It was back in the late 60s and early 70s that bands and musicians started to push the limits to what was being called Rock And Roll. By adding many new sounds, styles and even different genres into the music, Progressive Rock (also known as “Prog Rock”) was born. Throughout its existence, some of the better known bands that have brought the music genre to life have been Peter Gabriel-era Genesis; Yes; Jethro Tull; Emerson, Lake & Palmer; even Pink Floyd fits into the mix. One band that sadly does not get as much recognition as the aforementioned bands is the British Prog Rock band Gentle Giant. Though many of the albums that the band has put out that have become classic releases (at least among its fans), one seems to find its way into the hearts of Gentle Giant fans more than any other. That album is Octopus.
Released back in 1972, Octopus features the band creating eight well-crafted tracks that feature many different styles of music blended together to create the Progressive Rock sound that Gentle Giant is known for. While not as well-known as Pink Floyd’s The Wall or Aqualung from Jethro Tull, Octopus from Gentle Giant ranks up there as just as solid and has always had its faithful audience that loves the release. And with great tracks such as “The Boys in the Band,” “A Cry for Everyone” and “River,” it’s easy to see why the album has the following it has gained over the decades since its release.
Throughout its history, Octopus has been re-released several times since its initial release. Every time a new technological breakthrough has changed the way music is distributed, Octopus gets new life in the form of a yet another re-release. Such is the case in 2015 as Gentle Giant has recently put out a newly remastered and remixed version of the Octopus album.
Of course, the entire eight tracks from the original album are included in the new edition. So if you already are familiar with the album, you know what to expect from the release. What is new to the album is the sound quality.
Music producer Steven Wilson has spent many hours remixing classic rock albums over the years and that included several from Gentle Giant. It is with the help of Stephen Wilson that the Octopus album now contains 5.1 Surround DTS Master Audio. The album’s music is now more intense and clearer. While Octopus has always been an album to listen to with headphones, now more than ever, the listener needs put on a pair of headphones to experience all of the subtleties that were there before but had been covered over by the rest of the instrumentation. A 43-year old classic Prog Rock album feels brand new with this new musical mixing from Stephen Wilson.
To add value to an already worthy album, the 2015 rerelease of Gentle Giant’s Octopus comes complete with a live recording of the band in 1976 as they performed excerpts from the entire album. The band and the audience that was there that night have wonderful chemistry together as they seem to feed off of each other’s energy. What an interesting experience to hear the sound of a spinning coin get applause from the audience as the band begins the “Excerpts from Octopus” with music from “A Dog’s Life,” indicating that some in the audience knew exactly what was coming. Of course, music is not the only draw for experiencing the new 2015 version of Octopus from Gentle Giant. The liner notes included in the packaging effortlessly bring the listener back to the time of the original release. The story of the creation of the album, as well as what was going on with the band itself, is included in those liner notes. For those interested in rock music history, especially for Gentle Giant itself, the notes are a great addition to the album. And of course, there’s also the inclusion of the artwork (both British artwork from Roger Dean and the American artwork) from the album.
The band is currently selling the CD and Blu-ray versions of the new version of the album. The CD comes complete with everything that has already been described while the Blu-ray contains even more value that includes: Instrumental versions of the songs from the album, and the original mixes from the original release of the album to go along with Steven Wilson’s 5.1 Surround DTS Master Audio. For those who want the vinyl experience, a vinyl version of the Octopus album from Gentle Giant is forthcoming.
(Editor’s note: Aside from the band’s website, the only other place to purchase the Blu-ray version of the release is through Amazon.com. However, there has been a problem with Amazon.com with trying to get the Blu-ray version. Unfortunately, because of that, I will not be providing a link to that item. Click on the album cover below to purchase the 2015 CD version of the album. If you are truly interested in the Blu-ray edition, check out the band’s website for purchasing details.)