Octopus' origins lay in Hatfield, 30 miles from London, and a mid-'60s quartet called the Cortinas (the name came from an English Ford compact car), made up of Paul Griggs (guitar), Nigel Griggs (bass), Brian Glassock (drums), and Rick Williams (guitar). By 1967, the Cortinas had moved from Brit beat into pop-psychedelia and cut one single ("Phoebe's Flower Shop") for Polydor without success. The following year, the quartet renamed and redirected itself and Octopus was born. The band earned a support spot to Yes which was, itself, an up-and-coming group at the time. They also appeared on stage with acts like Status Quo and Humble Pie, and were discovered by Troggs bassist Tony Murray, who helped get them a record deal with independent producer Larry Page, who was the Troggs' manager.
Octopus was signed to Penny Farthing and released a single, "Laugh at the Poor Man" b/w "Girl Friend," in 1969. Midway through the recording of their debut album, Restless Night, Glassock and Williams quit the band, and it was a re-formed Octopus, with John Cook on keyboards and Malcolm Green on the drums, that finished the record with Murray producing. The resulting LP was popular in Hatfield but never found an audience anywhere else.
Restless Night was a surprisingly pop-oriented affair considering Murray's regular gig. The music is on the smooth, commercial pop side, with the psychedelic elements mostly in the fuzztone guitar and organ flourishes, mixed with the music's general melodic nature. The band was good enough to get booked into the Marquee Club in London in 1969, but their career arc was far more shallow than that of heavier weight contemporaries such as King Crimson. The group pressed on for another two years, including tours of Europe, but disbanded in 1972. John Cook later joined Mungo Jerry, while Malcolm Green and Nigel Griggs later became members of Split Enz.
See for Miles reissued Restless Night with extra tracks off of their singles in the 1990s. This group has nothing to do with the band named Octopus that recorded for ESP at the end of the 1960s, or the more recent band of the same name. ~ Bruce Eder