The remastered, upgraded, and expanded CD edition of the Moody Blues' Octave rates a separate review from its predecessor, offering as it does over a quarter of an hour of new material, as well as a much finer analog-to-digital transfer of the original album, something the CD version has needed for many years. From the opening of "Steppin' in a Slide Zone," the difference in sound quality is like stepping from a flat, two-dimensional screening of a movie into a 3-D screening; layers of vocal and instrumental nuance that were previously hidden in the mix are now more fully exposed, with the result that we are getting to hear this record the way the bandmembers did as they experienced it in playback in the studio. And for the first time, the record's quality, at least in its execution, comes through -- some of the songwriting is shaky, as one might expect coming off of a five-year hiatus from working in a group context (with several members' respective songbags depleted); but now one can hear what the members put into those songs to make them acceptable, and as it turns out they did succeed, in large measure. One striking element is precisely how "right" John Lodge's bass seems on numbers as varied in quality as Ray Thomas' "Under Moonshine" and Justin Hayward's "Had to Fall in Love." Upon its original release in mid-1978, this reviewer remembers being struck by the seeming lack of cohesion in the sound which, as it turned out, was a result of Mike Pinder's departure before the completion of the album, which explained the presence of saxes and horns on various tracks. Those instruments and the tracks they appear on -- "Driftwood," "Top Rank Suite," "I'm Your Man," "Survival" -- sounded the least like the band we all remembered, but at least here they have some of the energy that the members obviously put into them. "Driftwood"'s richness of tone, along with that of "Had to Fall in Love" and even Mike Pinder's lone compositional contribution, "One Step Into the Light," all benefit from the new transfer. And one can now make out Justin Hayward's acoustic guitar on "The Day We Meet Again" -- that is the side of their sound, along with Lodge's McCartney-esque bass work and Graeme Edge's drumming, that makes a Moody Blues record, even without the full complement of voices one expected up to that time on their records. The producers have also added a quintet of live tracks recorded at the Coliseum in Seattle and The Summit in Houston, TX, along the tour that accompanied the release of this album. Apparently done in two-track, they couldn't be remixed to 21st century standards, but there's a lot of kinetic energy in the playing, even from newly added keyboardist Patrick Moraz, who can already be heard adding his own flourishes to the new repertory. Preserved here are two songs, "I'm Your Man" and "Top Rank Suite" -- the latter offering Hayward a chance to stretch out on guitar, which greatly improves it from its studio original -- that disappeared from the band's set list following this tour; and three, "Steppin' in a Slide Zone," "Driftwood," and "The Day We Meet Again," that have endured a lot longer than the album did in most fans' estimations. "Driftwood" offers another opportunity for Hayward and Lodge to stretch out, compared to the studio rendition, and is a long-awaited recognition of this song's worth as it was established on that tour. And "The Day We Meet Again," despite some less-than-optimum recording and an ending that is a little flat on-stage, was one of the highlights of that tour's set, and is a good showcase for Moraz's playing. The accompanying annotation is extremely thorough and informative. One wishes, however, that the art department had sprung for two more pages, so the text wouldn't have been quite so small, and also would have been more judicious than to put black lettering over dark background images on some pages. And they've left the lyrics in as well.
Performance CreditsMoody Blues Primary Artist
R.A. Martin Horn,Saxophone
Jimmy Haskell Conductor
Technical CreditsJustin Hayward Composer
John Lodge Composer
Michael Pinder Composer
Ray Thomas Composer
Graeme Edge Composer
Pete Carlson Engineer
Chris Brunt Engineer
Dennis Hansen Engineer
Richard Kaplan Engineer
Gary Ladinsky Engineer
R.A. Martin Horn Arrangements,Saxophone Arrangement
Richard Roth Cover Coordinator
Jimmy Haskell String Arrangements
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Octave based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
The Moody Blues eighth studio album, Octave, was released in 1978, nearly six years after the release of their seventh studio album (Seventh Sojourn). At the time of its release, fans anticipated a Moody Blues album very much like their popular albums from the sixties ¿ one that would contain both up-tempo and tranquil songs that were always melodic and always contained the patented Moody Blues¿ `cosmic¿ lyrics. For the most part (the lyrics were not that `cosmic¿), Octave did not disappoint. Produced again by Tony Clarke, it was, pretty much, what die-hard Moody Blues¿ fans wanted. Each member of the band had a hand in the songwriting and the songs provided by John Lodge, Ray Thomas, Mike Pinder, and Graeme Edge had the classic Moody Blues¿ sound. Lodge¿s `Survival¿, Thomas¿ `I¿m Your Man¿, and Pinder¿s ¿One Step Into the Light¿ are highlights. Justin Hayward, however, takes center stage. He continues, here, to take his music in the direction that he pointed to with his first solo album, Songwriter, a year earlier. With `Had to Fall in Love¿, `Driftwood¿, and `The Day We Meet Again¿, he introduces jazz-tinged melodies with emotional lyrics that are quite a departure from the his prior work with the band. And his song, `Top Rank Suite¿, is perhaps the most unusual of all Moody Blues songs at that point (both musically and lyrically). It is a frolicking, saxophone-filled rock-n-roll number that contains, believe it or not, a reference to a `good bowl of chili¿ (now does that sound like the Moody Blues to you?). Overall, especially for Moody Blues¿ fans, Octave is a satisfying album. It is the last Moody Blues album having Mike Pinder at the keyboards (an `end of an era¿ as he was replaced by ex-Yes keyboard player, Patrick Moraz, soon after the release of this album). The next Moody Blues¿ album would be Long Distance Voyager in 1981 ¿ a #1 album that, arguably, represents the pinnacle of the band¿s career. Soon afterwards though, like so many bands from their era, the Moody Blues become just another retroactive band- one that sells out concerts but can¿t get airplay or sell recordings like the good ol¿ days.
My best friend Billy passed on his Tape collection to me a week or two ago, he's a CD ONLY guy now. The collection stretched from 1981 to 2001 and I had been sifting though it slowly over the last 14 days, coming acoss many 'old' favorites until I came across OCTAVE. I was 17 all over again. I nearly cried with the emotions this brought back. Steppin'..., Had To Fall, Driftwood et al, songs that were just distant memories came flooding back into my room for the first time since '78. God-damn, how I missed those days and memeories. If YOU liked it back then and haven't heard it since, go and get it. Refresh those memories, you won't be disappointed. Thanks Billy, you'll never really understand the value of the gift you've just given me.