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Gentle Giant - Octopus CD (album) cover


Gentle Giant


Eclectic Prog

4.29 | 1837 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A good album, but I don't see what the big deal is. Gentle Giant are a band that redefined the term complex. They don't have sprawling side long epics, instead they make up for it by having complex, challenging, and quirky shorter songs. The musicianship and creativity in this album is unsurpassed, but they main problem I have is that this album is on the shorter side and some of the pieces just lack that cutting edge. From the great groove of The Advent of Panurge, to the gentle fugues of Knots, this album is varied, it has substance, and it has some great grooves. The musicianship is quirky, complex, and catchy, the vocals range from searing to hypnotic, to even, regrettably a bit contrived, but there still is a lot to like about this album.

The Advent of Panurge opens with album with a great bass/organ riff that goes through many different ideas. It may just be one of Gentle Giant's catchiest/grooviest riffs, and it's one of my favorite pieces on the album. Superb playing on Minnear's part on this track. Raconteur Troubadour has more of a medieval feel to it with an interesting violin line and some mystic vocals from Shulman. Great percussion and keyboard can also be heard on this album as well as some interesting vibes from John Weathers. A Cry For Everyone has pounding chords from Green as well as some interesting bass riffing from Ray Shulman. My main problem with this song (and the album in general) is the drum sound, the hi hat sounds awful, even though the drumming is spectacular.

Knots is one of the group's first uses of the multi-layered vocal style known as the fugue (and it's their most popular song using it). It has some interesting riffs as well as some interesting percussion and violins in between the vocal laden sections. Another one of my favorite songs on the album. The Boys in the Band begins with the dropping and spinning of a coin or something to that extent on the ground. It then breaks out into a strong organ based riff with some interesting saxophone and precise drumming behind it. An interesting guitar solo is featured but it goes by too quickly to be really enjoyed. Dog's Life is probably my least favorite track on the album, I just can't get into it as much as the other tracks, maybe it's because of the bland main motif.

Think of Me with Kindness features a passionate vocal from Philip Shulman as well as an uplifting horn arrangement during the instrumental breaks. Another one of the better tracks on the album. River ends the album with some catchy riffing, but Derek Shulman's vocal line doesn't really fit with the riff. Generally I really like his voice, but here it just doesn't fit. Besides that, though, it's a good closer to the album.

In the end, I think Octopus is a good album, just not as good as everyone cracks it up to be. My main gripe lies in the drum sound, it's just too in the mix and the hi-hats sound awful (that's only my opinion, though). And there are some songs that could have been better written and refined. But other than that, there isn't much to dislike about this album. If you're a fan of Gentle Giant, this is a must have, but I don't know if someone who is just getting into the group will enjoy this album much, they may like later albums like The Power and the Glory and Free Hand more. 3.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 3/5 |


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