Octopus (Gentle Giant album)

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Studio album by Gentle Giant
Released December 1, 1972
Recorded July 24 - August 5, 1972, Advision Studios, London
Genre Progressive rock, experimental rock, hard rock, symphonic rock, avant-garde
Length 34:09
Label Vertigo (UK)
Columbia (U.S.)
Producer Gentle Giant
Gentle Giant chronology
Three Friends
In a Glass House
Alternative cover
US and Canadian release.
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]

Octopus is the fourth album by British progressive rock band Gentle Giant, released in 1972. It marked a change in drummers from Malcolm Mortimore to John Weathers. The new line-up of the band delivered the Octopus album later in 1972, generally considered to represent the start of the band's peak period.

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".[2]


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". 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.


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.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman, Phil Shulman, and Ray Shulman, except where noted. 

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


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[4]


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. ^ "allmusic ((( Octopus > Overview )))". www.allmusic.com. Retrieved 2009-12-05. 
  2. ^ Q Classic: Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, 2005.
  3. ^ "Interview: Derek Shulman (Gentle Giant)". http://www.hit-channel.com. April 22, 2014. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  4. ^ Gentle Giant's website (www.blazemonger.com/GG/)