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

LONG DISTANCE VOYAGER

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

3.31 | 202 ratings

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Mr. Gone
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 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.

Mr. Gone | 4/5 |

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