Gentle Giant
Octopus


5.0
classic

Review

by e210013 USER (255 Reviews)
May 13th, 2024 | 27 replies


Release Date: 1972 | Tracklist

Review Summary: One of their most accessible works, another masterpiece.

“Octopus” is the fourth studio album of Gentle Giant that was released in 1972. The line up on the album is Gary Green, Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman, Phil Shulman, Ray Shulman and John Weathers.


Gentle Giant was a British progressive rock band that was formed in London in 1970. The band was formed by the three Shulman brothers, all former members of the British Pop/Soul/Psychedelic band Simon Dupree And The Big Sound that was formed in 1966. Gentle Giant was born after Simon Dupree And The Big Sound breakup in 1969. Gentle Giant was one of the greatest prog rock bands during the 70’s with legions of fans of the band around the world even in our days.

“Octopus” is certainly an exciting and at the same time catchy record, whose moderate song lengths are definitely suitable for radio and which even contains a snappy rocker with hit potential in “Knots”. The symphonic sound of their second and third studio albums, “Three Friends” and “Acquiring The Taste”, repectively, was partially abandoned in “Octopus”, which has at sometimes traces of the hard rock and the folk rock too. It became probably the band’s hardest rocking album until that date. However, another style element is clearly present on “Octopus” too, the reference to the medieval and renaissance music that wasn’t so pronounced on the three previous albums. Maybe we can say that with “Octopus” Gentle Giant had perfected their style. However, the album maintained all Gentle Giant’s distinctive broad and challengingly integrated styles, with one of the highlights being the intricate madrigal styled vocal workout “Knots”, whose lyrics are taken from verses of poetry from the R. D. Laing’s book that was edited with the same name.

“Octopus” marked also a new change in the line up of the group. It marked the change of their drummer Malcolm Mortimore who replaced their former drummer Martin Smith on their previous studio album “Three Friends”. He left the band and was substituted by John Weathers. This was also the last album of the band to feature Phil Shulman. This new line up of the group coincides also with what is generally considered the best musical period of the band. It’s also interesting to note, that in 2004, Ray Shulman commented that “Octopus” was probably Gentle Giant’s best album.

“Octupus” has eight tracks. “The Advent Of Panurge” is influenced by jazz. It’s full of energy with varied melodies and different singing styles. It’s chaotic apparently where all instruments seem to be played in different directions. What is much impressive is that in the end we have an excellent harmony. “Raconteur, Troubadour” has a medieval influence, although it explores different types of music. The violins and cellos reign and guide all the music. It has great vocals and is well accompanied by a great keyboard work. “A Cry For Everyone” is the first rock song on this album. It’s very energetic with an excellent melody, stunning vocals, a great guitar riff and a great keyboard work. It became a legendary classic band’s song. “Knots” is the less accessible track on the album. It’s one of the most complex and intricate songs composed by them. It’s an avant-garde song that explores a cappella vocal style by the four vocalists. It’s a perfect example how great and astonishing is the vocal work of them. “The Boys In The Band” is the only instrumental on the album. It’s a relatively complex and a fast jazz composition with different rhythms and tempos. It’s well arranged with excellent solos by keyboards, guitar and saxophones. “Dog’s Life” is one of the simplest songs on the album. It’s an explorative song with the use of varied and weird instruments. It’s a funny piece with a classical orchestration and beautiful vocals, a true unique piece. “Think Of Me With Kindness” gives us a quiet and beautiful moment on the album. It has a simple and beautiful tune with an honest sing and a simple and sincere musicianship. It’s a soft piano based ballad providing us nice moments. “River” is but is a melodic and fascinating track. Basically, it’s a rock song that flows progressively by different themes. It’s an experimental song that uses a lot of studio effects like moving the sound from speaker to speaker. It’s strange but it’s also a perfect way to conclude this excellent album.


Conclusion: “Octopus” represented my introduction to Gentle Giant’s music in the distant years of the 70’s. I’m very happy that my baptism in the progressive rock has been made with bands and albums like this one. “Octopus” began a series of four studio albums, all followed, and all absolutely stunning. They make part of one of the most beautiful and brilliant pages ever written in the progressive rock music. I don’t know really if Ray Shulman was right when he said that “Octopus” was probably the Gentle Giant’s best album. Personally, “Octopus” is only my fourth choice. Sincerely, it seems to me that I probably prefer “In A Glass House”, “The Power And The Glory” and “Free Hand”. Still, this option is only a matter of my taste and moment. “Octopus” is in reality truly a masterpiece and one of the best prog albums made, because it has strong song writing, great composition, excellent musicianship and a perfect overall performance.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
May 13th 2024


5221 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is another incursion of me on another album of one of my favourite prog bands ever, after have reviewed their debut, "Acquiring The Taste", "Three Friends", "The Power And The Glory", "Interview" and their debut live "Playing The Fool". But, I intend to review some more.

"Octopus" is another master work from the band in the same line of many other albums of them. Besides, in my opinion, Gentle Giant don't have weak works till their last two albums "Civilian" and "Giant For A Day", especially this one. So, in "Octopus", the band continued with their amazing song writting creating one the best albums ever made in the genre.



BookoftheFallen
May 13th 2024


1083 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

amazing album

e210013
May 13th 2024


5221 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Agreed. Thanks for the comment and pos dude.

suppatime
May 13th 2024


1820 Comments


Great review, glad to see you still spreading the truth! Think I've only listened to this record once? I obviously need to change that.

e210013
May 13th 2024


5221 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks pal. You really need to do that.

Veldin
May 14th 2024


5275 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Pos’d! Honestly can’t pick a favorite album (other than maybe their live LP) bc they have such a solid collection

e210013
May 14th 2024


5221 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I agree with you Veldin. My favourite is also their debut live. I always had the same problem like you with their studio works. This is probably the unique band where I don't have a favourite, or my opinion changes with my mood of the moment. Initially was "Octupus", later was "Free Hand", then was "The Power And The Glory" followed by "Acquiring The Taste", and in this moment is probably "In A Glass House". That always intrigued me. In reality I only can say that these are my 5 favourites from them despite I like very much too of their debut, "Three Friends" and "Interview". They are all amazing works.

Thanks pal.

mindleviticus
May 14th 2024


10494 Comments


A Cry For Everyone is one of my favorite prog rock songs ever. Knots is probably the only song on here that I have a hard time to get into but the rest are genius stuff.

Jethro42
May 14th 2024


18281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Octopus got eight tracks and it's not a coincidence. ''Dog's Life'' is the only weak song overall.

Zac124
May 14th 2024


2740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Haven't listened to this in ages and will certainly be changing that soon. Remember this being amazing, especially The Advent of Panurge and Raconteur, Troubadour.

e210013
May 15th 2024


5221 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, it's true. Some material of the band are hard to get into, but soon as we enter we cannot leave anymore. This is really genius stuff.

Thanks mindleviticus.

e210013
May 15th 2024


5221 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Octopus got eight tracks and it's not a coincidence."

I had never noticed that it's true but I agree that wasn't a coincidence.

Thanks Jethro.

e210013
May 15th 2024


5221 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's also true Zac, both are two of the best the band ever made. But, personally, I love the all album. And it was great that I've revisited it to write the review. Despite not be very often to revisit this amazing band, it's always a pleasure to do that.

Thanks mate.

Hawks
May 15th 2024


88483 Comments


Will be jamming this within the next day or so. Jefferson Airplane got me feeling the psychedelic prog rock shizz heavy atm.

e210013
May 15th 2024


5221 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice to know that Hawks.

I agree with you, Jefferson Airplane was a great band with that side, the psychedelic heavy prog. One of the precursors of the birth of prog.

trickert
May 15th 2024


200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Love every album of GG's 70s run up to Interview, but Octopus is one of my most played, even among that stellar oeuvre. Good review!

e210013
May 15th 2024


5221 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks trickert. It's the same with me. I love all their albums till "Interview", including it.

Zac124
May 15th 2024


2740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yep, this still slaps

e210013
May 16th 2024


5221 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

More than some think.

TheIntruder
May 16th 2024


768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review of a great album of an amazing group. Pos e21.



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