Gentle Giant - The Missing PieceBy the time progressive rock was greeting the later part of the 1970s, many artists were leaning into the pop territory. For Gentle Giant, their 1977 "The Missing Piece," divides itself into two distinctive halves, traverses from the side of popish sensibility to avant-garde prog experimentation. At the time, long time fans of their earlier works were reticent to acknowledge the hallmarks of the album, which has gone on to become a classic in the group’s catalogue.

High resolution immersive listeners will be delighted to know that award winning producer and musician Steven Wilson has remixed the album in Dolby Atmos, 5.1 surround sound, and stereo, along with Instrumental mixes. These can all be found on the CD + Blu-ray digipack edition which include newly created visuals for each track. Furthermore, for analog enthusiasts, multiple vinyl editions are also available too.

Kicking off with the infectious rhythm of "Two Weeks in Spain," Gentle Giant introduces a blend of prog elements reminiscent of their past works, coupled with a sugary pop melody that dominates the recording. The opening track hints at a paradoxical existence, finding a potential home on a mainstream program while showcasing Gentle Giant's adventurous songwriting.

As the first half unfolds, the injection of unabashed pop sensibility becomes more apparent, reaching its peak with the borderline cheesy ballad, "I'm Turning Around." Some fans are likely to consider some of these pieces as fillers, rather than well-crafted compositions.

Still their progressive roots shine through on "As Old as You're Young" arriving like a musical time machine, transporting listeners back to the band’s earlier sound. Despite the band's transition into pop territory, this track exudes creativity, with quirky, manic instrumentation and vocals that find a comfortable groove. The guitar tone takes on a more serious quality, signaling a shift in the band's approach.

The subsequent track, "Memories of Old Days," stands out as the longest and quietest offering, showcasing seven minutes of acoustic, melodic musicianship. This marks the pinnacle of the band's progressive and experimental approach, a theme that sporadically resurfaces in the album's final two songs, "Winning" and the slightly majestic closer, "For Nobody."

Without the adventurous spirit embodied in select tracks, "The Missing Piece" could easily have faded into obscurity, much like their later works. Fortunately, the album presents a range of songs that, while not reaching the heights of Gentle Giant's acclaimed works, hints at a band still possessing vitality. In essence, it's a transitional album that encapsulates the core and veers sideways into their later popish incarnation, all while managing to retain enough intrigue to prevent the music from growing stale.

Note: originally scheduled for February 16, 2024 release, and delayed due to reported issues with manufacturing.

Updated release date March 29, 2024.

 

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 Format Info

CD + Blu-ray digipack edition with Dolby Atmos, 5.1 Surround Sound, and Stereo Mixes by Steven Wilson.  Also available on CD, Various Vinyl editions, and through popular Streaming services.

 

 

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 About the Author

Wesley Derbyshire Profile Image

Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.

 

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