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The Moody Blues

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The Moody Blues Octave album cover
2.74 | 169 ratings | 20 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Steppin' in a Slide Zone (5:28)
2. Under Moonshine (5:00)
3. Had to Fall in Love (3:38)
4. I'll Be Level with You (3:47)
5. Driftwood (5:02)
6. Top Rank Suite (3:40)
7. I'm Your Man (4:20)
8. Survival (4:09)
9. One Step into the Light (4:28)
10. The Day We Meet Again (6:18)

Total Time 45:50

Bonus tracks on 2008 remaster:
11. Steppin in a Slide Zone (live *) (4:57)
12. I'm Your Man (live *) (4:51)
13. Top Rank Suite (live *) (4:28)
14. Driftwood (live *) (5:02)
15. The Day We Meet Again (live $) (7:16)

* Recorded at the Coliseum Seattle, May 25th 1979
$ Recorded at the Summit Houston, December 7th 1978

Line-up / Musicians

- Justin Hayward / acoustic & electric guitars, keyboards, lead vocals (3-6,10)
- Michael Pinder / piano, organ, synth, Mellotron, lead vocals (4,9)
- Ray Thomas / flute, harmonica, tambourine, lead vocals (2,4,7)
- John Lodge / bass, keyboards, lead vocals (1,4,8)
- Graeme Edge / drums, percussion

- Robert A. Martin / saxophone (5,6), saxophone arrangement (6), horns, horn arrangement (5)
- Dr. Terry James / conductor & string arranger (2,7)
- Jimmy Haskell / conductor & string arranger (8)

Releases information

Artwork: Kosh

LP Decca - TXS 129 (1978, UK)

CD London Records ‎- 820 329-2 (1986, Europe)
CD Threshold Records ‎- 531 279-0 (2008, Europe) Remastered by Alberto Parodi & Justin Hayward w/ 5 bonus Live tracks previously unreleased

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy THE MOODY BLUES Octave Music

THE MOODY BLUES Octave ratings distribution

(169 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(20%)
Good, but non-essential (46%)
Collectors/fans only (22%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

THE MOODY BLUES Octave reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by maani
4 stars Forget the critics: along with Crest of a Knave (Tull), this is the best "comeback" album in rock. Steppin' and I'll Be Level are among the Moody's best hard-core rockers (Hayward's guitar work on Level is nothing short of amazing), One Step is possibly Pindar's best, most haunting work, and Had to Fall, Driftwood and The Day We Meet Again are unquestionably among the three most beautiful ballads the Moody's ever produced. This is an underappreciated gem, and should be given a non-prejudicial listening (especially with headphones).
Review by Sean Trane
1 stars After a four years lay-off, they came back to make inspiration-less album also ill-advised regarding the hard times for prog and it just came out as more room for criticism for stupid british weekly press such as MM and NME and the usually more intelligent Sounds followed soon and lost my respect also. Nevertheless avoid this one. They went back in lethargy for three years after such a mediocre effort.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The eighth and final sojourn for Mike

Pleasant as this album is, I must admit I find I only ever listen to two tracks from it. "Steppin' in a slide zone" is one of those familiar up tempo Moody Blues songs which tends to open their albums (Like "The voice", "I know you're out there somewhere" etc.). Mike Pinder's keyboards (his final album with the band) help give the track an edge (a Graham Edge even!). It does sound somewhat familiar, but its good nonetheless.

"Driftwood" (no relation to the Travis track, although the two do have passing similarities) is one of those lovely Justin Hayward ballads, the sort which he does so well. It builds towards the brief "Don't leave me, driftwood, on the shore" chorus beautifully.

In truth, that's about all there is to get excited about here. The rest of the tracks smack a bit of going through the motions, the depth of the song writing being somewhat disappointing. Worth hearing for the two tracks highlighted, but that's all.

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "Octave", Eighth, intentionally or not, this is the 8th album performed by MB's classical formation (also the last) - a history that began in 1967, with "Days of Future Passed". Six years after their last studio album ("Seventh Sojourn"), the band rejoined and produced this album that marked the farewell of the talented keyboardist Mike Pinder, probably the most prog-oriented member of the band.

Evaluating unheartedly one could give 1 or 2 stars claiming it is not a prog-album, but the year and the events of those vicious time make "Octave" a remarkable work. Amidst disco paranoia and punk apparent domination - both to last briefly, with many important artists and bands changing their style to a popish commercial trend, Moody Blues released a Moody Blues work although less progressive than previous albums. And it is fair and honest, not giving in to any momentaneous fashion or whatsoever.

The album is pleasant to hear, being the strongest songs: the opening track, 'Steppin' in the slide zone', with a very prog start, full of guitar and mellotron; 'Had to fall in love', a typical Moodie ballad, soothed by great singing and sweet harmonica; 'I'll be level with you', a pure rock; 'Driftwood', another soft song, well orchestrated; 'I'm your man', agreeable, listenable; 'Survival', a real prog one, resembling the good old classical days; 'One step into light', folky with rock and ballad touches.

Yes, it is still Moody Blues - less brilliant but without losing their identity, good, very good, although non-essential. Total: 3.

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The mystical seven great ages of The Moody Blues: Creation, Innovation, Hallucination, Progression, Maturation, Sophistication, Perfection. Lucky is the number seven, and truly the great ones were at harmony with each other and their music of the spheres, surveying the world from high above the clouds. But there came an eighth age, the age of Separation, an age when the great ones went out into the world of mortals, hearing their own true voices and liking what they heard. The light began to fade. OCTAVE.

So, what went wrong with Octave?

Firstly, it has the sound of a collection of 'solo' tracks rather than a collective 'band' sound. It is not cohesive. It doesn't gel. The core character that made the Moodies so great, its essential oneness, had splattered to the four winds in the wake of a series of solo and collaborative projects that introduced the members to a variety of outside stimuli.

Secondly, the band's trademark multi-voice harmonising begins to take a back seat: there is less of it, and subtle changes in the mix push principal singers to the fore on most songs, a trend that would continue in future years. This is especially noticeable on John Lodge's songs, where his fragile voice had previously been held up by the others. Lodge's high notes are also largely absent!

Third is the Mellotron issue, for this signature sound is missing from much of the album, mostly replaced by more modern synths, with real strings on a couple of tracks.

Fourthly, the album does not have the feel of a classic Tony Clarke production that helped make those earlier albums so special. Clarke did indeed produce Octave, but his presence was tempered by massive personal upheavals that undoubtedly sapped his concentration.

Fifthly, it is simply a bunch of songs with no inkling of a concept or any unity of thought to bind the lyrics. Earlier albums may have had tenuous links that were often more in the ear of the listener than any reality, but the songs somehow all seemed to belong together as a body of work.

Sixthly, it has every indication of a band in disarray, its members pulling in different directions amid a number of crises that caused both Mike Pinder and Tony Clarke to leave. In Hayward's own words, the band thought "'it' was all over, the magic had gone" and they were simply placing a final full stop at the end of the band's career. History shows different of course, and they, without Clarke or Pinder, would bounce back with a vengeance to produce the excellent 'Long Distance Voyager'. It would never be the same again, of course, and Octave remains as a fascinating but severely flawed document of that troubled transitional period.

But, is it any good? Taken individually there are some good songs here and a couple or three crackers. Hayward's mid-paced 'The Day We Meet Again' is an undoubted classic of the post-Mellotron era, with some gorgeous multi-tracked fuzz guitar phrasing and a progressive melody with Hayward extending his vocal chords. Curiously, the album opens with the 'new-wave' of Lodge's 'Steppin In A Slide Zone', an up tempo rocker reminiscent of 'I'm Just A Singer ...' but with modern production and instrumentation. Pinder's sole contribution 'One Step Into The Light' is typically esoteric Pinder with a lovely lilting beat, some nice guitar work, massed harmonies and Mellotron.

The remainder hops about somewhat. Hayward's 'Had To Fall In Love' and 'Driftwood' are Moodies-lite - adequate, and with the right balance, but rather inessential - but his 'Top Rank Suite' is a solo-style abomination that should never have passed the censors. Thomas' jaunty 'Under Moonshine' is pretty good, with a very progressive melody structure that keeps developing, but his 'I'm Your Man' is an orchestrated turkey. Lodge's 'Survival' is one of his big orchestrated numbers with some nice harmonies - it's quite good really, and doesn't fall into the trap of over-blown bombast. Edge's 'I'll Be Level With You' is a nondescript rocker.

Overall. It's a good album that lacks the breadth of vision of their earlier work. Of course, the Moodies needed to move on, but Octave can only offer some glimpses of what they would progress to jumbled in with reminders of what they had been. The band had clearly lost it's old voice, but yet had to find a new one. Should you buy it? If you already have the first seven and Long Distance Voyager, then Octave must surely be worthy of consideration.

Review by russellk
2 stars I'm not entirely sure why THE MOODY BLUES thought they ought to make this album. The late seventies were dominated by punk and disco, and the AOR of the 1980s, which they exploited with a vengeance, had not yet arrived. I do know they were not happy with the result, and neither am I.

The problem with this record is simple. After six years apart, coming together led inevitably to recapture the indefinable magic they once shared, to rewrite 'Seventh Sojourn' with modern instruments and production techniques. The result, inevitably, was failure. Far better to assess what they had in 1978 and work around that.

So we bein where we left off six years earlier, with a JOHN LODGE rocker. I really don't think it was advisable to have 'slide' in the first song's title, lads. This is actually one of LODGE'S stronger efforts: to my mind he became the mainstay of the band in the 1980s, and his development is easy to see here. Still don't like it much though. RAY THOMAS gets two songs, the interesting 'Under Moonshine' and the poor 'I'm Your Man': the latter is dispensable. Wisely, MIKE PINDER gets only one, the excrable 'One Step Into The Light', a New Age manual set to music. Preach it, Mike, just not at me.

But what drags this album down is JUSTIN HAYWARD'S substandard efforts. Normally he could be relied on for two or three shining gems per album: here we get one, the glorious, understated 'Driftwood'. 'Had To Fall In Love' is acceptable, but 'Top Rank Suite' is appalling. Which one of them thought this was a good idea? 'The Day We Meet Again' is actually quite progressive, but it's simply overwrought. Four JH songs, and at least two too many. Time waits for no one, Justin, not even you. Fortunately, he would redeem himself on the delicious 'Long Distance Voyager', which followed this album.

The rest of the songs are forgettable. I'd be hard pressed to hum them even though I've listened to the album dozens of times. And, in many respects, the same can be said of the album as a whole. Apart from a couple of tracks - well, actually only 'Driftwood' - this adds nothing to the MOODIES' canon. Buy the Classic Seven if you're a lover of great tunes leavened with progressive sensibilities, but give this album a miss. Only for collectors and fans like me.

Review by ZowieZiggy
1 stars A six years break should have been sufficient for the Moodies to resource and propose a good album. I rather liked "Seventh Sojourn", even if no monster songs was featured.

But this album does not even feature two good songs.

Mellowish and uninspired music is what you get here. Of course, I have never been over-enthusiastic about the band, but still they were able to deliver some great songs even if their albums as a whole could hardly been considered as masterpieces.

This is one of their poorest effort so far. The best song ? I can't tell. But the worse is probably "Top Rank Suite". An attempt to a rocking song from a band who has never been able to write a great rock one. And I can tell you that it is not with "Octave" that they coped with this style. Awful. I guess that you know the key to press. Next of course.

And if ever you wouldn't like to suffer like hell, I highly recommend you to do the same with "I'm Your man" : a syrupy and real bad type of Motown song. Press nextT again.

If ever you are missing some very poor ELO songs, I strongly recommend you to listen to "Survival". Very hard to bear. But this is only MHHO.

Unfortunately, this album is a long suite of boring songs. No passion, no vibrant music. Supermarket stuff, at best. Another "great" example is "One Step into the Light". Such a dull song, my friends. Of course, prog music is totally absent from this work.

One star? Yes, probably no more. A useless come back, by all means.

I'm a melancholy man.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars After a 6 year layoff that included various mediocre solo/duo offerings, the Moody Blues reunited, and while the results are not particularly inspired, "Octave" is still proof that the band was greater than any individual member or members. Or perhaps the members saved up the songs that they felt would be better in group format until the inevitable reunion. The result is Moody Blues album on autopilot, which is still better than most of the dross out there at any given time.

Most of the highlights occur in the first half, with Lodge, Edge and Hayward playing on their strengths. For Lodge it is the rollicking rocker ("Steppin in a Slide Zone"), for Hayward, the ballad form ("Had to Fall in Love" and "Driftwood", and for Edge, the Moodys Mach 1 flashback ("I'll be Level with you"). Things deteriorate after this, with Hayward's honky tonk "Top Rank Suite" and Thomas going two for two in the dud department. The last few tracks are all decent throwbacks but none of them seems as good as it would have been in the hands of the younger Moodys. The finale "The Day we Meet Again" is somewhat over dramatic even by the group's own standards.

I remember enjoying this more in 1978 than I do now, perhaps being happy just to hear the group playing again. I also saw the band live on the "Octave" tour and it is one of my least favourite shows ever. The group didn't seem to be really enjoying themselves, but they had become an industry unto themselves, with a whole entourage of co-dependent entities. It translates to their output to this day...nothing from Octave on matched the golden era. A weak three stars.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Stepping in to a Dull Zone...

I own this on cassette and have played it a grand total of once. It is not a good album by any stretch of the imagination. Moody Blues really became mediocre Blues towards the 80s and the magic had all but disappeared. There are still some mystical moments of grandeur as always but it is quite sporadic. Steppin' in a slide zone is the best thing on it and admittedly is one of my all time favourite Moody Blues tracks. After this the rest blurs into a forgettable menagerie of tender but dull tracks.

Relistening to this for this review was not a pleasant experience. Nothing resonated with me at all. Had to fall in love is poppy sap, Driftwood drifts along aimlessly, and I'm your man is just plain nauseating. It is a pity because the band are so capable of brilliance. Justin Hayward has a superb voice and I love what he has done in the early Moody Blues releases. Unfortunately nothing jumps out here although parts of the album are very good, especially One step into the light and the opening single. This is one to skip and grab the opening track on a compilation rather than waste cash on this piece of fluff.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars Oh! I stepped in a slide zone! Is there any still on my shoe?

Six years after their last studio album, The Moody Blues' classic lineup reappeared with this uneven, and mostly disappointing set. They even had Tony Clarke, their long time producer behind the board on this one. But there's something missing here. There is none of the sense of mystery and wonder that pervaded the previous seven albums (I'm not counting the first album, before they were really The Moody Blues). Perhaps it was the industry, that wanted easy to produce disco and punk, perhaps it was just that these guys had just reached the end of the road together. Who knows?

There are some songs that are almost worth owning. Steppin' In A Slide Zone and I'll Be Level With You are upbeat and... no, not quite good enough.

Side two of the LP is dismal. Top Rank Suite is upbeat, but unoriginal and unmemorable. And all of the songs that follow are at best maudlin, and very difficult to sit through.The real surprise of this album was that four of the five band members were able to continue after this.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars I can't actually recall whether I knew the Moody Blues were still in existence when this album released in 1978. They were definitely a band whose music I was still listening to, mostly stuff from their 'Big 7' released between 1967 and 1972. These were practically golden-oldies at the time though, and even though I did pick up copies of 'Caught Live +5' and 'This is the Moody Blues' on 8-track it was only because I didn't own most of the other albums and this was a way to get a lot of their more well-known songs to play in my car cheaply.

Actually I don't even remember this album, although apparently it went platinum in the U.S. and was Top-10 in the UK. Frankly punk and disco had drowned out a lot of newer stuff on the radio from the 60s dinosaurs, and I suspect I probably heard parts of this one and didn't think it was all that good. Still don't, though with time and in the context of some of the poorer work that would follow it 'Octave' seems at least palatable today.

This would be the end of the line for Mike Pinder, who actually left before the album was even finished and would be replaced by Patrick Moraz who had just been given his walking papers by Yes. Too bad, as Pinder was one of the more distinctive characters in the band and his songwriting skills (most notably the last eight minutes of 'On the Threshold of a Dream' and the chilling "Lost in a Lost World" from 'Seventh Sojourn') would likely have helped the band improve some of the appalling albums they would put out in the eighties.

It's interesting looking back and hearing this album in retrospect. There is still a bit of real symphonic accompaniment in the form of strings on the soothing "I'm Your Man" and the Beatlesque "Survival", both of which have the sort of rich and spacious sound that made the earlier Moodies albums so seductively appealing and memorable. But elsewhere the orchestration is synthesized, and not even with a Mellotron or Chamberlin but rather with actual synthesizers, played mostly by John Lodge and Justin Hayward after Pinder's departure. I'm not sure if the band switched to synths because Pinder left or whether this was simply a sign of the times, but the presence of mellotron and real strings would become a thing of the past for the band after this album. You can really tell the difference on the sterile "One Step into the Light", ironically the last song Pinder would write and record with the group.

I guess "Driftwood" was a minor hit single as well, or at least I read that on the band's website and with the remastered CD information. But I can't remember this one either, and considering I pretty much lived with a radio on in 1978 it must not have been much of a hit. But like I was saying earlier, this is an interesting album to play today because there are light hints of the band's early symphonic sound on this track, "Survival" and to a certain extent "I'm Your Man" (a prototypical Ray Thomas love song). Yet at the same time there is an even stronger sense of what was about to come for the band with 'Long Distance Voyager' and 'The Present', most noticeably on slickly produced "Steppin' in a Slide Zone" and the closing "The Day We Meet Again" with it's emphasis on vocals and guitar over keyboards and an unconvincing faux earnestness in Hayward's voice. Don't get me wrong, I loved 'Long Distance Voyager' ('The Present' would be another story), but this album just does not have the same attention to craft or emotional appeal that the band's previous seven albums did. The times were changing and frankly the band had been sort of worn out and coasting for most of the seventies by the time they put this one out, so a drop off in quality shouldn't have been surprising.

The Moody Blues were still heads above the vast majority of music that was being cranked out in 1978, but in comparing 'Octave' to what they were capable of I have to say it comes up short. Three stars still, but not in the same league as their classics. A little better than just for collectors since there are a few bright spots with "Driftwood", "Survival", "I'm Your Man" and to a lesser extent the throwback "Under Moonshine", but the streak of gems would end with 'Seventh Sojourn'.


Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars As for my case, I am not really a big fan of The Moody Blues as I always considered this band as a pop-rock band with some prog elements in their music. I was then told that this band as one of pioneers in progressive rock and I looked at the album Days Future Passed where there was many orchestration done throughout the music. I don't think that the album was truly progressive beside the fact that yes the used orchestra. The rest I only recognized the band with its Nights in White Satin which was very famous that time.

This Octave album has already been in my collection in the form of cassette and I never paid attention to this as I had a perception that this was another pop-rock band. As recently I played my cassette collection, finally I got a chance to listen to this again. Overall, this albm proves to me that The Moody Blues is still a pop-rock band with quite good lyrics. The songs are not quite attractive to me and just flat emotion with respect to melody and/or composition overall. However, I am sure there are people who love music like this. So, I finally conclude that this is only good for those collectors who enjoy this straight forward pop rock music. Keep on proggin' ...!!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Latest members reviews

3 stars In six years, The Moody Blues didn't do any records and people had to wait until 1978 before next release was a fact. Their ninth studio record "Octave" came 1978 with the same line up as before with Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Michael Pinder, Ray Thomas and Graeme Edge. The first difference ... (read more)

Report this review (#1113097) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Sunday, January 12, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Please note that this review is for the 2009 remastered edition of "Octave". I just stepped in a what? A steaming pile of slide zone you say? Here I go again, defending the indefensible...taking those crappy pseudo prog albums that most prog heads hate and speaking of them in glowing terms. ... (read more)

Report this review (#939388) | Posted by Fenrispuppy | Thursday, April 4, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Certain albums are greater than the sum of their parts. One earlier one from the Moodies, "To Our Children's Children's Children", certainly fits this bill in my book. Taken individually, many of the songs are pleasant enough but certainly not earthshaking ("Floating", "Eyes of a Child" and "Watc ... (read more)

Report this review (#930292) | Posted by Mr. Gone | Friday, March 15, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I feel a little sorry for the Moody Blues. They are from an age just before Prog actually came along, and probably pale in comparison to the bands that follow - Genesis, King Crimson, Yes - just to name a few, at least in terms of proggish-ness. By 1978 they were already a dinosaur artifact, b ... (read more)

Report this review (#279554) | Posted by Brendan | Tuesday, April 27, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 tr ... (read more)

Report this review (#177516) | Posted by gero | Monday, July 21, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I just recently purchased the CD to replace my old album. Originally, I did not feel this album stood up to the first 7 Moody albums. But I found over the years that I played this album more often than the others. The final 3 cuts; "One Step", "Survival" and "On the Day We Meet Again" are a ... (read more)

Report this review (#68812) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 8, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I was initially very disappointed with this comeback album, having expected so much more after Days of Future through to Seventh Sojourn. Some of the songs still don't do much for me, like 'Steppin' in a slide zone', and 'Top Rank Suite'; 'The Day we meet Again' is a bit overlong. 'Under Moons ... (read more)

Report this review (#52234) | Posted by | Tuesday, October 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I can see why some people criticise this album as by this time the Moodies were no longer "proggin" but even if it doesn't break any new ground it's still an album which showcased their strengths - all five contributing songs even if Hayward dominates. My favourite track is Pinder's "One step ... (read more)

Report this review (#15739) | Posted by b*t*b | Tuesday, March 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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