Gentle Giant - Three Friends/Octopus (Alucard)
Gentle Giant received a lot of attention lately, as the catalog was once again re-mastered and repackaged. At times it's difficult to keep up as to what are the best versions of their albums. In case of "Three Friends," and "Octopus" very little was done, so they are a welcomed addition.
Both records were released in 1972. A band releasing two high quality records in one year, unheard by today's standards. Gentle Giant was of course part of the prog rock movement. Many labels applied to what they were trying to do, their music certainly required undivided attention. Gentle Giant were certainly by all means an ambitious band.
"Three Friends" was a concept albums released in a perfect age for such undertakings. It was a story about three friends, and their whereabouts as the realities of life kicked in. Instrumentally, it shows a band that is still winding up, and exploring their musical horizons. The band of course was very proficient musically at that time, but showed no signs of slowing down.
"Octopus" was a very inventive record at the time. It's hard to believe it was completed so shortly after "Three Friends." It's a much harder sounding album, and well respected by the fan base and first to include drummer John Weathers. And many cite the drummer change as the main reason for the drastic switch in the way the band approached the music. It's still a definite Gentle Giant album, only much more solid sounding.
Both records come as digipacks. The re-mastering obviously makes the records sound very clean and fresh. Each CD is very nicely packaged. There are plenty of archival photos in the booklets, and some very informative liner notes. And now with the prog rock's popularity on the rise, the reissues couldn't be more timely.