Gentle Giant - Octopus (1972)

This album reminds me to the early period when I first knew a kind of music which was later be called as progressive music. I still remember that I got this album about the same period I was listening to PINK FLOYD “The Dark ..”, JETHRO TUL “Minstrel In The Gallery”, “Thick As a Brick”, YES “Tales ..” “Relayer” “Fragile” dated bak in 70s. Each band has their own identity… and most importantly almost all of them are enjoyable. “Octopus” was probably the only exception as I sensed at that time that their music was harder to digest and had diverse beats and tempos. This albums was the first that I knew about GENTLE GIANT.

This album then generated my attention when parts of “A Cry for Everyone” were (intentionally?) used by our local band GOD BLESS in their song called “SETAN TERTAWA” (The Laughing Ghosts). At that time I loved SETAN TERTAWA very much but when I found a kind of plagiarism (?), my appreciation to GB had lowered a little bit. But my appreciation to “Octopus” had increased as I thought that this album must be powerful. Indeed, it is.

“The Advent Of Panurge” is a track with varieties of melodies, full of energy, and diverse singing styles. All instruments seem like being played in different directions, heavily influenced by jazz improvisations, but at the end it results in an excellent harmony. The piano is explored in a unique way. “Raconteur Troubadour” is a ballad song performed unconventionally by the band. The violins / cellos are used intensively in this track and they guide the overall music composition. It has great violin solo at interlude and excellent vibraphone / piano. “A Cry For Everyone” is an energetic song with excellent melody, stunning vocal. This track I consider as a legendary track. (When our local classic rock FM radio station aired a GENTLE GIANT special in its program, this song was used as a tagline for the program). This track is very enjoyable. It has interesting interlude, organ solo, lead guitar fills. The part that GOD BLESS used in SETAN TERTAWA is located exactly at minute 2:30 – 3:00 of this track. It’s a dynamic part.

“Knots” is a repertoire with an acapella vocal style at intro part; it has an avant-garde component in its composition where it can be seen on how vibraphone / percussion are played. The music flow is “discrete” or at least it’s not as continuous like other tracks. “The Boys In The Band” is relatively a complex composition with great organ style; violin is used to accentuate the melody. The music suddenly shifts to slower tempo with a controlled melody using a soft keyboard sound and come back again to complex one.

“Dog's Life” is an explorative composition (violin and cello) that you should enjoy seriously as this is not the kind of music you listen to at background. “Think Of Me With Kindness” is a composition that is more easy listening than previous track. It’s a nice mellow track with good melody. “River” is a melodic and fascinating track with a double lead guitar at intro, followed by excellent vocal with organ at background. The lead guitar solo at the interlude is really stunning. It’s a brilliant decision by the band that this track is positioned to conclude the album.

To conclude, this album is a masterpiece as it has strong songwriting, great composition, musicianship and overall performance. The production quality is excellent. It’s a classic and… it’s HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia. - Review by Gatot (Gatot Widayanto)

Track Listings

1. The Advent Of Panurge (4:45)
2. Raconteur Troubadour (4:03)
3. A Cry For Everyone (4:06)
4. Knots (4:11)
5. The Boys In The Band (4:34)
6. Dog's Life (3:13)
7. Think Of Me With Kindness (3:31)
8. River (5:52)

Total Time: 34:15

- Gary Green / guitars, percussion
- Kerry Minnear / all keyboards, vibraphone, percussion, cello, Moog, lead and backing vocals
- Derek Shulman / lead vocals, alto saxophone
- Philip Shulman / saxophones, trumpet, mellophone, lead and backing vocals
- Raymond Shulman / bass violin, guitar, percussion, vocals
- John Weathers / drums, percussion, xylophone

Many thanks to Martin Rushant for laugh coinspin and variable speed oscillator, and Mike Viccars, Moog operator.
Releases information

LP Vertigo 6360080 (1972)
CD Legacy Recordings 32022 (1990)

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