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The Moody Blues - Octave CD (album) cover

OCTAVE

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

2.72 | 145 ratings

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gero
3 stars Disappointing.

Unlike many other reviewers, I find the opening Steppin' In The Slide Zone abhorrent. Ugly synthesizers, really dumb lyrics and a weak melody. And sorry, but I do not hear any Mellotron on this (although the Planet Mellotron site claims the 'Tron is audible on the two opening tracks). Fortunately, there are still some trademark Moody massive harmonies in the background, but the whole arrangement bites my ears anyway.

The opening track is a good (or bad, for that matter) showcase for the album's two major flaws: most compositions are not as inspired as they used to be (I know it is very subjective to state), and almost all the songs are overproduced. It is very surprising, since so far the Moody Blues had been the masters of atmosphere. This time they have clearly missed the point.

This is perhaps best shown on The Day We Meet Again: it proves not substantial enough for the layers of backing vocals (this time it sounds as if they were overdubbed only by Hayward, not by the whole band) and guitars, which obliterate otherwise pleasant little melody and a fresh sounding Hammond organ. I Had To Fall In Love, and even Driftwood would probably work better in more stripped down settings (I especially dislike the saxophones on the latter). Survival loses much of its charm set to the Hollywoodish orchestral accompaniment. All of these songs are rather good, but their potential has been lost.

Octave is perhaps the nadir for Ray Thomas' talent. Everybody tends to agree that I'm Your man is the worst song on the album, and Under Moonshine is not much better, though it ight just work better, again, in a more restrained arrangement.

There are two songs on the album which I truly enjoy: Top Rank Suite, whose light arrangement suits the irony in the lyrics and does not quench the rocking drive (but it is very strange that a humorous song should be the best one on a Moody Blues album), and I'll be Level With You, where the wall of sound seems to help elevate the song instead of overwhelming it (good solo from Hayward and good harmonies).

One Step Into the Light, Pinder's good-bye for Moody Blues fans, is rather average. Contrary to the lyrics, it does not feature Mellotron.

A very week three for an uninspired and overproduced album.

gero | 3/5 |

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