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The Moody Blues - The Other Side Of Life CD (album) cover


The Moody Blues


Crossover Prog

2.25 | 100 ratings

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1 stars This was sort of a 20th anniversary album for the Moody Blues who had actually been around for almost twenty-two years by the time 'The Other Side of Life' released but who's counting really? Other than the album, cover which bears a resemblance to the 'Caught Live+5' cover and Justin Hayward's distinctive voice, there's very little here that sounds like either the first (pre-Hayward) Moodies album or pretty much anything pre-'Long Distance Voyager'. In fact, I kind of wonder if Graeme Edge and even Patrick Moraz got a little bored in the studio considering the amount of programming that went into this release, including drums, weird digital sounds and even some sampling tracks. True, the days of mellotron and orchestras were long gone but seriously, the extent of programmed music on this album was shocking the first time I heard it despite the fact that virtually everything released in 1986 was programmed, digitally enhanced or otherwise fake.

Not that this seemed to put anyone off, given the album went platinum throughout North America and gave the band two of their biggest hit singles ever with "Your Wildest Dreams" and the title track. Go figure. And really most of the songwriting here isn't too bad despite the complete absence of Ray Thomas along with his flute, harmonica, tambourine and sixties folk pastiche that was way too dated for what Tony Visconti (formerly known as a good producer) was trying to turn the group into. Thomas doesn't get a chance to crank out anything like the chick-flick soundtrack tear-jerkers he penned for so many of the good Moodies albums, and other than a brief credit for backing vocals (can't hear them but the liner notes don't lie) he is nothing more than a phantom memory on this record.

Anyway, back to the songs. They're not bad, at least not the songwriting and even the arrangements are decent. "Rock 'n' Roll Over You" is a piece of crap of course, as were every song written after 1964 with the phrase "Rock 'n' Roll" in the title except Zeppelin's "Rock 'n Roll" and Rockpile's "I Knew the Girl (When She Used to Rock n' Roll)". And "The Spirit" sounds like a Mentos commercial, but that has nothing to do with the songwriting.

The problem here of course is that there is nothing left that made the Moodies what they were other than Hayward's voice and John Lodge's songwriting, and that just isn't enough. Besides Thomas' complete absence and Graeme Edge's synthetic replacement, these songs are also missing anything resembling orchestral arrangements, and even where the synthetic ones pop up they sound like spiced sound effects (which is what they are) rather than tasteful accompaniment. Also missing are the rich, analog keyboard sounds and fat, inefficient and totally wonderful mellotron/Chamberlin sounds, which of course had been gone for quite a while but given everything else stripped away are even more noticeable.

Every time I hear this late eighties dress-on-a-pig prog-rock schlock I just can't help visualize Don Johnson in his Miami Vice pastel-pants-and-deck-shoes-with-no-socks 80s getup. Seriously, how did people fall for that crap? The guy was forty years old before that stupid show went off the air, and he was still being portrayed as some sort of contemporary hipster (sorry, that's really dated but I can't think of a better word than "hipster"). Same goes for these guys, and for ELO and Jethro Tull and Alan Parsons and Roxy Music and Asia and a pile of others I can't think of right now. Yes, "Your Wildest Dreams" was a catchy tune. And several songs here would sound decent if they had some tasteful orchestral accompaniment, maybe a little flute, actual percussion and a couple of old prog codgers singing backing. But it doesn't have any of those things, so in the end six and a half good songs got wasted. So sad, but can't be fixed now.

Bah, this thing is crap. Don't buy it. One star. The next one was a little better; not much, but a little. Check that one out instead.


ClemofNazareth | 1/5 |


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