This minty Vertigo Spaceship label British import original pressing has SUPERB SUPER HOT Stamper sound on side one. It’s BIG, open and Tubey Magical in the best tradition of British Prog Rock. If you’re a fan of ELP, Yes, Tull, Floyd and the like, this music might just be right up your alley. And unless you have some seriously expensive pressings, not many albums by the above-named bands will be competitive sonically with the sound of this side one. The album is VERY well-recorded.
Side one was tonally correct with an extended top end, the kind of top that many British pressings only hint at. We gave side one a grade of A++. It will be very hard to beat because it sounds AMAZING. It’s British analog at its richest and tubiest.
Side two was a step down sonically. Although rich and full-bodied, there is some smear on the transients and the stage is not as big as it is on this superb side one.
The Boys in the Band
Think of Me with Kindness
Returning to Gentle Giant’s fourth album after any kind of lengthy absence, it’s astonishing just how little Octopus has dated. Often written off at the time as a pale reflection of the truly gargantuan steps being taken by the likes of Jethro Tull and Barclay James Harvest, the band’s closest relatives in the tangled skein of period prog, Gentle Giant often seemed more notable for its album art than its music. Octopus, however, marries the two seamlessly, with the cover speaking for itself, of course. And the mood continues within…
Gentle Giant were a British progressive rock band active between 1970 and 1980. The band was known for the complexity and sophistication of its music and for the varied musical skills of its members. All of the band members, except the first two drummers, were multi-instrumentalists. Although not commercially successful, they did achieve a cult following.
The band’s onetime stated aim was to “expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of becoming very unpopular,” although this stance was to alter significantly with time. While never achieving the commercial heights of progressive rock contemporaries such as Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes or Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Gentle Giant was considered to be one of the most experimental bands in the genre (as well as one of the most experimental rock bands of the 1970s).
Gentle Giant’s music was considered complex even by progressive rock standards, drawing on a broad swathe of music including folk, soul, jazz, and classical music. Unlike many of their progressive rock contemporaries, their “classical” influences ranged beyond the Romantic and incorporated mediaeval, baroque, and modernist chamber music elements.
The new line-up of the band delivered the Octopus album later in 1972. The hardest and most “rocking” Gentle Giant album to date, Octopus was allegedly named by Phil Shulman’s wife Roberta as a pun on “octo opus” (eight musical works, reflecting the album’s eight tracks). The album’s release is generally considered to date the start of the band’s peak period.
In 2004, Ray Shulman commented ‘(Octopus) was probably our best album, with the exception, perhaps of Acquiring the Taste. We started with the idea of writing a song about each member of the band. Having a concept in mind was a good starting point for writing. I don’t know why, but despite the impact of The Who’s Tommy and Quadrophenia, almost overnight concept albums were suddenly perceived as rather naff and pretentious.” The album maintained Gentle Giant’s trademark of broad and challengingly integrated styles. One of the highlights was the intricate madrigal-styled vocal workout “Knots”. “Knots” was lyrically inspired by the writings and word play of R. D. Laing, according to the liner notes on the back cover of the North American version of the 1972 Octopus album. One of Laing’s books is entitled Knots.