The Missing Piece was Gentle Giant's last album to chart in the U.S. Until 1977 Gentle Giant's complicated music won them fans all over the world, but as market tastes changed, their fan base ceased to grow. In an attempt to attract a wider audience, the band decided to streamline its sound with simpler styles and a more "live" sound. There were always distinctions between their complex studio work and their concert arrangements, so they now brought the two together by testing material on the road that might work well both live and in the studio. Compared to previous albums, The Missing Piece is an imbalanced effort. New styles from the band included the unconvincing "Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It" ("proof" that they could pump out power chords like anyone else); the cute "Two Weeks in Spain," a feel-good ode to working-class vacationing; and "I'm Turning Around," an effective and poignant power ballad. The rest of the album is more in line with the band's classic topsy-turvy, contrapuntal arrangements. "Winning" sounds like a leftover from the previous album, while "For Nobody" delivers a nice blend of punk aggression and prog dexterity. Apparently the band thought the pop experiment required a second album, the more consistent but oft-flogged Giant for a Day.
AllMusic Review by Patrick Little