Gentle Giant - Octopus (Columbia US | December 1972)

Taken from The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock, here is an Album of the Week to enjoy and discuss.
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Gentle Giant - Octopus (Columbia US | December 1972)

Post by webmaster » Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:41 am

On their second release of the year, Gentle Giant delivers a more discrete and diverse record. Previously in the Welsh band Eyes of Blue and Pete Brown & Piblokto!, John Weathers was the newcomer; his hard-hitting drumming and a huge bass line launch "The Advent of Panurge" (again a nod to François Rabelais) into a hypnotic groove, from which the song switches back and forth from its chorus. The Moog on "A Cry For Everyone" squawks proudly, here the lyrics are under the influence of Albert Camus. "Raconteur Troubadour" offers a little medieval music, as does the band's tribute to their roadies, "Dog's Life." The band is adept at layering overdubs throughout; however, "Knots," based on the work of Scottish psychologist R.D. Laing, takes it to an extreme: It's a madrigal gone sideways—in other words, classic Gentle Giant. The second side opens with a "sample" of a coin toss, the first in a tradition that would extend over their next several albums. The autobiographical "Boys in the Band" shows Gentle Giant at their best: Rocking hard and steady, it demonstrates the band's musical dexterity and complex arrangements. "Think of Me with Kindness," featuring the tender vocals of Kerry Minnear, is an uncharacteristic ballad, but beautiful nonetheless. The closing "River" is another of the big power tracks on the album. Ray Shulman's wah-wah violin and Gary Green's bluesy guitar solo harken back to the earlier Giant albums; but here, Weathers's solid beat takes it up a notch. As such, the aptly titled Octopus dispatches eight ("octo") succinct compositions ("opus") that reflect the generous talent of Gentle Giant's six members. The band would continue to perform excerpts from the album in a more concise live arrangement. The album sparked some interest in the very lower reaches of the US charts, partly due to the band's extensive touring in the fall (opening for Black Sabbath) before the album's release, and its curious die-cut cover. However, the record would fail to chart in the UK—even with a Roger Dean album cover.

"Always ready with the ray of sunshine"

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