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Gentle Giant - Octopus CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.30 | 1871 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars The fourth album from Gentle Giant has eight legs, I mean, "opuses." Each song shows a different side of the band, which is quite a testament to how versatile they are. This is one few progressive rock fans should be without, particularly someone interested in Gentle Giant.

"The Advent of Panurge" Full of intricate music, this Rabelais-inspired song begins immediately with narrative vocals from Kerry Minnear. Vocal counterpoint is a strong suit of Gentle Giant, and they engage in it in fine style. Derek Shulman's loud voice speaks for the troublemaking Panurge. Before the interlude, Phil Shulman gives a soft vocal performance. The final part of the song is the same as the beginning, serving to conclude the narrative. All in all, it's an important Gentle Giant song, and one of their best.

"Raconteur Troubadour" There is no mistaking the mediaeval feel to this song; there is jingling and violin throughout. The instrumental section is well-crafted, with strings and later, brass.

"A Cry for Everyone" Here we might have a more straightforward rock song, except that feeling only lasts thirty sections into the song. More elaborate music immediately follows the first verse like an extended interlude leading up to the second. After a slightly funky section, there is a brief synthesizer solo.

"Knots" More than anything else, this one is an exercise in sanity. The layered a capella vocals are difficult to wrap one's ears around, frankly, and the whole piece may induce headaches. What little music is involved in this piece is some of the zaniest Gentle Giant has ever produced. It's probably the definition of a hit-or-miss song, but among Gentle Giant fans, this off-the-wall song is a great moment. I sometimes enjoy it, but I have to be in the mood for it.

"The Boys in the Band" Beginning with the sound of a coin spinning, this is not only one of Gentle Giant's best instrumentals, it's one of my favorite instrumentals. It's rampant and yet tightly orchestrated, like a runaway train on the set of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. In less than five minutes, Gentle Giant demonstrates their insane ability to work together as a group and yet produce the most disparate sounds ever heard in one piece. They move through a variety of segments, including quieter moments and hard-rocking ones.

"Dog's Life" With acoustic guitar and strings that sound like a broken accordion, this one sounds a little more cabaret than anything else they've done. While not terrible, it isn't a great song, and it's only three minutes in length, so it's an easily overlooked flaw.

"Think of Me with Kindness" Showing the softer side of Gentle Giant, this one is their best sentimental piece. Minnear has a great singing performance. There are no grand instrumental sections, but this song truly doesn't require any.

"River" Using electric guitar and violin, the band sets up the final song for the album. The drums are especially powerful. Sometimes I feel the piece should have been another instrumental, as Derek Shulman's vocals are not quite as strong here, but then I hear Phil Shulman's vocals, which are at their very best, and it makes me sad that he left the band after this impressive album.

Epignosis | 4/5 |


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