Gentle Giant: Two Weeks in Spain
Where you come in on a band’s career makes a difference. I’m fairly certain that my introduction to the work of Gentle Giant was this album, The Missing Piece. I liked the interesting music, the complicated song structures and even appreciated their attempt at writing an almost punk rocker. As I investigated their discography, I learned that their earlier music was even more interesting and more complex. In fact, I discovered that they were an incredibly thought provoking band, and I came to appreciate their entire body of work.
And I discovered that The Missing Piece was disliked by their fans, considered to be an attempt to dumb down Gentle Giant’s music to get commercial popularity, much as Genesis was doing (more successfully) during the same time period. That the admirable attempt to write an uptempo, simple rocker, was “unconvincing,” and that they were pretty much done after this (notwithstanding the release of two more studio albums, one even more reviled than The Missing Piece, and one grudgingly appreciated). But, I don’t care—I liked this album, and I still do.
“Two Weeks in Spain” is a fun song, an ode to the sort of English workingman’s vacation in the sun memorably lampooned by Monty Python in their “Travel Agent” sketch. It is also a good introduction to Gentle Giant, a pretty much forgotten band. Although it is relatively straightforward, it gives hints of the more complicated songs that you can find on earlier releases, so I hope it encourages you to do as I did, and explore backwards through their catalog.
Coincidentally (really), yesterday, my wife and I dropped our daughter off at the airport, and she is now in Barcelona, where she is spending her junior year. More than two weeks in Spain for her, and I hope a lifetime of memories.