Octopus (Gentle Giant album)

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Studio album by Gentle Giant
Released December 1, 1972
Recorded July 24 – August 5, 1972
Studio Advision Studios, London
Length 34:09
Label Vertigo (UK)
Columbia (U.S.)
Producer Gentle Giant
Gentle Giant chronology
Three Friends
(1972)Three Friends1972
In a Glass House
(1973)In a Glass House1973
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 first album by Gentle Giant to feature drummer John Weathers following the departure of Malcolm Mortimore, as well as the last album by the band to feature Phil Shulman. The new line-up of the band delivered the album in late 1972, which 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).[1] 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 book of the same name by 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, and A Cry for Everyone by the work and beliefs of the Algerian-French writer Albert Camus.


On 30 October 2015, a Steven Wilson remix was released on CD/Blu-ray via the band's Alucard label. Three tracks were unable to be discretely remixed as multi-track tapes are currently reported missing (tracks 1, 2, and 5) while the remaining tracks were. The three tracks however have been upmixed to 5.1 surround with the Penteo surround mixer.


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

U.S. and Canadian issues featured a different cover by Charles White. Early printings of this cover were die-cut into a jar shape.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[2]

Later reviews have written 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."[3]

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".[4] In The 100 Greatest Prog Albums Of All Time, by ProgMagazine, Octopus stands at number 65.[5]

The 2015 reissue of the album, mixed by Steven Wilson, has entered the BBC Rock Chart at no.34.[6]

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. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "The Advent of Panurge" Minnear 4:41
2. "Raconteur Troubadour" Minnear 4:01
3. "A Cry for Everyone" R. Shulman 4:04
4. "Knots" Minnear 4:11
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
5. "The Boys in the Band" (instrumental) R. Shulman 4:34
6. "Dog's Life" R. Shulman 3:11
7. "Think of Me with Kindness" Minnear 3:34
8. "River" R. Shulman 5:53


Gentle Giant


  • Gentle Giant – production
  • Martin Rushent – engineering
  • Cliff Morris – mastering
  • Geoff Young – Tape operator
  • Murray Krugman – overall American supervision


  • John Berg – cover concept and design
  • Fluid Drive – art
  • Charles White III – illustration
  • Kenny Kneitel – design
  • Michael Doret – lettering[7]


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. ^ "Interview: Derek Shulman (Gentle Giant)". http://www.hit-channel.com. April 22, 2014. Retrieved May 27, 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  2. ^ "allmusic ((( Octopus > Overview )))". www.allmusic.com. Retrieved 2009-12-05. 
  3. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/octopus-mw0000203971
  4. ^ Q Classic: Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, 2005.
  5. ^ http://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/rush/prog-08.2014.php
  6. ^ http://prog.teamrock.com/news/2015-11-11/gentle-giant-celebrate-chart-success
  7. ^ Gentle Giant's website (www.blazemonger.com/GG/)