus, "The Missing Piece" marks an end to the unbroken chain of great albums begun in 1970 with their eponymous debut. The once-dazzling arrangements, built around complex riffs from Ray SHULMAN and Kerry MINNEAR, here fall flat for the first time. The band known for sublime album sides knocks off restless and noisy bits, as heard in the contentious "Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It", which seemed ironically to anticipate commercial success with this new approach. Only "I'm Turning Around" harks back to earlier successes, on the first side of music anyway. The second side, oddly, picks up where Interview left off, albeit half an album late. The medieval-sounding "As Old As You're Young" and darting counterpoint of "For Nobody" in particular reveal a return to form.

As it turned out, it would be the last time GENTLE GIANT scaled these heights, opting instead to follow the first side of this album for the subsequent "Giant For A Day". With the "Interview" tour behind them, perhaps it's no wonder the band sounds exhausted in the studio. Unlike their next record, "The Missing Piece" does have redeeming features, but it's hardly an integral piece of the puzzle. If you've purchased all of their earlier records and still feel something's missing, then I'd pick this up. Otherwise, you're not missing anything.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is probably underrated. Overall, this is an excellent album as you may hear an original Gentle Giant style (discrete music with great vocal) and some straight-forward music influenced by early groups such as Beatles. Oooppsss . !! Yeah, if you listen to track 3 "Betcha ." you would definitely agree with my statement. It reminds me The BEATLES "Rock'n'Roll Music". But that only happen with one track and no harm at all with it as Beatles has influenced many groups in the world.

The varieties of song in this album are really good. There is a ballad and tend to be poppy song like "I'm Turning Around" (well, actually I like this song very much. It's sweet and was popular in my home country around end of 70s period). There are some mellow but heavy tracks eg. "Memories of Old Days" and happy track like "Two Weeks in Spain". My best favorite track of this album is "For Nobody". It rocks! - Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars First part of their 'pop' trilogy although the latter half of the albums sounds like outtakes from "Interview", only slightly less quirky. The opening track "Two Weeks in Spain" is a fun and bouncing number that instantly sets the tone for the A-side and while these tracks are far from progressive rock they often have a good hook to them. I can't really recommend this to anyone but for those who are interested, though tracks like "Memories of Old Days" and "For Nobody" are very strong and rather complex cuts. Not a bad album at all musically though not the most appealing for the average proghead either, therefore three stars mainly for the B-side.
Review by slipperman
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.

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ".look at the mirror over there, what do you see? Tell yourself a lie."

I won't lie with this review, (I never lie at all!). I will tell you how I feel listening to The Missing Piece, an album transitional in nature, with very interesting compositions, still good! And still entertaining! Yes, it's not their most experimental effort, nor their peak of maturity, but a sign of that times.anyway you can't turn back the clock! Is it pop? Was it thought for commercial audience? If so what's a pop!! If only all the then commercial albums had been arranged and played in such a such a freshness.!

The new 2005 35th anniversary remastered edition is very well packaged, in "green- grass revealer" colour. The sound is very clear and strong. It's a pleasure to listen to such good reissues! Even if the booklet it's poor, only providing the lyrics. The front cover is very nice with that puzzle missing piece lying on the grass. reciprocally the back cover is the "almost" complete Giant's puzzle composition! Some funny surprises expect us!!

The first part of the album starts with a "shocking" (I admit it) Two Weeks In Spain, an excellent straightforward rocker about some great holydays (or tour?) the band should have enjoyed in that Iberian beautiful country that year, I suppose! (3 stars).

I'm Turning Around is a soft romantic ballad.this is the only "really strange" one here and after listening to it a few times I can't say it's bad, Gentle Giant never made "bad" albums! P.S. Giant For A Day and Civilian are not prog, but surely good commercial works.(2 stars).

Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It, is even more rocker than the opener, very well played and sung, nice strong guitar riffs. Not really progressive, but good anyway! (2,5 stars).

Who Do You Think You Are is a well refine track, perhaps a little too repetitive.not the best of the album, enjoyable yet! (2 stars).

Mountain Time.for me this one is great and catchy, with a good funny tempo! (3 stars).

As Old As You're Young is a classic Gentle Giant's song. It reminds of the earlier years but it's at the same time as joyful and fresh as it's the general vein of The Missing Piece! (3,5 stars) P.S. Some references with the 1976 Jethro Tull's Too Old To Rock'n'Roll, Too Young To Die!"?

Memories Of Old Days is a real GEM, softly and sadly played. In my honest opinion the best of the album, with nice, atmospheric, delicate and acoustic guitar work and medieval feeling graced by Gary Green. It seems to me to hear to some Strawbs' passages.(4,5 stars).

Winning is a more happier song about a raising winner but a falling man! (3,5 stars).

For Nobody should have been the album's strong and in a traditional GG's vein.really STRONG! (4 stars). P.S. the remastered edition has also the live version of this great track, recorded in Cleveland (USA) during 1977.who saw them performing live in UK in those wretched punk and new wave days?

The Missing Piece remains a fine collection. The relatively poor sales say more about the changes taking place in the music scene at the time than they do about the album itself. All the excitement of Gentle Giant's unique chemistry is here! Let's enjoy! 3-3,5 the final score!

Review by Melomaniac
4 stars An underrated album. Sure it is not as mind blowing as as In a Glass House or Octopus, but this is still Gentle Giant we are talking about!

The songs are more accessible overall, the band choosing to stick with their main instruments rather than using flutes, vibraphones, violins or cellos or what-have-you, but the arrangements are still as intricate as before. More straightforward and concise but still excellent songs.

I will not do a song by song review, but here are my favorites : Two Weeks in Spain, Mountain Time, As Old as you're Young, For Nobody and a very special mention for the hauntingly beautiful and melancholic Memories of Old Days. Incredible layers of guitars grace the song, and I challenge you to find a Gentle Giant song as emotionnaly charged as this one on ANY GG album. This song is a masterpiece.

Do yourself a favor : listen to this album and make up your own mind about it. You will find it to be better than what is being said about it.

An excellent addition to your collection, as with all Gentle Giant albums (except perhaps Giant for A Day, which still has it's moments, but that's another review!!!).

Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
3 stars The Missing Piece, Gentle Giants first footfalls into the world of popular music. Even though that is true, it is good pop music, and there are still progressive elements to most of their songs (something they would lose in their next album). All the memebers of the band still play strongly, although i hardly think they were playing their best.

Things start off rolling with the rocking tune of Two Weeks In Spain. I have always enjoyed this song, as it is very good straight forward rock music. Derek's vocals add a bit of humor, IMO, and are a great element to make this song diverse (another problem that i have with the 'pop' era of GG). Next Up is I'm Turning Around. A gentler piece that isn't all too spectacular but nice none the less. The next two songs show the weaker side of Giant's accessible music. Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It, has bad lyrics and way too rocky for Giant. I also don't like Derek's vocals on this one, but i think that is just personal taste. Who Do You Think You Are? has a country feel and comes off bad in the end. However, the good point to the song, is Derek's singing. Something i find very enjoyable. After that we have a very good strech of music that includes many progressive elements. Mountian Time brings us back to the good ol' days of Giant with jumpy piano, off beat instrumentations, and a good melody, especially in the vocal line. However, it is still very much a pop/rock song. As Old As You Are Young begins with some very GG keyboards, guitar, and bass. Also, its pleasent to hear Kerry back at the mic. Even though i do prefer Derek's vocals, it has always been a staple of the Giant for multiple vocalists. Also, his gentler voice fits the mood of the song much better. Also, here is the first use of vocal counterpoint on this album (something i enjoy very much). A great song indeed. Next up is the lengthy Memories Of Old Days. A nice, slow, growing, progressive song with excellent lyrics, guitar, and atmosphere. Definitely the most progressive song on the album, it is certainly a highlight. Winning starts off with an interesting percussion solo semi-bash which then grows into a solid upbeat melody. More progressive elements can be found in this song, which makes this song one of the better ones on the album. The final song on the album is For Nobody. An agressive rocking song, with great melody and vocal lines. I am perticulary fond of Johns drumming for some odd reason. It ceratinly drives the song forward in a big way. Also, this song has more of that Giant staple, vocal counterpoint. Add a short little Mr. Green guitar solo and there is nothing bad about this song, and i would certainly put it in the albums top three.

All in all, this is the start of a new Gentle Giant, even though they held on to their progressive past, especially with the last half of the album. There is not much to dislike on this album, however, in terms of progressiveness this album stumbles. A good idea of Giant fans, and for fans that don't mind a little more rock in their music. Recommended.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Missing Piece is the ninth album from Gentle Giant and it´s a big change from their trademark progressive rock style. The Missing Piece is a much more straightforward rock album compared to the previous eight very progressive rock albums from Gentle Giant. Some people believe that The Missing Piece is a commercial and an artistical sell out, but I must admit that I enjoy most of the songs on The Missing piece and it might even be a bit more exciting to me than the previous album Interview.

There are two masterpiece songs on The Missing Piece IMO. The first song Two Weeks In Spain and the last song For Nobody which both rank among my alltime favorite Gentle Giant songs. The commercial sounding ballad I'm Turning Around is also pretty good in my ears and so is Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It, Who Do You Think You Are? And Winning. As Old As You're Young is a bit special as it sounds as if it could have been on one of the previous albums. It´s a very enjoyable song. Memories Of Old Days is a very beautiful song in my ears even though it also has a commercial touch.

The musicianship is outstanding as always when we´re talking Gentle Giant, but the elaborate instrumental ideas has been cut down a bit on The Missing Piece and many of the songs employ a more normal rock instrumentation than what we´re used to from Gentle Giant.

The production is great and powerful.

The Missing Piece is a good album IMO, and not quite the disappointment I remembered it to be. If I should chose between The Missing Piece and it´s predessessor Interview I think I would chose The Missing Piece. The Missing Piece might not be as artisticly valid as Interview but it´s catchy and memorable. The prog elements are not as obvious as earlier but Gentle Giant is still a progressive rock band on The Missing Piece. The downfall has started though and would be complete with the next album Giant for a Day. The Missing Piece does deserve more than an average rating IMO so a small 4 star rating is probably in order.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars It's missing something alright

While Gentle Giant would find themselves on controversial grounds with their previous album, Interview, with The Missing Piece they finally decided to plunge. While the album is not bad by any means this is a very unimpressive effort from the Giant when compared to some of their earlier works. While that may be a little bit unfair to compare since there were surely other factors at work, such as the changing times, it's easy to see that if you're not familiar with the world of the Giant then this is not the place to start with them. While the typical Gentle Giant quirk is still sticking around this album likes to experiment with the truly bizarre, and not always in a good way as one would think. The songs are short and concise as the Giant does, but none of them pack the same kind of potency as their previous works. While many of the songs have a heavy, fast and fun feel to them they ultimately leave you wanting more - more complexities, more composition and more substance.

The opening number is enough to give away just what kind of album you're getting into. Two Weeks In Spain is highlighted by some very jaunting vocals and some quirky instruments. It certainly is melodic and has some very nice charms to it, but like the rest of the album to follow it, it just isn't as satisfying as a composition such as On Reflection or even Wreck. Simple ideas are toyed around with and quickly discarded, and though each idea will get developed over the course of the song it's never nearly as much as the band would in their more adventurous days. Apparently someone wanted the boys in the band to appeal to a wider audience by stripping them of their musical thickness. Well, that person forgot that the majority of their audience was riding on that thickness.

While there's no songs that could be potentially ear wrenching, there's simply nothing that stands out among the pack to make for a truly worthy Giant tune. I'm Turning Around has a pleasant chorus and For Nobody makes for a rocking closer, but the amazing hooks and melodies are strangely absent. A missing piece indeed. Perhaps the only song on the album that really stands out is the borderline mess of Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It which, while fun, is way too fast and muddled, and while many may think, ''oh, this guy's just complaining because it's a 2-minute song and he thinks that 2-minute rockers can't be prog'', this song feels completely forces, and honestly, if they'd played music like that from the beginning, they wouldn't have ''done it'' (come this far). Stick to what you're good at, the moral here.

One of Giant's longer tunes is on the album in the form of Memories of Old Days. This 7-minute number is pleasant and slow, but there's nothing particularly special to speak of about it. The vocals on it are calm and clear, but the most of the song is a slow buildup which leads to a slow proceeding of the song. As Old As You're Young is probably the standout from the second side, but that's only because it has a memorable vocal hook attached to it.

The Missing Piece can stay missing from your collection unless you're a hardcore fan of the band, honestly. While later works would become more and more controversial this is the place to stop for many casual listeners. This album may please fans, but it lacks the magic and majesty of many of Gentle Giant's previous works. 2 stars, fans only.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Oh boy, what happened here? Is this the same Gentle Giant that made such masterpieces as In A Glass House, The Power and the Glory and Free Hand? No, it couldn't possibly be!?! But unfortunately it is...

I have always thought that Derek Shulman's voice would work on any type of song. This time it's actually Kerry Minnear who surprised me by incorporating his vocals to songs like As Old As You're Young and I'm Turning Around. Although the melodies themselves work quite well I really can't related to this new style that, for most part, seem flat and uninspired. I can't really say I wasn't warned by the track titles like Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It and Memories Of Old Days, but still it hurt me to hear one of my top five favorite bands perform at this low altitude. If anything, this is a new low in the band's otherwise magnificent career up until this point.

I'm really lost for words when it comes to The Missing Piece. The few excellent performances are completely overshadowed by the mediocrity that the rest of the album has to offer. The high peaks might save it from the lowest mark but it really doesn't deserve more than a collectors/fans only rating that I'm giving it.

**** star songs: Two Weeks In Spain (3:00) I'm Turning Around (3:54) Memories Of Old Days (7:15)

*** star songs: Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It (2:20) Mountain Time (3:19) As Old As You're Young (4:19) Winning (4:12) For Nobody (4:00)

** star songs: Who Do You Think You Are? (3:33)

Total rating: 3,30

Review by poslednijat_colobar
2 stars The Missing Piece is the ninth studio album by british progressive/art rock band. Despite the title of the album, I don't think it's a missing piece of anything. It cannot be a missing piece, because it doesn't need a lot of attention. It's a missing piece of itself. Why I'm speaking about this? It's because of the abyss between this and past works by Gentle Giant. The quality of the music is much lower than everything until this album. The Missing Piece is strong departure from their progart style. It's much more pop and simple, without depth in songwriting and musicianship. This album looks like a fake imitation of the real Gentle Giant, so that it's another band. Only for people with Gentle Giant collections. Serious attention deserve only the last song - For Nobody which is pleasant sample of the past progart greatness of the band. 2,5 stars
Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars The missing Piece of the title seems to be a reference to the band´s complex sound up to then. So the missing piece would be simplicity. Well, that´s the theory a brazilian writer left when he wrote a book about prog rock in the mid 80´s. It makes sense. In 1977 the music industry was not interested in complex music at all. In fact it was eager to drop their acts altogether and sign up the up-and-coming new bands that were from the fad, the punk movement (a move they would soon regret, but that´s another story). And Gentle Giant tried to adapt to the new reality. A lot of fans did not like this album at all. Much to my surprise I didn´t find it not even half as bad as I initially though it would be. In fact, it is, consdering the time period when it was recorded, quite good.

Ok, The Missing Piece is no Octopus or Free Hand. It´s not a classic. But it does have more good moments than bad ones. The vinyl´s first side is where the short, ´simple´stuff (by GG ´s standards, of course) is. Songs like Two Weeks In Spain and I´m Turning Around are more ´radio friendly´ but still bear the GG´s trademark signature. However, Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It is surely the weakest thing they haD ever released thus far. Even if it was only a joke with critics it added nothing to the group´s repertoir and kind of spoil the overall sound. A really waste of time and efford. Who Do You Think You Are and Mountain Time are ok, at best. They fit in the new concept, I guess, but are not as good as the two firstt ones. Things improve a lot on the second side, much more progressive and convincing. And The Missing Piece does have the classic GG track in the form of Memories Of The Old Days. this 7 minute tune is one of their best ever, with terrific acoustic guitar lines and an inspired arrangement. As Old As You Are Young sounds like a lost Jethro Tull track, while the two last songs Winning and For Nobody are powerful compositions and could be on any of their earlier works.

Conclusion: The Missing Piece is not a classic GG record, but does contain enough good material to warrant itt a 3 star rating. It is good, but not as the the previous ones the group has put out until then. But if you like this unique and groundbreaking band, it is worth checking it out. Not for beginners, thought.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars What's for sure is that I am not missing this album at all!

"Gentle Giant" simplified their music (which I can't blame) but turned into some commercial outfit which was not really welcome: probably a sign of time. While the band was highly creative (even if I have never been a fan of theirs), it is all gone here.

Some attempt to rock'n'roll ("Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It") sounds quite ridiculous to my ears. Luckily, it is very short. The funky "Who Do You Think You Are?" and "Mountain Time" aren't any better, I'm afraid.

One of the few songs that is bearable is "As Old As You're Young": it is immediately recognizable as a GG song. It sounds fresh, a bit complex even if it is somewhat more commercial and of easier approach than a classic GG song.

The best track by far is "Memories Of Old Days": one goes through a very nice instrumental intro to a typical GG song even if, again, the structure is less tortured and therefore more accessible than usual. It conveys a pleasant medieval feel (classic guitar). It is a very good track indeed. But there is only one like this on "The Missing Piece". Still, the closing and frenetic number "For Nobody" also deserves a mention.

In all, this is not an album to recommend IMHHO. Two stars.

Review by colorofmoney91
3 stars The Missing Piece marks a change in the Gentle Giant sound. The songs here are not as thoroughly thought out as on previous releases, making this album far simpler in sound and influences. By this time, Gentle Giant had decided to try writing music with more of a pop edge to appeal more to fans of pop music and to gain more play on radio. This change in direction didn't really work well at all, and really sounds uninspired. The songs ultimately sound like boring and slightly quirk pop-rock. Better than most pop-rock, but still within the same realm. The medieval instrumentation is nearly completely gone by this point, and none of the musicianship really sticks out. Though this isn't terrible music, it certainly doesn't live up the Gentle Giant's earlier music. Unfortunately, this sound would go on to get worse in subsequent releases.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars If this was as far into pop as Gentle Giant would venture, I could have lived with that. I actually liked this when it was first released. But then there was "Giant For a Day".

Two Weeks In Spain starts the album in a poppy way, but the song does have a bit of that olf GG instrumental interplay. Aside from a tinny mix, it's not that bad. I'm Turning Around is a relatively soft ballad, with a good chorus, saved by powerful keyboards and a good bass line.

Next is Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It. Okay, you could do it. You can stop now. Actually, this straight ahead rocker is very good. Better than the rockers on the last two albums. Who Do You Think You Are? almost sounds like it wants to be southern rock, with a New Orleans sound as well. But it has some of those Gentle Giant rhythmic turns, keeping it relatively interesting. Mountain Time is a bluesy piano beased song. It's not bad, but also not memorable.

As Old As You're Young, with Ray Shulman on lead vocals, is the best old-style Gentle Giant song, with the familiar madrigal style, and great vocal weaving. Memories Of Old Days has some beautiful guitar work, and because of that, is one of the Giant's best light ballads. Winning sounds like it was recorded for the previous album, "Interview". It has the rhythmic experimentention that permeates that album. It's not a bad song, either.

For Nobody closes the album in a nice way. This energetic piece has fine organ work, and some spectacular vocal arrangements. It leaves me wanting more.

Sure, this is by no means Gentle Giant's best work, but it is progressive, contains much of the band's identity, and is a worthwhile album for the prog fan.

Review by Neu!mann
3 stars Contrary to popular belief, Prog Rock didn't immediately roll over and die with the arrival of Punk. In retrospect nearly every major English Progressive Rock band (with the exception of ELP, already struggling in the tar pits of dinosaur superstardom) met the social upheavals of the era with some of their most assured music to date.

Think of Genesis with "Trick of the Tail"...Pink Floyd with "Animals"...Yes and Jethro Tull with "Going For the One" and "Songs From the Wood". Even cult acts like Camel and Van Der Graaf (note the newly re-tooled moniker) successfully reinvented themselves in "Rain Dances" and "The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome".

And you can make a similar claim about Gentle Giant with their 1977 album "The Missing Piece". It's nowhere near the same creative plateau as "The Power and the Glory" or "In a Glass House", but if nothing else the album proved that even the quirkiest Proggers could sacrifice a little eclecticism without compromising their unique musical character.

A rediscovered surge of energy and enthusiasm is immediately evident in the album opener "Two Weeks in Spain", and in the aggressive curtain closer "For Nobody", the latter song in particular making the strongest case for a new, revitalized Gentle Giant. Echoes of bygone delicacy can be heard in the aptly titled "Memories of Old Days", although I wish Kerry Minnear had been allowed the lead vocals. And no one would ever mistake the choppy, spasmodic rhythms of "Who Do You Think You Are?" or the clattering thing called "Winning" for Top-40 sell-outs.

Even the admittedly stupid hillbilly stomp of "Mountain Time" never fails to put a smile on my face, prompting as it does a mental image of the barefoot Shulman boys passing around a jug of Appalachian moonshine.

You could argue that the tongue-in-cheek Punk Rock riposte of "Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It" was never going to convince an audience of kids with safety-pins in their ears (it had a few too many chords). But the only obvious misstep on the album was the Arena Rock wannabe anthem "I'm Turning Around", according to Derek Shulman written at a moment's notice under record company duress.

Too bad the band never followed up on the blueprint drawn here, instead topping a solid new foundation with the flimsy tinker-toy edifice of "Giant For a Day" the next year. It's as if, having found the piece to complete the puzzle, they couldn't understand the finished picture, a pattern likewise followed by too many other Prog Rock bands around the same time: see the albums "Tormato", "Stormwatch", "...And Then There Were Three", even (despite its massive popularity) the bloated beached whale known as "The Wall".

In retrospect maybe it wouldn't have mattered. "The Missing Piece" showed that yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. But your jaded friends and neighbors still won't take any notice.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Gentle Giant, missing in action...

Gentle Giant's "The Missing Piece" is a transitional album made during 1977 as disco was beginning to be king and punk was alive and spitting. The album I have came with the dismal followup "Giant For a Day" and in comparison to that, this album is very good. However, gone are the technical coimplexities of the Giant only to be replaced with very simple three chord wonder melodic rock. I like the way it starts with its raucous and rather catchy 'Two Weeks in Spain', the Shulman brothers sound great and this one is infectious with some weird musicianship. It then goes steadily downhill with 'I'm Turning Around', a failed attempt at a ballad single, that did not trouble the top of the charts either side of the Atlantic. 'Betcha Thought we couldn't do it' is mediocre quasi-punk as is 'Who do you think you are?' and the nauseating hicksville of 'Mountain Time'. It picks up a bit with a more progressive approach with 'Memories of Old Days' that has a longer running time and even effects of children thrown in. The album even ends on something proggy with 'For Nobody' but this is rather a lacklustre album.

The liner notes attempt to explain or justify this mediocrity from a band we have come to admire over the years for their virtuoso complexity in prog. Ray Shulman explains; "it was a funny period of time; we were suddenly searching for an identity, what we ought to be, where we were going to fit in. There was a degree of pressure to make a more commercial album, and to be honest I can't even remember whether it was self-generated or from the outside; in any case, we'd always tried to avoid repeating ourselves, we were always looking for something new to do." The result is this rather poor effort and it certainly was the beginning of disaster for the group that would continue to decline on the ensuing GG catalogue.

Review by Menswear
4 stars NOT as bad as you could think.

Hey Hey Hey now, this is actually a good record. The 'missing piece' in the GG panorama as finally been found in terms of shorter, punchier rock songs with easy mélodies to hum. Is it the end?

Of course not, it's not the end of the GG we know and love! Their fingerprints (or earprints?) are all over the record, with still the quirkyness staples but maybe more bluesy at times, and they haven't lost their ability to rock. This album contains some of the heavyest moments in Giant's history.

Anyway, we can spot spectacular moments like Only As Old as You're Young, arguably one of the strongest songs in their catalogs. This killer track is a white ray of light in your morning; great melody and clever playing. For those who claim loud and proud that GG changed from this album should reconsider the level of your earing aid because the musicianship is still stellar!

As smooth and pleasant as the billiard's carpet of the cover and certainly as good as Interview.

Review by GruvanDahlman
3 stars It came, really, as no surprise that I would find this album strangely rewarding. I find that in the autumn of my youth have come to appreciate the odder albums in my favorite bands catalogues more than ever before, sometimes to the expense of albums I previously hailed as masterpieces. When I came across Black Sabbath's Never say die I found it lacklustre and strange, boring and uninspired. So much, in fact, that I never seemed to get to the end of the bloody thing. Nowadays I rate it extremely high and find it to be an excellent album, bolstering angst, fury and skillful musicianship dressed in slicker form than on any previous album.

So, reading about The missing piece I was intrigued and curious. I find that GG:s debut is amongst the finest prog-albums ever made, in it's quirky british conglomerate of sounds and textures. This album gets some praise, some flak and some lukewarm reviews. I had to listen to it, discover it and form my own opinion.

Actually I find that half of the album works very well, while the other half is so-and-so. Firstly I'd like to say something of the musical direction displayed on here. It is true that it is more accessible than before, almost pop in some places. But what does that mean? Pop? "You mean pop as in "Chirpy chirpy cheep cheep" by Middle of the road?" No way, (wo)man! The thing is that I find the album to be a blend of art-pop, prog and rock. It is in places similar to Supertramp, like in Mountain time with it's hammering of the piano.

The best tracks are those where the trademarks of GG is still evident, like in the magnificent pop-prog of "As old as you're young". The vocals of Mr. Derek Shulman is as recognisable as ever and the keyboards is GG at their finest, really. The complexity of the past is there. The music can't be, and now I am talking about the album in general, classified as easy listening. Though accessible it retains the characteristica of the band, which basically is the enormous musical skills they possess.

"Memories of old days" is the longest track and in some ways the one that really lets the prog flag fly high. A great song in it's own right that in the presence of the other more pop-oriented tracks stand out like a boot in your gravy. I really love the atmospheres and skillful melody of the whole thing.

Other tracks worth mentioning is "Two weeks in Spain" and "For nobody". The tracks not mentioned aren't really bad, it is after all GG we're talking about. They aren't even fillers, just not up to my liking.

So, what is the conclusion then? The missing piece is an enjoyable album with plenty going for it. The album is not the disaster one sometimes could be lead to believe. I would, however, not recommend to someone eager to investigate GG:s catalogue. Still, if you are acquainted, to take a listen. I think you'll find something to love, something to like and probably one or two track to dislike. The result will though, I think, be a listening experience more enjoyable than unpleasant.

Review by Conor Fynes
2 stars 'The Missing Piece' - Gentle Giant (41/100)

The Missing Piece is, if nothing else, an eclectic album. Unfortunately, that's where its similarities with Gentle Giant's earlier albums begins to end. Yes, this is where things really started to unravel for a band I've heard described as the 'quintessential prog rock act.' In a sense trailblazing the 'prog-to-pop' trend that swept up bands like Yes and Genesis a couple of years later, it seemed like Gentle Giant were finally desperate enough to pursue the commercial success they loudly scoffed at circa Acquiring the Taste. However, unlike Genesis (who had Phil Collins) or Yes (who had Trevor Rabin), Gentle Giant lacked the fundamental songwriting skills to make it in the commercial sphere.

With The Missing Piece in particular, the experiment feels like a complete and utter mess. Far moreso than its pair of poppy successors (Giant for a Day and Civilian), The Missing Piece doesn't seem to have a firm idea of what it wants to be. Especially on the album's superior second half, there's the definite sense that Gentle Giant still have part of their heart set on progressive rock. But it would misleading to call The Missing Piece a prog album; before we hear anything that confirms our expectations of Gentle Giant, there is punk rock ("Two Weeks in Spain") diabetic AOR balladry ("I'm Turning Around") rock n' roll ("Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It") and blues rock ("Who Do You Think You Are?" and "Mountain Time")- and that's just the first side. Even if most of the styles they're working with are familiar and pre-codified, the variety gives the impression that Gentle Giant are unsure where they want to go.

By itself, the variety is actually cause for some mild excitement. Given that so many of these 'popular' styles are fresh territory for the Shulmans and co., it's pretty cool to hear Gentle Giant extending their reach to encompass so much new ground at once. The Missing Piece may have even been great, had many of these expeditions ever actually worked. "Two Weeks in Spain" is one of the few that arguably do; it's a jarring change of pace even from what they were doing the year before on Interview, but the prog-punk fusion is exciting, and probably one of the very first instances that combination was actually attempted (anyone else hearing early Cardiacs here?) There seems to be consensus that the strongest track here is "Memories of Old Days", and indeed it's one of the most emotional moments in GG's career. It's a crossroads between Floydian melancholy (think "Comfortably Numb") and surreal acoustic guitars foreshadowing modern avant-prog legends maudlin of the Well's famous interludes by a quarter of a century. Be you a fan of Gentle Giant or a total newcomer, "Memories of Old Days" is kind of a masterpiece for what it is, and it's a complete and utter shame that the album it's a part of is such crap more often than not, elsewise I'm sure more people would be singing its praises.

"Two Weeks in Spain" and "Memories of Old Days" are truffles in the mud. The rest of the music here ranges from mediocre prog ("For Nobody") to forsakenly terrible AOR- can we stop for a moment to condemn "I'm Turning Around" in particular? I suppose it's a slight merit on Gentle Giant's part that they foreshadowed the slimy-sugary 80s' power ballad archetype a few years before the fact, but to current ears especially, it's a tough sell to get through that song with ears intact. No, I'm serious- what were they bloody thinking?! Gentle Giant have never been one for any shade of sentiment, and they go off an attempt a love song that would make the FM radio gods weep and wither. "Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It" and "As Old As You're Young" are irritating as well, but their shock is limited by the dismal depths they hit on "I'm Turning Around". The Missing Piece has a few great moments but they're fiercely outweighed by the duds. Unlike Giant for a Day it does sound like they're trying to do something interesting here, but- pure and simple, it does not work.

Let's face it; a big part of the enduring appeal of Gentle Giant's music is the fact that they took the tenets of progressive rock bombast and complexity to a proverbial 11. The sheer overwhelming arrangements and mind-bending eclecticism tended to outshine emotional depth and composition. Even as a fan of the band, I don't think Gentle Giant could ever be called good songwriters in the traditional sense, so it stands to reason that an album that largely mutes the bells and whistles wouldn't seem nearly as appealing. To the album's credit, a simpler route hasn't kept Gentle Giant from diving into a wide range of styles, but with such appalling inconsistency to the quality of music here, it's a tough album to recommend.

Could a 'pop' Gentle Giant actually work? I think it might have, if they had approached the new dynamic with the fervour that inspired their wackiest prog. Civilian is the closest we ever hear of that potential. While the variety makes The Missing Piece more generally interesting than Giant for a Day, some of the band's most underwhelming and pathetic moments are to be found here. Might have not been a bad idea if they had quit after Interview.

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nº 167

Formed at the dawn of the progressive rock era in 1969, Gentle Giant seemed poised for a time in the mid 70's to break out of their cult band status, but somehow never made the jump, probably due to the complexity of the style of their music. Somewhat closer in spirit to Genesis, Yes and King Crimson than to Emerson, Lake & Palmer or the Nice, their unique sound melded hard rock, jazz/fusion and classical music, with an almost medieval approach to singing.

After the release of their previous eighth studio album "Interview", in 1976, which was more experimental, less commercial and less balanced than their seventh studio album "Free Hand" was, and also after the realize of the "Interview" live tour, Gentle Giant returned to the recording studio sessions and they made the decision of change de musical direction of the music of the group. They decided to explore different musical directions, including pop, new wave and punk rock on their future studio album. So, they included those new musical experiences on the first side of the album keeping the second side more in the traditional Gentle Giant's progressive musical vein.

"The Missing Piece" is the ninth studio album of Gentle Giant and was released in 1977. All songs were written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman. The first track "Two Weeks In Spain" is a great song, very fun and enjoyable. It's a vibrant and quirky opener with insistent guitar licks from Gary Green and a charming vocal from Derek Shulman, as well as airy keyboards from Kerry Minnear. While lyrically and musically it's pretty light pop fare, and a big change from what you would normally expect from Gentle Giant, the song really works. It's a charming and energetic song with nice changes. Probably, it gave a great joy to Gentle Giant. The second track "I'm Turning Around" is a calm and beautiful song. This is a poignant song about forging a new life after a break-up, with strong vocals from Shulman and effective riffs from Green's guitar and Minnear's organ. It's a soft romantic ballad that reminds me the old Gentle Giant. The third track "Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It" is my first problem with the album. This is a song influenced by new wave and punk. It's a rock song but it doesn't sound too Gentle Giant. Although an admirable attempt to keep up with the genre that was essentially responsible for putting an end to prog rock, hearing the mighty Gentle Giant pounding away here sounds a bit forced. The fourth track "Who Do You Think You Are?" is my second problem with the album. This is an uninspired pop song. I can't understand how a group so creative write a song like this. The fifth track "Mountain Time" is my third problem with the album. This isn't a bad song, but it should never have been written by the band. It has nothing to do with Gentle Giant. The sixth track "As Old As You're Young" is the return of Gentle Giant's sound. This is a good Gentle Giant's song with some complexity and with a good melody. It sounds like it could have come of "Three Friends", a warm little ditty with layers of vocals, Minnear's clever use of a myriad of keyboards, slippery bass work from Ray Shulman, and John Weathers' nimble jazzy drum work. The seventh track "Memories Of Old Days" is the the epic song of the album. It's probably the best song on the album, one their lengthiest songs and their last great song. Here, Derek Shulman pulls out all the stops for one of his most heartfelt vocal performances, and the dual acoustic guitar textures from Ray and Gary are just magical. Complemented by Minnear's sumptuous keyboards, this is just a stunning piece, easily the best song from the band from this era. This is a song in the memory of the good old days of the band. The eighth track "Winning" is a typical Gentle Giant's song. It has almost the complexity of the old material which transforms it as memorable as their best tracks. It sees John Weathers laying down all sorts of percussion and tricky drum signatures, while the rest of the band rocks out with searing guitars and Hammond for a quirky and rocking good time. The ninth track "For Nobody" is a powerful close for the album. This is another song in the vein of Gentle Giant. It's a driving rocker led by Minnear's raging Hammond riffs and Green intricate guitar lines. This is one the best songs on the album, plenty of energy and a reall delightful for the ears of all their fans.

Conclusion: I always liked this album very much. "The Missing Piece" is probably the most accessible studio album, with very good quality, released by Gentle Giant. If we could forget the really nightmare of the three songs, "Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It", "Who Do You Think You Are?" and "Mountain Time", "The Missing Piece" would probably be, a much better rated album by most of us. Personally, I wouldn't have no problem and any doubt in to rate this album with 4 stars, if those songs weren't present on it. "The Missing Piece" is really the last studio piece of their music that deserves be finding and knowing, because, for my taste, "Giant For A Day" and "Civilian" are two albums that only deserve be purchased by collectors, fans and completionists. So, I rated this album only with 3 stars, because by the criteria of this site, it means that it's only good and not an essential album. However, I strongly recommend this album, without those three tracks. All in all, we are in presence of the last great album of one of the greatest prog bands ever.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by jamesbaldwin
3 stars "The Missing Piece" is the ninth album of the Gentle Giant, successor of "Interview". If we compare Interview (the first song of the homonymous album) with Two Weeks in Spain, we immediately notice a great change in the music of the Gentle Giant: they have gone from progressive rock to commercial music easy listening. It is the end of the group's golden age, and the beginning of their decadence, is not it? Yes and No.

Reality is more complex. In fact, the album Interview represents the progressive rock of the GG that reels, trudges on itself and continues compulsively to try to get out of a dead end. The effort is always deserving, but there is no longer inspiration (no good melody), lightness, creative urgency; on the contrary: there is a compulsive way of repeating the same compositional schemes until they are consumed, until the patterns are all that is left of the music. From this point of view, Interview represents the decadence, the forced attempt to keep alive the corpse of the GG's progressive rock while The Missing Piece represents the attempt of rebirth of the GG according to the new musical canons of freshness, immediacy, linearity.

Are the GGs reborn? Yes, the GGs are no longer the dying progressive rock corpse of Interview that did not want to die, but a new group, which courageously seeks a new identity, and does so with merit, appreciable inspiration and goodwill. That's why according to my evaluation criteria, The Missing Piece is a better album than Interview (and even better than those of earlier years where the inspiration has failed in favor of the repetition of progressive rock patterns: Three Friends and In A Glass House).

The Missing Piece is a doble face album. First side full of brief commercial (and not high medium quality) rock (and soul) songs, second side with great songs in art-rock style mixed with progressive rock style.

"Two Weeks In Spain" is good rock and roll but too much repetitive (vote 7); "I'm Turning Around" is an atmospheric, melodic ballad, good. Very simple keyboard solo, really not in the GG style but anyway great effect on the listener for the very good melody (vote 8); "Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It" is speed rock and roll (near to punk rock) with repetitive chorus; the beginning works but soon the song become forced and then fade away (vote 6,5/7); "Who Do You Think You Are?" is an electric ballad with good soul cadence but that soon become too much repetitive and not developed: a missing chance (vote 5,5).

"Mountain Time" is a beautiful, funky danceable piano song, which sees for the first time in the career of GG Derek Shulman singing with the voice of black shouters, especially in the finale where the syncopated rhythm becomes percussive and gives way to the splendid singing of Derek to rise up to virtuosity (vote 7,5).

Side B open with the proggy "Old As You're Young", a medieval track sung by the angelic voice of Minnear, very good; here the fan of GG can take a breath of relief: their progressive rock is not dead, rather it is reborn. Vote 8. Memories Of Old Days is the masterpiece of Lp. Beautiful acoustic guitars (Ray played 12-strings acoustic guitar), beautiful romantic melody, evocative renaissance's sound of flute (produced by the synth?). In the song there are no percussions, no rhythm or arrangement variation: this is the difference between this track and the past masterpieces. Vote 8,5. Winning begins in a percussive way that reminds to "Runaway" (In A Glass House) and then become a good rock piece, very supported in the rhythm, with interesting percussion intermezzo. The mood of the song doesn't change from the beginning to the end: the musical chords are always the same: a refrain is missing; fortunately, in the middle of the piece comes a contrast section, although rather similar to the stanzas (vote 7,5). "For Nobody" is a proggy track, similiar to some of Free Hand or Interview. It is speed rock, very supported and in some moments then rhythm is too much forced and compulsive. No great melody but good job of the band. Vote 7.

In this album GG find inspiration and decide to change direction, taking the linearity already partly exhibited in some songs of Power & Glory and Free Hand but with more simplicity in the compositions and arrangements (I miss the violin played by Ray). On the first side, however, this linear approach joins the commercial rock and soul and produces short unpublished pieces for the GG, I would say dignified, who want to keep up with the punk and new wave. In the second part of the disc this approach leads to good results, in line with the past, but at the same time more relaxed and closer to easy listening.

Anyway, The Missing Piece is a good album, effective, which achieves the objectives that it is given. Medium quality of the songs: 7,31. Vote album: 7,5. Three stars.

Review by siLLy puPPy
3 stars Even the most popular prog acts were feeling the pressure around 1976 when the music industry made an abrupt turn towards punk rock, heavy metal and more danceable styles of music such as disco and new wave. Best selling acts like Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes, Genesis and even non-English bands like Magma were jettisoning the lengthy epic fantasies that celebrated musical excesses by increasingly upping the ante of complex monstrosities until the style had pretty much alienated the next generation. The answer was to retreat back to simpler times and become followers instead of leaders. While even the big bands of the day were feeling the pressure to conform or die, bands like GENTLE GIANT that were known for being ridiculously complex and experimental even in prog terms were hit even harder.

After the 'Interview' album GG performed their last tour of their over-the-top contrapuntal rich menagerie of music styles and decided to simplify in the hopes of joining the more mainstream rock world where bands like The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac were selling gazillions and a cash starved GENTLE GIANT was eager to finally reap of the rewards of its hard work ethic that brought forth some of the most demanding musical artifacts from all of the 70s. The answer was the band's ninth album titled THE MISSING PIECE which served as a transitional album between the prog rich past and the soon to be pop rock reality that would last for only three albums before the band called it quits and never looked back. For the first time GENTLE GIANT also were looking at younger acts for inspiration instead of pioneering. While hints of more contemporary ideas were tucked neatly into 'Interview,' on THE MISSING PIECE the band shamelessly engaged in pure pop rock and even added some punk elements.

The album is roughly half of the newer pop oriented style that the band would release two more albums with and a second side that would dish out a few more proggy performances as a nod and a sad goodbye to the loyal fans that came before although these too were more watered down prog. Starting with the opening 'Two Weeks In Spain' it's clear that the old GENTLE GIANT was nowhere to be found. The catchy funky grooves laced with receptive guitar riffs and more banal lyrics signified a surrender as the band joined the brave new world of simpler music and carries it through with five tracks that add elements of funk, hard rock and even honky tonk piano to craft some catchy pop hooks without a trace of the complex harmonic interplay or crazy time signature rich instrumental tapestry of Renaissance folk fueled rock with classical and jazz overtones. The stand outs for me include the fiery 'Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It' and the more funk fueled 'Mountain Time.'

The second side starting with 'As Old As You're Young' takes a drastic detour and looks towards the past with those crazy jittery keyboard fugue like performances along with the more dramatic polyrhythms, however they are all teased into packets of accessible pop hooks with verses, choruses and moments of instrumental interludes. 'Memories of Old Days' almost seems to lament the past that is no more with a slow lugubrious tempo and a pinning for the passion that made GG such a unique act in the first place. The only track of any substantial playing time at over seven minutes, this one reflects and contemplates the new decisions mostly on acoustic guitar and electric piano and a nice little revisitation of the Medieval folk themes that were always a part of the band's previous repertoire. 'Winning' is a percussion rich track that sounds like nothing else the band had ever done but also prognosticates the more pop rock direction of the next two albums only along with some easy listening contrapuntal additions for good measure. The album ends with the best track of all, the hyperactive 'For Nobody' that actually sounds like a leftover track from either 'Free Hand' or 'The Power And The Glory.'

While those who lived through the GENTLE GIANT years probably cringed when they first encountered THE MISSING PIECE, personally as a connoisseur of pop music lover outside of my prog addiction, i have to say that GENTLE GIANT did a decent job of mixing the old and new together and although not nearly as satisfying as other prog turned pop bands' albums like Yes' 'Drama' or King Crimson's 'Discipline,' the result isn't as bad as many make it out to be. The band clearly had as much talent crafting clever pop hooks as well as the wild prog workouts they are more famous for. While the album is decent it certainly lacks a cohesive feeling and as a pop rock act hadn't quite mastered the undeniable catchy hooks that would come to fruition on 'Giant For A Day.' There are many quality tunes on this one and the band members are on full fire instrumentally speaking. Unfortunately nothing is quite of the quality of scoring a chart seeking hit but as progressive pop tunes many of these are quite addictive. Personally i prefer the following album.

Review by Warthur
4 stars You can't say they didn't warn us. On Gentle Giant's Interview - the studio album before this one - the band showed signs of wanting to experiment with musical sounds beyond the scope of the prog spheres they'd comprehensively conquered on their run of albums from the self-titled debut to Free Hand. (Give It Back, with its hints of reggae influences, was perhaps the biggest clue there).

No, 1977's The Missing Piece was not, in retrospect, such a bolt from the blue as you might think - but even so, fans may be forgiven for being shocked by the comprehensive gear shift presented here. There is a logic to the album's structure which the CD format rather obscures; in the original vinyl configuration, the last four songs - prog pieces which sit comfortably next to earlier material, if a bit simplified compared to their most complex experiments - form the second side, whilst the first side is dedicated to the band's experiments in different musical genres and approaches. This division of two halves almost makes this an implicit concept album, or at the very least follows a theme - a balance between on the one hand exploring new territory and on the other developing familiar turf.

The punkish Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It would be the most radical departure here, but overall there's hints of influences being picked up from the rising New Wave which doubtless, after further consideration, eventually yield the sound of Civilian, the band's final studio album.

In a way, Gentle Giant were once again ahead of the curve here - most of the prog groups who would eventually adopt a more commercial sound in the face of the coming decade were still playing in broadly their old styles in 1977. (Consider that this would be when Yes were Going For the One and Steve Hackett was still in Genesis.) It's no surprise that several band members would eventually land on their feet in record company jobs cultivating new generations of talent, because here they've clearly spotted the way the wind was blowing well before many others did.

The fact that they don't seem to have a strong idea here of which direction to go in next may justifiably be considered the first sign that the band was in its waning days. Had they chosen one distinctive direction to go in and committed to it at this point, then perhaps they'd have weathered the coming storm.

As it is, The Missing Piece is, true to its cover art, much like a collection of spare jigsaw pieces - each of which offers a snippet of an interesting-looking picture in its own right, but none of which fit together to come to a cohesive whole as an album. Nonetheless, some of those individual pieces are pretty fine. The second side of the album is pretty solid, whilst the experiments of the first part will grow on you if you allow them to. It wasn't enough to save the day in the long run - but perhaps it was good enough to keep the Giant ploughing on just a bit longer.

Review by Mirakaze
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars The result of Gentle Giant's attempt to create something with more commercial appeal while also retaining its prog audience comes off rather half-hearted and insecure. The bouncy, upbeat "Two Weeks In Spain" and the melancholic "Memories Of Old Days" (which has a very soothing synth tone and a great vocal delivery by Derek Shulman) are the only two tracks where these two aims are met somewhat successfully; the rest of the album ranges from forgettable (like the folkish "As Old As You're Young", or "I'm Turning Around", a pathetic attempt at a power pop anthem) to embarrassing: did the world really need to hear this band debase itself with idiotic lounge songs like "Who Do You Think You Are" or "Mountain Time"? And "For Nobody" was probably intended to be an epic closing number for both the old and the new audience but just ends up as a totally generic "rocker" with its only distinguishing feature being some weird organs and some other traces of the traditional Gentle Giant instrumentation that would probably turn off mainstream pop fans. Just what were they even trying to do here?

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3 stars Gentle Giant really started to cut down on their ambitions and aspirations on the deceivingly ambitiously titled "The missing piece". Music gets less complex, somewhat more accessible but in the end, none of the audience may be happy. It's not that the band cannot produce memorable radio friend ... (read more)

Report this review (#3050536) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, April 27, 2024 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I bet you thought they couldn't do it! After the overtly dense and frankly inaccessible Interview album Gentle Giant had a radical rethink for the follow up album The Missing Piece.The most obvious change was to ditch the complex-for-the-sake-of-being-complex polyrhythms which were such an essentia ... (read more)

Report this review (#2693991) | Posted by Lupton | Sunday, February 20, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Review #101 Another underrated album of the Giant; "The missing piece" came out in 1977 and it hasn't been well received by the fans since then. More as a low radar album than a total waste or a disappointing record, it features very good songs, probably not as experimental and with the ambit ... (read more)

Report this review (#2598052) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Friday, October 1, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another of those albums from the late 70s when prog bands tried to adapt to the times when simplicity was the new black. I quite like many of them: Yes "Tormato" and "Drama", Renaissance, 'Azure d'or", "And then there were three" by Genesis or Camel "Breathless" all are really fine records, simp ... (read more)

Report this review (#2527731) | Posted by Artik | Thursday, March 25, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This was one of my first purchases of Gentle Giant and I loved it. Sure it's different and a bit more commercial than their previous material, but every song is solid. "Memories of Old Days" is the best ballad Giant has ever done and Derek's vocal is spot on. "For Nobody" is a fierce rocker that onl ... (read more)

Report this review (#2236560) | Posted by Grumpyprogfan | Tuesday, July 9, 2019 | Review Permanlink

3 stars My initial reaction when I listened to this album was "My god, this is udder you-know-what. Nothing like the old Giant." The latter is pretty much true. Gentle Giant have given up being anti-establishment in an attempt to sell lots of records be big stars like Genesis. But today I decided a reas ... (read more)

Report this review (#1529685) | Posted by ProgressiveHypocrite | Tuesday, February 16, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have heard and have all of Gentle Giant's output except Civilian. Giant For A Day doesn't do anything for me, but The Missing Piece? Now, that's a different story. Wrongly lumped in with the two subsequent GG albums, The Missing Piece, even though it was somewhat of a departure from prev ... (read more)

Report this review (#1369424) | Posted by presdoug | Monday, February 16, 2015 | Review Permanlink

3 stars For me as the person from the former Soviet Union, it is easy and evident why I love song-oriented things or at maximum extended song-oriented things or at absolute maximum one reasonably avantgarde piece per career. That is why my faves are Gentle Giant and most of Queen. That is why I see T ... (read more)

Report this review (#1059425) | Posted by Woon | Sunday, October 13, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This will be the first Gentle Giant album I review here but I've heard some and loved them all. I did this review because of the low rating it has got and realized after listening my opinion was similar to the majority's. This is a pleasant album with some really good compositions but it's not a ... (read more)

Report this review (#950041) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Friday, April 26, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 t ... (read more)

Report this review (#935195) | Posted by Fenrispuppy | Monday, March 25, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Perfect Frosted Mini Wheat album! (You need to look that reference up to get it.) Kansas' "Audio-Visions" is too, but in a bad way. Solid 4 stars. Perfect for any Prog Head who like it a bit harder. This is my favorite GG album. I cranked this up more than Free Hand and TP&TG. It's progres ... (read more)

Report this review (#679779) | Posted by Monsterbass74 | Saturday, March 24, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 ( ... (read more)

Report this review (#621694) | Posted by Zargasheth | Friday, January 27, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ok, I think it's terribly unfortunate that the Missing Piece is rated so low. If you actually listen to it, you will see this is a great album. I've been familiar with virtually all of Giant's discography (including the unfortunate Giant for a Day and the slightly better Civilian) however this o ... (read more)

Report this review (#437315) | Posted by bdsynchronicity88 | Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The album begins with Gentle Giant trying something new. "Two Weeks In Spain" is dedicated to the working class holiday. It fuses elements of punk and progressive music, and in my opinion, quite successfully. It's catchy, it's fun, and you can still hear some old Gentle Giant in there. The nex ... (read more)

Report this review (#403996) | Posted by Slaughternalia | Sunday, February 20, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars What a fitting title! And it can't be a coincidence that the ' missing piece ' happens to be part of the Gentle Giant puzzle's forehead. My guess is the band were self-aware that they had given their sound a total frontal lobotomy. I really don't mind when prog artists go 'pap' if they do it in a ... (read more)

Report this review (#301228) | Posted by LionRocker | Thursday, September 30, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Being relatively new to Gentle Giant, all I knew about them at the time was that they had a reputation for being an A grade prog group. So, when I saw The Missing Piece in the record store I jumped at the chance of owning my first slice of GG pie... A lot of people have said that the best pla ... (read more)

Report this review (#292251) | Posted by NeilTheDruid | Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is a GG album that seems very polarizing for many people. I understand why, as it's the first big move toward commercial accessibility for the band. There were some signs earlier, but The Missing Piece carries it through. I don't find it as bad as Giant for Day, which I find unlistenable, ... (read more)

Report this review (#281199) | Posted by yanch | Monday, May 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Not really prog, but not a album overall, pop, disco even punkrock (Betcha Thought We COuldn't Do It), bluesrock, boogy (Mountain Time), all sorts of styles are integrated in the album. Overly commercial, very safe and it could have been the big breaktrough for the band, but it wasn't. Maybe n ... (read more)

Report this review (#189865) | Posted by Kingsnake | Wednesday, November 19, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Picking just one favorite Gentle Giant album is impossible since in my opinion everything from In A Glass House is fantastic in their own right, except Giant For A Day. For me their records tend to go in cycles but one that's always a frequent inhabitant in my CD-player is The Missing Piece. It ... (read more)

Report this review (#186855) | Posted by jarild | Saturday, October 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 3.5 stars really: Well, this may not be the best ever Gentle Giant album and there are even some slightly poppy Genesis moments in there (I'm Turning Around sounds like them in my opinion) but even though they haven't produced a masterpiece the album is still rather listenable. The tracks 'Old ... (read more)

Report this review (#173512) | Posted by TerryK | Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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