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Hayward & Lodge - Blue Jays CD (album) cover


Hayward & Lodge

Crossover Prog

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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars J is for..Just sensational!

Between 1972 and 1978, the Moody Blues took a break from recording together. While "Seventh Sojourn" had been an excellent album, it had apparently been "difficult" in terms of the internal relationships within the band. They continued to tour together, but chose to work on solo albums, and collaborations with others outside the group.

While the Moody Blues were nominally a band of equals, Justin Hayward and John Lodge always dominated the song writing, and performances. These two decided to continue to work together going on to create an album called "Blue Jays" (a play on the name of the band plus the first letter of Justin and John).

"Blue Jays" is the best album the Moody Blues never made. Despite the absence of three of the band members, it has all the hallmarks of a Moodies album, Hayward's distinctive vocals and guitar work, perfect harmonies, strong melodies, and even orchestration by Peter Knight (who had first worked with the band on "Days of Future passed"). There is a coherence and magic to the album which sets it apart as a criminally under recognised masterpiece of its time.

Usually, I choose to mention a selected number of key tracks from an album, to give a flavour for the contents. Here though, every track is worthy of note.

"This morning" an appropriate title for an opening track, is composed by Hayward, who writes or co-writes all but three of the tracks. The song has a deceptively complex structure which builds twice through three distinct melodies to a harmonic climax. A clever twist is used here, whereby the guitar work is used to pull back from the vocal crescendo, and return the music to a softer starting point from which to rebuild. The track runs off with some superb guitar work from Hayward, before it segues into "Remember me my friend". The use of segues to merge tracks on Moody Blues albums is one of the distinctive qualities of their albums, and continues to be used to great effect here.

"Remember me my friend" is the first of just two compositions to bear joint song writing credits. It combines punchy but sparse verses with a great hook in the chorus. The track ends with an increasingly fast guitar solo which too quickly fades. Strangely, on the cassette version of the track the solo is allowed to continue for more than a minute longer before fading.

"My brother" is a slightly softer ballad, with a really strong melody which led to it being released as a moderately successful single. It differs from the first two tracks in that it has a constant pace throughout. "You" is the first solo Lodge composition on the album. It has a slightly softer but strongly melodic vein, with more of Hayward's fine guitar work. In fact, those who find Hayward's guitar sound to be among the best in the business will find "Blue jays" to be something of a holy grail.

"Nights winters years" closes the first side with a "Nights in white satin" style ballad by Justin Hayward with powerful orchestration, and a climactic finale.

"Saved by the music" once again has a multi-part structure. Starting softly, with gentle verses, it gradually builds to a much faster chorus akin to "I'm just a singer" from "Seventh Sojourn". The pace is dropped for each of the three verses, the final one being a brief refrain from the first which then builds more dramatically to the final chorus. That final chorus is then delayed by a flute segment (a cameo by Ray Thomas perhaps?) before finally bursting through and concluding with Hayward and Lodge singing "This time we're... Saved", holding in a high harmony on the word "Saved". Oh and Hayward slips in a wonderful guitar solo between the second verse and chorus too! My words here do not adequately describe the wonderful structure and performance of this track, but hopefully give a hint of the magic at work here.

Hayward's vocals are at their most emotional on "I dreamed last night". The song has echoes of the earlier works of the Moody Blues, around the time of "In search of the lost chord", being supremely melodic, with classic harmonies. It flows seamlessly into "Who are you now", a brief soft ballad, haunting in its simplicity and with a beautifully reflective lyric to match.

"Maybe" is in the mould of "Isn't life strange" with slow sparse verses building to climactic choruses. Peter Knight's participation comes to the fore here , as he unleashes the full spectrum of the orchestra to bring the track to a climactic conclusion.

The final track on the original album, "When you wake up", drifts in with floating verses with an almost lullaby feel. these are abruptly interrupted by the louder, lyric free choruses. Hayward and Lodge display the full force of their classic harmonies one last time as the album fades to a glorious conclusion.

The CD version of the album includes "Blue guitar" as an extra track. This was recorded by Justin Hayward assisted by 10CC, and released as a single under the "Blue Jays" name. It fits in well with the album, with some beautifully melodic guitar, and of course Hayward's fine vocals.

As you'll have gathered by now, this is a mightily impressive album. The luxurious gatefold sleeve of the LP presented one of Phil Travers most beautiful illustrations. The album also contained a fold out lyric sheet with a further Travers illustration. Had it born the Moody Blues name, which it could easily have done, "Bluejays" would undoubtedly have ranked as one of their best, if not THE best. If you enjoy the music of the Moody Blues, this is an essential album.

Report this review (#32695)
Posted Friday, September 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Certainly the best side project/solo album any of the boys ever produced, and better than any Moody Blues album to come after its release. Roughly half the album is A-list material, and the rest isn't bad. The addition of orchestral instrumentation is a plus, not a hindrance. I'm surprised that none of the recent live albums producd by the Moody Blues included any of these songs, because doing so might have led more listeners to discover this brilliant effort.
Report this review (#32696)
Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Blue Jays" sounds even better now than when it was released in LP form in the 70's. This really is a Moody Blues album, and a great one at that, without any twaddle. The 2005 Moody Blues' "Gold" compilation justifiably includes two Blue Jays songs on its two CD's.

Peter Knight's orchestration and Hayward's guitar soar here. The songs do not usually follow the verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus format so common in rock songs, and the variations are delightful. Following Moodies' tradition, often orchestration forms the bridge.

Nobody does nostalgic longing better than Hayward and Lodge.

Report this review (#32699)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you are a singer you want to harmonize with each track. If you play a instrument your pulling your hair out to play every nuance. There is not a bad track on the album. Plus another great moody album cover.the words and arrangements are simply amazing.I have been singing playing guitar off and on for forty years. I did not start buying moody blues albums until 1972, i had listen to there radio releases previously and enjoyed them.
Report this review (#32701)
Posted Wednesday, May 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The New Rolling Stone Record Guide (published in 1983) dismissed this out of hand as a mediocre Moody Blues album. If they listened to the record before reaching that conclusion, they needn't have. In their jaundiced world, there was little place for plaudits in the Moodies canon, so they stuck a blue ribbon on the obvious choice (Days of Future Passed) and snuck past the other animals thinking no one would notice. On the surface, Blue Jays would seem to be the Moodies at half mast. But it soars, simply soars. The songs are more intimate than their work as a band, equally ambitious (an orchestra appears on several tracks) but infused with a keener sense of melody and form. In fact, Blue Jays sounds very much like a very good Barclay James Harvest album. Both leaned on the minor key legacy of The Beatles, and it's easy to imagine songs like "Remember Me, My Friend," "You" and "My Brother" spilling from the pen of an inspired George Harrison. The opening "This Morning" is a harbinger of good things to come, swelling with melodic invention. Without a strong unifying theme (loneliness, friendship, love and the search for an intangible answer are familiar themes on Blue Jays, but the same could be said for most Moodies albums), Blue Jays lacks the grand statement of a Days of Future Passed or On The Threshold of a Dream, but it contains at least as many good ideas (and maybe more) than those albums. I'd rank Blue Jays right up there with the Moodies most successful forays, especially if you couldn't wait for the next Justin Hayward or John Lodge track to roll around on those albums. The pair seem interested in returning to their pastoral roots on Blue Jays, so don't expect anything as agitated as "I'm Just A Singer" or "The Story In Your Eyes." Instead, relax and ride on Blue Jay's back by wings of strings and a tail pointed in the direction of pure melody.
Report this review (#47562)
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars By 1974 the (real!) Moody Blues had been together for 7 long intense gruelling years. After 7 top-drawer albums and now a seemingly everlasting world tour they were jaded and more than ready for a break. Justin Hayward convened with Mike Pinder at Mike's ranch in USA to initiate some recording, but after both John Lodge and then Tony Clarke had become interested, Pinder dropped out of the project. Thus was born the Blue Jays, a Moodies spin off album that would keep us more than happy for a while.

It has rightly been opined that Blue Jays is the missing link between Seventh Sojourn and Octave. Like a true Moodies album, it fits nicely into the gap, being perhaps a little more free flowing than Seventh Sojourn yet not as disjointed as Octave. Perhaps the key is the presence of long time producer Tony Clarke whose unique style helps to root Blue Jays firmly in the Moody Blues camp. Yet some key elements are absent: Ray Thomas's rich deep voice; Mike Pinder's Mellotron; and a more varied songwriting. In their stead we are treated to an orchestra, three members of a string quartet (violin/cello/viola) and a pianist all of whom add some wonderful textures to the album.

I must here applaud the remastered CD (Decca, 2004) for its amazing clean sound quality and superb clarity courtesy of Paschal Byrne. Numerous small details become apparent, even down to bows rasping across cello or viola strings, and individual voices in harmonies. A brilliant job which really involves you in the music. This is not such an easy task because of a typically full and busy production, especially the trademark multi-layered vocals of Hayward and Lodge. But nothing is sacrificed, those gorgeous rich sounds are still there and as enticing as ever.

This Morning gets the ball rolling, a soaring Hayward speciality with a complex multi-sectioned developing structure full of vitality and energy, yet that mournful catch in his voice exuding pathos and heartache. It is both the best song on the album and also a statement of intent, laying out their stall for the next 40 minutes or so. Hayward's guitar work on this track, as indeed on the whole album, is amongst the best he has done.

After such a fantastic start, Remember Me brings the adrenalin level down a couple of notches to a more gentle song with a lovely melody and the 'string quartet' in evidence, though I find over-repetition of a simple chorus has me hovering over the FFW button. My Brother, too, is a fair song, apparently a barbed note aimed at Mike Pinder, another mid-paced romp in similar style to This Morning but not so majestic. So far the main voice heard has been Hayward's, but You brings Lodge to the fore for the first time. This is a typically gentle Lodge song, made memorable by an excellent sympathetic arrangement on which both musicians play lead guitar.

Nights Winters Years is the first of two big voice-with-orchestra songs, featuring orchestrations by Peter Knight. This is Hayward's contribution and my least favourite track on the album. It is done exceptionally well of course, but it goes on a little too long for my taste. Saved By The Music is a stonking return to form from John Lodge. Fundamentally an up tempo song very reminiscent of In Search Of A Lost Chord, yet it features a slow quiet verse building into a wonderful ensemble piece full of swooping guitars, flute and cello.

Hayward's I Dreamed Last Night initially drops the pace again to a quieter lilting level, before slowly building throughout a long verse structure to a final crescendo complete with orchestra. Who Are You Now is another timeless Hayward classic, essentially an acoustic arrangement in the mold of I Never Thought I'd Live To Be A Million but with the addition of an excruciating blissful cello solo and some stunning vocals. Next is John Lodge's turn to sing along to the orchestra on Maybe, which has a more adventurous arrangement than Hayward's effort, though the orchestra can be a little overpowering.

The finale of the album proper is yet another classic. When You Wake Up has Hayward drifting "a little further to the stars", initially with some acoustic instruments but building to a great rousing climax awash with Moodies trademark sounds, and topped by guitar soloing in an extended coda to fade. Of course, the 2004 re-issue doesn't finish there, as Justin Hayward's solo single Blue Guitar is tucked on at the end as a bonus. This too is a fine song in its own right, though somehow it doesn't quite belong here ....

So, does Blue Jays sit comfortably alongside the Moodies discography as a prized and highly recommended piece of work? Definitely! Do we miss the other three musicians? Well, sadly, no not really. The very high standard of songwriting on show, and the energy with which Hayward and Lodge undertook this project, suggest the others may have diluted the effort had they been present, that Hayward and Lodge felt a sense of release from the shackles of the parent group, to enable all this extra creativity to burst forth.

The saddest thing about Blue Jays is they didn't repeat it, deciding instead to go on to solo projects before resurrecting the old band. In my opinion, only once more would they come anywhere near the heights of creativity and excellence achieved here. This therefore remains as a little enigma, almost the last flowering of the great period of Moodies world domination. It is, of course, absolutely essential to all Prog lovers!

Report this review (#81202)
Posted Thursday, June 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Should it be the Moody Blues missing piece? Well, could be, why not? We know that in the last 30 years the two moodies, Justin Hayward and John Lodge, who signed this album have gotten the band's leadership. Songs from BLUE JAYS are included in Moody Blues compilations and are presented in their live concerts. Also the sound, the instrumentation, the general atmosphere remember clearly an MB output. Not a great mistake if one says this is a Moody Blues work!

Hayward & Lodge & guest musicians gave definitely a moodie flavor in BLUE JAYS, well, a bit more poppish than the usual, at least for the release date, but it's easy to notice it now, since we all know the history - The Moody Blues that had always flirted with pop, via ballads and love songs went through marriage and the commitment ceremony happened certainly here. However, the result is above average; the mentioned Hayward and Lodge are talented guys: great musicians and fine singers too - all concur to produce an enjoyable album.

"This morning", the opening track, brings some smells of classical MB stuff; the guitar riff is very characteristic although singing pace has a style much more heard in years/albums to follow. The following track, "Remember me, my friend" is audible but offers little and the next track, "My brother", even balladesque, has fine arrangements and fair vocals.

Next three pieces are very pop ones: "You" is pleasant and soft, with another great orchestration and some rock spices. "Nights winters years", with its pompous symphonic touch is a clear attempt to re-create a new "Nights in white satin" (starting with the title), but we know that the lightning only hits the same place once. "Saved by the music" is fair and agreeable, hence forgettable.

"I dreamed last night" continues the general panorama seen in the last tracks, mellow vocals, few challenges to ears and minds. "Who are you now?" is truly a beautiful love song, not prog but somehow uplifting in spite the sad lyrics - there's a hope a happy end will occur finally; also string arrangements are worthy. The orchestral approach returns in "Maybe" with a beginning reminding us old MB's stuff or maybe Procol Harum just to leave room for a somewhat dull lullaby; metals accompaniment give no help to the song.

"When you wake up" is the proggiest song in the album, it certainly could fit DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED extravaganza. Now a sense of deviation, defying and disillusion is clearly felt together with great singing, fine guitar playing and once again accurate strings and piano presence. "Blue guitar" finishes quite well this release, a nice farewell to make us forget some less illustrious moments of the album.

Wouldn't it be Prog Archives and this album could be rated high, but being it not the case I would rate BLUE JAYS for collectors/fans only however one cannot deny that it's a good work, although not essential. Final rating: 3.

Report this review (#89312)
Posted Saturday, September 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the best album the Moody Blues did not make.

Blue Jays clearly illustrates how well Hayward and Lodge could work together in that time. Therefore it remains such a mystery why the guys never came to produce a successor for the great album. For great it is! "This morning" starts so mellow and beautiful that the listener is either totally under the spell of this album or he will never get the magic at all. The acoustic guitar, the harmony, it is simply brilliant. Unfortunately Hayward and Lodge don't succeed in maintaining that high quality of song writing during the full album. Yet there is much more to enjoy. Listen to "My brother", "Maybe" and "When you wake up" and the beautiful English countryside opens up before your eyes. "Nights, winter, years" is a bit too much for my taste, as is 'Saved by the music'. Therefore I will not grant this album 5 stars but actually 4.5 stars. And that last half a star is earned by the fact that the only single that Hayward and Lodge released, "Blue guitar", is included on the album. Go and listen to this more than enjoyable album!

Report this review (#95265)
Posted Friday, October 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Great to see this album on the site. I had no idea ( Maybe I should read the sleeves more) that Eric Stewart/10cc had such an influence on the production and engineering on this album. It is as people say like a lost jewel in the Moody Blues reportoire. Stands up there with their finest studio albums. The whole album is excellent although the closer ' Blue Guitar' my personal favourite.Other great tracks are ' My Brother', the fragile ' I Dreamed Last Night' and ' Remember Me ( My Firend'. This is like Steve Hacketts- Voyage of the Acolyte or David Cousin's - Two Weeks Last Summer, both worthy 'band' studio albums in their own right as is the Blue Jays.
Report this review (#104102)
Posted Thursday, December 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Just got this from yesterday. My, my, this takes me back! I bought it back in '75, when it first came out, and I was stunned at the time over the sheer musicianship, the songwriting, the orchestration, the production and Justin's guitar. The tracks run into each other which tends to add to the album's completeness, in my view. My cd is the remastered version, and it sounds really crisp coming out of the speakers. Every track is wonderful, and the album is easily comparable with the best work the Moodies ever did. As commented on already, this does in fact sound uncannily close to a Moodies album. 'This Morning' is a highlight, the guitar work especially standing out and a very emotional melody in both verse and chorus. 'Remember Me (My Friend)' is softer, with nice acoustic guitar at the beginning, though the harmonies here are a little fragile in places. 'My Brother' is a mid-paced track that has another wonderful melody, whilst 'You' is ridiculously catchy, with the piano work in particular worth mentioning. 'Nights Winters Years' is the big ballad on the album, Justin singing it with full orchestral backing. This is classic Haywood material and goes down a treat, especially on dark winter nights, in front of an open fire. (Ours is gas, unfortunately!) In fact, the whole album has a wintry feel to it, or late autumn at least. 'Saved By The Music' is probably my least fave track, simply because the verse is almost child-like in its quality, especially in the vocals, maybe too simple for me, but the chorus is memorable, and, as the song fades, you hear that wonderful Haywood guitar soloing out nicely. 'I Dreamed Last Night' is another highlight. More acoustic guitar here, with a strong melody, and gorgeous harmonies in the chorus. Percussion work, here and throughout, is top notch. 'Who Are You Now' is quieter, with gentle acoustic guitar the predominant instrument. Another introspective Haywood song, with effective harmonies again. 'Maybe' is another orchestral-backed ballad, this time sung by John. He doesn't quite have the strength in his voice that Justin has, but he sings it well enough, and the song fades out nicely with some good instrumentation. Then fades in the third highlight, 'When You Wake Up', which was the B side of the single 'Blue Guitar'. This track is full of Haywood's guitar work, beautifully played, winding its way sinously through the track. The melody is strong, and the chorus is climatic in character. Finally comes the bonus track, the aforementioned single 'Blue Guitar', which starts with some absolutely superb spacey guitar from Haywood, before leading into yet another strong melody, and ending with more excellent guitar. This is a shorter track, and strangely doesn't feature John Lodge at all. But it fits nicely on the album. It has been wonderful revisiting this album, and it is recommended for anyone who wants to listen to strong melodies without any pyrotechnics or metal riffs. In fact, it is recommended for anyone who has the Moodies albums and would like to hear another one! Four stars.
Report this review (#104251)
Posted Saturday, December 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars It used to be my favourite album of all times, but the long-neglected criticism starts percolating to my mind and sobering my wiew now. Yes, the album is a bit monotonous, paradoxically enough, as the promising pre-conceived notion was to render each track in a different key and tempo. Still, the arrangements reek of sameness, which makes it a bit hard to sit the whole album through.

Which is sad, because the compositions are brilliant, and the level of the performers' emotional attachment seems to be even higher than on the previous Moody Blues albums. The harmonies are impeccable (especially in the rocking "Saved by the Music"), and the lack of Thomas' and Pinder's voices is hardly felt. The moving "Who Are You Now?" even manages the mellotron in the background, and the other tracks are rejuvenated by the presence of a string quartet and sometimes even a french horn player (which is a welcome addition to the Moodies instrumentarium). The overall feel of the album is very bright, but this is not flat or market-induced optimism. There are two Hayward-Lodge collaborations (the first instance of such a credit ever), both of which are classic Moody Blues tracks. In fact, each of the songs (with the exception of Lodge's "Isn't Life Strange" rip-off called "Maybe", which is undercomposed and underperformed vocally but overarranged at the same time) could adorn any of the core-7 Moody Blues album. Replace "Maybe" with "Suitcase' off Hayward's second solo album, wipe the Hollywoodish "Nights Winters Years" finale and you might get the greatest prog-related spin-off album ever!

Report this review (#113927)
Posted Thursday, March 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you are a fan of The Moody Blues' classic era in the late 1960s and early 1970s, then Justin Hayward and John Lodge's Blue Jays is a must album for you. It maintains the sound of the Moodies from Days Of Future Passed through Seventh Sojourn. Hayward and Lodge utilize the Moodies' producer, Tony Clarke, some of the songs are orchestrated by Peter Knight, who orchestrated the Days Of Future Passed album, and even the cover art is done by Phil Travers, who illustrated six of the classic Moodies albums, from In Search Of The Lost Chord through Seventh Sojourn. Blue Jays has a mix of ballads and upbeat numbers, typical of a Moody Blues album. When released in 1975, while the Moodies were on hiatus and doing solo work, Blue Jays was treated by fans as a new Moodies album. Hayward and Lodge subsequently went on to record solo albums that were a bit more of a departure from the classic Moodies' sound. But Blue Jays marked the beginning of Hayward and Lodge as the performing and songwriting duo who would front the Moodies after they reformed in 1978. The Blue Jays CD release also includes the single Blue Guitar, which was originally recorded by Justin Hayward and 10cc, with John Lodge and Tony Clarke later adding their touches.
Report this review (#118900)
Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This CD is an incredible masterpiece. There is not one track that I don't like - - and most of them I LOVE. Seriously. Justin's and John's vocals are strong, soulful and thought provoking.

I've only had this CD for a few weeks. I now listen to it every single morning before going into work. It's inspirational to me and helps me start my day on a thoughtful note.

As I said previously, I really love each and every track. My personal favorites are Remember Me (My Friend), You, Nights Winters Years, I Dreamed Last Night, Maybe. Those are the songs that stand out for me....PLUS a special note about Saved by the Music:

This song is beautiful and more upbeat. I fell in love with it - but wasn't sure about the chorus. Simple and to the point. I want you to know, after hearing it 3 or 4 times, I started going to work humming this song to myself. Couldn't get it out of my mind. This song has a different twist and I, too, LOVE this track.

Justin and John, in a way, are made for each other. If you believe in destiny, this is it, folks.

Report this review (#127256)
Posted Sunday, July 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This absolute treasure was written while The Moody Blues' were on hiatus between 'Seventh Sojourn' and 'Octave'. Every single track on the album is melodic, moody, deep and rich. With the Moodies' long-time producer, Tony Clarke, at the mixing desk, it is hardly surpising that this sounds like a Moody Blues album, although it is actually quite different in many respects.

For those who love Haywards profound ballads and Lodge's airy harmonies this is a must hear. There is something different about each song and there are interesting choices of backing instruments (pipe organ and trumpets on 'Maybe' to a simple string quartet on 'Who Are You Now?' to the rocking guitar and piano on 'Saved by the Music'). "My Brother" and "I Dreamed Last Night" are big heartwarmers, drenched with emotion and lyrical imagery. Who can sing of the bittersweet pain and promise of love like Hayward?

I could often compare the songwriting combination of Hayward and Lodge to the quality of Lennon-McCartney. I once read a reviewer describing this pair as the masters of mellow rock. I don't believe anyone can write songs as beautiful as this anymore. There is nothing too deep or philosophical in the lyrics, just a blend of voices to paint with sound on the canvas of imagination. The wonderous harmonies here are good for a romantic evening in front of the fire place. It's a fantastic album that never tires of listening too - several times in one sitting! Every Moodies fan must have this in their collection. 5 stars.

Report this review (#412321)
Posted Monday, March 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I cannot imagine why I did not buy this record when it came out somehow it passed me by. So somewhat later, I have finally given this record the plays it deserves, and frankly its wonderful. I always liked the M.B's but found some parts of their music a little irritating , they were a band that everyone seemed to respect despite some embarrassing moments.

Blue Jays, seems to be free of such defects of style, and is closer to the brilliant Seventh Sojourn than any other moodies recording. The inclusion of Blue-guitar is a real bonus and tidies up nicely.

A very pleasant album that demonstrates the very skilful writing of haywood and Lodge.

Report this review (#450575)
Posted Saturday, May 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Call them sickly-sweet, sugary or slushy. Call them too melodic, over-produced or over-arranged... Call them whatever you will, I do it. And, in spite of all the adjectives, what beautiful songs these two did gather here! And not just so, they even make them progress and evolve an enrich with brilliant guitar solos and trade-name vocals and heavenly choirs...

Do indulge yourself once and for all with this splendid album. The quality of the raw material is so good it will instantly make you forget about the corny presentation..and, what the hell, there is also a corny (hidden) side in us all which now and then wants to be released... or is it just me?

Anyway, do not tell anybody, but get this Cd. You will not get disappointed if you liked The Beatles and The Moody Blues.

Report this review (#629159)
Posted Thursday, February 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Saved by the music from pain, fear, and sorrow.

Recorded during a six year long hiatus between Moody Blues albums, Hayward and Lodge out Moody their own band. Each and every song is filled with lush orchestrations, plaintive vocals, heartfelt lyrics, and haunting melodies. Indeed, it seems there was very little chance of the Moodies reconvening during those years. Symphonic orchestrations are more apparent than on any Moodies album since Days of Future Past, even more so, and more grandiose, for in that iconic album there was much a trade off between orchestral and band tracks, while here the orchestra is fully integrated into the songs. We can separate the tracks on Days and get a bunch of good songs, but we cannot do that here and still have the same music. All of the songs are either slow ballads, where the orchestrations really make their mark or mid-tempo rockers, Saved by the Music being the liveliest of the bunch, which are enhanced by the orchestrations. The chanting vocals of the closer, When You Wake Up, brings the album to a satisfying climax. I do not have the more recent CD release where a song Hayward recorded with 10cc, Blue Guitar is featured. To be honest, I am not sure if I want it, the album closes off so well in its original form (but then again, the cassette tape I have this on will eventually wear out). If the lusher, more romantic side of the Moody Blues interests you then you have to get this album. If not, then avoid at all costs. Myself, I enjoy it a great deal. There is really nothing like it that is better; in other words, it is the best of its genre, as long as we don't confuse it with a Moodies album, and even then it stands up well.

Report this review (#821419)
Posted Saturday, September 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars The keyboards (and in particular mellotron) which were hallmarks of the Moody Blues sound were absent for this album, recorded by Hayward and Lodge to fill time during the Moodies' mid-1970s hiatus, and in their place is a string section backing which gives the album a sound reminiscent of classic baroque pop releases of the 1960s. The overall effect is close enough to the duo's Moodies compositions that the album will appeal to listeners of that band - indeed, it's a sufficiently good companion to their Moody Blues work that few fans would want to be without it - but it's definitely its own entity at the same time.

Equally, it's hardly an essential entry in the Moodies story - it boils down to Hayward and Lodge trying to keep the band's soft prog formula bubbling just a little bit longer, and it had already been feeling a little tired out before the band took their hiatus.

Report this review (#996500)
Posted Friday, July 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars The years 1967-1972 produced seven classic albums of THE MOODY BLUES and had not given much time to have a break. After The Seventh Sojourn the band didn't exactly break up, but the members felt the need to have some distance from each others. (An anecdote tells how they used to give numbers to their jokes: -"Number eight." - "Hahahaha...") The most prolific song-writer Justin Hayward however started to feel the urge to get back into the recording studio, so he stayed at Mike Pinder's home in Los angeles hoping to make some music together. Soon also John Lodge and the producer Tony Clarke wanted to join, which made Pinder to withdraw from such re-grouping. The long and winding process resulted in an album that definitely deserves its place in the MB legacy.

Additional musicians were hired from groups of the Moodies' own label Threshold, dor example string players from the American Providence. The one thing that clearly separates Blue Jays from the MB output is the absence of Pinder, Ray Thomas and Graeme Edge. Clarke is again a master as the producer, and the orchestrations for three songs were written by Peter Knight, the man they worked with on Days of Future Passed.

Over half of the songs are by Hayward whose song-writing pen was in good shape. The duo shares credits for two songs, of which 'Remember Me (My Friend)' Clarke edited down to 3˝ minutes from the original nine minutes. Lodge's own compositions are 'You', ''Saved by the Music' and 'Maybe', all rather romantic songs but in my opinion slightly from the better end of his output. No, nothing as gorgeous as e.g. 'Candle of Life' (1969) but at this time the vintage Moody Blues magic was of course more or less left behind.

The whole album's atmosphere is soft and emotional, but not commercially sentimental as the latter day Moody Blues tend to be. The oroginal album release was followed by the single 'Blue Guitar'. Hayward's basic track is a collaboration with the 10cc musicians, dating from 1973. That laid-back, dreamy song is naturally included in the album's CD release. Even with the absence of the original quintet's synergy and many-sidedness in song-writing, Blue Jays beats almost anything released as the Moody Blues since their comeback album Octave (1978). Before Octave each member released solo album or two. Only Justin Hayward has made a considerable solo career, starting with a good album Songwriter (1977).

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Posted Sunday, January 5, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Moody Blues were at the top of their game in 1974 when they decided to take a break from their continuing efforts of world domination. Their previous album, Seventh Sojourn, had gone straight to #1; their 1967 signature hit Nights in White Satin had re-emerged at the top of the charts; and the band had just completed a hugely successful world tour. But after a string of seven hit albums in a row, many critics felt that the band had run its course; their output becoming repetitive and stale. I didn't agree. I was more than happy to see them continue to do what they were doing - writing highly melodic appealing music, drenching it in Mellotron, and assembling it into a progressive format.

To keep the band happy, all five members were given solo recording contracts from their parent label Decca. Guitarist/vocalist Justin Hayward and Mellotron pioneer Mike Pinder chose to team up together for the first of these non-Moody Blues projects to be recorded between 1974 and 1977. After some initial meetings, Pinder however got cold feet and was replaced by Moody Blues bassist John Lodge. The resulting album, Blue Jays, produced by longtime Moody Blues alumni Tony Clarke, was the first of the 'solo' albums to emerge.

There is a reason why this album is currently rated higher than all of the Moody Blues albums here on Prog Archives - including their landmark album Days of Future Passed. It is because Blue Jays is a flawless masterpiece of symphonic rock. Every track is beautiful, magical, and timeless. Even the cover art (front and back) is mesmerizing. Despite the absence of Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas, and Graeme Edge, the album still manages to sound like a Moody Blues album. To make up for the loss of the Mellotron (it does make one appearance on the gorgeous Hayward penned track Who Are You Now) Hayward and Lodge employed three real string players from the band Providence, a symphonic folk band signed to the Moodies' own Threshold label. If that weren't enough, a full symphony orchestra was brought in for three of the album's tracks (Nights, Winters, Years; I Dreamed Last Night; and Maybe) which was arranged and conducted by Peter Knight who had done the same for the band's Days of Future Passed album. Needless to say, the overall album has an extremely lush, classical feel to it. And when combined with Hayward's trademark sustained/distorted guitar leads and the Hayward/Lodge vocal harmonies, the sound produced is simply heavenly.

From the opening notes of This Morning (one of Hayward's most powerful compositions) to the closing guitar solo of the Hayward/Lodge joint composition When You Wake Up, the music of Blue Jays will take you to a place you can only dream about. The CD release features a lovely Hayward solo bonus single co-produced by 10CC called Blue Guitar which continues down the same path as the parent album.

While there is an ongoing debate as to the Moody Blues' place in prog, I can only offer my own personal perspective. This is the album that inspired me to really get into prog. And the rest, as they say, is history...

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Posted Wednesday, October 8, 2014 | Review Permalink

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