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Hayward & Lodge - Blue Jays CD (album) cover


Hayward & Lodge


Crossover Prog

4.15 | 92 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

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...

DavidMinasian | 5/5 |


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