Octopus (Gentle Giant album)

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Studio album by
Released1 December 1972
RecordedJuly 24 - August 5, 1972, Advision Studios, London
GenreProgressive rock[1][2]
LabelVertigo (UK)
Columbia (U.S.)
ProducerGentle Giant
Gentle Giant chronology
Three Friends
In a Glass House
Alternative cover
US and Canadian release.
US and Canadian release.

Octopus is the fourth album by British progressive rock band Gentle Giant, released in 1972. It was the band's last album with founding member Phil Shulman and the first with new drummer John Weathers, who would remain with the band until their dissolution in 1980. Octopus remains a highly regarded example of the progressive rock genre and is generally considered to represent the start of the band's peak period.


Octopus was allegedly named by Phil Shulman's wife Roberta[citation needed] as a pun on "octo opus" (eight musical works, reflecting the album's eight tracks).[3] 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".

Musical style and themes[edit]

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", lyrically inspired by the work of R. D. Laing. The album's songs are generally based on novels and philosophers: "The Advent of Panurge" is inspired by the books of Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais; "A Cry for Everyone" is inspired by the work and beliefs of the Algerian-French writer Albert Camus, while the song "Knots" is inspired by the book Knots by the Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing.


On 30 October 2015, a Steven Wilson remix was released on CD/Blu-ray via the band's Alucard label. Three tracks (1, 2 & 5)[4] could not be discretely remixed since one multi-track reel was missing. Instead, those three tracks were upmixed to 5.1 surround using the Penteo surround software. The remaining five tracks were remixed to 5.1 by Steven Wilson.[5]


The UK release of the album featured art by Roger Dean. Dean's logo appears inside the lyrics booklet.

North American releases featured a different cover by Charles White. Early versions of this cover were die-cut into a jar shape.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[6]

Later reviews have stated positively about the album. Allmusic have declared that Octopus is "an album that has withstood the test of time a lot better than anyone might have expected."[6]

In the Q & Mojo Classic Special Edition Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, the album came #16 in its list of "40 Cosmic Rock Albums".[7] In The 100 Greatest Prog Albums Of All Time, by ProgMagazine, Octopus stands at number 65.[8]

The 2015 reissue of the album, mixed by Steven Wilson, entered the BBC Rock Chart at No. 34.[9]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman (music); lyrics jointly written by Derek Shulman and Phil Shulman (according to the 2015 Steven Wilson remix).

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."The Advent of Panurge"MinnearKerry Minnear, Derek Shulman, Phil Shulman4:41
2."Raconteur Troubadour"MinnearDerek Shulman4:01
3."A Cry for Everyone"R. ShulmanDerek Shulman4:04
4."Knots"MinnearKerry Minnear, Derek Shulman, Phil Shulman, Ray Shulman4:11
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
5."The Boys in the Band"R. Shulman(instrumental)4:34
6."Dog's Life"R. ShulmanPhil Shulman3:11
7."Think of Me with Kindness"MinnearKerry Minnear3:34
8."River"R. ShulmanDerek Shulman, Phil Shulman5:53


Gentle Giant


  • Gentle Giant - Production
  • Martin Rushent - Engineering
  • Cliff Morris - Mastering
  • Geoff Young - Tape operator
  • Murray Krugman - Over-all American Supervision


  • John Berg - Cover concept & design
  • Fluid Drive - Art
  • Charles White III - Illustration
  • Kenny Kneitel - Design
  • Michael Doret - Lettering[10]


Year Chart Position
1973 US Billboard 200 170

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label
United Kingdom December 1, 1972 Vertigo Records
United States February 1973 Columbia Records


  1. ^ "50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. June 17, 2015. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  2. ^ Murphy, Sean (17 November 2015). "The 25 Best Classic Progressive Rock Albums". PopMatters. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Interview: Derek Shulman (Gentle Giant)". www.hit-channel.com. April 22, 2014. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  4. ^ Octopus (booklet). Gentle Giant. Alucard Publishing Limited. 2015. ALUGG052. Tracks 1, 2 & 5 original mixes remastered by Steven Wilson. Tracks 1, 2 & 5 processed using Penteo stereo to surround upmixer softwareCS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ Smotroff, Mark (9 Mar 2016). "Eight Immersive Songs: Listening To Gentle Giant's Octopus In 5.1". Audiophile Review. Luxury Publishing Group. Retrieved 29 Dec 2018. Due to one master multi-track reel gone missing , Steven Wilson could only create a pure 5.1 mix for 5 of the 8 tracks on the album. The other three were extracted using Penteo's software which pulls 5.1 surround elements from the mixed two-channel stereo master tape.
  6. ^ a b Thompson, Dave. "Octopus - Gentle Giant | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  7. ^ Q Classic: Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, 2005.
  8. ^ "The 100 Greatest Prog Albums of All Time - PROG Magazine". Cygnus-X1.net. August 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  9. ^ Munro, Scott (November 11, 2015). "Gentle Giant celebrate chart success - Prog". Prog Team Rock. Archived from the original on December 15, 2015. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  10. ^ Gentle Giant's website (www.blazemonger.com/GG/)