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The Moody Blues - Strange Times  CD (album) cover

STRANGE TIMES

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

2.58 | 59 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars The last true Moody Blues album turned out to be almost the Moodies 'unplugged' with it's lazy tempos and acoustic guitar playing along with Ray Thomas' bucolic flute and vocals from all four band members for the first time in years. The sentiments are sappy at times (these are the Moodies after all), but the feeling seems to be genuine and longstanding fans of the band should surely be able to make a connection with these songs. This isn't vintage Moody Blues music for sure and in some ways it sounds a bit more like some of the stuff Justin Hayward and John Lodge did as a duo, but if nothing else it serves as a respectful farewell album in tribute to 35+ year member Ray Thomas, whether it was intended to or not.

Beyond the rollicking opening track "English Sunset" these are all pretty laid-back tunes, with plenty of familiar characteristics in the songwriting to remind fans of what endeared them to the various Moodies in the first place. Hayward and Lodge alternate on most of the writing, with Hayward's songs setting up his lead vocals nicely in melodic fashion and with pretty conservative song constructions that emphasize guitar and a pedestrian beat, although at least it's nice to hear Graeme Edge actually playing drums for a change rather than programming them. And Lodge pens the more romantic, personable tunes full of reflections on personal relationships and the sorts of feelings that come from interactions with other human beings in the course of The Struggle. The Lodge tunes like "Love Don't Come Easy" and "Words You Say" tend to include snippets of synthesized orchestral sounds, although not much and certainly nowhere near the level of what the band was known for in their heyday.

And that's okay. This is a retrospective sort of album that was clearly intended to be something the band members would approach with the dignity their elder rock statesmen status accorded them.

Graeme Edge even contributes a song for the first time in nearly two decades, his last having been the chilling "22,000 Days" from 1981's 'Long Distance Voyager'. Here he serves up the closing track "Nothing Changes", a heartfelt if not quite accurate sentiment. And as he has done before he pens spoken-word poetic vocals that recall such Moody classics as "Departure" and "The Word". Ray Thomas also provides a song, the brief but characteristically folksy "My Little Lovely". In all this is a real group effort and comes across as a labor of love, which is the spirit in which it should be received.

I'd have a hard time rating this album by comparing it to other Moody Blues records, mostly because it doesn't sound much like a Moodies album either from their traditional days or (thankfully) from their forgettable eighties output. But as a collection of original Moody Blues music that would appeal to fans I have to say this is a solid recording which easily deserves three stars any possibly four. I'll go with three for now but it wouldn't be the first time if I revisited that at some point in the future.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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