Gentle Giant’s Octopus in 5.1 Surround Sound
Steven Wilson has delivered a clean, very musical remix of this classic progressive rock album, which in a short time has become the “final word” on the album. There can be little doubt that this remix is far superior to anything that has been done before it and that in our lifetime the Steven Wilson remix of Octopus will be the one to buy. It is un-improvable.
Octopus was first released in the UK as an LP in 1972 under the Vertigo label (Cat# 6360 080) and was Gentle Giant’s fourth studio album. Notably, it was the first to feature John Weathers on drums. In a recent interview, lead singer Derek Shulman confirmed that the only reason the album was called Octopus, was because it contained eight songs. “We just married the “octo” and “opus,” a Greek and a Latin word to become “Octopus,’” he stated.
According to Shulman, the band composed the songs based on “interesting concepts and ideas that we had read or heard about or discussed personally,” with novelists and philosophers serving as the main sources of inspiration. “The Advent of Panurge” was inspired by François Rabelais’s books Gargantua and Pantagruel, while the song “Knots” is inspired by the book of the same name by Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing.
Gentle Giant’s Octopus album has been remastered numerous times by several different labels all with varying levels of success. Octopus was originally released as an LP under the Vertigo label in the UK in 1972 and under the Columbia label in the United States in 1973. The first CD was released in Germany by Line records (LICD9.00736O) in 1989. That was followed by Vertigo (PPD-3094) in Japan in 1990 and Columbia (CK32002) in the USA in 1990. It appeared for the first time as an SACD by Vertigo (UIGY-9057) from Japan in 2010.
Wilson’s remix was released by Alucard Music in October, 2015 on CD/Blu-ray (ALUGGV054). It entered the BBC Rock Chart at No. 34. “Everyone in the band is delighted to hear that the music that we created in 1972 seems to be even more popular in 2015. To see Octopus in the top 40 is such a pleasant surprise,” Shulman remarked.
As with all of Wilson’s remixes, the audio quality is superb. Unfortunately, three tracks (Tracks 1, 2 & 5) were unable to be discretely remixed because the multi-track tapes are currently missing. Instead, the tracks were up-mixed to 5.1 surround with the Penteo surround mixer.
The new release also features a bonus live 15-minute concert mix of ‘Excerpts from Octopus’ by from the band’s 1976 tour, which is even more enjoyable if you have had the opportunity to see the band live. Aside from the impressive music quality, the packaging is also updated. It includes new sketches by Roger Dean as well as both the artwork from the original USA album and the UK album.
The new Octopus mix is available on Amazon.com. While it appears that the online retailer had some shipping snafus where purchasers were sent the standard CD instead of the new Blu-ray release, the problem seems to be resolved but it might be better to buy this album elsewhere.