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The Moody Blues - A Question of Balance CD (album) cover

A QUESTION OF BALANCE

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

3.46 | 195 ratings

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russellk
Prog Reviewer
3 stars A deliberate and unfortunate regression from the pinnacle of 'To Our Children's Children's Children.'

Their previous album had neither provided a hit single nor proven easy to play live. Therefore THE MOODY BLUES simplified their formula: while they kept the songwriting spread amongst the group and continued to segue from song to song, they abandoned the song-fragment approach of the previous album, which relied on complicated fades and juxtapositions not possible to replicate live. They stripped back the wall of sound and regressed to rock music, in search of their lost audience.

That they succeeded is evident withing two minutes. The opener 'Question' is one of their most well known tracks, an undoubted classic, but there are clear indicators that it is calculated. The song is a ballad sandwiched in between two slices of rock, giving the MOODIES a chance to appeal to both parts of their audience. Kudos for that, but it means the album is front-loaded, with the best track first. On none of the previous albums did JUSTIN HAYWARD sing the opening track. This is the first sign the cow is to be milked.

I'd have no problem with this approach of the rest of the album contained material on a par with what they'd done before, but sadly that's not the case. 'How Is It (We Are Here)' is one of PINDER'S most preachy narratives, and the music's not up to much. Happily, 'And The Tide Rushes In' is a nice THOMAS composition, one of his better efforts. LODGE'S 'Don't You Feel Small' is rather understated, with whispered vocals and gentle latin rhythms, nice enough but not what the album needed at this point: after THOMAS' ballad a dose of energy is needed. Even the rockier section is underwhelming. 'Tortoise and the Hare' is a strange song, again restrained (and damaged by LODGE'S cursed falsetto), but a triumph when played live. This album certainly suffers from the band's conservative approach. It's possible that had it been made in 1969 it might well have been a classic.

Side two is slightly better. The two HAYWARD compositions are outstanding, as always, particularly 'Dawning Is The Day', while 'Melancholy Man' may well be popular with some fans, but simply confirms for me PINDER'S limited musical and lyrical vocabulary. In the end we are left with two tracks that remind us of THE MOODY BLUES at their best, 'Question' and 'Dawning', both HAYWARD compositions. The material supplied by the others simply isn't up to scratch here. Of the seven progressive MOODIES albums, this is the least essential.

russellk | 3/5 |

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