Gentle Giant: Octopus (1972)

UK Front cover

Octopus is an 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. 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). 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. The UK release of the album featured art by Roger Dean

UK Full cover

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

US Full cover

One of the highlights was the intricate madrigal-styled vocal workout "Knots", lyrically inspired by the book of the Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing. "The Advent of Panurge" is inspired by the books of Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais and "A Cry for Everyone" is inspired by the work and beliefs of the Algerian-French writer Albert Camus. 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".


The Advent of Panurge

Track listing:
1. The Advent of Panurge (4:41)
2. Raconteur, Troubadour (4:01)
3. A Cry for Everyone (4:04)
4. Knots (4:11)
5. The Boys in the Band (instrumental) (4:34)
6. Dog's Life (3:11)
7. Think of Me with Kindness (3:34)
8. River (5:53)

A Cry for Everyone

The Boys in the Band


Gentle Giant:
Gary Green-Electric guitars, maracas
Kerry Minnear-Piano, electric piano, Hammond organ, Moog, Mellotron, regal, vibraphone, tambourine, cello, lead vocals on tracks 1, 4 and 7, backing vocals
Derek Shulman-Lead vocals, alto saxophone
Phil Shulman-Alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, trumpet, mellophone, lead vocals, backing vocals
Ray Shulman-Bass, violin, viola, electric violin, acoustic guitar, tambourine, backing vocals
John Weathers-Drums, bongos, xylophone

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