Pop/Rock, Soft Rock, Album Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Art Rock, Prog-Rock

Album Review

The Moody Blues' resumed work together after a four-year hiatus and delivered Octave in 1978, which quickly became a hit but has also proved to be a very problematic album. Picking up where he left off on Seventh Sojourn, bassist/singer John Lodge generated a hit single (and also a solid album opener) with the surprisingly edgy (for this band) rocker "Steppin' in a Slide Zone." And Justin Hayward's "Had to Fall in Love," "Driftwood," and "The Day We Meet Again" -- the latter their best album closer since "Watching and Waiting" -- are also up to the standard one would wish for (and a bit of a surprise, coming in the wake of two major solo projects that should have depleted his songbag). Additionally, Graeme Edge's "I'll Be Level With You" gives the album some harder rocking moments, but that's not what one bought Moody Blues records for -- rather, it was (and is) the sweep, the overall body of music and vision, psychedelic and romantic, punched up with some solid rock moments, and it's that larger arc of the music that is missing here. Ray Thomas's two songs are lackluster compared with his earlier work; and Mike Pinder's "One Step Into the Light" is so limited in its scope, compared to his earlier album-defining mystical explorations, that he is barely a presence on the album (and he did quit the band in the course of completing, or not completing, this record). As well as not quite offering an album's worth of good songs, the whole album lacks the depth and scope of preceding releases; 1978 would have been a little late for an album steeped in psychedelia, but they didn't quite have anything to replace the latter element in the mix that constituted their appeal. Octave has its moments, and even a few very good ones -- and two great ones, on "Steppin' in a Slide Zone" and the place where the chorus comes in on "The Day We Meet Again" -- but they're not supported by enough that's worthwhile. Additionally, for CD listeners, the good moments are all the more difficult to appreciate, as a result of the inferior CD mastering on this release -- as of the fall of 2004, where the group's earlier albums were all upgraded long ago, Octave (along with their other later releases) was still available only in an old, substandard late-'80s CD edition, lacking in clarity and volume.
Bruce Eder, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Steppin' in a Slide Zone
  2. Under Moonshine
  3. Had to Fall in Love
  4. I'll Be Level With You
  5. Driftwood
  6. Top Rank Suite
  7. I'm Your Man
  8. Survival
  9. One Step into the Light
  10. The Day We Meet Again
purchase full album