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Gentle Giant - Octopus CD (album) cover

OCTOPUS

Gentle Giant

 

Eclectic Prog

4.26 | 1285 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars The last album with brother Phil Shuman and the first with drummer John Weathers. I often do not know when Phil is actually singing with GG, confusing him with everyone but Derek. After he left the band became less diverse and settled into a complex style for a few albums before completely streamlining their sound. The title of the album is a pun for 'octo-opus' since it has eight songs. The original cover artwork was done by Roger Dean but the US release had the cover changed. The first half of Octopus is stronger than the second half. This is not as strong or consistent as the previous two albums but nonetheless features some of the group's best songs.

After the first minute of "The Advent Of Panurge" is a really cool mix of guitar, organ and synth. I like the vocals before 3 minutes, some sound backwards or not sung in English. Great mix of different sections. "Raconteur Troubadour" has some great violin work but not much drums. "A Cry For Everyone" is a great rocker with cool Moog sounds. Love the different sections and how they flow so well together. One of my favourite parts of the song is when you hear multi-tracked Moogs duelling with each other. A terrific song.

"Knots" is the 'a cappella' song. Focused on complex and interlocking multi-part vocals, the actual music is repetative and minimalistic before the bass and drums come in. Cool xylophone solo. I just love the clavinet or organ or Wurlitzer put through a wah-wah pedal, such a great sound. Some good drumming near the end. "The Boys In The Band" is a rare instrumental for this band. Begins with laughing and a coin spinning. Great interplay between the instruments. I wish this track didn't fade out.

Now we get to what I have always considered the low point of the album. "Dog's Life" and "Think Of Me With Kindness" are two songs I never really cared for, they bring down the quality of the album for me. I generally don't like GG when they are in ballad mode ("Think Of Me..."); "Dog's Life" just sounds like filler to me. The last song "River" is much better than the previous two songs but not as good as anything on the first half. I like the vocal and cymbal effects in this song: they sound varispeeded or some other form of tape manipulation. Sounds like a wah-wahed electric violin is being played.

There is a short drum solo which sounds slightly speed altered before a bluesy guitar solo. During that solo there is sometimes double-tracked guitars playing. Some xylophone/vibraphone and speed altered cymbals create wave-like sounds here and there. As usual for GG, this has great sound and production. The compositions are hit or miss compared to other albums. On the next album Phil is not replaced and they go for a complicated style with a steady rhythm section most of the time. I would not suggest anybody start their GG journey with Octopus, since it won't give you a good representation of what the band is about. But it should still be heard eventually. I would rate this 3.5 but I'll bump it up to 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |

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