The Missing Piece
About the Album
Gentle Giant's first foray into pop music. Side 2 is much stronger than side 1.
More from the LP:
Some cassette covers:
Some eight-track tape pictures:
Other liner notes:
All tracks written by Shulman/Shulman/Minnear A Gentle Giant Production Alucard Publishing, Ltd./Chrysalis Music, Ltd. Recorded at Relight Studios, Hilvarenbeek, Holland Remixed at Scorpio Sound, Euston Centre, London Recording engineer: Paul Northfield "Sound" advice: David Zammit Cover concept: Ray and Tanner. Photography: G.G. CD package: Phil Smee at Waldo's Design
- Two Weeks In Spain (3:00)
- I'm Turning Around (3:54)
- Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It (2:20)
- Who Do You Think You Are? (3:33)
- Mountain Time (3:19)
- As Old As You're Young (4:19)
- Memories Of Old Days (7:15)
- Winning (4:12)
- For Nobody (4:00)
- submitted by Geir Hasnes, from the lyrics as transcribed by a music writer at Chrysalis Records.
Two Weeks In Spain
Lead vocals: Derek
Two weeks in Spain makes the year disappear easy Two weeks in Spain, you forget, bored and yet weary We're back again, drink the wine, weather's fine, only Two weeks in Spain's not enough Never think where you're going Paradise a while knowing Everything that you're doing It's a carnival Let it go so remember Counting sheep in September Let 'em know you're the master It's a roundabout
(Note: Some people hear "Two weeks in Spain's not enough" as "Two weeks in Spain starting now," but the vocals on the BBC In Concert album seem to make it clear that "not enough" is correct.)
I'm Turning Around
Lead vocals: Derek
Where's the love that you once promised. Where's the pride, was it all lies? Taking all, but giving nothing. Did you want a compromise? All these years we spent together. It was me who sold my time Now I've made my life's decision. I'll take yours so please take mine I'm turning around, there was no other way I'm turning around, taking you come what may How long did you think we'd make it. How could this affair survive? Making mine a new direction. Could we keep us both alive? All I am I have to offer. Someone new but still the same Life for us an empty shelter. Now I'll play a different game
Betcha Thought - We Couldn't Do It
Lead vocals: Derek
I betcha thought we couldn't do it. And if you did we wouldn't try I betcha thought we couldn't do it. But if we didn't we would die We built our house stone by stone. Little help, we were on our own Made the town, torn it down. Now you know, tell me how it feels We've been waiting such a long long time. To fit the pattern, fill the rhyme Now we can't stick in our old ways. Now it's out we'll see how you feel
Who Do You Think You Are?
Lead vocals: Derek
Yeah, now I'm back here in Hollywood, I pick up the phone, turn the pages Hi, got a friend and he said I should not be on my own, Come on over, take you to our show. What are you doing? Who do you think you are? You're not even the main star Even if I could come, how would I know you're the one? Who do you think you are? You can put around you're a star Well I might not be on time. Leave my name at the door Well, you can bet here that anyone wants to take a ride No tomorrow So you can bet here that everyone will be at your side Doesn't matter You can't fool around, you're a star
Lead vocals: Derek
Mountain time, mountain date. Hope to be there, before it's late I need to see you, looking fine. Gotta be there, mountain time Last night I had to tell you, made up my mind I need to see you Got on the road to ride I thought all of it over, now I have to be at your side Somewhere, be there So hard seeing it your way. I'm glad, what more can I say This lane taking me back today
As Old As You're Young
Look at the mirror over there, what do you see? Tell yourself a lie Are you as old as you seem? Feel something that you have to Being open, an innocent, wise only when. Age can mellow the haste New hopes, ambitions undone - you're only as old as you're young Out of your youth and you'll find that the time goes slipping away where no-one knows Soon enough Winter is changing to Spring always understand one life it goes Never as old as you're young and everything still yet to find Dreams not realized Thoughts rising, duties and vows continue, can't wait for you Now is the day, tomorrow comes without an end Mark time follow the sun - you're only as old as you're young So as you look around, look at the things you knew Never seeking the past Forget all the things you have done - you're only as old as you're young Still open eyed and promises never quite complete Working head in the air The coming of age never comes - You're only as old as you're young
Memories Of Old Days
Lead vocals: Derek
Now the wings fell to ground as the miles they were crossed All the years seemed like days as the time it was lost For without his solutions and reasons for why He should come up for air to the town once his by So soon on his way Shadows from the pathways Memories of old days That the journey was long many thoughts filled his mind As he neared the stop always a dream he would find But the road that he knew could no longer be seen And the city lights flickered where lake waters gleamed With sadness today Hopes of joy yesterday Memories of old days Sky and the trees of his youthful time spent Only smoke, only paper. No colour or scent With sadness today Hopes of joy yesterday Memories of old days
Lead vocals: Derek
Once he could smile maybe happy Fighting for his future and his destinations There were his friends he'd rely on Everyone had nothing but their aspirations Soon dreaming found realization Winning was his target with deliberation Now he has everything, tell me why No one knows him, the veils shut out cutting the tie So now he's made his own island Not familiar even to his understanding Thoughts turning sour, did he want it? Something reassuring in his time and planning What did he miss, needing nothing? Seeing that it was the fighting and not the winning No returning, no looking back, on with his way Rising winner but falling man, gaining the day
Lead vocals: Derek
Running away, I'll leave you my address, don't want you to reply to anybody Forward my mail to the next place. I'll be responsible for nobody Given my best to the people I knew. I'll always maintain my situation And through it all, no one told me that I was doing it for nobody Tried to forget everything that we did And thinking we did it all together How it went wrong, can't remember It doesn't matter much for nobody Nobody tells, everyone understands It's anybody for nobody Anyone for everybody I'll be responsible for nobody Taking my leave leaving many regrets I'll go without meeting understanding Maybe one day realizing That everybody is for nobody
These liner notes are reproduced with the kind permission of Terrapin Records (UK) Ltd. Transcribed by Bill Noland.
If the years 1974 to 1976 had been a vindication of Gentle Giant's dogged determination to be accepted on their own terms, the period which followed was to be something of an anti-climax, as the band suffered mixed fortunes in a changing marketplace. For a number of reasons, 'Playing the Fool', a double album of live material recorded on their 1976 European tour and released eight months before 'The Missing Piece', proved to be a turning point in the band's history.
Giant acquired a sizeable European following quite early in their career, the Italians, Swiss and Germans proving particularly enthusiastic. The breakthrough in the States had come with 1974's 'The Power and the Glory', and although British listeners remained largely unimpressed, by 1976 the band were beginning to enjoy the rewards of six years of hard work. "Playing the Fool' appeared in January 1977, when the British music scene was in upheaval with the advent of Punk Rock and the so-called New Wave. What little recognition the group had gained at home was cruelly swept aside by fashion, and the musical skills which were the cornerstones of Giant's musical philosophy were suddenly despised.
Bassist Ray Shulman remembers taking stock: 'It was a kick in the teeth, but also a jolt to stop complacency - it was a general shake-up for everybody, really. With the pressure to become more commercially viable on the one hand, and the fact that we had a very loyal audience on the other, we were in a dilemma...' Chrysalis, who had seen the band do very well, especially in America, over the previous eighteen months, now viewed Giant's commercial prospects rather less optimistically. 'They could still rely on us to recoup our advances, to sell a reasonable number of records in all territories - we'd become a pretty reliable act, but it was getting no bigger."
The impact of the new music was less marked on the Continent, and in the States, at least for a time, its effect was negligible. Not surprisingly, giant were persuaded to concentrate on the European and American markets, and apart from an appearance on the BBC's 'Sight And Sound' (a simultaneous broadcast on TV and radio) in January 1978, the band never took to a British stage again. They inclined towards a more direct style, making a conscious effort to inject more energy into their output, and with an eye on contemporaries, like Genesis, adopted a less complex, more commercial sound.
Classically-trained keyboardist Kerry Minnear looks back on this period of Giant's development with mixed feelings" 'At this stage, certainly, one or two members of the band were becoming frustrated by the straitjacket we'd made for ourselves... Because of the nature of what we were, we felt obliged to play quite experimental music all the time. Ray was getting quite heavily into Punk because it was just a total burst of energy and enthusiasm, and I think that appealed to him because it was so completely different to what we were. I confess I was a bit nonplused by some of the things that were going on in the band... Personally, I had much less enthusiasm for breaking free of these restrictions we'd placed on ourselves.'
Another factor also influenced this shift to a more straightforward style. Until now, Giant had taken new material out on the road only after it had been recorded. There was a feeling in the group that a different approach might bring a new vitality to the music, and several of the numbers included here were played live before being taken into the studio. Different arrangements were tried in concert and those which worked best on stage were used when the songs were finally recorded, bringing a more concise feel to the end product.
Although transitional in nature, 'The Missing Piece' boasts several numbers equal to anything the band released on earlier albums. 'As Old as You're Young' is a charming example of Kerry Minnear's medieval minstrelsy, and 'I'm Turning Around' is a powerful ballad which deserved a better reception than it received hen issued as the first of two singles lifted from the album. 'Memories of Old Days' is a finely-crafted, atmospheric song graced by Gary Green's delicate acoustic guitar work, and 'Two Weeks in Spain', the second of those unsuccessful single releases, is an excellent straightforward rocker. Despite the quality of the material, 'The Missing Piece' was not a commercial success. It was their last US chart album, and die-hard Gentle Giant fans generally seemed reluctant to accept the change of dynamic it offered.
Ray Shulman remains philosophical about the choices that were made: 'Perhaps we should have carried on being ourselves and resisted advice from anyone else, just seen what happened. Maybe if we'd reconciled ourselves to a small, loyal audience we could've stayed more experimental, but you can't turn back the clock, and I think that what we went on to do was still interesting, still very good... From the outset, all the different changes in Giant happened for a reason, and every album reflected the mood of the band at the time.'
'The Missing Piece', available now for the first time on CD along with Gentle Giant's four other Chrysalis-period studio albums, remains a fine collection. If anything, the range of music it includes encompasses more than ever the versatility of the band. Its relatively poor sales say more about the changes taking place in the music scene at the time than they do about the album itself, and all the excitement of Gentle Giant's unique chemistry is here to enjoy.
- Alan Kinsman. Many thanks for their assistance to Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman.
La Pieza Faltante
This is the release of The Missing Piece in Argentina by Phonogram Records (6307604). The liner notes and track list are in Spanish.
Spanish Track List
- Dos Semanas en España
- Estoy Dando Vueltas
- Seguro Pensaste Que No Podriamos Hacerlo
- Quien Crees Que Eres?
- Es Tiempo de Montaña
- Tan Viejo Como Eres Joven
- Recuerdo de los Viejos Tiempos
- Para Nadie
Cool stuff in the music
- In Two Weeks In Spain, Derek sings with a "working class" London Accent. According to Jeff Oliver, this is "presumably to reinforce that the song is about the drudgery of life. Various Spanish resorts are the vacation destination for 'package' tours from the UK, where louts dance in sleazy discos all night, drink too much lager (probably not the wine as suggested by Derek, but what ryhmes with 'lager'?) and try and get laid. No self-respecting Spaniard would dream of going anywhere near these places, and quite right too."
- John Armstrong offers a different explanation: "You are right to say that the song is a picture of the traditional British Working Class holiday of which the south coast of Spain is the most popular. Each year millions of us go there for two weeks. However, the Larger Lout element is small and insignificant. In fact the song is a celebration of British Working Class life in the form of a simple and uncomplicated holiday, drinking and fooling around in the sun without the pretence of a, so called, cultural experience so beloved of the middle classes. Two weeks in Spain is great-believe me! The Giant piece is unconnected with the violent drunken youths who get all the press. It paints the story of most who go there: honest, working people who want to have fun. Certainly when I heard Giant play the piece in London the mood was one of happy celebration rather than unruly violence. It's a fun song, fondly sarcastic, but not in any way derogatory or critical."
- Many fans hear the beginning of Two Weeks In Spain differently. There is disagreement over the location of the downbeat in the first line, "Two weeks in Spain, makes the year, disappear...." Some people say it lands on "weeks," some on "Spain," and some on "makes." The live version on In Concert seems to indicate that beat 1 falls on "weeks," since John Weathers hits his crash cymbal consistently on that beat. So I asked Derek Shulman, and his answer was: the downbeat is on "Spain." John Weathers confirmed this definitively at the 2001 GORGG. GG is to be congratulated for creating such a simple-sounding song with such an ambiguous downbeat!
- The phrase "Who Do You Think You Are?" has the same rhythm as "Happy Birthday To You." (Thanks to Johan Bryntesson.)
- Toward the end of Who Do You Think You Are?, the riff during the instrumental break mimics a section of The Runaway before its vocal line, "and yet all his joy is empty and sad." (Thanks to "gentlegiantfan.")
- Memories Of Old Days has lyrics that refer to a George Orwell story, according to Derek Shulman. Richard Beck has deduced that the story is probably "Coming Up For Air," since the lyric in question was "He should come up for air...." According to Richard, the story is about "a middle-aged bank clerk who decides to leave his boring job and his boring wife and re-visit the place where he grew up. The small country village he knew has been transformed so much that it is no longer familiar. All the people he dreamt of meeting again have left, and all the places he fondly remembered have been modernised beyond recognition. He feels so out of place and so helpless that he eventually returns home, feeling useless. I read this story about 7 years ago, so I've forgotten a lot of the details. I have never linked Memories Of Old Days with the story, but having re-read the lyrics on the up-dated Web-site, it all fits into place nicely. Orwell is one of my favourite writers."
No MIDI files found for "The Missing Piece"
This list is not necessarily complete, and various releases are out of print.
|UK||Terrapin Trucking/Road Goes On Forever, RGF CD 1006|
(Remastered as TRUCKCD 006) (Out of print)
|USA||One Way Records, S21-18469|
|UK||BGO (The Missing Piece & Giant for a Day)|
A fan reported that the 2010 24-bit remaster has the right and left channels switched for all tracks except I'm Turning Around. However, it might be that this remaster is correct and all previous releases had the channels reversed. More news as we receive it....
- The Missing Piece review from Keyboard Magazine
- The Missing Piece review by Simon Brader
- George Starostin review