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The Moody Blues - The Present  CD (album) cover

THE PRESENT

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

3.01 | 89 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars 'The Present' would chart in both the U.S. and UK when it released in 1983, and thanks to heavy promotion worldwide it charted lots of other places too. But in reality the band was on a significant downward slide creatively by this point, and the sales were likely just residual name-recognition for casual pop fans thanks to the recent commercially successful 'Long Distance Voyager', supplemented by purchases of older fans who hadn't quite given up on the Moodies just yet (after all, what else were they going to buy in 1983?).

I'd given up on them though and didn't add this to my collection until many years after it was released, and then only because I was snapping up CD remasters at a rather frenzied pace.

The overall sound is a lot like 'Long Distance Voyager' with an emphasis on guitars and rhythm over keyboards and strings, and in fact there aren't any real strings on this album and not even many fake ones coming from Patrick Moraz' keyboards. The real problem is that the songwriting isn't anywhere near as good as 'Voyager'. Justin Hayward in particular seems to have lost his muse, and his songs that are clearly intended as hit singles ("Blue World", "Meet Me Halfway") are also pretty trite when you start dissecting the lyrics. For some reason "Blue World" vaguely reminds me of a tune called "Fade" that Cyndi Lauper recorded with her first band Blue Angel around 1980 or so. Not sure why, but talk about random!

Ray Thomas' stuff is as predictable as ever, slow, sad and both nostalgic and nautical- sounding. "I Am" and "Sorry" close the album and are obviously meant to evoke a sentimental mood with the listener as the album winds to a close. A neat trick apparently pulled off by producer Pip Williams who did something similar on both 'Long Distance Voyager' and Barclay James Harvest's 'Ring of Changes'. It must have worked on the uninitiated listener since the album managed to sell in most markets, but listening to the last few bars of "Sorry" today doesn't sound nostalgically melancholy, it just sounds sad.

The one song on this album that kind of resonates is the choral-draped "Going Nowhere", a rather plodding thing but possibly the most engaging song the band would record after 1981. There's a hint of an earlier time when the members were still really trying to make good music, not just popular music. Too bad there couldn't have been more.

Much as it pains me I have to say this album will probably only appeal to really serious fans and collectors (collectors of what I'm not sure). Since that's the definition of a two star album I have to close by saying that's what I'm rating 'The Present'. There would be one more decent record from the Moody Blues before they threw in the towel (hint, it's not the one after this one). Otherwise this is just the first in what would become a string of mediocre performances.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |

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