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Being a huge fan of the wonderful band SPLIT ENZ (since their magnificent album 'True Colours', and I was only 8 years old then!), which in their 'classic' period line-up featured the great rhythm section of bassist Nigel Griggs and drummer Malcolm Green (both to be heard on this album, Restless Night), I later learnt that Griggs had been involved in many bands prior to joining the Enz - Octopus, The Cortinas, Carmen, and even Steve Hillage's band Khan, maybe only for short stints, but he was there. The only significant pre-Enz recorded work here being from Octopus.
The album in its original form is rare and will cost mega-bucks, but Essex records re-issued it on vinyl, with exciting gatefold cover (!) but without credits. The music presented on this album is definately influenced by The Beatles, with an occasional proto-prog twist - colourful, energetic little songs that are really likeable. Opening with a fuzz-guitar driven song, 'The River', quite a simplistic tune, but the grooving rhythm really sets the mood. 'Summer' is very Beatles, down to the 'Fab Four' style harmony singing. 'Council Plans' introduces the first organ to be heard on the album, and is a quieter piece, more in touch with psychedelia than prog. The title cut, 'Restless Night', begins with a fuzzed-out, heavy, odd tempo riff, and changes rhythm yet again when the vocals start. Excellent riffs, progressions and organ playing to be found on this one. 'Thief' is a fast-paced rocker, complete with some nice rattling bass playing and cool riff.
'Queen and the Pauper' is an organ driven number, with a simple progression and cheerful rhythm, but some unusual key-changes to make it more interesting. 'I Say' is a light ballad, 'John's Rock' is a pub-rocker driven along with the boogie styled piano playing and rough singing from keyboardist John Cook. 'Rainchild' is back to Beatles territory, and album closer 'Tide', is the 'mini-epic' (5.40), starting out slow with pleasant melody, then picking up by the time the mesmerising soft-toned organ solo plays through, then the last section is almost symphonic (in progression and tempo anyway).
Not really complex prog-rock, but 'Restless Night' comes highly recommended for those that enjoy psychedelic, proto-prog and Beatles. Closer to 4 stars than 3 !! On a curious note, original drummer Brian Glasscock is the brother of the late, great John Glascock (they dropped an 'S' so it doesn't look bad??). [Review by Tom Ozric]
Ahh, Octopus, one of the most underrated records of the transitional era between psychedelic pop and progressive rock, leaning much more towards the former than the latter. This album as an original is extremely rare and unaffordably expensive, in fact I only have the Essex reissue of it, but I can tell you that this blows away a lot of bands who did better commercially and this is a commercial album. Octopus sound somewhere between The Beatles, Sweet, Badfinger, 10cc, and if you know their music both The Gods (pre Uriah Heep Ken Hensley group) and The Koobas.
The tracks are mainly short, not focused on solos, but with gorgeous melodies and a great lead voice reminding me of a cross between the late Brian Connolly in Sweet and Paul McCartney. If that sounds like a strange cross, then you can see that this album's going to effortlessly slide from heavy to pop and beyond often in the same track! Opening cut "The River" features a great driving fuzz guitar, strong vocals, and some really great upfront drumming. "Summer" is similarly a rocking track with great harmonies and an obvious Beatles/Badfinger influence.
I would have to say that this album blows many Beatle rip off groups of the early 70s out of the water, even though I have a strong liking for anything inspired by the Fab Four. Why is it so good? Because Octopus are original. They think about a riff, a melody, a lyric, and build the song around that without being derivative. "Council Plans" is a song that could be said to be Octopus's "Eleanor Rigby," but it sounds nothing like that. "Thief" is the hardest rocking track on the album with fast driving rhythms, dynamic vocals, and again some great drumming. So little is known about Octopus that they may have been a studio only project and not really a band, but that doesn't work against them.
The 'tinkering around in the studio' vibe adds to the greatness of this record mainly because there is so much variety. For space rock into late 60s Beatles melodic pop check out the stunning last track "Tide," while one of my personal favourites is "I Say" which has a great melody and super vocal. For reasons unbeknownst to me, Octopus is almost always put down rather than praised while horrible groups like the Aerovons (shelved album for obvious reason, should have remained unreleased!) get all the praise. Even Rockin' Horse on Phillips isn't as good as Octopus, making Octopus one of the only post Beatles Beatle tribute bands worthy of the kind of praise attributed to the band that influenced them. And this isn't really a tribute album, it's far too imaginative and diverse for that. I haven't been able to find the original, hopefully I will someday, but if you can find this masterpiece either as a vinyl or CD reissue you should treat yourself to a true work of brilliant musical artistry. [Review by bristolstc]
01. The River (4:26)
02. Summer (3:05)
03. Council Plans (3:37)
04. Restless Night (4:02)
05. Thief (3:38)
06. Queen and the Pauper (3:39)
07. I Say (1:54)
08. Johns' Rock (2:40)
09. Rainchild (3:05)
10. Tide (5:37)
+ 4 Bonus Tracks
11. Laugh At The Poor Man (3:14)
12. Girlfriend (2:54)
13. The River - single version (3:23)
14. Thief - single version (3:37)