Gentle Giant
Octopus


4.0
excellent

Review

by Brendan Schroer STAFF
November 14th, 2011 | 80 replies | 9,119 views


Release Date: 1972 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Among the most accessible early Gentle Giant albums, this album's also one of their finest.

Gentle Giant's early work was always intent on pushing the limits of popular music, "at the risk of being very unpopular" (as their second album Acquiring the Taste states in its booklet). Indeed, every album the band released had revealed new musical avenues to explore. The band could go from folk, hard rock, progressive rock, blues, you name it. After three excellent records under their belts already, Gentle Giant released a gem of an album that's a bit overlooked these days: 1972's Octopus.

Octopus is an album that explores plenty of new themes and ideas not present in Gentle Giant's early work, but puts them in a much more concise package. This brings some extra perks and flaws for the record, but overall the sense of direction makes the album triumph in the end. The shorter songs mean that the band can concentrate and focus their efforts more, thus eliminating some of their occasionally overbearing segments from the first three albums.

That's not to say the experimentation isn't still there; take "Knots" as an example in this case. The song begins with an acappella section that seems disjointed yet works quite effectively. Then the band come together slowly to eventually clash instruments for a Queen-esque climax, overdubbed vocals and all. Then the next bridge leads into the Yes-styled chorus, overall making for quite a diverse listen. Other examples of their experimental side here include the Medieval-inspired "Raconteur Troubadour" and the instrumentally diverse "Dog's Life."

Indeed, the band experiment and flirt with very different styles, but as I said above, this album is much more accessible; This is especially seen in the song lengths, no song even reaching six minutes. Also, there are more hard-rocking songs than before, like the powerful opener "Advent of Panurge" and "A Cry for Everyone." "Advent of Panurge" especially has a powerful chorus, balanced out by keyboard/organ interludes to give a good contrasting feel to the song. "A Cry for Everyone" starts out in a more straightforward fashion, with traditional guitar and drums doing the average 4/4 time signature before developing into a more normal GG track.

If I had to pick the main flaw, it would probably be the length of the overall album. Octopus clocks in at 34:24, and it certainly feels that short. If there were maybe a few more songs, the album would certainly feel more complete, and not as much like a long EP. Also, some songs, like the aforementioned "Dog's Life" feel a bit tacked on to just make the album longer.

Either way, Octopus remains one of the finest early Gentle Giant albums, if a little short by other prog albums' standards. The songs are more concise and focused, and that certainly doesn't take away from the quality of the music within. This album's recommended for any prog fan, or even fans of classic rock in general.

Recommended tracks:

Advent of Panurge
Knots
Raconteur Troubadour
Boys in the Band

Gentle Giant were (for the album):

Gary Green - Guitars, percussion
Kerry Minnear - All keyboards, vibraphone, percussion, cello, Moog, lead and backing vocals
Derek Shulman - Lead vocals, alto saxophone
Phil Shulman - Saxophones, trumpet, mellophone, lead and backing vocals
Ray Shulman - Bass, violin, guitar, percussion, vocals
John Weathers - Drums, percussion, xylophone



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user ratings (223)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Ovrot
November 14th 2011



10468 Comments


yes inb4 jethro

Digging: Jean Michel Jarre - Oxygene

greg84
Staff Reviewer
November 14th 2011



7317 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great review! This is actually one of my favorite progressive releases of all time. Their albums (and generally prog albums in the 1970s) have never been long tbh and I definitely can't see it handicapping this classic album.

Digging: Dog Fashion Disco - Sweet Nothings

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
November 14th 2011



5921 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Major kudos for reviewing this!!!!!

I will read it tomorrow, because it is 2 am already in Europe..

Digging: Essence Beyond - Carnivalism

Jethro42
November 14th 2011



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

inb4 where the fuck is Jethro haha. How happy I feel inside when I have to read an all fresh review about a prog monster such as GG, especially when well written. I really really like your review man, and I strongly agree with its entirety. Unlike Greg, the lenght of the album quite a bit keeps me from giving it a classic status. Like your review says, it feels really short. Other than that, I'm at a hair (not Ovrot's hair) to giving it a 5/5. After all, I had so much fun to listen to this through all these past decades.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
November 14th 2011



7317 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

For me, it's definitely this one followed by self-titled and Free Hand.

Jethro42
November 14th 2011



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

In a Glass House is pretty solid and probably my fave. It's actually a hard task to rank GG. Every album has its own personality (all of the same family though, a GG structure is a GG structure) and strenghts, so yeah. I just can't decide for the rest. One day it could be Acquiring the Taste, another day Free Hand. Octopus rules as well dammit. GG forever.

sideburndude
November 14th 2011



2782 Comments


I was thinking about buying a Gentle Giant album soon is this a good first?

Jethro42
November 14th 2011



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Absolutely. Either this or In a Glass House. The live 'Playing the Fool' would be a good option as well. You can also take a look at that list;
http://www.sputnikmusic.com/list.php?memberid=280733&listid=30964

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
November 15th 2011



5921 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Octopus is an album that explores plenty of new themes and ideas not present in Gentle Giant's early work

Indeed, the band experiment and flirt with very different styles

You should put more detail in the description of the music and in what makes Gentle Giant so original, imho.


I agree though, about the temporal length of the album, it is indeed short.



Other than that, well written.

Jethro42
November 28th 2011



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sounds like a deal. Why not.

QuestionableScum
December 27th 2012



93 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love this album a lot.

ButteryBiscuitBass
December 27th 2012



9757 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Such a beautiful record. One of my favourites.

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
February 2nd 2013



9687 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

P/

foxblood
February 2nd 2013



6797 Comments


such a good album cover

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
February 2nd 2013



9687 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Haven't jammed to GG in the longest time, I need to get on that shit

ButteryBiscuitBass
March 26th 2013



9757 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The Advent of Panurge jams so hard.

Jethro42
March 26th 2013



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agreed..Dont miss the 'Playing the Fool' live version in 'Excerpts from Octopus'.

dannyboy89
April 7th 2013



11912 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I might 5 this, it rules so hard.

Jethro42
April 7th 2013



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Glad to see you liking it, Dannyboy. You're in for a great journey with GG.

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
April 7th 2013



9687 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Awesome album \P/



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