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Gentle Giant - Octopus CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.30 | 1873 ratings

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Symphonic Team
2 stars A giant octopus?

The music of Gentle Giant is often extremely complex, but I feel that it lacks real depth here. The complexity is often of a na´ve and simple kind, if that makes any sense. It is also a type of complexity that jumps right out at you, and not a type of complexity that it takes several listens to reveal. It no doubt might take several listens before you fully can enjoy the music, if at all, but the fact that it is complex is very apparent right from the start. You could say, if you want to be blunt, that all the complexity of their music is on the surface and none underneath. I often also get the feeling while listening to this album, that they are making complex music just for the sake of the complexity itself. But there is no denying their immense talent as multi-instrumentalists and arrangers, and the naivety of the music is often even a bit charming. But great music? I wouldn't call it that.

Octopus is the band's fourth album and it is probably one of their most well known ones. But it is not one of their best ones. The two best songs here, in my opinion, are River and A Cry For Everyone. Together with the jazzy instrumental The Boys In The Band, these songs are also the ones that contain the most instrumental work out and they also rock a bit harder, much in the vein of the bands debut album, which I think is one of their best. The rest of the songs here are primarily vocal driven, and even if they often involve many different instruments, there is very little soloing.

Some of these songs contain very complex vocal harmonies that are quite fun to listen to. But this is also the problem with them. They are too much fun! Frankly, I find some of these songs more than a bit silly and even goofy. Almost as if they are (very complex and sophisticated) children's music, or even comedy music or cartoon theme music or something similar! I just cannot fully take them seriously on Knots, for example. It's ok to have a bit of fun, but for almost half an album it becomes too much for my taste.

Queen, one of my all time favourite bands, really mastered the craft of successfully incorporating some silly moments on their albums. For example, on A Night At The Opera (which I consider a masterpiece) there are Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon, Seaside Rendezvous and Good Company. The only reason these numbers work at all on that album is that they are put side by side with hard rockers like Death On Two Legs, I'm In Love With My Car and Sweet Lady and ballads like Love Of My Life. It doesn't quite work that way for Gentle Giant, I'm afraid. At least not on Octopus.

Think Of Me With Kindness is an attempt to become a bit more serious and making a ballad, and it works surprisingly well. This is also one of the better songs here, and one of the few numbers that doesn't feel cheerful and jolly! I definitely feel that too much of this album is too cheerful.

I understand that this was not a very gentle review of the Prog rock giant's supposed masterpiece. But even if it is a bit charming and has a couple of good songs I cannot elevate this giant octopus even to a three start rating. They made some better albums later on (and also before this one).

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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