PC 32022 Octopus
Produced by Gentle Giant
Released on 1973
US CHART POSITION #170
Find it at GEMM
PC 32022 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

O ctopus is a fitting title, since the band is playing here like they’ve got extra arms. I have yet to hear any GG album so skillfully wrought as Octopus; if you’re approaching the band from the outside, this is definitely the right appetizer. When describing the band’s music, words like “medieval,” “madrigal,” “complex” and “counterpoint” usually find their way into the text, and all of them would apply here. But the album’s real achievement is delivering all of these qualities in a remarkably soft sell. They’re not out to dazzle you, their genius is simply a natural outcropping of the individuals involved. “The Advent of Panurge” sets the stage for this, introducing all manner of music in as natural and organic a setting as possible so that listeners don’t gag on the amount of substance crammed into a single song. Elsewhere, the humorously bleak “A Cry For Everyone” (which seems to poke a little fun at brooding acts like Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull) and playful experiments like “Knots” and “Dog’s Life” reveal a band maintaining a sense of humor in a genre (prog rock) known for being self-consciously serious. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention how good Derek Shulman’s voice sounds on this record; Derek can sometimes come across as an acquired taste, but he’s as smooth as butter on Octopus. New drummer John Weathers also adds some wonderful touches, like the xylophone solo on “Knots.” Coming on the heels of having listened to Genesis’ Trespass, I’m reminded of how the word “sublime” is overused in musical criticism. To call Octopus “sublime” is perhaps to miss the point, since the band works hard to keep their heavenly arrangements earthbound. This is quintessential Gentle Giant, inspired at every turn, their sticky genius on display from any angle. (And thanks again to Scott Hamrick for the awesome UK cover art.)

6360 080 outer gatefold 6360 080 inner gatefold
6360 080 outer gatefold 6360 080 inner gatefold

TRACK LISTING

  1. THE ADVENT OF PANURGE    4:40
  2. RACONTEUR TROUBADOUR    4:02
  3. A CRY FOR EVERYONE    4:02
  4. KNOTS    4:09
  5. THE BOYS IN THE BAND    4:33
  6. DOG'S LIFE    3:11
  7. THINK OF ME WITH KINDNESS    3:32
  8. RIVER    5:54

    All titles composed by Minnear, Shulman, Shulman & Shulman

CREDITS

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
Martin Rushant (sic) -- laugh coinspin, variable speed oscillator, engineer
Mike Viccars -- Moog operator
Murray Krugman -- Over-all American supervision
John Berg -- album cover concept & design (US)
Charles White III -- illustration (US)
Kenny Kneitel -- design (US)
Michael Doret -- lettering (US)

return to GENTLE GIANT discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK 1973 Vertigo LP 6360 080 gatefold cover, lyric insert
US/CAN 1973 Columbia LP KC 32022 diecut cover, lyric sleeve
US   Columbia LP PC 32022 reissue wo. diecut or inner sleeve
UK/GER   Vertigo CD 842 694  
US   Columbia CD CK 32022  
JPN   Vertigo? CD UICY-9029 digital remaster

 

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