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The Moody Blues - Sur La Mer CD (album) cover


The Moody Blues


Crossover Prog

2.42 | 92 ratings

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2 stars Once again Ray Thomas is missing from a Tony Visconti-produced Moodies album, this time because he was having 'health problems'. Pretty lengthy health issue given it apparently lasted about five years but who knows, maybe that was the actual reason.

Either way this is more of the same with Justin Hayward serving up his smooth, hip crooning and John Lodge partnering to crank out MTV-approved adult contemporary gloss like an older and British version of Hall & Oates. Good show mates (or maybe that's an Australian expression, not sure).

Surprisingly 'Sur la Mer' gave the band their thirteenth (and final) Top-40 single in the U.S., and the album sold respectably although try as I might I can't even remember this thing coming out in 1988. Probably got buried behind a Marillion album in the record store and I missed it. Oh well, I've somehow survived the loss.

I'm not completely sure why but this album doesn't annoy me quite as much as 'The Other Side of Life' does even though besides Justin Hayward's voice there is nothing that sounds remotely like the Moody Blues, or even like symphonic rock, or even like good music. There's a little bit of saxophone on "River of Endless Love" so that's kind of nice, but who knows what's real anymore - that might be a digital figment of my imagination like the drums on the last album were. Maybe my expectations have been lowered, or maybe I just don't care anymore, but this album sounds pretty decent even though it has very little in the way of substance or depth. In the end Hayward's voice and Lodge's backing still evoke that slightly nostalgic and melancholy feeling that the finest Moodies music always has. That counts for something I suppose. Polydor certainly thought so since they continued to crank this trot this stuff out every few years or so long after the band ceased to be a relevant creative force. Nostalgia sells after all, as the Top-40 rating of the album proved once again.

Other than minor flash of "I Know You're Out There Somewhere" there isn't much of interest here. "Here Comes the Weekend" is as vapid as its title suggests, and "Breaking Point" sounds like a Eurovision entry with its programmed drums and warbling synth tracks. There are a couple of mildly decent songs including the subtle "Love is on the Run" and a throwback-sounding "Vintage Wine" from Hayward, but other than that the rest has long been resigned to forgotten eighties history.

The band would make one more attempt at something memorable once the eighties were over with 'Keys of the Kingdom' before giving up all pretense at being a proper band, but they hadn't quite made it there when this one was recorded. I guess two stars are about right, but I certainly wouldn't suggest you rush right out and buy this one anytime soon. Save it for one of those days when you feel like being reminded just how shallow and forgettable most music released between 1979 and 1989 really was. Just in case that day ever comes.


ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |


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