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Gentle Giant - Octopus CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.30 | 1943 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars With seven of it's eight songs clocking in at under 5 minutes, and the final track being just short of 6, 'Octopus' might seem like a more commercial album than it's predecessors. However, this could not be further from the truth: 'Octopus' is a lesson to all that prog can be concise and still great. All of the tracks show Gentle Giant's fascinating complexity and adventurous song writing. This album feels very much like 'Acquiring the Taste, Part II', as each of the songs are very different from each other, showing Gentle Giant experimenting with new sounds and ideas. This was my first GG album, and I was taken in by the intriguing song-writing and the astonishing technicality of their musicianship. For more prog-points, the artwork was done by none other than Roger Dean. The funny title is, of course, a play on words where "Octo-opus" refers to the fact that there are 8 songs on the album. One of my favourite things about this album though, is that for each song there is a brief note about the music in the liner notes (on any version I believe).

It all starts with The Advent of Panurge, which continues the theme from Pantagruel's Nativity about giants. When I first heard this, I was shocked at just how proggy a 4:45 song could sound. This is a wonderfully complex song with cleverly written parts. This song encouraged me to buy the album and see how the rest sounded.

Raconteur, Troubadour is too medieval for my tastes (even the lyrics). According to the liner notes, this is exactly what they were trying to do, so you have to give them credit for that. The playing is still quite complex and technical, but I'm not too keen on the melody. Still fun in places though.

A Cry For Everyone is more up to date with a heavy guitar sound. The lyrics, apparently inspired by Albert Camus, do nothing for me. There are some very good technical moments in this song though, especially in the instrumental.

Far and away the most well known song on the album, Knots was the most complex song Gentle Giant had put together to date. In this song, the group sing a cappella, and most of the time there are at least 4 voices all singing different things. Amazingly, it all comes together and sounds fantastic with the music in the background. Even though the members are singing at different pitches and at different speeds, the music fits together like a 'musical jigsaw', as the liner notes describe. One of the most memorable GG songs.

The Boys In The Band is a prog rock instrumental. In my opinion, this track is more complex than it needs to be, and it doesn't flow like a good instrumental should.

Dog's Life is a fun little song with interesting instrumentation. Unfortunately, this song feels more like filler.

Up to this point, GG had not done a 'beautiful' song. Think Of Me With Kindness was an attempt to change this. As a result, the group sound a lot less technical on this track, and far less obtuse. The result is a really pretty track that you could easily play on the radio. There are a couple of sneaky time signatures thrown in, but this track sounds gloriously simple, and is very moving.

River shows the group experimenting in the studio with various effects, whilst still playing in their signature complex style. This piece doesn't really grab my attention, although I admire the skill of the group in this song.

Since hearing this album for the first time, I have moved on and found better Gentle Giant albums, but I do occasionally listen to these tracks. This is one of GG's most eclectic albums as there are just so many different styles on the album, and many intriguing (and often successful) fusions of musical genres. Recommended listening.

baz91 | 4/5 |


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