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The Moody Blues

Octave (original vinyl)

Review by Gary Hill

I recently saw a list of most disappointing albums, and this was on it. I decided to do this retro review as sort of my rebuttal to that. I find it to be a very strong release. It is a bit of a transition set for the band, taking them from their classic 70s sound (which dominates the album) into the more modern sound that would become their standard for albums like Long Distance Voyager and The Present. There are some great tunes here, though, and the balance of music similar to what I expected from the band by that point in their career. This is also the last Moody Blues album to include keyboards Mike Pinder.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Side One
                
Steppin' in a Slide Zone

Dramatic electronic keyboard sounds start the album. As the introduction to this piece works forward an electric guitar paints a cool line that sounds a bit like Pink Floyd. In fact, this whole intro isn't far removed from something you might find on a Floyd disc. The cut powers out into an up-tempo jam that's more trademark Moody Blues. I remember hearing this on the radio at the time the album was released, and that makes sense as it's a very strong tune. There are some spacey effects at the end that glide this into the next piece.

Under Moonshine
The mellower sort of symphonic folk meets pop rock vibe of this tune is a classic Moodies sound really. These type pieces were never my favorite from these guys, but they represent one side of the band as it always had been. This fits well in that tradition.
Had to Fall in Love
A Justin Hayward song, this is a mellower number with a real folk music bent to it. It's pretty, but not all that proggy.
I'll Be Level with You
Now, here we have another rocker. This has so much of that classic Moody Blues sound built into it. It feels very much like something that could have fit on one their older discs.
Driftwood
A more balladic tune, the classic Moodies sounds purely cover this number. It's one of my favorites on the album, and actually holds up very well among the rest of the band's catalog. I think this one used to get some airplay when the album was first released, too, but I could be remembering wrong. Either way, this number is so strong.
Side Two
               
Top Rank Suite

I'm not a huge fan of this song. It has a real old school rock and roll sound. The horns seem a bit out of place to me. Still, it's catchy and energetic and has some recognizable Moodies hooks.

I'm Your Man

There is more of that old school folk music based Moody Blues sound here. Somehow this seems to have hints of soul music in the instrumental arrangement. The vocal performance, though, is classic Moodies. I dig the rocking instrumental section.

Survival
This cool tune really has a lot of that classic Moody Blues sound. It's a melodic number with a lot of folk prog in the mix. it also manages to rock.
One Step into the Light
The sole Pinder tune on the disc, this has a lot of folk music in the mix. It's another that feels quite classic in terms of Moody Blues sounds.
The Day We Meet Again
The hooks on this are so classic. This song is a trademark Justin Hayward Moody Blues song. Some of the melodies of this become part of "The Voice" on Long Distance Voyager. Mind you, I'm not saying this is the same song by any means, but if you pay close attention, there are some passages that feel very similar. This number is one of the highlights, making it a great way to end the set.
 
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