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The Moody Blues - Long Distance Voyager CD (album) cover

LONG DISTANCE VOYAGER

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

3.29 | 190 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Lush, beautiful art rock ponders time

When I first obtained the cheap, mass produced cassette tape from the Columbia music club in the summer of '81 (20 Records or Tapes for 1 Penny!!!) I was not a Moody Blues fan. I was a kid who enjoyed hearing "Gemini Dream" on the radio and added their cassette to my order. It didn't get much play. I never expected my revisit to this sometimes maligned title to yield much love, but a more mature appraisal than I would have given it then says LDV is indeed quite a finely crafted piece of music. Certainly there is some truth to the criticism it gets: it is a safe and softer art rock that pushes toward the mainstream more than their old albums, which themselves were not exactly all that dangerous. The percussion strikes me as much too canned at times. Yet despite all the criticisms I think it is consistent, well constructed, melodic and just plain fun art-pop music. Throw in the beautiful and thoughtful artwork and it makes a nice package.

Boasting two successful radio hits in "The Voice" and "Gemini Dream" LDV was a huge commercial success which gave the band a rebirth of sorts. But there is so much more here. "22,000 Days" sounds almost Beatle-esqe in places as it ponders how short our lives are and how we shouldn't waste time. Hayward puts together a nice pair of tracks with "In My World" and "Meanwhile." Lodge contributes a longer artsy track in "Talking Out Of Turn" and the more inward and sullen "Nervous." The album is unusual in that most of it flows well until the last six minutes when Ray Thomas' track are tacked on, almost like an afterthought. One gets the feeling he was somehow less appreciated, and yet in the view of many, his slightly off-kilter and more theatrical pieces do their job in bringing some strangeness and excitement to a band that otherwise plays it a bit too safe.

Despite my reluctance toward the more mechanical sounding percussion, LDV excels in creating a lush and rewarding sound and arrangement. All of the guitars and bass parts are tasteful and layered with care. Moraz is frequently coloring each track with an array of cool keyboard and synth parts, he is the secret weapon on LDV. Some tracks are further dressed with lovely string arrangements from the New World Philharmonic. Rolling Stone described the sound as an "elegant soufflé consists of silkily strummed guitars and gossamer Mellotron and keyboards, capped by a host of agreeable, charcoal-mellowed vocals. They manage to fill every small hole in the sound with a kind of comforting, pea-soup sonic fog. Like the Genesis of Wind and Wuthering, the instrumental weave here is so tight, the strands so densely and artfully stitched into the fabric..." -Parke Puterbaugh

The final lines of Puterbaugh's review reached the same conclusion as my own. This is a charming release that was "terribly unhip" but why judge it in those terms? It was and remains a reflection of a pastoral and melancholic longing some people have, of memories and curiosities of times past, as well as taking stock of the present. The themes and content seem a perfect fit for the luxuriously crafted, dreamy sound the Moodies have dealt them. In essence they understood where the material was going and they succeeded quite brilliantly is presenting it with a top-notch sense of grandeur, while at the same time managing to make the tracks catchy and appealing beyond their core audience. And it may be that very crime which many proggers will not forgive them for, but in my view the Moodies have always been on the warm milk side of prog. They balance the conflicting interests as well as anyone could in that time and place-and for the most part LDV is an excellent album.

A special mention to some incredible art work on both the front and rear cover. They carry this over to small drawings on each lyric page and it creates a great bond between the written word and the music.

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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