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About the Album

Gentle Giant's fourth album has a harder, more rocking edge, making a striking contrast with their more symphonic third album. No doubt the reason was the introduction of John Weathers on drums. The album still contains a wide variety of sounds and textures, from the rocking power of The Advent Of Panurge to the vocal intricacies of Knots to the beauty of Think Of Me With Kindness.

The title was allegedly invented by Phil Shulman's wife, Roberta. It is short for "Octo Opus," or eight musical works. (Thanks to Robert Jacobson.)

The album was released with a Roger Dean cover in the UK (above left), and the "octopus in a jar" cover in the USA by Charles White:


See the Japanese CD cover.

See the cover proposed by George Underwood which was not used.

The band had an octopus balloon as a promotional item.


Gary Green - Guitars, percussion

Kerry Minnear - All keyboards, vibraphone, percussion, cello, Moog, lead and backing vocals

Derek Shulman - Lead vocals, alto saxophone

Philip Shulman - Saxophones, trumpet, mellophone, lead and backing vocals

Raymond Shulman - Bass violin, guitar, percussion, vocals (note typographical error, "bass violin")

John Weathers - Drums, percussion, xylophone.

Many thanks to Martin Rushent for laugh coinspin and variable speed oscillator, and Mike Viccars, Moog operator.

NOTE: The "Mike Viccars" credited above is "actually Mike Vickers, guitarist, saxist with the Manfreds, the band who used to back Manfred Mann in the 1960s." (Thanks to Marcel Glen Safier!) Marcel spoke with Mike Vickers and "told him about Martin Smith's passing but he said in fact he didn't really know the guys, he was just called in for the album as he got one of the very early Moogs (well before Manfred in fact) and was into setting up the sounds patches. He also did orchestration and arranged the string part on the Beatles All You Need Is Love with George Martin."

Other liner notes:

  All titles composed by Minnear, Shulman, Shulman and Shulman
  All titles published 1972 by Alucard Music (ASCAP)
  Produced by Gentle Giant
  Engineer: Martin Rushent
  Mastering Engineer: Cliff Morris
  Tape Operator: Geoff Young
  Over-all American Supervision: Murray Krugman
  Recorded at Advision Studios, London
  Cover Concept and Design by John Berg
  Art by Fluid Drive
  Illustration: Charles White III
  Design: Kenny Kneitel
  Lettering: Michael Doret

Track List

  1. The Advent Of Panurge (4:40)
  2. Raconteur Troubadour (3:59)
  3. A Cry For Everyone (4:02)
  4. Knots (4:09)
  5. The Boys In The Band (4:32)
  6. Dog's Life (3:10)
  7. Think Of Me With Kindness (3:33)
  8. River (5:54)


All lyrics reproduced with the permission of DRT Entertainment (USA) and Alucard Publishing, Ltd. (UK).

- submitted by Marshall Wood

The Advent of Panurge

Lead vocals: Kerry, overdubbed (or perhaps with Phil); Derek ("Then said he fair Pantagruel..."); Phil ("Look at my friend...")

(The fabulous Rabelaisian giant, Pantagruel, discovers a lifelong friend and companion, Panurge.)

There coming over Charenton Bridge
Look do you see the man who is poor but rich.
What do you wish; and where do you go;
Who are you; where are you from:
will you tell me your name?
Rest awhile; call me your friend.
Please stay with me I'd like to help.
Then he said,
How can I speak when I'm dry and my
throat is burning.  So bring me aid
and I'll answer your doubts.
Friend in need I'd like your help
Please take me home I'll stay with you.
Then said he fair Pantagruel
My name is Panurge and I have come from Hell.
Look at my friend
Look all around you
Look at my friend
Take all round you.
Hey, Friend
(Improvised foreign words in middle section)
So brotherhood was made as their bond
Carried him home and provide for his needs
and his shelter; this day was done
as no other the like.
Faithfully their vow was made and from
that day they were as one.

Note: Some people hear "bring me aid" as "bring me ale," especially as his throat is dry and burning.

Raconteur Troubadour

Lead vocals: Derek

(Here we have tried to capture something of the medieval English troubadour, by the instrumentation, arrangement and lyrics.)

Gather round the village square
Come good people both wretched
  and fair.
See the troubadour play on the drum
Hear my songs on the lute that I strum.
I will make you laugh,
Revel, Merry-dance.
Throw your pennies, then you'll hear
  more of
the story-telling half.
There's no other chance,
Always move on
Raconteur, troubadour.
Take the face that you see for the man,
Clown and minstrel, I am what I am.
All my family, not of my kin.
Home, wherever, the place that I'm in.
Humors give me wage,
Favors for my art.
Rising, falling
Everyone struggle on.
All the world's a stage
All can play their part.
I have chosen
Raconteur, troubadour.
Dusk is drawing my story is spun,
Dawn is falling my day's work is done.
Morning, rested I set on my way.
Find new faces to offer my play.
I will make you laugh,
Revel, Merry-dance.
Throw your pennies, then you'll hear
  more of
The story-telling half.
There's no other chance.
Always move on

A Cry For Everyone

Lead vocals: Derek

(The lyric gives away something of the lyric thoughts of one or two members of the band, and is inspired by the literature and philosophy of Albert Camus.)

Run, why should I run away
When at the end the only truth certain -
One day everyone dies -
If only to justify life.
Live, I've lived a thousand lives;
And anyone is the right, the just life.
If I could cry, I'd cry for everyone.
Doubts, no doubt, is all I know.
There is no fate, there's no luck,
  what does
that show.
Showing is proof, but proving is nothing
  but fear.
If I could cry, I'd cry then for everyone.
Hope, I've hoped two thousand years,
no one hears, so I've cried, crying
vain tears.
Always too late, too late to cry, cry
for everyone.


For other uses of "knots", see knots (disambiguation).

Lead vocals: Phil, Kerry, Derek and ??? (in order of appearance);

(R.D. Laing, an eminent psychologist, has stimulated us by his intriguing, logical, poetic riddles into composing this latter-day madrigal - and something of a musical jigsaw.)

All in all each man in all men
All men in each man.
He can see she can't, she can see
  she can
see whatever, whatever.
You may know what I don't know,
  but not that
I don't know it and I can't tell you
so you will.
To tell me all man in all men
All men in each man.
He can see she can't, she can see
  she can
see whatever, whatever.
You may know what I don't know,
  but not that
I don't know it and I can't tell you
so you will have to tell me all.
It hurts him to think that she is
hurting her by him being hurt to think
that she thinks he is hurt by making her
feel guilty at hurting him by her thinking
she wants him to want her.  Her wants
  her to
want him to get him to want him to get
him to want her she pretends.
He tries to make her afraid by not
being afraid. (permutations)
You may know what I don't know, but not
that I don't know it and I can't
tell you so you will have to tell
me all.
I get what I deserve.  I deserve what I
get.  I have it so I deserve it. I deserve
it for I have it.  I get what I deserve.
What I deserve - what I deserve what
  I get.
I have it so I deserve.
He tries to make her afraid by not
being afraid.

The Boys in the Band

(Not to be confused with the play of the same name - at least not the characters, we hope. This piece is for Gentle Giant as a whole - our engineer, Martin Rushant, included.)


Dog's Life

For other uses of "Dog's Life", see Dog's Life (disambiguation).

Lead vocals: Phil

(A backhanded tribute to our roadies; our musical parody could only be drawn to a wily old dog. Surely two more unmatched sounds as the Regal (a medieval reed organ) and string section could not be found, but they seem to successfully convey the whine of both dog and roadie.)

Shuffling down the street with his
  sideways feet,
Stopping now and then and he'll
  stop again,
No doubt in his mind where he's going.
He doesn't care for his hair or his teeth
And if the truth were known he's a bit
  of a thief,
Innocently lies, and it's showing.
Who'd imagine he's man's best friend.
Knowing he's your friend in the end.
Won't be around when you shout
  or swear
Not very sorry, he doesn't care;
God knows why we call him old faithful.
Pat him on the head, give the dog a
Use a friendly tone, he won't leave
  you alone.
No one understands like old faithful.
Early rise.  Is it wise?
Wonders happen now and then.
Eats his fill, time to kill,
Then goes back to sleep again.
Trusty slave, bold and brave,
And he roars like a lion
But in fact, it's an act,
And the truth is that he isn't
No one understands it's a dog's life.
Chases dreams, so it seems
He shines in his master's light.
Looking good, so he should
For the choice is very narrow
No one understands it's a dog's life.
Repeat:  Shuffling down the street, etc.

Think of Me With Kindness

Lead vocals: Kerry

(A personal song. It has been kept simple to retain the essentially intimate mood of the piece.)

Why am I using words, no more to say
  without you
Close the door, put out the lights and go.
Late in the night, in the night your
  shadow falls between us.
Nevermore, never know.
There, memories are sorrow,
When there's no tomorrow.
Sleep while the sweet sorrow wakes
  my daydream;
Sleep while you think of me with
  kindness, please remember former
Sweet the song that once we sang, the
  silent parting ways.
And you know, and you know,
And you know, long ago when first we
  made our promise -
Empty words, I wonder did you know -
The laugh that love could not forgive,
Is gone and tells no more to live,
And we who look in beauty's love;
Must now, through all, look back on
  before -
The tears that I first cried, no more;
Your love has come and gone, no more.
And we who look in beauty's love
Must now through all think back
  on before.
Sleep while the sweet sorrow wakes my
Sleep while you think of me with
  kindness, please remember former
And you know, and you know.
And you know, when we two parted in
and silence
past the days, the parting ways.
Fare thee well, fare thee well, you
  that was once dear to me.
Think of me with kindness
Think of me.


Lead vocals: Derek (main), Phil ("Moving highway...")

(We have tried to create several atmospheres within the boundaries of one song by using the various electronic devices at our disposal in the recording studio.)

Touching the last of what is past
Moving silent water fell the first
  that comes.
Slow and winding, flowing free
Peaceful music in its sound of distant
Trust the shallow virgin stream
Danger wild, beware the deeper it
Moving highway, twisting byway
Can't turn back.
Singing in the summer rain
Rain that's caught in its flow.
Spreading, shining, silver lining
Gold on black.
Echoes moods of the moon and sun
Sun that shines from below.
Makes a soft and easy way
Left to choose its path will always be
  a friend.
Touch the last of what has past.
Never idle river drifting to the end.

Cover art

The original cover art for Octopus is for sale for a mere $8000 (US).

Cool stuff in the music

  • The album name "Octopus" comes from "Octo" (eight) and "Opus" (works), as there are eight tracks on the album. (Thanks to Richard McCready.)
  • The Advent Of Panurge features Pantagruel, the giant first mentioned in Pantagruel's Nativity on Acquiring The Taste.
  • The nonsense syllables in The Advent Of Panurge describe what happens in the original story about the two giants. Pantagruel meets Panurge by a bridge, and Panurge answers his questions by speaking in every language under the sun... except French. (Thanks to Michael Beauvois.)
  • During the chorus of Raconteur Troubadour, the violin plays the vocal melody from the verse. It is very strange how they fit together!
  • Listen closely to the string solo in Raconteur Troubadour. The opening melody is almost the same as the vocal melody on the verse, but the rhythm is changed. (I listened to this piece for eight years without noticing the similarity. Those clever lads.) In addition, the trumpet lick shortly afterward plays those same six notes of the melody, in a different rhythm. (Thanks to Richard McCready.)
  • The lyrics of Knots come from poetry by psychologist R. D. Laing. His book, Knots, was published in 1970 Pantheon Books, New York, ISBN 0-394-47215-2.
  • The high-speed drums in Knots are higher-pitched than the drums on the rest of the album. This has lead some Gentle Giant fans to suspect that the Knots drums were actually played slower and then sped up (raising the pitch as an artifact).
  • The swirling noise at the end of Knots seems to tie itself into a knot in space. It helps to listen with headphones. (Thanks to Keith Hyman.)
  • In Knots, on one of the early "verses" where they are all singing out of sync, listen to the lowest vocalist. The melody is the basis for the Crimson-ish instrumental section later on in the song. (Thanks to Eric Wohnlich.)
  • In The Boys In The Band, one of the keyboard parts at 1:38 is the same as the bass part that comes in 21 seconds later. (Thanks to "Cookie.")
  • A lyric in Think Of Me With Kindness, "when we two parted in tears and silence," is a slightly paraphrased quote from a poem by Lord Byron, When we Two Parted. The original goes: "When we two parted in silence and tears, half-broken-hearted to sever for years, pale grew thy cheek and cold, colder thy kiss." (Thanks to Norman Hesford.)
  • In Think Of Me With Kindness, about 50 seconds in, just after "When there's no tomorrow," the music is reminiscent of the "Marlboro Country" riff from the beginning of The Magnificent Seven. (Thanks to Maynard Peterson and others.)
  • About halfway through the guitar solo in River, you can hear Derek singing along with the guitar for about five seconds. (Thanks to Jon Dharma Murphree.)

Music files

MIDI files

MIDI File Title Album Contributor
Boysband.mid The Boys In The Band Octopus Bean
Kindness.mid Think Of Me With Kindness Octopus Russell Maddox
Advent of panurge.mid The Advent Of Panurge Octopus Maurizio Guarini
Raconteur.mid Raconteur Troubadour Octopus Amit Amely
Kindness2.mid Think Of Me With Kindness Octopus Dany Page
Knots.mid Knots Octopus Kevin Greene

Sheet music

Sheet Music File Title Album Contributor
Advent-of-panurge-bassonly-lgibaudan.pdf The Advent of Panurge Octopus Lionel Gibaudan
Cry-for-everyone-bassonly-lgibaudan.pdf A Cry For Everyone Octopus Lionel Gibaudan
Boys-in-the-band-bassonly-lgibaudan.pdf The Boys In The Band Octopus Lionel Gibaudan
Think-of-me-with-kindness-bassonly-lgibaudan.pdf Think Of Me With Kindness Octopus Lionel Gibaudan
Cry-for-everyone-psmith.zip A Cry For Everyone Octopus Phil Smith
Think-of-me-with-kindness-cbaum.pdf Think Of Me With Kindness Octopus Chris Baum
Knots-jmack.zip Knots Octopus J. D. Mack
Advent-of-panurge-psmith.zip The Advent Of Panurge Octopus Phil Smith
Cry-for-everyone-finger.pdf A Cry For Everyone Octopus Bob Finger
Advent-of-panurge-finger.pdf The Advent Of Panurge Octopus Bob Finger
Dogs Life WheatWilliams.zip Dogs Life Octopus Wheat Williams, Phil Smith
Think Of Me WheatWilliams.zip Think Of Me With Kindness Octopus Wheat Williams, Phil Smith

CD releases

This list is out of date.

Country Label Information
Germany LINE Records, LICD 9.00736
USA Columbia, CK 32022
UK Vertigo, 842 694-2
Japan Nippon Phonogram Co., Ltd., PHCR-4203
Japan Nippon Phonogram Co., Ltd., PPD-3094
Korea Si-Wan, SRMC 0044
Germany Repertoire Records IMS-7032
Japan Universal Japan (British Rock Legend series)


The Columbia disc is missing 2 seconds of piano -- really, a quiet little piano riff -- played just before "A Cry For Everyone." Greg Hajic reports that his Columbia LP is also missing this riff, but his Vertigo UK LP has it. David Bradley reports that the Steven Wilson blu-ray "flat transfer" disc of the original stereo master is also missing the riff.

Mats Westin reports that the LINE CD has a "ghost image" in the right channel: "The vocals on 'The Advent of Panurge' start off to the right but when more instruments kick in, they appear centre." I suspect you have to listen very closely with headphones to detect this.

Espen Beranek Holm reports that the Vertigo disc has a minor dropout in the track "The Boys In The Band" at 2:43 (out of a drum-fill). It is detectable with headphones.

Noda Hiroshi reports that the Nippon disc has none of the above defects. monkey@gold.interlog.com says that the Repertoire disc does not have the defects either. I know nothing more about the Si-Wan release.

Basil Francis reports that the Repertoire version has a defect in Raconteur Troubadour around 3:08, where they seem to have cut out a fraction of a second, making the verse not flow.

Jimmy Patto reports that the Repertoire version has the dynamics compressed. He verified this by comparing the tracks to those on the Vertigo CD using Audacity.


See also