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The Moody Blues - Keys Of The Kingdom CD (album) cover


The Moody Blues


Crossover Prog

2.77 | 72 ratings

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3 stars There's more programmers listed in the credits for this album than on some Playstation games I have in my collection, but even so this was the best Moody Blues album in a decade when it released in 1991. It almost seems like 1989 was a watershed, with several bands finally shedding their stupid outfits and mid-life crisis haircuts and deciding to grow old gracefully, playing decent music that befitted their stature rather than the sort of tripe so many major record labels spent those years trying to shove down our throats.

The biggest and most pleasant surprises on this album were the return of Ray Thomas and his sappy flute playing (he also contributed a couple songs), and the presence of an actual orchestra backing the band on some of the tracks. "Bless the Wings (That Bring You Back)" sounds like the sky opening up after a spring rain compared to anything the band had done in years, and "Lean on Me (Tonight)" is a song I could actually see the group including on a Best-of collection, assuming that was a 2-disc set anyway. Sounds a bit like something Jeff Lynne would have had a hand in, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Not everything is rosy though. There's still an awful lot of programmed drum tracks, and even though less than half the songs have actual drums the band still felt the need for some reason to enlist someone named Andy Duncan to play half of those. And there are still flashback moments to 'The Present' and the horrid 'The Other Side of Life'. "Say What You Mean (Parts I & II)" can't be saved from its laughable backing vocals even with the guest horn section, and "Magic" just sounds, well, awkward. Patrick Moraz left (was fired) midway through the marathon recording period for this record, so there are several guest keyboard players that seem to account for the lack of general continuity on the album as whole.

But the closing "Never Blame the Rainbows for the Rain" is as close as the group would get to a cohesive Moodies ballad ever again. This one has everything; strings, Hayward's cozy voice and guitar fingering, strings again, and pretty decent backing vocals that sound like the Hayward, Thomas and Lodge of better days gone by. It's a very decent closing to a modestly good album and something of a swan-song on the band's career.

I'm going out on a limb by saying this record deserves three stars. If this had been released any time between 1967 and 1973 it would have merited no more than two, but given the damage done by the eighties this is a respectable recovery of sorts and should be acknowledged as such. Not a classic for sure, but worthy of a listen by serious fans at least, and possibly even good enough for those who just wonder whatever happened to these guys.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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