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The Moody Blues - December CD (album) cover


The Moody Blues

Crossover Prog

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3 stars A Moody Blues Christmas album!

In my opinion it`s a good album (but half of it is really for the fans). Songs like White Christmas and Happy XMas (war is over) should be left alone, eventhough Justins voice is always a pleasure to hear.

In my humble opinion the A Winter`s Tale version on this album surpasses the original by David Essex.

As i said half of the album is for the fans, so therefor i give it three stars.

I like it!

Report this review (#47432)
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars An album from a prog band where the listener shall not find much prog (or even proto- prog) to listen to since songs were made for a specific date: Christmas!

Otherwise the album is pleasant to hear and combines almost perfectly with the event. Orchestrations are fine as well as vocals and playing by band members mainly Justin Hayward, a good guitar player and an excellent singer though sometimes forgotten when a list of best vocalist is made.

There is no weak song since they are all classics and with MB's talents they grow intensely. Songs 'A child is born' and ''Yes I believe' are the album's peak. If one has no idea for a Christmas gift then may choose this work without regrets.

Like this album is non-essential for prog-fans I'll give it 3 stars.

Report this review (#57506)
Posted Tuesday, November 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars As a long-time Moodies fan, this was truly a great Christmas present from my wife! The songs are produced quite well, although I wish some of the songs had been cross-faded in the old Moodies fashion. The orchestral backing is very good.

Even though it is billed as a Christmas album, it has a number of songs that would stand on their own outside of the Holiday season, including my favorite, "December Snow". Justin's voice is as beautiful and strong as ever, and his unique guitar work (which he also gets little credit for) winds its way through most of the tracks. It's great to hear John and Justin singing together again on "When a Child is Born" reminds me of the old Blue Jays days! John sings a couple of songs on his own, and I was pleased to hear the stength in his voice as well.

My only regret is that Ray Thomas coudn't have been on hand to add his mellow low voice, and wonderful fllute, especially to "In the Quiet of Christmas Morning", although the session flutist does quite well. I certainly like their version of "Happy Xmas" more than Lennon and Ono's!!

I would certainly recommend this album to any Moodies fan as an essential , and anyone else who wants another chance to hear Justin's incredible vocal talents. This is certainly a great seasonal album, but one I plan on adding to my iPod for all-year listening.

Report this review (#62720)
Posted Sunday, January 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Christmas is nearly upon us again, so what better idea than to review a Christmas album by one of my favourite bands. Wrong! "December" represents everything I hate about Christmas music - warm, cosy, mid-slow paced ballads for feet-up minced-pies and brandy-glow, a bunch of formulaic originals and second-rate cover-versions [just what is the point?], swamped in orchestral schmaltz and an over-generous splattering of sickly-sweet gloss ..... and those horrible tinkly-bell keyboard sounds. If Pinky And Perky ever released a Christmas album it wouldn't be worse than this easy-listening middle-of-the-road nonsense. The Moodies were once a great band, and still pack a mean punch live [see 2005's 2CD set Lovely To See You - Live From The Greek if you don't believe me], but on this evidence the fires of creativity are nothing more than a few smouldering embers.

There aren't any real highs. Opener 'Don't Need A Rain Dear' is the best of the bunch, a typical Hayward ballad-by-numbers that at least has a bit of get-up-and-go about it. It is all downhill from there, though it doesn't have far to go down! - 'December's Now' [slow ballad .... yawn], 'In The Quiet Of Christmas Mourning' [Bach goes to Birmingham], 'On Some Other Christmas Day' [harmless], 'Happy Christmas (War Is About To Start Somewhere)' [short on pathos but mercifully short in length too], 'Winter Stale' [Hayward 'does' David Essex - one word springs to mind .... WHY?], 'Sherry At Christmas' ["where did the spirit of Christmas go?" sings Lodge in an infant-school tune - oh please, do us a favour ....], 'Yes I Probably Believe' [not .... instantly forgettable formulaic ballad - erm, what was it again?], 'When A Child Is Bored' [quick, nurse, the screens .... ], 'What Christmas' [given a bit of zest but Hayward isn't Bing .... nuff said really], and 'In The Freak Midwinter' [aaaargh!].

Please don't waste money on this, even if you are a Moody Blues fan, unless you really must have everything they have done, or are desperate for a bland backdrop to the Great Present Opening ceremony or post- Queen's Speech blues, or you need something to drown out grandad's annual war reminiscences or Uncle Henry's whisky induced snores. In a word - YEUK!

Report this review (#103386)
Posted Sunday, December 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars To put things into perspective, I am not really thrilled each year around the Christmas period. Probably due to my (non) religious feelings.

I remember having reviewed a similar Tull album with two stars. But Tull is one of my favourite bands. This album is a collection of useless music IMO. But I'm biased. I only appreciate two X'Mas songs.

One is massacred here in the cover version of the great John Lennon. Do yourself a favor: never listen to this crappy Moodies one. Such a P.I.T.A. The only good thing about it, is that it is shorter than the excellent original.

Of course, if you are into such mellow mood about this particular period of the year and that you are willing to spend some forty minutes listening to the most boring and syrupy songs (eleven in total) this album might well be worth a listening. But I doubt that prog lovers can stand this punishment.

One star.

Report this review (#168327)
Posted Monday, April 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Generally speaking I'm not a big fan of novelty albums, which I would define as Christmas records, tribute albums and nostalgic collections of covers from some artist's youth. For the most part they seem like blatantly commercial tripe that don't deserve serious critical attention. There are exceptions of course and there have certainly been some longstanding Christmas albums that remain popular and well-respected even today (and of course whose presence on store shelves becomes quite prominent around the time snow begins to fly in the North).

But in this case I have to say that I don't really see where the Moody Blues had much incentive for personal or commercial gain by releasing 'December'. The band had just bid farewell to longtime member Ray Thomas and after nearly forty years were certainly not looking to make a comeback. I think the band was in a good position to put out something tasteful that reflected their elder statesmen status as well as showcased the considerable talents of Thomas' replacement, the multi-instrumentalist Norda Mullen. That plus a little digital orchestration from Italian composer Danilo Madonia (the album was recorded in Italy) make for a very solid addition to the progressive rock Christmas album collection. Ian Anderson would be proud.

The first couple tracks are Justin Hayward originals and are decent though not exactly groundbreaking. Ms. Mullen makes her presence felt for sure, and her flute playing along with Madonia's orchestral sequences make for a full-sounding arrangement. "Yes I Believe", the other Hayward tune, is similar.

Lodge offers two compositions of his own, the more traditional-sounding "On This Christmas Day" and "The Spirit of Christmas" which manages to come off sounding like something of a Moodies outtake from the band's earlier, heady days.

Beyond that the group takes on a few covers, the first time they've done that since the very earliest days of the group in the mid-sixties. The most notable is the John Lennon classic "Happy Xmas (War is Over)", delivered here with Lodge, Hayward and Graeme Edge providing the backing vocals to replace the children's choir Lennon employed. It's not quite the same, but this is such an iconic song that you can't help but smile listening to Lodge and Edge try to hit something approaching the same octave as a bunch of English kids. A charming rendition that makes you want to sing along (in fact, I did the first time I heard it).

The Irving Berlin classic 'White Christmas" made so famous by Bing Crosby before I was even born, the song Berlin considered one of the greatest tunes ever (he may have been right). Here again its hard to get the well-known Crosby version out of your head while listening to the more modern Moodies take, but again its also hard not to tap your toes and sing along, especially as the snow is blowing around outside amid the colored Christmas lights as the sun is setting. Come to think of it, I'm kind of surprised that a band like the Moodies that were so skillful in tugging heartstrings didn't think to put out a Christmas album years before this one.

Some of the other inclusions are more English in character, including the Rossetti carol "In the Bleak Midwinter" and the Renaissance-era "When a Child Is Born", neither of which is particularly popular outside the United Kingdom. Still, this is a British band and these are quite beautiful songs that the band acquits well with acoustic guitar, piano and tender vocals.

In all I like this album, even having already said I don't typically take to Christmas albums much. The songs suit a band like the Moody Blues quite well and they don't try to turn the effort into something crass and commercial. For that they have my respect and appreciation. Happy holidays if it's the holidays when you read this; if not, bookmark it and come back in December. This album is worth checking out then.

Peace (on Earth, good will toward men)

Report this review (#590183)
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars December is the Christmas album from The Moody Blues. Like The Jethro Tull Christmas Album, December came out late in the band's career. The album contains originals and covers of classic seasonal tunes. Also of note is the fact that the Moodies are down to a trio here - just Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge are official band members on this album.

The sound presented on December is similar to that of the preceding album, Strange Times. Sorry to anyone who was expecting something like the classic seven albums of Days of Future Passed through Seventh Sojourn.

The album begins with "Don't Need A Reindeer". The lyrics may be a bit corny, but it's a decent pop tune about cherishing loved ones at Christmas.

The next track "December Snow" is a pleasant ballad with some really nice keyboard moments. Much the same can be said about most of the tracks on this album, really.

"In The Quiet of Christmas Morning (Bach 147)" starts off with a very nice flute moment. I found myself kind of wishing that this piece had been left as an instrumental, but it's nice enough.

"On This Christmas Day" is a slice of pleasant Beatles-esque orchestral pop. Perhaps not too coincidentally, the next track is a cover of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)". It's probably as decent a cover as you could reasonably hope to hear. It doesn't stray too far from the original, but it has the Moodies' sound.

The same could be said for the cover of "White Christmas" later on the album. I must admit that I've never heard the original versions of the other covers, but there's nothing offensive about any of tracks on this album in my opinion.

Really, "pleasant" and "decent" are precisely the words that the music on this album brings to my mind. This is an album made by a band who are complacent and are not looking to experiment much with their music. I could do a track-by-track commentary, but I would probably just keep repeating myself.

That said, the Moodies are very competent at what they do and by no means is this a terrible album. It's actually a pretty good album of Christmas pop music if you're looking for something in that genre. However, fans of classic Moodies albums and those who are looking for something more challenging to listen to may find this album a difficult one to sit through.

2.5 stars out of 5, rounded up to 3.

Highlights: "December Snow", "In The Quiet of Christmas Morning (Bach 147)", "On This Christmas Day", "Yes I Believe"

Report this review (#880383)
Posted Saturday, December 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars December is The Moody Blues' last album, their sixteenth, and it was released, eleven years ago in the year 2003, pachaged in, this time, a fine painting of a winter landscape. This is a christmas album with both known and unknown christmas songs for the audience to delight. The length is just enough and the album has a fine smooth aura which characterizes every track and almost every moment here. The musicians who participates here are Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Graeme Edge and Norda Mullen(flutist).

Perhaps I wasn't in the right mood for these cheesy christmas songs. I found them uninspired and pale. If I wan't to hear the known ones of this album I would rather hear either more traditional ones or more experimental. A progressive christmas album would have been something. The Moody Blues were progressive in the late sixties and the early seventies + one record from the early eighties. Furthermore my interest has faded. The music is for certain still soft and warm and it would certainly please someone, but not me, and probably not most prog fans. Somebody would say The Moody Blues had never been a real prog band, I don't agree. They were one of thoose band how explored and defined the prog rock genre, even if their sound didn't became the normative prog. Between 1967 and 1972(+1981) they expanded the rock music with great ambition. The band problably won't become one of my favourites but I'll take with me "Days of Future Passed", "To our childrens childrens children", "Every good boy deserves favour", "Seventh sojourn" and "Long distance voyager" as very good albums which described a beautiful time period. Many of their more recent things have unfortunately been pale shadows of them, and it doesn't help to mention "Days of future passed" on every record. "December" wasn't enough for me, and quite an uniteresting end of "The Moody Blues'" carreer.

Report this review (#1117795)
Posted Wednesday, January 22, 2014 | Review Permalink

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