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Gentle Giant - Octopus CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.30 | 1869 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Troubadours of rock and roll

Octopus is often seen as the pinnacle of the Shulman Brother's careers with Gentle Giant, and while the band certainly came into a niche with this album it really doesn't make it quite to the top of every list. Interestingly enough, this album is heralded as one of the masterpieces of progressive rock, even if it doesn't have any very signature pieces on it. Still, the album flows well, even as a collection of short songs, and each song is structured so well that this is one of the rare examples of when a prog album made up of short rock tunes actually works well, and an even rarer case of when that album is widely accepted by then the most 'elite' prog head. This is a very good album, but is it the one essential album from this band? No, not really.

The short songs on the album really work for and against it at the same time. On the one hand you have the brothers attacking some very unconventional song writing techniques, especially on the very skillful Knots with its crazy use of vocal harmonies and instrumentation, but you also have more simple rock songs like the heavy A Cry For Everyone with it's heavily distorted guitar. While the songs do move into one another very seamlessly the album still has a feel to it like they could have spent more time on any one particular track and developed it over a longer period of time. There's an itching the back of the mind when The Advent Of Panurge comes to an end that says, 'no, don't end! More! More!" However, that's also a great thing to have on the album since it always has you coming back for more, so it's kind of a love/hate thing.

Of the two sides the first is the stronger with the song being consistently strong and very rock oriented. The second side is good as well but a little more inconsistent. The Boys in the Band is an excellent instrumental (one of the better in the prog universe, in fact), and probably the biggest standout on the album, but then all the seriousness of the album gets shot away as Dog's Life starts in it's quirky manner. A good song that's somewhat out of place this one leads into the somewhat obligatory slow song, Think of Me With Kindness which has a certain amount of beauty to it, and is well introduced (speed wise) with the preceding track. Following that is River which codas the album strongly as the most typically 'progressive' song on the album (and the longest too). This song takes all the elements of the other songs on the album and mixes them (including a touch of quirk in the keyboards) to make for a very fun and unique track.

This is a very good and enjoyable album, but not completely essential. Gentle Giant has better moments in them, but this is still quite good. 3.5 stars out of 5, recommended, but other albums by this band may quench the progressive thirst more than this one.

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |


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