When the British rock band The Moody Blues released the LP Octave they had been inactive for about six years. Their first peak period from 1967-1972 arguably past, this was a bit of a shadow album. However, some may disagree. Total sales actually weren’t too unfavorable for Octave.
Octave is the last Moody Blues album including Mike Pinder, the mellotron expert, who was soon to be replaced by the Swiss wiz Patrick Moraz. The record also said farewell to their long-time producer, Tony Clarke. Clarke did, however, produce a few Justin Hayward solo albums afterward.
Nobody really knows if Pinder was dropped from the band or willingly left. One version of the story says he believed he would rejoin The Moodies in studio after choosing not to tour with the band.
Pinder’s departure seemed to be a sticky point for some years. He alluded to it on his website by saying something like “You can take Mike out of the Moodies but not the Moodies out of Mike.” But since 2018, when the Moodies were inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame, Pinder’s site displays photos of the band members posing for the camera (except for the late Ray Thomas), all smiles and hugs.
So who knows. Were Pinder and the others just rising to the occasion and still secretly estranged? Or maybe their theme of love and forgiveness finally came though in real life.
Hopefully the latter.
After Octave, the Moodies’ next album Long Distance Voyager was a huge success. I like it fine but it’s not quite classic Moody Blues. Pinder is notably absent. Moraz gives it a very 80s sound. In concert, Moraz was known for his arguably excessive use of Star Wars sounding laser beam FX, a late 70s to 80s crowd-pleaser not really in line with how I see The Moody Blues.
Moving onward, we see an overall decline in album quality but I still bought most of the Moodies’ records; their periodic solo efforts were picked up from the library or streamed, along with the Moodies’ 2003 release “December.”
Today’s featured song “One Step Into The Light” (1978) talks about choosing to step into the proverbial light. Not a new theme. But a good one.
This may not be the catchiest song in the world but I respect it as Pinder’s last Moodies tune.
That much said, the cosmic imagery in this unofficial video doesn’t really speak to me. Spirituality is far beyond the visible universe, the stars, galaxies, and black holes. But it seems many people just don’t get that. So I guess this ‘starry’ version of spirituality works for them.
We’re all different and at different stages in our respective journeys. I just mention my take because I feel that many folks have settled into a kind of natural pantheism, which from my experience doesn’t come close to the fullness of God and God’s grace. And I would venture to guess that the very personality trait that prevents some from experiencing more is also responsible for their disliking and/or trivializing Christianity and any religion which sees God as spirit, and not as mere matter/energy.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Theology aside, I do like the guitar work in this tune. Justin Hayward is not a speedball guitarist but choses his notes carefully. What musicians call “phrasing.”
Mike Pinder released another version of this tune without The Moody Blues. To me the backup arrangement sounds a touch more modern but unremarkable.
The tremendous difference between the two versions shows how the classic Moodies were all about synergy, not soloists.