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The Moody Blues - Long Distance Voyager CD (album) cover


The Moody Blues

Crossover Prog

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
1 stars The fact that they came back after three years after the previous disaster has not deterred them to make another blunder. They even got help from the Canadian MuchMusic video channel at the time and it probably sold correctly but it is best avoided. The fact that they brought ex-Yes member Patrick Moraz to replace Pinder did nothing for them. Speaking of Moraz , his best original work outside Yes is the soundtrack to Swiss Alain Tanner's 1971 black and white rebel movie called La Salamandre.
Report this review (#15746)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars I read many terrible reviews of this album, but what does people expect? We're talking about Moody Blues, an excellent band but semi prog' or Art Rock at the most.

Of course they have some poppy tunes but guys, please also remember, Long Distance Voyager was released in 1981 and we all know that the 80's was the worst decade for Prog' music.

In that year Genesis had released the infamous ABACAB, Yes had disbanded, rejoining after 2 years for the release of the mediocre 90125 and UK was dead and buried. In this context Long Distance Voyager is a breeze of fresh air in the middle of the desert.

The band had recently recruited Patrick Moraz, one of the most talented keyboardists ever, he was the same guy that in QPR made the audience forget Rick Wakeman was ever a Yes member, more classical and with better style, Moraz is a living legend.

If you add the compositional talent of Justin Hayward, and John Thomas powerful tracks, you get a very good album, maybe average in the 70's but absolutely outstanding in the 80's.

The Voice is a great opener, strong and atmospheric with perfect vocal combination, very good chorus and of course excellent keyboard, "Talking Out of the Turn" is more in the symphonic vein or more correctly in the Neo Prog style because it's softer and derivative of the golden era, but still correct song and good to listen.

"Gemini Dream" is weaker but still very good, the orchestral arrangements are perfect, much better that what they did in "Days of Future Passed" even if this sounds as an heresy.

"In My World" is a pretty average song, except for the chorus that keeps the interest of the listener. "Meanwhile" is a better song also poppy but with a few changes that makes it more interesting, somehow similar to Pendragon music.

"22.000 Days" is a very good track, more aggressive than all the previous, with some changes and a good bass and guitar work, the chorals are excellent. "Nervous" is just a filler that could have been easily mistaken with a Chicago song.

The next track is "Painted Smile", very reminiscent of Queen's softer stuff in "A Day at the Races", slightly ove the average.

The album ends with two tracks that are really one, because "Reflective Smile" works as an introduction for "Veteran Cosmic Rocker", a high point, strong rock song with correct keyboards and Arabic influences, very good closer.

"Long Distance Voyager" is IMO an album that offers mostly great vocals and keyboards, a bit uneven with various influences, but still we can find very good things.

If this album was from the 70's I would rate it with two, maybe three stars at the most, but being from the terrible 80's deserves 4 stars, among the best of the decade.

Report this review (#15748)
Posted Tuesday, May 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The return of the veteran cosmic rockers

With Patrick Moraz ensconced on keyboards, the Moody Blues came up with a really strong, diverse offering. There's more power to many of the tracks here than on previous (and subsequent) albums, and this combined with some first class song writing makes for a most enjoyable collection. Even slower tracks such as the excellent "Talking out of turn" have much more substance to them, mainly as a result of the combination Moraz keyboards plus orchestra providing the backing. As is the norm with Moraz appearances on Moody Blues albums, he never really takes the limelight, preferring to provide layers on which the rest can build.

The album opens with a typical up tempo number, "The voice" but the album has a better mix than usual of faster numbers and melodic ballads. Tracks such as "Gemini Dream" "Meanwhile" and "Veteran Cosmic Rocker" all find the Moodies pushing the pace along, while "In my world" is another fine example of the their ability to produce harmonious and melodic softer numbers.

A really fine album, highly recommended for those who enjoy this lighter style of music.

Report this review (#15747)
Posted Thursday, May 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Most fans seem to think that "The Voice" and "Gemini Dream" are the best songs on this album. In my opinion, "In My World" is not only the best track on the album, but perhaps the best track on any Moody Blues album released after "Seventh Sojourn" ("Blue World" is its equal, certainly, thought its arrangement is not a perfect fit). I can't think of another song they've done that is so beautifully understated in its arrangement. In addition, it's the only song of theirs that has an instrumental "ending" that doubles the song's length, and does so wonderfully. Note the almost Country & Western feel of Hayward's guitar solo at one point; yet another attribute that makes this song unique in their discography. So, how's the rest of the album? Well, I mentioned the other really good songs already, and there's a couple of others that aren't bad. The lyrical prowess of old was somewhat diminished by this time, though the music was still there. Light-years ahead of their current efforts, of course.
Report this review (#15749)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the Moody Blue's finest albums, on a par with the first seven! I won't go through each song separately, but my favorites are "Talking Out of Turn","In My World", "Nervous" and "Veteran Cosmic Rocker". These are all excellent songs, full of the classical/pop influences that made this band so good. There really isn't a bad song on the album.

Patrick Moraz contributes a tremendous amount to the success of this fine album. I feel bad that the band refused later on to acknowledge him as a member of the group, insisting that he was no more than a session musician that they hired! Ah, well, that doesn't detract from the music.

Report this review (#36001)
Posted Friday, June 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars On replaying some of my older CD's, I happened to re-discover this one by the Moodies. It has been a long time since I first heard this album, and was struck by how well the songs are written & arranged. Not strictly prog in the traditional sense, however, I would say this would appeal to most prog fans due to the influences hown, and the Moodies style always is there somewhere! The opening 4 tracks alone are worth investing in this CD for.
Report this review (#36766)
Posted Friday, June 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Excuse me but this is one of the worst albums I ever heard. There is neither a bit of a progressive mood, nor any real rock music attitude. No, I am not entirely against good light pop tunes, but this containes extremely bad light pop with weak ideas, music, songs, anything... So dull and boring. MD fans will of course have this in the collection, they will even try to pursuade themselves that it is not so bad, but all other listeners should first try with their classic 60s works. If you already have them and like them, stay there and do not approach this poor album!
Report this review (#36774)
Posted Friday, June 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Long Distance Voyager sees the Moodies return to form, some contemporary eigthies influences are incorporated in their music, but the music can compete with what they did in the late sixties and early seventies. Their style hasn't altered much, still soft lush arangements, with great vocal harmonies and steadily flowing soft pop-rock with a symphonic orchestrated foundation, and soft background keyboards, this time provided by Patrick Moraz.

With this Album the Moodies proofed they still had it in them to write catchie melodic songs, and if you like their earlier 'classic' albums than this surely will be an enjoyable album to get. Not the album to start with, hence only three stars, but good enough for me. Enjoy.


Report this review (#41904)
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm a big fan of the old Moodies, and I just picked this up. Yes, most of the old prog groups streamlined their sound for the 80s. This album ain't bad at all. The opening track, The Voice, is definitely the highlight, a Hayward mystical romp that stands with the best of their old material. Talking out of Turn is a typical bright Lodge rocker, and In My World is a lovely (but perhaps overlong ballad). The ELO-ish hit Gemini Dream is atypical for the Moodies, but good fun if you're in the mood for it. Only Ray Thomas's closing trilogy of songs really turns me off... old-timers wistfully reflecting back on the glorious sixties doesn't really do it for me...too cute by far. All in all, though, it's a good-sounding album on which they hadn't adopted the overly-techno pop sound of their later 80s albums. Moodies fans will find a few things to cherish on this album. And fans of 80s Genesis, Yes and Asia should pick this up immediately.
Report this review (#43437)
Posted Friday, August 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars REALLY: 3,35

It is with this album that I have uncovered The Moody Blues. Is however an album too commercial (on everything "Gemini Dream", "22,000 days", "The Voice" and "Veteran Cosmic Rocker"). To the same time is, in general, good songs, pleasant to listen to, like all those The Moody blues. One of the most pleasant album of 80's.

Report this review (#62818)
Posted Monday, January 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "Long Distance Voyager", the best Moody Blues work between "Seventh Sojourn" - the last of the classical 7 MB albums and the CD/DVD "Hall of Fame" and also very prog, if one takes in account the Moodie prog measurement system.

Regrouped with a new keyboardist, Patrick Moraz, talented and experienced, the band produced this long voyage, catchy and fairly audible. Again, the band made no concessions to actual trends, one will not find new-age, new-wave, new-new or new-nothing; it is only the simple and plain Moodie sound.

'The voice' is a great opener, with Moraz showing his claws and Hayward singing at his best; the touching 'Talking out of turn' was a radio hit, even with 7' plus, even with its dated sound, because it's Moody Blues and they can achieve it; 'Gemini dream' has great bass and keyboards; the inspired 'In my world' is spiced by slide guitar and pleasant vocal; 'Meanwhile' is another fair song as well as the rocky '22.000 days'; 'Veteran cosmic rocker' closes the album in a great manner, a manner of their own with a brief and exquisite introductory track which reminds the listener good moments of 60s MB's jewels.

As a whole singing and musicianship is well above the average, the entire work even with some weak tracks is worthy and recommended. After all, an excellent addition to any music (prog or non-prog) collection. Total: 4.

Report this review (#62904)
Posted Monday, January 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars This is the second album following the band’s first hiatus after the release of Seventh Sojourn in 1972. After the contentious release of Octave in 1978 Michael Pinder left the band and was replaced by Patrick Moraz, who was himself on a ten year hiatus of sorts from Yes. I can’t say as the change is really all that noticeable, except that the keyboards here are even more poppish than on Octave, and quite far removed in elaboration and complexity from the lush Moody albums of the 60s and 70s. Also, the rhythms on several tracks border on disco at times, and the orchestral backing the band was so renowned for on early albums is scaled back to mostly strings in what seems to be mostly a cursory role.

Long Distance Voyager did manage to yield the band their second and final #1 album in the States (and their third in Britain), along with hit singles in “The Voice” and “Gemini Dream”. This mostly is more a reflection on the desperation many of us felt in trying to find anything new in progressive music than it was any actual progressive tendencies in the music. Both are pop-oriented arrangements with annoyingly repetitive and trite lyrics, both traits of most 80s popular music.

Some of the other tracks were more interesting, particularly the Justin Hayward composition “In My World”. With its gentle acoustic guitar, mellow and moody strings, and emotional lyrics and harmonic vocal accompaniment, this one calls to mind older tracks like Pinder’s “Lost in a Lost World” from Seventh Sojourn, and Ray Thomas’ “And the Tide Rushes In” from Question of Balance.

John Lodge’s “Talking Out of Turn” has some funky keyboards and only mild string orchestration, and really comes off as an attempt at a mellow pop love song in the vein of Gino Vanelli, Rod Stewart, and about a hundred other singer-songwriters of the late 70s. Not a bad tune, just a bit ordinary for a band with this much potential. Kind of sounds like it was phoned in to the studio, so to speak.

“Meanwhile” is another song that wouldn’t have sounded all that out-of-place on Seventh Sojourn, an understated ballad-like tune with some sporadic but pleasant piano from Moraz. Overall this one had enough of the feel of a Moody’s classic that it could easily be played in a car’s tape player on a summer evening while trying to seduce a lady (and I can testify it worked).

The first time I heard “22,000 Days” I actually thought it might have been a holdover studio reject from Octave. It has that same feel of an awkward meter and dirge-like vocals set to an almost circus-like keyboard/guitar rhythm. The guitar riff is classic Hayward, so much so that I still find myself pointing it out when I hear it on numerous other older Moody songs.

“Nervous” on the other hand sounds like something Jeff Lynne would have written, and it wouldn’t surprise me even today to find out he had some hand in that song. Check out the affected vocals and choppy string accompaniment around the four minute mark and tell me you don’t think that sounds like something off of A New World Record.

The last three songs form some sort of trilogy about the carnival-like aura of a rock concert. Or so I’ve been told – not sure. I actually like the sound of “Painted Smile”, even though it sounds like something from a Broadway musical soundtrack. The lyrics are kind of sad, but the carnival sounds and what sounds like a tuba pretty much force a smile out of you regardless. The spoken-word short interlude “Reflective Smile” plays on that old tradition of the band to include poems and spoken themes in their early albums. But here the effect is simply used to form a transition to “Veteran Cosmic Rocker”. This final track must have been intended for a hit single, and has a rocking rhythm and upbeat tempo that was so prevalent in the hair-band genre around this time. But the Moodys can’t help but put their own stamp and sound on it, and the almost middle-eastern keyboard tracks in the middle made this stand out on the radio in the summer of 1981.

This definitely doesn’t rank among the Moody’s finest work, but considering it came out during the progressive drought known as the 80s, it should be given a bit of slack when it comes to critical review. I remember how happy I was to buy this in the early summer of 1981, and also that I must have played it at least 100 times that summer and into the fall. It has worked its way progressively backwards in my pile of old cassettes since then, and only gets played on nostalgic rainy nights when there’s not much else to do any more. Three stars anyway since I sure thought it was great at one time, but this is definitely not on par with the band's seven brilliant works released between 1967 and 1972.


Report this review (#85044)
Posted Friday, July 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Long Distance Voyager was a good return to form for the Moody Blues. To think they took an almost 6 year hiatus between 74-80 and released just two new studio albums in that period. But they still came back above all the punk and new wave and maintained a steady and loyal fan base. This album did not displease their followers but also tapped into a newer and younger fan base. Lighter by nature but still holding up with some great songs.' The Voice' as the opener is the highlight. Other tracks like ' In My World", Geminii Dream' and ' Painted Smile' are just as endearing.
Report this review (#131576)
Posted Friday, August 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars And so THE MOODY BLUES return with this epic album, having spent three years licking their wounds after the disaster that was 'Octave'. MIKE PINDER, spare part that he had become, had walked the plank, and PATRICK MORAZ hired in his place. Great choice.

His impact on THE MOODY BLUES cannot be overstated. Their sound is simply different: so lush, so polished, so finely wrought, that many critics dismiss this phase of the MOODIES' career as AOR baby food. Maybe it is, but it is so gorgeous I find myself eating can after can of it. Multilayered synths burbling, rising, sighing, soaring and falling behind some of the prettiest, strongest pop you're likely to hear.

Oddly, the album can be summed up by the cover. Such detail, with a little surprise for those who examine it closely. Rich, strongly coloured, an organic whole.

Stop right now if you're a prog purist. Don't buy this record, please, you'll be wasting your money and you'll give it one star. It doesn't sound progressive, and I'm not going to insult your intelligence by arguing that it belongs on this site. Were this the only album this band issued, you'd not find them listed here. But if you've a broader mind, if you're a collector and lover of beautiful things, carry on reading.

'The Voice' is a HAYWARD song and begins wth a MORAZ introduction that tells us something new is on the MOODIES' horizon. Yes, it did well in the charts, but this is not, and has never been, a negative thing. 'Talking Out Of Turn' is simply the best thing JOHN LODGE ever did, a thousand layers of music stengthening the man's reedy voice, HAYWARD'S guitar finally sparkling like we all knew it could. A splendid orchestral finale so slick you slip over listening to it. Yeah, I know 'Gemini Dream' is disco a la eighties, but it's so much better than the half-hearted LODGE rockers of the 1970s. So you don't like the sound of eighties pop? Take the prejudice out of your ears; you'll hear better. And what a beauty 'In My World' is: a four-minute HAYWARD ballad with a three- minute building outro of the very highest quality. Oh boy, don't I love it when a band I thought dead and buried climb out of their grave and do something better than before. I have tears in my eyes just remembering how I felt when I first listened to this.

Side Two doesn't quite measure up to Side One. Still, there's not a single duff track here, the first time in twelve years one could say that about a MOODY BLUES album. Three more than competent songs follow, and it's only when the last three tracks begin that you realise you've heard nothing from RAY THOMAS. PINDER is gone, and HAYWARD and LODGE do all the work - until the superb suite that closes the album. Incisive, deep and self-revelatory, these songs are the definitive statement of this talented man's musical life.

I'd love to give this album five stars, but in all conscience I can't do that on a progressive rock site. It's an album that divides the fans, bemuses onlookers and angers the critics, but it represents to me some of the best output from this band. You'll love it or loathe it, depending on your tolerance for music from this period. Reading reviews from albums released during the eighties, I'd guess that most of you will loathe it. Me, I'll just shrug my shoulders and get on with listening to it again.

Report this review (#141600)
Posted Tuesday, October 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A nice little album. A perfect example of a transition period for an "average" prog rock band from the heyday (70's) to the synth-pop decade (80's). The only other example of such transition (transition, but done so smoothly!) is TULL's "A" album. However, this one is less electronic and more neo-proggy, even with some traces of disco.

The album is good. All the songs are good, some better, some worse, but none of them a missed idea. Perhaps "In my World" is the best, slow-paced, meditative and pleasant. "22,000" days being a close second, with nice vocal harmonies. "Talking Out Of Turn" being a disco tune, more old-fashioned disco than a synth pop, but of good quality and, what's important, of good songwriting if you're into that kind of things.

As I said, all the song are good, I'm enjoying them all really...I will just point out two more: "Painted Smile" - which sounds like a sympho version of some Lisa Minelli's Cabaret tune, or some old-fashioned style rag from QUEEN's "A Day At The Races", or perhaps even (that might be the closest relation, both chronologically and, well, conceptually) like "The Trial" from the PINK FLOYD's "The Wall". Well, you get the picture. "Veteran Cosmic Rocker" proves that band members are veteran cosmic rockers indeed: a nice grand finale, and yes it's pretentious. Not on pare with the similar things done in the 70's (it sounds just a bit sterile and too edited) but nice job done.

Would you believe it, this album was my first contact with THE MOODY BLUES. This is encouraging me to check all of the sixties and seventies period, because I like it.

Report this review (#149523)
Posted Thursday, November 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have been MB fan since the very early days....and I would cast my vote for this being their most consistent and progressive effort to date.

I was lucky enough to catch the Moodies live in Chicago in 1981....and they did a wonderful job...This music holds up as well in live atmospher as it does on the disc....BTW...I also caught them live in 1978 and 1983.

As far as anything that followed....This album still holds as their most consistent...They didn't get into that pop synth thing they attempted (and failed miserably at) on a couple of their latter discs.

I agree that the 1980's was a vast asteland for prog wave was headling the bill everywhere...Anybody who knows music and who's been in the music habit for many decades, will tell you...Music goes thru fads and stages....Everything comes back around..eventually.

A final thought...I would recommend this disc to anybody unfamiliar with the MB's.. It is truly a testament to their continuing musical prowness in a very fickle and finicky industry, where even your most devoted audience and turn on you and become your wost critic .


Report this review (#165232)
Posted Friday, March 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Saw the latest review for this oldie but goldie. And I just had to add my two cents in. The rating as it stands does not reflect the actual quality of this record. In my opinion, it ranks up there with Days of Future Passed, In Search of the Lost Chord and Seventh Sojourn as classic Moodies. To cite Ivan, the MB are semi prog or at best Art Rock. So don't expect avant-garde or virtuosic performances. And if you did, that would just prove that you've never listen to a Moody Blues album. Anyways, to the actual music ... my fave MB track - In My World. One of my favourite songs, period. Pop, you call it. Pop perfection I call it. Gemini Dream is the song that got me into the Moodies. It was the first single, it sounded modern back then in the early 80s, and still does. But the rest of the album is made up of winners. Talking Out of Turn & Nervous easily being as good as anything they put out. So if your idea of prog is limited to King Crimson, or you absolutely need Dream Theater technical expertise, or psychedelic freak-outs, look elsewhere. But for lovers of lush symphonic sounds, this is the motherlode.
Report this review (#165262)
Posted Friday, March 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars After such a disastrous album ("Octave"), the Moodies could hardly produce a poorer work of course.

And while you listen to the opening number ("The Voice") you could almost believe that the band is back at their best level. But this feeling does not prevail for long. "Talking out of Turn" brings you back down to earth without any sweetness. One just falls down, down, down as hard as you could imagine...

If you can be enthusiast to hear some dreadful disco-ish song (just like ELO produced in the same period) you might LOVE "Gemini Dream". IMHHO, it is one of the best prototype of the Press NextT song. Dreadful, pitiful, whatever full you like.

At the end of the day, this album is not any better than its predecessor which means one star on my scale of rating. Just stay away from this one. To be honest.

At this time of their career, it was of course difficult to imagine that the Moodies would deliver a masterpiece, but such two poor albums in a row is difficult to imagine. Hence, they did it. Highlights are next to this album of course.

This "works" is only a collection of average (at best) songs. The only exception being the opening number as I have already mentioned. The Moodies pioneered the orchestrations combined to "rock" music in the late mid-sixties. They were superseded (IMHHO) by ELO a few years later (the early seventies). And they were willing to come back with style in the late seventies.

Needless to say that NO ONE needed this at the time (81). Sub, sub par and useless. Don't ever put any attention to this album. Waste of time, of money.

I am not as harsh as my fellow countryman Hughes, but the result of my analysis ends up on the same rating.

One star? Yes. There are no alternatives. Such a painful moment. This band is totally overrated IMO. Especially on a progressive music site. This album is only one more example of this. And the presence of Moraz doesn't add a single prog touch to this dreadful album.

Report this review (#165858)
Posted Sunday, April 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars After "Octave", the Moodys disappeared for over 3 years from the studio, emerging with a slightly better followup, both showing signs of past greatness and a newfound maturity.

In the "Old Moodys reborn" category are "The Voice", which would serve as the blueprint for subsequent album openers, and the dirge like "22,000 Days", which proved that Graeme Edge might have lost less than other members in terms of creativity, although it must be added his quota was a lot smaller.

In the mature, new sound Moody category are "In My World" and "Meanwhile", which show a reduction in sentimentality and an emphasis on more earthy themes. They are both strong offerings from Justin Hayward.

Then we have the numbers that inspire ambivalence - "Talking out of Turn" and "Gemini Dream". They are both good tracks - for some other band! "Talking..." is a bit too sappy, while "Gemini..." exacts some revenge upon Electric Light Orchestra for their unfathomable popularity achieved under the influence of Moodys while garnering undeserved praise from the very critics who put down the Moodys. So, it has some good moments and was a hit, which helped keep the group going. The less said about the drained Ray Thomas and his contributions the better.

While I wouldn't go the distance for this album, if you are heading this way anyway, it's worth the voyage.

Report this review (#192234)
Posted Sunday, December 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Patrick Moraz punches up what would have been a mediocre album.

This is an album that has songs of quite varied quality. I'm more than willing to admit that there are some low points here. Specifically, I'm not at all fond of Veteran Cosmic Rocker or 22,000 Days. Other songs (such as Gemini Dream and Talking Out of Turn) are ok, but are directed towards the general populace, not us loyal prog fans.

But I have to give this four stars because of two absolutely brilliant tracks. And both of those tracks (along with other less good tracks that I am not mentioning) are pumped way beyond their intrinsic merits because of the contributions of the newest member of the Moodies.

Let it be written: Patrick Moraz made the Moodies relevant to prog once again.

And those two tracks are The Voice and Meanwhile.

Sure, he did good stuff else where (Nervous and the Smile tracks come to mind) but his contributions to those two songs are nothing short of genius.

So four stars for a band that was smart enough to hire Moraz (but which eventually proved not smart enough to appreciate him.)

Report this review (#205622)
Posted Saturday, March 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Not a great album. But with great passion. And with Patrick moraz at Keyboards. This is a normal Prog POP album with two of my all time preferred song: "22,000 Days" and "Veteran Cosmic Rocker". Interesting, for me, is also "Talking Out Of Turn", a simple ballad.

Good for production and for arrangements, "Long Distance Voyager" is not a perfect album because too Rock and POP and too few Prog. But for A 70's Prog band in 1981 is a good album. Certainly not only for Prog and 70's Rock die hard aficiňnados. But, in truth, an album that disappoints me. Though I adore him.

Report this review (#259903)
Posted Friday, January 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Patrick Moraz gives the Moodies a sonic new sound. They were going for it on 'Octave' but successfully achieve it here with Moraz. So this album is splattered all over with sci-fi synths and vintage Moody melodies and lyrics.

At first listen, this album sounds great, but on repeated listens, most of these songs sound like catchy choruses repeated over and over and over again, and most of these songs lack a lot of the emotional fire that is usually found on a Moody Blues recording.

The only song that stands up over time is the exquisite 'Nervious'. It begins with gut- wrenchingly beautiful flute from Ray Thomas, that totally brings you to tears, and then the acoustic guitar strums gently and John sings 'Why am I so nervous?, please tell me why I can't speak' and this is genuinely touching. Also this is one song on this album that is sung with conviction and emotion. The rest of the album doesn't stack up, but a few tracks are solid enough to make this worth about 2.5 stars, and I will round that up because I like the Moodies (bloody fanatical fan!)

Report this review (#279560)
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Moody Blues made seven extraordinary albums in six years in the late 60's and early 70's, then broke up for half a decade and reunited with "Octave" which many fans found disappointing. Three years later, the band exploded onto the 80's pop scene with this lovely new album and exceeded all expectations.

They succeeded so completely despite a crushing blow: the loss of keyboardist and singer / songwriter Mike Pinder, who left the band to raise a family. Pinder was an extremely important part of the band's sound, but the Moodies simply re-invented their sound with new keyboardist Patrick Moraz (who had a stint with Yes). It is a little flashier, less haunting, and perhaps much poppier in places, but for me, their great song-writing skills and collective talent made this album shine. Another reviewer commented that it sounds good for an early 80's release and I totally agree.

"The Voice" and the Hayward / Lodge composition "Gemini Dream" became hits. In my opinion though, the biggest gems are "Talking Out Of Turn" and the gorgeous ballad "In My World". "Nervous" is another ballad and has some particularly nice verses. Graeme Edge added the riveting "22,000 Days" and Ray Thomas's closing trilogy, "Painted Smile/Reflective Smile/Veteran Cosmic Rocker" was a wonderful return of the band's old style of experimental rock which was always impressive and energetic.

This album is extremely uplifting, powerful, beautiful and inspirational. If there's one post- classic-period album that lives up close to those first seven greats, this is probably it! 4 stars.

Report this review (#412318)
Posted Monday, March 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars An fair-weather fan of The Moody Blues (I appreciated and respected their music but only ever liked a handful or two of their songs), I had to jump on the band wagon for this album because of the new "partnership (one that was to sadly go sour) with keyboard god PATRICK MORAZ. The chemistry worked for me as the now-keyboard heavy song production pleased me. Side one received its share of play-thrus during the winter and spring of 1982. Today I listen with interest but without much enjoyment--it sounds very dated in the typical 1980's way. Like always, the VANGELIS-like opening lures one in but then the semi-Country-Pop (Jimmy Webb-like) guitars, drums, and vocals take over.

Best songs: 2. "Talking Out of Turn" (7:18) (8/10); 10. "Veteran Cosmic Rocker" (3:18) (8/10) 8. "Painted Smile" (7/10); the AMERICA/ELO-like 7. "Nervous" (5:45) (7/10), and; 4. "In My World" (7:22) (7/10).

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Posted Thursday, March 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Continuing my reappraisal of a band whom I had not listened to for many years, I am extremely glad that I have. Long Distance Voyager is an album released in 1981, the first to be released without Mike Pinder, but recorded with the keyboard genius Patrick Moraz, who, regrettably after a massive falling out, was only classed as an "additional keyboardist" on later prints of the album.

Moraz was much more than that. His virtuosity and dynamic approach to music certainly lifted this great old band and most definitely contributed to one of their finest releases. Yep, I did say that, because, as I've stated many times, there was an awful amount of good prog and rock music about in the 1980's, and this is up there as one of the decade's finest, if, again, you can get past the fact that this band were never a "pure" progressive rock band, but, rather, the archetypal (with Supertramp) crossover prog band with very strong pop tendencies.

There is barely a weak moment here. The two most recognisable tracks, The Voice and Gemini Dream, are both joyful and thoroughly deserved to be hit records. They are intelligent pop/rock records with clear prog leanings, and certainly compared to much of the popular dross abound at the time they are pretty much priceless. They were also, if memory serves me right, the first two tracks played when I saw them live for the first time on the following tour.

There are also some extremely strong symphonic tendencies abound, and none more so than on the quite simply excellent Talking Out Of Turn, a track which features some marvellous Lodge vocals (before he lost his voice altogether), swirling Moraz keys, and a quite lovely contribution from The New World Philarmonic Orchestra.

Justin Hayward, though, provides this album's clear highlight. Indeed, In My World is one of the finest tracks the band ever recorded. Mellow, full of emotion, and crackling with repressed energy, this track is an utter joy and well worth the entrance price alone.

22,000 Days is an enjoyable romp, featuring a strong riff backed by some jazzy and exemplary Moraz keys. This is one of those tracks on which Moraz clearly made a massive difference creatively.

Ray Thomas barely features on the album until the seventh track, Nervous, but, boy, what an entrance. A classic Moodies sounding track, full of lush symphonies and clever vocal harmonies. It was worth the wait, and it is he who dominates the closing passages of the album in what are, in my opinion, his most consistently good and pleasing contributions to the band in his career. A lot of it is self depracating, and he was, by this time, very much a Veteran Cosmic Rocker, but all of it is hugely enjoyable stuff.

This is easily a four star album, an excellent addition to the band's canon, and very much enjoyable music 30 years on. Highly recommended as a decent starting point for those who wish to explore the band's music. Go on, enjoy. Ignore those purists!

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Posted Monday, August 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars My only chief reason to purchase the cassette version of this album because my prog friend told me that Patrick Moraz (Refugee, Yes) played keyboard right here with this release. My expectation was really high on it as I expected something like Sound Chaser in Yes Relayer or Grand Canyon of Refugee would appear as one of the tracks in this album. Unfortunately I was very disappointed as I got none of my expectations fulfilled. The music was just flat to me emotionally and I tended to feel like it's another bad album by The Moody Blues. Of course I was a bit impressed with the opening track The Voice (5:18) which is actually not a bad composition, continued with Talking out of turn (7:18) which in ways convince me that this album is different than the previous one "Octave".

But as I spin the album many times I feel there has been something missing with it, there is nothing that makes my emotion stirred by the music and I am very sure that this is caused by the lack of nice melodies across all tracks here. Yes, you can have good composition where this album has proven it. But it seems so flat when there is barely nice melody produced from the music. I only enjoy the piano or keyboard work by Moraz but there is nothing peculiar demonstrated from the 10 tracks featured in this album. So, this album is only suitable for those big fans of The Moody Blues or the Collectors. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#869633)
Posted Sunday, December 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am not sure why so many people have a "hate on" for this album. There are a couple things to consider when evaluating "Long Distance Voyager". After the commercial and critical disappointment of "Octave", this was quite possibly the last chance for the Moody Blues to become anything other than a nostalgia band. In addition, the year was 1981, and while crossover prog bands like Supertramp and the Alan Parsons Project would continue to have success for a few more years, other more progressive bands such as Yes, Kansas, Jethro Tull and Gentle Giant were in a tailspin, losing their audience or changing their sound...or both.

Surviving this period were bands that were able to take their progressive elements in a new, more pop oriented direction such as Genesis/Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and...The Moody Blues. Let's not forget that the Moody Blues were participants in the "music business", and once you have played Carnegie Hall, you typically don't want to go back to playing county fairs or small venues. That is not where the money is. Can you really blame musicians for selling out? Perhaps. Is it pointless to play the blame game? Almost certainly. Until you've made the big-time, music can be a difficult life. Once you've made it, it is hard to let go. Bands were...and usually still are...under a good deal of pressure to grow their audience (i.e. their customers) and satisfy their record company (i.e. their investors). For those of you who don't like it, you still have a genre of prog rock just for you, RIO.

With that history and economics lecture behind us, let's assess "Long Distance Voyager", shall we? Yes, the album does have a couple of songs that were crafted to be pop singles ("The Voice" and "Gemini Dream")...very, very good pop singles. Actually, most Moody Blues albums had one or two songs that were inherently pop singles, so this is nothing new and I refuse to hold that against them. The album is also home to the driving, march-like "22,000 Days", the romantic and beautiful "Talking Out of Turn" and the fun, self-deprecating throwbacks to their more psychedelic era "Reflective Smile" and "Veteran Cosmic Rocker". Other highlights include the haunting and beautiful "In My World" and "Meanwhile".

Everything on "Long Distance Voyager" is played with a high level of musicianship and is, from a production standpoint, the best sounding Moody Blues album up to this point in their history. The songs are very well written and as crossover prog, this recording easily holds its own against Supertramp, Alan Parsons and E.L.O. recordings of the era. Is it perfect? No. Is it "Days of Future Passed" or "On the Threshold of a Dream"? No, nor should it be. That era had passed. Music and the Moodies had moved on, even if their hardcore fans hadn't.

Isn't life strange? I somehow got through this entire review without even mentioning Patrick Moraz. ;)

Report this review (#935828)
Posted Tuesday, March 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I find the years from 1979 to 1981 to be a very interesting time period, especially in the realm of progressive rock music. The wide open, anything goes spirit that characterized the 70s had been muted by the emergence of punk and New Wave, both of which turned up their noses at any form of music that relied on unconventional structure or complexity to make an impression while the highly infectious and destructive MTV virus had yet to be unleashed without restraint upon the populace. So it remains an awkward era of uncertainty that benefited some prog groups but disemboweled others. Prog juggernaut Yes had hit rock bottom with 'Tormato' and were struggling to regain respectability with a new lineup and a fresh sound as evidenced on 'Drama.' Pink Floyd had made a bold parting statement with 'The Wall' but they were in the process of fracturing apart for good due to ego-driven infighting. Genesis had made a bit of a comeback with their stunning 'Duke' but then indicated to their fans that the call of commerciality was irresistible for them on 'Abacab.' Jethro Tull was busy moving away from their folk rock roots on 'A' and ELP was still gone with the wind. Not all was lost, however. Rush became a force to be reckoned with via 'Permanent Waves' and 'Moving Pictures' while King Crimson continued to ignore trends and push boundaries with 'Discipline.' But, in general, the magical aura of innovation had left Progland and had drifted out to sea.

This brings me to the Moody Blues, an influential band that had stuck to its trippy, psychedelia-drenched guns a little too long and, in the process, had acquired the stagnating tag of being adorable has-beens from the 60s and early 70s. It's not that they had become less talented; it was more a matter of their ambience, outlook and approach growing too predictable. They still sold a respectable amount of product but they were far from being the attraction that filled arenas worldwide. Many of the members of the band had produced solo albums along the way, further depleting their stock tank of song ideas. Following their 1978 release, 'Octave,' they experienced their first roster change since '66 when keyboardist Mike Pinder left the building. They were fortunate enough to find Patrick Moraz standing in the unemployment line. While I don't consider Moraz to be of the exceptional caliber of an Emerson, Wakeman or Lord necessarily, he did have a knack for re-energizing sagging entities. Just look at what he did for The Nice and Yes, keeping them from falling off the face of the earth (at least for a while). His presence and enthusiasm did wonders for the Moody Blues as evidenced in what he added to 'Long Distance Voyager.' I'm convinced that, if not for Patrick's positive contributions, this revered prog ensemble might have dissolved into the ether.

The dramatic intro that opens the album and 'The Voice' may be typical of their well-established cosmic motif but it's also reassuring in a good way. Too much change all at once would've been unnerving. This Justin Hayward ditty is a light but enjoyable pop composition that succeeds in retaining the band's patented charm while it avoids patronization. Moraz's playful peccadilloes go a long way in adding some much-needed sparkle to their sound. Bassist John Lodge's 'Talking Out of Turn' is next, featuring a brief but intriguing synthesizer-heavy overture bolstered by a real orchestra. While the tune itself is mediocre I can still appreciate the group's willingness to employ then state-of-the-art studio techniques, especially in their stacked vocal harmonies. It possesses a sizeable depth-of-field and a sophisticated symphonic score, as well. Hayward and Lodge co-wrote 'Gemini Dream' wherein Da Moo Bloos get funky now. The dance number comes off as a cross between ELO and the Bee Gees and, while it toys with being trite at times, it steers clear of outright tediousness due to its clever arrangement. Justin's 'In My World' follows. A gorgeous acoustic 12-string guitar sets the perfect mood for another one of Hayward's poignant ballads. I'm no fan of steel guitar per se but B.J. Cole's incidentals on the instrument are tasteful and welcome in this particular case. Patrick's synthetically manufactured chorale effect blending with their voices is very effective and I like how they allow the song to breathe and expand towards the end.

Justin also penned the other highlight of the album, 'Meanwhile.' A bouncy intro leads to a somewhat unexpected minor key chord progression that establishes a noticeable tension in the presentation. The result is that what could've been a happy-go-lucky fluff piece projects a melancholy vibe due mainly to the sad lyrics that keep it relevant. Drummer Graeme Edge puts in his two cents worth with '22,000 Days.' His plodding beat pattern gives the tune a sullen but strong foundation that grounds it solidly. It's a so-so number but I do like the way they tweaked the EQ on the bridge vocals and the song's overall message is timeless. John's 'Nervous' owns a pastoral coloring and I detect a palpable Jeff Lynne influence wafting within that never stoops to the level of blatant plagiarism. Therefore, the song is consistently satisfying throughout. The last trio of compositions come from their resident flautist, Ray Thomas. I've always had reservations about his work because they more often than not have an air of 'Broadway Stage Musical' about them that is off-putting to me. I know it's a matter of taste but I'm just being honest. 'Painted Smile' emits a circus atmosphere that fits the song's 'I'm nothing but a clown' subject matter appropriately but it nudges into the area of being contrived. 'Reflective Smile' is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment that consists of a nostalgic soliloquy spoken over a carousel air. The triad culminates in 'Veteran Cosmic Rocker,' a passable number that offers a sarcastic assessment of their role in the rock & roll industry. Thankfully Patrick is given a chance to stretch out for a spell and do what he doeth so competently. The tune ends with a revealing phrase that answers the question of how and why the band has endured. 'He's afraid that he will die,' croons Ray.

'Long Distance Voyager' hit the record bins on May 5, 1981 and ended up in the #1 spot a few weeks later, reviving the Moody Blues' legacy and bringing them back into the spotlight of popularity before the public. While it certainly is an improvement over what they'd been putting out since their remarkable 1970 high-mark achievement, 'A Question of Balance,' this album is one that I must rank as being stuck somewhere between good and excellent. For followers of the Moody Blues this was a delightful surprise that proved to be a shot in the arm for their career but for the uninitiated it might turn out to be a disappointment. It can go either way. Different strokes for different folks, as the song goes but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt because of the uncertain era it was created in. 3.5 stars.

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Posted Saturday, October 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Moody Blues took an unwelcome path with their record "Octave" toowards more straight and ordinary pop rock music. They did nice melodies and sung well but the music was quite uninteresting as well as the cover. Perhaps the band thought that prog was dead and a time for a new music had come. But, by some reason the change was wrong and the band went back to intriguing and comprehensive pop rock instead, and now they went back to have a lot of progressive elements there too. In 1981 they did their tenth record and the cover picture was marvelous again. Now it was painted in a light blue colour and we see a picturesque scene of the countryside. It's idyllic and beautiful and their most aesthetic since 1969. Now the line up had changed a bit. Michael Pinder was gone and former Yes member Patrick Moraz took over the keyboard tools. Moraz made the musical sound a bit different, more electronic and virtous but less mightly and churchlike. Beside Moraz there where no change: Hayward, Lodge, Thomas and Edge still hung around.

My favourite track on the album is "Painted smile" which is an idyllic piece which could be played on a vacation in the summer and I like the warm vocals and the rich background with circus feeling(8/10). The last track "Veteran cosmic rockers" is fast and rough and the vocals are mighty and sound almost like Greg Lake(8/10). The first "The Voice" is also fast and I do like the poppy swing(8/10) and "22.000 days" is well played, deep with great keyboards(8/10). These are the best tracks and the edgy "Gemini dream"(7/10), the poetic "Nervous"(7/10) and the spoken parenthesis "Reflective smile"(7/10) is also better than just good. Overall is the sound of this record mighty and it's music full of great details and even the not already mentioned tracks are beautiful, at least partially. Definitely The Moody Blues had gone in a good direction and took their music a step further. "Octave" doesn't fit in amongst their high quality records but "Long Distance Voyager" sure does it. I think it's one of my favourite Moody Blues records actually. Four stars!

Report this review (#1113932)
Posted Monday, January 13, 2014 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
3 stars [Disclaimer: towards the end of this review I make some speculations about the band's personal motivations behind the songs. Please note that these are only speculations on my part, and not based on any real knowledge of the musicians' lives at the time. I am, however, serious about my speculations, and mean no harm in voicing them]

Unlike many of the classic prog albums, this is an album I was THERE for, bought on its day of release back at the age of 12 in 1981, and although I'd never rank it as a classic, it's an album I know by heart, and so thoughts come easily and freely when thinking of what to say. My elder prog colleagues here at Prog Archives may fondly remember that day in their youth when they took their horse and cart to the local trading post to buy the first copies of CAN's Monster Movie, likewise I was there and remember the fuss (by me, anyway) over this release.

I had spent most of the last decade (age 2-12) listening to mostly Moody Blues albums, and after the pretty good but underwhelming Octave three years prior, this album seemed even at first glance to be a more exciting proposition. For one, there was a new guy on keyboards. I remember buying a copy of Us magazine with the Moodies on the cover, talking about Mike Pinder's replacement Patrick Moraz, who had been in a group called Yes. I'd heard that band's name before, but it didn't mean much to me yet. It was mainly what I heard every night when I asked my mom, "Do I HAVE to go to bed now?" (rim shot).

Okay, side one: immediately this album announces itself proudly with the magnificent single "The Voice", a classic Justin Hayward tune that is inspiring, melodic, has a lovely guitar solo, and deserves its place on the list of greatest Moody Blues songs of all time. It's classic stuff, everything you like about the band is in there somewhere... except the Mellotron, of course - they'd retired that a while back - but Moraz fills the gap with keyboard washes that blend in well with the guitars. Best song on the album? Actually, batting second, John Lodge's "Talking Out of Turn" gives it a bit of a challenge in that respect. A baroque string arrangement over a simple rhythmic pulse makes this one of the least-dated songs of the era, sounding even contemporary today. And as a ballad, it's one of Lodge's best. Lodge and Hayward collaborate on the next tune, "Gemini Dream", a transparent attempt to cash in on some of that disco crossover gold enjoyed by the likes of ELO (sounding not unlike their excellent "Last Train to London"; I think the song is even similarly about nightclubbing). It's a decent tune, but even in 1981 at the age of 12 I had to say "huh?" a little bit. Then Hayward closes a strong side one with the latest in a long line of Hayward ballads (most recent winner entries: New Horizons, Driftwood), "In My World", and though it goes on a tad too long, it's a beautiful number.

Having front-loaded the first side with the songs with hit potential, side two shows some other sides of the band. Even Hayward's opening "Meanwhile" is kind of a quirky song for him, with almost a jazzy riff and vocal in the verses, followed by anthemic bridges and choruses. Not a highlight, but functions as a signpost telling the listener that side 2 will not merely be more of the same. Case in point: the next track is by drummer Graeme Edge - the only guy in the group that doesn't sing, and most of his contributions in the past have simply been his poetry bits, spoken by the departed Pinder - and is about mortality, entitled "22,000 Days" ("it's not a lot! it's all we got!"). It's a strong tune, not a knockout but certainly different from what's come before. Lodge then weighs in with another ballad (come on John, where's the rock and roll you're known for? And no, Gemini Dream doesn't count) about a troubled relationship called "Nervous". It's heartfelt and an improvement over the last album's similar "Survival" (also song 3 on side 2, how about that). And then the album's over.

Wait, no, where's Ray Thomas? He hasn't written or sung anything yet. Ray Thomas of the happy childlike songs about frogs playing tambourines and eating lamb on Sunday, what have you this offering? What? What's wrong, Ray? You look a little down. Yes, the last three songs on the album are a mini-suite written and sung by Thomas, and boy are they bitter, even shocking. "Painted Smile" is Ray's take on the "sad clown behind the happy mask" theme done by so many artists before (e.g. "Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles), but this one really made me wonder what was going wrong in his life. And it's not just sad; it's angry at the audience for indulging him, and it's self-pitying and humiliated for pushing on in the rock world past his prime. Likening himself to a jester implies that he sees his role in the band as nothing but a sideshow; and indeed, he always had to play second fiddle to Hayward and Lodge, and even Pinder, and it's clear his confidence is low. The music is a macabre sort of marionette waltz dance, with Thomas's strong vocal wrenching out all the bitter drama he can muster. This leads into a short linking track, "Reflective Smile", which is a recitation over circus music, furthering the "clown" motif, but with a very twisted vocal, suggesting a descent into madness. This is the Moody Blues?

Finally we get the hard dance-rock of "Veteran Cosmic Rocker" (this time a bit reminiscent of ELO's "Showdown"), which further drives home Ray's dismal caricature of himself, the washed up old has-been rocker, hanging on for dear life to a rock world he has no business being in any more ("he's afraid that he's going to die"). The venom in Thomas's voice is so palpable here, it almost strains off pitch in spots, he's just "going for it", as if this were his last gasp. Well, he wasn't done yet, but in a few years his role would finally be limited to backup vocals and tambourine, and singing the obligatory "Legend of a Mind" in concert. And that's a shame... Ray Thomas provided a key ingredient to the band with his 2 songs per album, frequent flute playing, and strong vocals; after this album, we would only hear increasingly watered-down Hayward and Lodge songs, a situation that quickly produced diminishing returns. One of my favorite things about the band growing up was how all 5 of the members contributed and (with the exception of Edge) sang lead; the eventual obsolescence of Ray Thomas was foreshadowed and the process begun with this album.

Probably the last album by the band you really need to own; it's quite good and offers a couple of classics surrounded by good-to-very-good songs. It offers the same variety in voices and styles that characterizes their classic seven albums (1967-1972). The Mellotron is missed, but apart from that it's very much a typical Moodies album, and worth having.

Report this review (#1146606)
Posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Lush, beautiful art rock ponders time

When I first obtained the cheap, mass produced cassette tape from the Columbia music club in the summer of '81 (20 Records or Tapes for 1 Penny!!!) I was not a Moody Blues fan. I was a kid who enjoyed hearing "Gemini Dream" on the radio and added their cassette to my order. It didn't get much play. I never expected my revisit to this sometimes maligned title to yield much love, but a more mature appraisal than I would have given it then says LDV is indeed quite a finely crafted piece of music. Certainly there is some truth to the criticism it gets: it is a safe and softer art rock that pushes toward the mainstream more than their old albums, which themselves were not exactly all that dangerous. The percussion strikes me as much too canned at times. Yet despite all the criticisms I think it is consistent, well constructed, melodic and just plain fun art-pop music. Throw in the beautiful and thoughtful artwork and it makes a nice package.

Boasting two successful radio hits in "The Voice" and "Gemini Dream" LDV was a huge commercial success which gave the band a rebirth of sorts. But there is so much more here. "22,000 Days" sounds almost Beatle-esqe in places as it ponders how short our lives are and how we shouldn't waste time. Hayward puts together a nice pair of tracks with "In My World" and "Meanwhile." Lodge contributes a longer artsy track in "Talking Out Of Turn" and the more inward and sullen "Nervous." The album is unusual in that most of it flows well until the last six minutes when Ray Thomas' track are tacked on, almost like an afterthought. One gets the feeling he was somehow less appreciated, and yet in the view of many, his slightly off-kilter and more theatrical pieces do their job in bringing some strangeness and excitement to a band that otherwise plays it a bit too safe.

Despite my reluctance toward the more mechanical sounding percussion, LDV excels in creating a lush and rewarding sound and arrangement. All of the guitars and bass parts are tasteful and layered with care. Moraz is frequently coloring each track with an array of cool keyboard and synth parts, he is the secret weapon on LDV. Some tracks are further dressed with lovely string arrangements from the New World Philharmonic. Rolling Stone described the sound as an "elegant soufflé consists of silkily strummed guitars and gossamer Mellotron and keyboards, capped by a host of agreeable, charcoal-mellowed vocals. They manage to fill every small hole in the sound with a kind of comforting, pea-soup sonic fog. Like the Genesis of Wind and Wuthering, the instrumental weave here is so tight, the strands so densely and artfully stitched into the fabric..." -Parke Puterbaugh

The final lines of Puterbaugh's review reached the same conclusion as my own. This is a charming release that was "terribly unhip" but why judge it in those terms? It was and remains a reflection of a pastoral and melancholic longing some people have, of memories and curiosities of times past, as well as taking stock of the present. The themes and content seem a perfect fit for the luxuriously crafted, dreamy sound the Moodies have dealt them. In essence they understood where the material was going and they succeeded quite brilliantly is presenting it with a top-notch sense of grandeur, while at the same time managing to make the tracks catchy and appealing beyond their core audience. And it may be that very crime which many proggers will not forgive them for, but in my view the Moodies have always been on the warm milk side of prog. They balance the conflicting interests as well as anyone could in that time and place-and for the most part LDV is an excellent album.

A special mention to some incredible art work on both the front and rear cover. They carry this over to small drawings on each lyric page and it creates a great bond between the written word and the music.

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Posted Saturday, March 29, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the murky tentativeness of Octave, the band sounds much more positive and musically confident on this offering. Long Distance Voyager and its followup The Present represent a post-"Core 7" high water mark for me that the band was never able to quite match up to again going forward. At the very least, of the material they released after the "Core 7", these are the two studio albums that I continue to come back to the most.

"The Voice" was a huge hit and deservedly so. Is it prog? Not really. But it's a very melodic, energetic pop song with a few progressive overtones, and it's catchy as all get-out. Great guitar solo by Justin Hayward here too.

"Talking out of Turn" was a start to the ballads that John Lodge would start to compose more and more as time wore on. This particular ballad is quite well done. Orchestration adds a lush feel to the proceedings, and the song remains memorable even if it might be a shade too long (the guitar, again, is outstanding here).

A lot of people really dislike "Gemini Dream". I get it. If I started from Days of Future Passed I would probably hate it too. But this was actually the first MB song I ever heard, and being 8 or so at the time I kinda liked it. And I kinda still do. (Sorry to anyone who doesn't like reading this last paragraph - I'm not exactly proud of it either).

"In My World" has some countryish guitar and some beautiful backing vocals at its end (prominently featuring Ray Thomas). Thomas' vocals on tracks other than his own (unlike The Present, where other than his own songs he only gets a lead on "Going Nowhere" and no discernible backing vocals whatsoever) definitely drive up the quality of this album for me (although his decreasing instrumental contributions continue to be a disconcerting trend).

"Meanwhile", despite no Thomas contributions whatsoever, is probably my favorite song on here. It has moving lyrics of resignation and moving on, and some fantastic keyboard work (particularly the electric piano) from Patrick Moraz.

"22,000 days" is Graeme Edge's contribution to this album. All three of the vocalists are singing, though Thomas again seems to be higher in the mix. It's a bit of an oddball track in the midst of the more lush, melodic material mostly here (it's a grinding rocker with a heavy drumline), but it's weirdly catchy, and Thomas gets a nice harmonica solo in the middle.

"Nervous" is another Lodge tune enhanced by an orchestra. Thomas' flute provides a nice lead-in, and the song has beautiful choruses and a great ending, although the verses, while pretty, don't exactly grab you. Still a nice song overall.

The album ends with three compositions from Thomas running together. "Painted Smile" is a weird offering apparently about a clown trying to appease his audience while being quite unhappy himself. Perhaps a reflection on how Thomas himself often felt at the time. It's musical tragicomedy, and while not particularly memorable it shows he still had his whimsy. "Reflective Smile" is a poem bridging its surrounding tracks together, which is hardly essential but not overly annoying either. "Veteran Cosmic Rocker" is an autobiographical piece, with Thomas often substituting "I" for "he" in numerous spots when performing the song live. It's a rather savage-sounding rocker, and the "he's afraid he's gonna die" lyrics (including a similar quote at the end of the song) add to a feel of unease. I'm not sure if I like it or not - but it's certainly memorable.

So, overall? A lot of fun. Not perfect and certainly not to the standard of most of their late-60's/early-70's work, but highly enjoyable nonetheless. The synthesizers are melodic and tastefully used; the guitars are heartfelt and clear, the drumming is well-done and the vocals are top-notch. Four stars.

Report this review (#1558130)
Posted Monday, May 2, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars The eightieth decade of the 20th century was a bittersweet one for progressive rock music. Bands started to morph into those that easily conformed to the general demand, basically going opposite of what their genre would suggest them to be. In the midst of this change bands fell left and right, abandoning the artful essence they once had. Of all of them, however, one band remained slightly static. This band of course was The Moody Blues. It seemed with Octave that the band would follow this direction and, with their slight cheese that was present on every single one of their albums to date, that they would fall the hardest. This was funnily enough not the case.

You see, the Moodies were always pop-oriented. Their most popular albums had very innocent, tawdry songs that always had a large dollop of sophistication. Thus when the 80's made it's offer of synth-laden echoes with a cheeseball attitude, the Moodies took it and flourished. Thus, 1981's Long Distance Voyager was born, replete with fully painted cover. Hayward's airy warble is turned up to ten, background vocals get louder, and the orchestral mannerisms get more pronounced with help from The New World Philharmonic Orchestra. The floatier tones (mainly from the keyboard) on this album all sort of complement the band's penchant with the ideas of time and space, seen very clearly on this album. Like many other Moodies albums, the album is rather varied, featuring the cheesy ballads like 'Nervous', but also the groovier songs like '22,000 Days' and 'Veteran Cosmic Rocker'. My tastes for this album are generally the same as they are for other MB albums- the rockier songs are usually more enjoyable, but every song's subtle sense of refinement gives them each a unique charm.

This is doubtless one of the best prog albums in the 80's done by classic bands. The Moodies show great promise, and my only hope is the other albums of the decade from them are just as good as this.

Report this review (#1592963)
Posted Saturday, July 30, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm not a huge Moodies fan; the only album I had before this one is Days of Future Passed. (I've acquired several more since.) Based on the singles "Gemini Dream," "Talking Out of Turn," and "The Voice," I expected Long Distance Voyager to be solid, commercial pop/rock. While not as artsy-for-art's sake as Days (whose artsiness I generally enjoy), Long Distance Voyager is also not nearly as commercially driven as I thought it'd be. "22,000 Days" and "Veteran Cosmic Rocker" have more in common, to my ears, with "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)" than they do with "I Know You're Out There Somewhere;" the hits (I include "Meanwhile" here) have aged well; and even the more balladish "In My World" has grown on me. Things bog down a bit toward the end ("Nervous" and "Painted Smile/"Reflective Smile"), but on the whole, it's as consistent as Days of Future Passed.

Its early-80s release date and the fact that it spawned some successful singles probably make Long Distance Voyager suspect to many prog fans. But the Moody Blues always sought to have hit singles, and I think that the group is accurately classified here on Prog Archives as "Crossover Prog." Long Distance Voyager is really no more or less "progressive" than the average Moody Blues album of the 1960s or 1970s.

Overall, this is a high-quality album, well produced, with good songs. Not a masterpiece, but recommended for any progressive rock fan.

P.S.: Long Distance Voyager is Patrick Moraz's first LP with the Moody Blues. His playing seems somewhat restrained, and is pushed back in the mix. Given the generally tasteful string arrangements, this actually works well. Anyway, if you're looking for the follow-up to Relayer, keep looking.)

Report this review (#2151353)
Posted Saturday, March 2, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars I know I need an asbestos suit to say this, but it is my favorite album from the Moodies. I have all of the big 7 albums too but there is always a couple of tracks with really cringeworthy lyrics on each. Not that these are the greatest lyrics, but I'm not cringing either. After they took some time off and Mike Pinder quit the band, the Moody Blues returned with Octave. To me it seemed to be a bit tentative but on the follow up, Long Distance Voyager, swung for the fences and it really paid off. When the Moodies are at their best, they have input from most everyone. Stalwarts Justin Haywood and John Lodge also have a major writing contribution from Ray Thomas as he wrote and sang on the last 3 songs of the album. Grams Edge wrote the rocky track 22,000 days and although Patrick Moraz didn't have any writing credits, this album has plenty of interesting keyboards. The album had 2 big hits in Gemini Dream and The Voice, but hit singles are not new to the Moodies. I think it is the rest of the album that make this an excellent album. My favorite track on the album is Talking Out of Turn a wonderful track by Lodge but this is a very balance and well recorded album.

LDV is a synth pop album but this is a prog site and there is very little of it here. This is a solid effort by the Moodies worthy of a 4 star rating. 4 stars

Report this review (#2281620)
Posted Friday, November 15, 2019 | Review Permalink
2 stars I don't know why this album achieved critical acclaim. The songs are very average, apart from "In My World", which is a beautiful Justin Hayward ballad. The Voice has the makings of a reasonable Hayward rocker but the synths of Patrick Moraz are all wrong for it. In fact I find a disconnect between the pleasant ballads and rockers that The Moody Blues write and the keyboard style of Patrick Moraz. I also can't fathom why you would need to do a string arrangement for the John Lodge song, "Nervous" when you have an electronic mini-orchestra present in the form of Patrick Moraz. The best said about the three Ray Thomas songs that conclude the album is that as a song writer, Ray Thomas makes a very good flutist. As for the song that Graeme Edge wrote for this album, 22,000 Days, it might be fast and edgy, but it doesn't come close to say, Higher And Higher, from the To Our Children's Children's Children album. John Lodge is the only one in the band who can challenge Justin Hayward as a song writer but here he fails to add much life. However he has similar sensibilities to Justin Hayward, so makes a great foil as a contributory song writing partner.
Report this review (#2308801)
Posted Thursday, January 23, 2020 | Review Permalink

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