Now that my bag-o-shit run is over with (see previous post) I am getting back into work mode here in my basement office, meaning that I can also indulge in a little vinyl stimulus while doing so. So this afternoon’s vinyl stimulus is the ‘Octopus‘ album by Gentle Giant.
Now, to be clear: this isn’t my record. It’s HRH‘s.
Let me start from the beginning: two weeks ago we were visiting Uncle Lance and Aunt Amy in Rochester, New York and as per tradition, Uncle Lance, HRH and I slip away to do some record shopping at the local Bop Shop. We couldn’t have been there for more than two minutes when she resurfaced from underneath a stack of records with this album clutched firmly in her grasp.
The fuck? Gentle Giant, really? I mean, I barely know who they are myself. So how did an 11-year-old girl come to know about them much less wish to purchase an album?
How exactly did this come about?
Well, as it turns out, she likes to browse through some of my music books and magazines to scope out interesting band sounding names, album covers, etc. I believe this time it was the ‘I Want to Take You Higher: The Psychedelic Era, 1965-1969‘ which, basically, is a collection of psychedelic album covers of the era. Whatever it is that captures her attention is then added to ongoing list of albums to hunt out…just like the one I keep.
Chip off the ‘ol block, eh?
Anyway, this particular album caught her fancy and, hey, who can blame her? It’s an octopus in a jar. That’s pretty cool! And when she found it at the record store that weekend, well, let’s just say it made her day.
So I’m checking it out this afternoon.
So about the album. As it turns out, it’s largely considered to be one of the undisputed classics of the prog rock era. Released in 1972, the album finds these UK band members not only in a creative zone, but showing off their prowess on guitar, bass, drums, synth, vibes, cello, sax, trumpet, violin, xylophone and Mellophonium! Often written off at the time as a pale reflection of the truly gargantuan steps being taken by the likes of Jethro Tull, Yes and Genesis, 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 (in fact, this album only reached #170 on the US Billboard charts).
However, ‘Octopus’ successfully marries the three seamlessly, with the cover speaking for itself, of course. And the mood continues within, the deliciously convoluted opening ‘The Advent of Panurge‘ itself riding waves of sonic tentacles as Gary Green’s guitar shrieks short but so effective bursts around the thundering bass and, occasionally, churchy organ. Against the pulsating volume of the album’s heavier tracks – ‘Panurge‘ is joined by ‘A Cry for Everyone‘ – the band’s excursions into less excitable territory are never less than captivating. My particular favorites however are the two side two closer’s: ‘Think of Me With Kindness‘ and ‘River‘. In short, the songs are fun…never skimping on hooks or energy.
I have to say, I’m kind of jealous that she found this and now has it in her collection and not me as this is some pretty cool shit indeed! Maybe I need to going through some of my old music books and magazines again.
Good show, kiddo.
Proud step dad moments? Yeah, I got a few.