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Topic Closed4th Round Class: Scheherazade v. Octopus

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micky View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: 4th Round Class: Scheherazade v. Octopus
    Posted: August 29 2015 at 08:17
Next up... Yet another battle of two greats! LOL

In previous rounds we did song samples, great PA's reviews, with this round I wanted to do something a different. So I went outside PA's..  what do people outside of this site say about these albums.

First up...

Scheherazade and Other Stories by  Renaissance

I must admit from the outset that I had only vaguely heard of Renaissance prior to discovering Scheherazade And Other Stories while searching through the immense stack of CD’s my colleagues at Classic Rock Revisited kindly sent to me. I was intrigued that this obscure album, originally released in 1975, was being rereleased in the SACD Hybrid format. Had I somehow missed something big while attending junior high school in the progressive rock haven of northern California?

Well, the answer is an unequivocal yes; and to be honest I feel totally ripped off. I wish I had known of this group when this album was released. I would have been a devoted fan! This being the case I must write this review from the perspective of a musician hearing this group for the first time. I humbly defer to those reading this who are familiar with Renaissance and this album. You are literally decades ahead of me. 

In wonderfully pure progressive rock style Renaissance produced an album over forty-five minutes long that contains only four songs. The songs are complex, involved, highly dynamic, and richly saturated with strings and choirs. You know, all the stuff hardcore prog-heads like me find irresistible.

The three pieces referred to in the title as “and other stories” open the album. These can at times be a little too early seventies sounding - and that’s not easy! There are moments when I curiously feel the need to look down to make sure my bellbottoms are not getting caught in the front sprocket of my ten-speed (I hated when that happened!). But they are still beautiful songs. My favorite of the three is “Trip To The Fair”. It features a thoroughly badass classical piano introduction that is eventually accompanied by intense vocal, percussive, bass and guitar support. Nice way to open an album, guys; you have my attention! 

“Song Of Scheherazade” is the true masterwork of this collection. It follows the format of a symphonic composition. This piece has it all. It is filled with overtones of early Genesis and Rick Wakeman to go along with an occasional Grace Slick with a touch of Loreena McKennitt added in (decades before she hit the scene). All of this is being presented while accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra. Yeah … an actual orchestra! How’s that for a crazy concoction! “Song Of Scheherazade” is twenty-five minutes of brilliance. It’s a progressive magic carpet that takes you on an amazing ride as captivating as the namesake’s tales. This is a journey of intense orchestration along with moments of solid rock rhythms, acoustic guitars, and powerful symphonic rock interactions. It’s great stuff!

Thank you, Audio Fidelity, for resurrecting this album. I now have powerful new additions to my progressive rock playlist.


and in the opposite corner

Octopus by Gentle Giant


In progressive rock’s dusty ol’ 1970s yearbook, bands like Yes and Genesis were Most Likely To Succeed. Gentle Giant, on the other hand, were the brilliant and slightly awkward Class Clowns. And they were never as awkward or brilliant as they were on their 1972 masterstroke, ‘Octopus,’ which turns 40 this week.

In the liner notes to the album’s 2011 reissue, multi-instrumentalist Phil Shulman stated, “The eight pieces (on the album) were originally intended as musical portraits of the band and roadies but found their own identity in the making. The title came from Bobbi, my wife, who recognized eight pieces with very different arms as a fair reflection of the band then.” Indeed, ‘Octopus’ is an absolutely perfect title for an album that branches off in so many strange, thrilling directions: No bones about it, ‘Octopus’ is one of the most complex and technically dazzling in the history of progressive rock.

This music is so dense, so challenging, so utterly bizarre (and was so, even during the band’s ’70s heyday) that it’s often overlooked, even by prog obsessives. It takes a special kind of listener to digest a song like ‘Knots,’ a dizzying whirlwind of overlapping, madrigal-tinged vocal harmonies, discordant glockenspiel, and jaunty piano breaks. But for the dedicated, open-minded (and, let’s face it, weird) listener, it’s transcendent, totally unique music that sounds like no other band on the planet.

On ‘Octopus’ (which peaked at an un-stellar but unsurprising 170 on the US Billboard charts), Gentle Giant use their varied instrumentation — guitars, keyboards, bass, drums, assorted percussion, saxophones, violins, loads of vocal harmonies — like bold paints on an abstract canvas, using odd juxtapositions to push listeners out of their comfort zones. But these songs are also fun: ‘The Advent of Panurge’ and ‘A Cry for Everyone,’ for all their shifting structures and busy time changes, are built on Derek Shulman’s muscular vocals and Gary Green’s tight guitar riffs. Even at their most complicated, Gentle Giant never skimp on hooks or energy.

“I remember that we felt pretty confident going in to make this album,’ Green states in the reissue liner notes. ‘We had a good bunch of tunes and our studio chops (particularly Ray’s) were getting better with each record. We continued our experimentation with instrument combinations, sounds, and effects, bouncing ideas back and forth with engineer Martin Rushent, who fell right in step with our brand of madness.” Madness indeed, but a particularly inspired brand. Forty years later, ‘Octopus’ is as off-putting and powerful as it’s ever been.

[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 08:25
This should be the final I don't want either to go, probably the 2nd best renaissance album against the 5th best gg album i gotta go with gg
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 08:27
Renaissance can take a trip to the Renaissance Fair and get lost.

Voted OctopusThumbs Up
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 08:37
The reviews sum it up.  Bit tough to use the word challenging for Ren.  Unless GG was really a band made for you and you alone, you are likely to find Octopus a bit of a grapple initially.  GG stretches you out of your comfort zones and expands your view of what is possible in music.  Annie Haslam does that vocally in sense of delivering a purer tone than you thought was possible but the band's music as such, not really.   Octopus all the way.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 08:39
Octopus. Far from my favourite GG album, but it gets the nod here pretty easily.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 09:13
Wow I love both of these albums, tough call....have to go with my favorite Giant album

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 09:41
^ really Jim??

you cat hates RPI??? LOLLOL  That sounds like a story to be told..

for me.. favorite Renaissance album against 4th fav GG (behind the first 3)

Renaissance for Micky!
[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 09:55
^ It is true and pretty damn funny.  When I have the house to myself and throw on an album a bit louder, one of our cats get noticeably crabby and annoyed.  She does not like music, whistling, or singing.  But RPI seems to upset her the most.  She will protest for a few minutes and then disappear to the bedroom and bury herself under the comforter.  If I start whistling she will come from wherever she is and jump into my lap, daring me to continue.  If I do, she will bat at me with her paw. We get a lot of laughs out of that cat. 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 09:57
GG
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 09:58
Originally posted by Finnforest Finnforest wrote:

^ It is true and pretty damn funny.  When I have the house to myself and throw on an album a bit louder, one of our cats get noticeably crabby and annoyed.  She does not like music, whistling, or singing.  But RPI seems to upset her the most.  She will protest for a few minutes and then disappear to the bedroom and bury herself under the comforter.  If I start whistling she will come from wherever she is and jump into my lap, daring me to continue.  If I do, she will bat at me with her paw. We get a lot of laughs out of that cat. 


hahahah.. awesome!!! Clap  Cats are the greatest aren't they. So full of personality and character. Heart


[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 10:07
Octopus easily
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 10:12
Scheherazade and Other Stories.


One of my best achievements in life was to find this picture :D
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 10:16
Originally posted by micky micky wrote:

Originally posted by Finnforest Finnforest wrote:

^ It is true and pretty damn funny.  When I have the house to myself and throw on an album a bit louder, one of our cats get noticeably crabby and annoyed.  She does not like music, whistling, or singing.  But RPI seems to upset her the most.  She will protest for a few minutes and then disappear to the bedroom and bury herself under the comforter.  If I start whistling she will come from wherever she is and jump into my lap, daring me to continue.  If I do, she will bat at me with her paw. We get a lot of laughs out of that cat. 


hahahah.. awesome!!! Clap  Cats are the greatest aren't they. So full of personality and character. Heart





They are.  I used to be a dog person most of my life.  Don't know what I was thinking.  Cats rule. 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 10:52
Gentle Octopus . 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 11:25
Originally posted by Finnforest Finnforest wrote:

Originally posted by micky micky wrote:

Originally posted by Finnforest Finnforest wrote:

^ It is true and pretty damn funny.  When I have the house to myself and throw on an album a bit louder, one of our cats get noticeably crabby and annoyed.  She does not like music, whistling, or singing.  But RPI seems to upset her the most.  She will protest for a few minutes and then disappear to the bedroom and bury herself under the comforter.  If I start whistling she will come from wherever she is and jump into my lap, daring me to continue.  If I do, she will bat at me with her paw. We get a lot of laughs out of that cat. 


hahahah.. awesome!!! Clap  Cats are the greatest aren't they. So full of personality and character. Heart





They are.  I used to be a dog person most of my life.  Don't know what I was thinking.  Cats rule. 

I lost my cat at 22 this year.  I miss him a lot, and am not quite ready to get another

and...Renaissance for me, no contest, and it's not nearly my favorite by them


Edited by kenethlevine - August 29 2015 at 11:26
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 11:33
So sorry Ken.  It is godawful to lose a feline.  I cried like a baby last time I did.  How cool that you had him/her for over two decades, that is a good life!

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 12:57
Sheherezade it is, never cared for GG and I love Renaissance
            
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 13:58
Best album of all time.
There is no dark side in the moon, really... Matter of fact, it's all dark...
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 15:47
Originally posted by The Bearded Bard The Bearded Bard wrote:

Octopus. Far from my favourite GG album, but it gets the nod here pretty easily.
 
This! GG +1
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 29 2015 at 16:59
Renaissance.
Spending more than I should on Prog since 2005

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