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The Moody Blues - Seventh Sojourn CD (album) cover

SEVENTH SOJOURN

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

3.65 | 195 ratings

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Chicapah
Prog Reviewer
2 stars I didn't care much for this album when it came out in November 1972 so I immediately shelved it. Now, almost 35 years later, I decided to give it a fresh go 'round and listen to it with unbiased ears. I'm sorry to report that it hasn't gotten any better with age. I'm still sticking with my assessment that the Moody Blues hit their peak with "A Question of Balance" in 1970 and went into a steep decline afterwards. Their creative well had run dry.

For a band that always seemed to know how to get their records off to a rousing, dynamic start this one is a big disappointment in that department. The Al Green-like soul beat laid down by drummer Graeme Edge is promising in its own semi-funky way but once the music to Mike Pinder's lame "Lost in a Lost World" begins all hope is. lost. Surely someone in the control room could have mentioned the too-obvious fact that Pinder's voice and the backing harmonies are off key but maybe internal political detente prevented that from happening. What a shame. It's an awful way to start an album. Usually I can look forward to Justin Hayward's songs to save the day on their projects but in this case his syrupy, uninspired "New Horizons" does nothing for me despite his usual charismatic singing. Overall it's a let down but it gets worse.

The unpredictable Ray Thomas delivers what sounds like a folksy sea shanty in "For My Lady," complete with salty recorders and accordion. Ray's tunes are more often than not a bit on the corny side but when the swarthy tars on deck start singing la-las in a yo-ho-ho pirate style at the end I have to shake my head in disbelief. If it was done as a joke it would be one thing but it's not. It's just silly. John Lodge's "Isn't Life Strange" is next and the Bee Gees influence on the verse is blatant in its mimicry. It's also at this juncture that I really start to miss the unmistakable sound of the good ol' Mellotron. I know they were experimenting with a new symphonic keyboard called the Chamberlin at the time but the thin sound it produces is no match for its predecessor. I know a lot of their fans love this song but to me the chorus is needlessly overwrought and the high harmony part is off just enough to make your spine cringe. It's almost as if they're not paying attention to the necessary details.

"You and Me" is finally a welcome improvement and the apex of the album. This up-tempo song from the writing combo of Hayward and Edge features a much tighter rhythm track and the best melody on the record. Justin's fat guitar tone and tasteful layering really make the tune stand out. Hayward's "Land of Make Believe" follows but once again I feel that it falls below his usual high standards. It's as if his heart just isn't into it anymore so he overproduced the cut to compensate. Yet it's a Grammy winner in comparison to Pinder's dismal "When You're a Free Man." Mike's shaky warbling is all over the place as he sings flat and sharp repeatedly through this mess of a tune. I have no desire to disparage it more than that so I'll move on like it didn't happen. Lodge's "I'm Just a Singer (in a rock and roll band)" serves as the caboose on this slow train and, while it's not a great song by any means, it ain't half bad. It definitely has a full, distinctive sound and the band's enthusiastic outburst at the end displays more emotion than all the tracks put together.

And maybe the boisterous finale was fitting because that noticeable expression of relief marked the beginning of a five-year-long vacation that the Moody Blues obviously needed to take from each other. (In fact, Pinder never came back from his sabbatical.) They had milked their patented formula for all it was worth and they were stuck in a rut that the music world had long since moved forward from. The internal stresses and conflicts of the band could no longer be overcome and the quality of their art was suffering as is exemplified here on "Seventh Sojourn." It's just not very good and their loyal followers deserved better. 1.5 stars.

Chicapah | 2/5 |

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