Having first heard Nights in White Satin on the radio and then my brother’s LP of To Our Children’s Children’s Children, I discovered the Moody Blues for myself in 1976 when I bought their then 9-year-old Days Of Future Passed. I was hooked, bought the remaining six core albums and was delighted by the news that a new album was in the offing, six years after Seventh Sojourn.
By 1978, when Octave was released, the world had moved on and so had the Moody Blues. Founder member Mike Pinder and producer Tony Clarke left during the recording, so when I first heard a new album by the band there was a question mark over their future direction. The album seemed to lack the intensity of their earlier work and seemed to echo some of the solo albums recorded by each of the five members. And that’s how I viewed Octave for many years.
When I heard that the album had been remastered, I grudgingly added it to my wish list. The recently reissued seven core albums are fantastic, but I doubted whether Octave would be so good.
I was wrong.
The remastering, by Justin Hayward himself, has transformed the album and brought it to life for me. The Moodies have always written well and are fine musicians and singers, both recorded and live. Their performance on Octave doesn’t let them down and I now have some of the songs going round in my head.
Ray Thomas’s I’m Your Man used to be my least favourite track by the band, but now I listen with enjoyment. The extras include a live version of the track, which is even better.
John Lodge’s bass work is also more apparent. My appreciation of him as a player grows year by year and I think he is grossly under-rated, as are all the Moodies.
Driftwood, Survival and One Step into the Light are other favourites from a time when each of the five members would contribute songs to create a true group effort, whereas now songwriting is left to Hayward and Lodge. The five extra live tracks are also a great demonstration of how the band deliver powerful performances in concert.
So, while I usually view reissues and repackaging with some suspicion, I am so glad I have Octave. It was certainly worth the 31-year wait to hear it as it ought to sound.