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The Moody Blues

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The Moody Blues Strange Times album cover
2.67 | 95 ratings | 14 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. English Sunset (5:05)
2. Haunted (4:31)
3. Sooner or Later (Walkin' on Air) (3:50)
4. Wherever You Are (3:35)
5. Foolish Love (3:56)
6. Love Don't Come Easy (4:33)
7. All That Is Real Is You (3:33)
8. Strange Times (4:29)
9. Words You Say (5:31)
10. My Little Lovely (1:45)
11. Forever Now (4:37)
12. The One (3:39)
13. The Swallow (4:59)
14. Nothing Changes (3:32)

Total Time 57:35

Bonus tracks on 1999 Polydor edition:
15. Highway (4:37)
16. This Is the Moment (4:39)

Line-up / Musicians

- Justin Hayward / guitars, vocals
- Ray Thomas / flutes, tambourine, vocals
- John Lodge / bass, guitar, vocals
- Graeme Edge / drums & percussion, vocals

- Danilo Madonia / keyboards, programming, orchestrations

Releases information

Artwork: Wherefore Art? with Brian Aris (photo)

CD Universal Records - 153 565-2 (1999, Europe)
CD Polydor ‎- POCP-7452 (1999, Japan) With 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy THE MOODY BLUES Strange Times Music

THE MOODY BLUES Strange Times ratings distribution

(95 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(16%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (32%)
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)

THE MOODY BLUES Strange Times reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Days of inspiration passed

Not really strange times as far as the music on this album is concerned, but certainly disappointing times. With the lengthy (8 year) break from "Keys of the Kingdom", hopes were high that the Moody Blues would return with an album to match the quality of their output during the 1970's. Unfortunately, it appears that whatever they were doing during the intervening period, it was not creating their next masterpiece. The songs included here are generally weak, being pale imitations of the classics which went before.

"English sunset" is OK as an opener, very much in the vein of the first tracks on many of their albums, such as "The voice", "I know you're out there somewhere" etc. From there though it's a mixture of uninspired ballads, and light pop songs.

The title track has slightly more originality to it, but such moments are all too rare. Ray Thomas' contribution is particularly disappointing, as he can usually be relied upon to provide a worthwhile diversion, both in terms of his voice and his melodic compositions. Sadly, all he offers here is a brief children's lullaby.

John Lodge is also well below par, his "Words you say" in particular sounding rather like a pathetically inadequate imitation of "Isn't life strange". Graeme Edge on the other hand contributes one of his emotive spoken passages on his composition "Nothing changes", which sees Hayward finally get his guitar going for a brief solo to end the album.

The two bonus tracks mentioned did not appear on the UK release of the album. They had however already appeared some years earlier on the excellent "Time traveller" collection, and are noticeably superior to the rest of the tracks on this album.

The Moody Blues have made many fine albums, and continue to tour as a trio (plus supporting musicians) today. It appears however that in terms of new recordings, their days of creativity and inspiration are behind them. It is interesting to note that this album has been repackaged a couple of times with other MB compilations, in an effort to boost sales.

Review by FloydWright
1 stars I had hoped that Strange Times might be more in line with their earlier works, but with modern technology. Unfortunately, I found half of the songs to be sappy love ballads of the sort you might expect to find on the late-night radio show "Delilah". These were unremarkable tracks that I lost patience with very quickly. While a band like PINK FLOYD still maintained a thematic (even if not conceptual) focus with distinctive musical stylings, rather than what the MOODY BLUES did on certain tracks: which was to turn out utterly dispensible pop much in the manner Chicago did in later years.

That is not to say that Strange Times was a complete loss. Where it was good, it was extremely good. Some songs did show shades of the earlier MOODY BLUES, so it was not a total loss. "The One", "Nothing Changes", and "My Little Lovely" are probably the best tracks for those who are most attached to their Classic Seven sound. To me, "The One" could have almost been pulled off of a Classic Seven album. "My Little Lovely", although literally short and sweet, showed that RAY THOMAS had not lost his touch at all--I just wish that he had contributed more heavily; perhaps it would have helped if he had been able to break up the LODGE-HAYWARD combination at intervals. "Nothing Changes" is a credit to GRAEME EDGE, in my opinion--he is another person who probably should have had more input. One other track, although not like their earlier work, the track "English Sunset" is excellent both musically and lyrically. A few other tracks were middling efforts, such as the title track, and although not that remarkable, remained fairly listenable.

In the end, however, there was not enough in this inconsistent effort to compel me to actually keep the CD, hence a low rating I almost never give. My advice would be, borrow a friend's copy first, check it out from the library, or sample it extensively before buying, because otherwise you may be making a relatively costly mistake.

Review by Matti
2 stars Do you sometimes get fooled by a positive review and buy a new album from your long- time favourite band, even if you know you'd better avoid their post-70's stuff? I put my blame on a respectable weekly non-music magazine. How could the guy say that Moodies were better than ever since the disbanding in '72? So I expected to get something else than the usual bunch of sweet pop ballads by Hayward and Lodge known from the previous mediocre albums. Nah, mostly this is just the same, only with a better production and some minor highlights. The large number of songs doesn't help much.

'Sooner Or Later' has them singing in turns and it's maybe the freshest song. Ray Thomas has his little pretty number 'My Little Lovely'. (More contribution by him would have helped the album, as always.) Graeme Edge speaks - he sounds older than others - most of the slightly pretentious lyrics of majestic finale 'Nothing Changes' (I like the last line "and life is still a simple game" that refers to the days of the classic lineup).

Hayward's mostly acoustic number 'The Swallow' is good, maybe the only that could stand comparison to some lesser early songs. Of Lodge songs the most give nothing valuable to the album, neither is Hayward nowhere near his best writing. I had to sell this CD away and buy one of the classic 7 (that I naturally already had all in some form) to do justice to my long MB relationship.

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars [A brief history: some while ago I saw a review (not here) which praised this album as a return to more of a band sound, without being drenched in strings. I bought it and liked it. Then I recently read some of the uncomplimentary reviews on PA, so I decided to revisit it myself and redress the balance. It didn't quite work out that way ....]

The album opens with some guitar and synth textures leading into a typical fast paced English Sunset from Hayward which sets the tone: full of busy arrangements, programmed percussion and strings are never far away. But this track is one of the album's highlights, much more inventive than the average with just enough quirkiness to lift it above the mundane, such as "more tea vicar" and a repeated voice sample. So far so good, but sadly the energy level drops drastically with Haunted, a slow ballad with a more intimate sound but still manages to pack in most of the kitchen sink and a rousing string backed chorus. Not sure about the 4-part vocal-group "do-do-do" harmony either, though it does give it some interest.

Sooner Or Later has a vocal shared by Hayward, Lodge and Thomas, with a nice up-tempo country-rock feel driven by jogging drums and rolling bassline, but as always there is a full mix including strings, organ, various guitars, piano and flute. Probably the best of the slow ballads by John Lodge, Wherever You Are is sung solo except briefly near the end, it is backed primarily by strings and processed drums but does have one or two nice guitar touches, and a superior tune.

Foolish Love is a big Hayward mid-tempo love song complete with all the usual trappings, of the sort he can churn out in his sleep. Nice tune complete with the ubiquitous strings and driving drums, which lifts towards the end with a grand descending chord pattern. Love Don't Come Easy is another Lodge slow lilting ballad. Other than some excellent vibrato guitar and short solos from Hayward it is pretty much business as usual with the lush string arrangement filling in any spaces. All That Is Real Is You is a slow mushy Hayward ballad with piano fills, lush strings and a big chorus. Sound familiar? Yep, we've heard it all before - pretty tune, pretty arrangement, every thing in it's place!

Strange Times is a decent song - a return to the inventiveness of the opening track, with acoustic guitars, some nice quirky programmed touches and an excellent tune held in tension by the bass all building to a nice crescendo. Those strings are still there but there is a much more interesting arrangement here which helps to lift this track to the top of the pile. One of their best. Down to earth with a bump to a sleep inducing very slow orchestrated ballad by John Lodge: Words You Say sounds like a solo effort that escaped. If you can hold from the FFW button until halfway through you find the accompaniment changing to band instruments before it all builds up to one of those epic climaxes topped by a soaring guitar solo.

Ray Thomas' only contribution is the sadly inconsequential and mercifully short My Little Lovely which sounds like a throwback from To Our Children's Children's Children, a cute little ditty with a gentle harmonised chorus. Oh, and strings of course! Thankfully, Forever Now is the last of the John Lodge orchestrated kitchen-sink big-ballads, which improves when acoustic guitars and drums pick up the beat, and organ vies for attention with the strings. The One bursts out with "no surprise" and repeats it after each verse, which, together with some prominent rock guitar work and an insistant rhythm help to inject life into what is actually an ordinary song. The "no surprise" pattern feels as if it should take the song onto another level, but it doesn't and in the end it fades out unresolved.

The Swallow starts with some lovely spanish guitar and string quartet before developing into a pretty mid-paced song driven by a lilting drum pattern - and is that a Mellotron-flute? The song sinks back to the basic drum and bass beat for some sympathetic jamming from Hayward. Not exactly an earth mover, but it is one of my favourites. As usual, a Graeme Edge poem ends the album. Nothing Changes is the only song here which appears to be something other than a simple love song. Not one of his best, but good enough, and the arrangement is good too, with some wonderful soaring guitar from Hayward beating its way out from under the orchestra.

Tracks like English Sunset, Strange Times and The Swallow are excellent additions to the repertoire, and could happily sit amongst a compilation of Moodies favourites. The problem is the remainder fails to come anywhere near this standard, and indeed three or four tracks in the middle are prime candidates for binning. The main culprit is a strings-with-everything mentality: Danilo Madonia has brought a new sensibility to revitalise the band's thinking to some extent, but ultimately most of his string arrangements literally swamp some ordinary songs with grand themes and statements beyond their means.

I would not normally present such an extended review for what is clearly not a Prog album, but The Moody Blues were once a great band, have played a very significant role in the Prog story, and are still an exciting live act, so I felt they deserved a fair trial. But it's funny how a mind can play tricks, because this album relies far too much on formulaic structures and those damned strings. In terms of their later output this is near the top of the pile, but it compares extremely unfavourably with their classics. Recommended to fans and senior citizens, but otherwise there are better things to spend your money on.

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "Strange Times" is another fair and hearable MB album with a cluster of nice pop songs but with only a few pigments of progressive rock - well, that's how the things are. Anyway, there's a great empathy regarding THE MOODY BLUES which at the time this album was released were completing 35 years on the road. Needless to say more?

As ever, production is flawless; a delicacy for a band that borders the legendary label, not surprising at all. Also lyrics are good and musicianship is great. The general atmosphere is uplifting making this output specially recommended for a lazy Sunday afternoon where you may also admire your naked toes, play with the dog and still believe that humankind isn't doomed!

Some selected tracks are more noticeable than others, like the opener 'English sunset', a fine rock tune with some prog-like effects or 'Wherever you are' where the progressive index increases consistently thanks to the adequate orchestration. 'All that real is you' is a typical MB ballad that brings good remembrances of some 60s/70s band peaks.

The romantic 'Words you say' will certainly please loving hearts while 'My little lovely' is a catchy short track. 'Forever now' is another romantic song, supplied with clear arrangements, rock spices and cheesy vocals. 'This is the moment', one of the 2 bonus tracks will touch mainly those keen to musicals.

However, if my suggestion could be followed then take a listening to the pair 'The one' and 'The swallow', the highest album moment, definitely.

My final observation shouldn't be different: an album neatly good but not unforgettable: a plain and deserved 3-star rating.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars This was the second time that the Moodies intended a come back. And for the second time, they failed.

A couple of songs are worth listening like the mellow ballad "Wherever You Are", the very Beatles- esque "Love Don't Come Easy" and its fully Harrison tone. Fine melody, pleasant vocals, good guitar are the ingredients for the highlight of this album. Almost the same atmosphere is present during "Forever Now". A sign that when the Moodies do concentrate they can still write catchy and pleasant songs.

Some return to the past grandeur is achieved as well with "Words You Say". Another nice ballad using the assistance of an orchestra. A pleasant journey through time.

This album is extremely long. If creativity is on the rendezvous, this is not a problem, but it is not really the case here, so listening to this work from start to end is not a rewarding experience. This album is far from the masterpiece status. Far from prog. I wonder how this album can be rated as a masterpiece of prog music by some reviewers. A mystery.

Two stars thanks to a few good songs but the worse also sit here ("Sooner Or Later", "The One", "Nothing Changes".

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Strange Times" is the 15th full-length studio album by UK pop/rock act The Moody Blues. The album was released through Universal Music Group in August 1999. Itīs also the first album in 8 years from the band as their last album "Keys of the Kingdom" was released in 1991.

At this point The Moody Blues had become a little irrelevant to most listeners as most of their output in the 80s and the 90s had little to do with their 60s and 70s heyday output. At least in terms of quality and memorability of the material. 20-25 years down the line and only few standout moments to talk about in all those years, itīs hard to maintain more than a hardcore fanbase. "Strange Times" is not the album which changes that.

"Strange Times" opens relatively strong with "English Sunset". The dominant use of synth on that track is a rather nice touch. Unfortunately the remaining tracks range from uninspired and forgettable pop songs to downright awful ballad type tracks. Itīs not enough that the tracks are tedious and close to being elevator muzak, but on top of that the lyrics are cheesy and dripping with honey (listen to the lyrics for "Haunted"...that is just plain awful). This is the very definition of shallow adult oriented commercial pop music.

Considering the legendary status of The Moody Blues and what they have previously achieved in their career, "Strange Times" is a disappointment. The album is as such well produced and not surprisingly the musicianship is strong too (four out of five of the original members from the 70s are still in the lineup), but itīs the songwriting which is lacking substance and catchiness. A 2 star (40%) rating is warranted.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars The last true Moody Blues album turned out to be almost the Moodies 'unplugged' with it's lazy tempos and acoustic guitar playing along with Ray Thomas' bucolic flute and vocals from all four band members for the first time in years. The sentiments are sappy at times (these are the Moodies after all), but the feeling seems to be genuine and longstanding fans of the band should surely be able to make a connection with these songs. This isn't vintage Moody Blues music for sure and in some ways it sounds a bit more like some of the stuff Justin Hayward and John Lodge did as a duo, but if nothing else it serves as a respectful farewell album in tribute to 35+ year member Ray Thomas, whether it was intended to or not.

Beyond the rollicking opening track "English Sunset" these are all pretty laid-back tunes, with plenty of familiar characteristics in the songwriting to remind fans of what endeared them to the various Moodies in the first place. Hayward and Lodge alternate on most of the writing, with Hayward's songs setting up his lead vocals nicely in melodic fashion and with pretty conservative song constructions that emphasize guitar and a pedestrian beat, although at least it's nice to hear Graeme Edge actually playing drums for a change rather than programming them. And Lodge pens the more romantic, personable tunes full of reflections on personal relationships and the sorts of feelings that come from interactions with other human beings in the course of The Struggle. The Lodge tunes like "Love Don't Come Easy" and "Words You Say" tend to include snippets of synthesized orchestral sounds, although not much and certainly nowhere near the level of what the band was known for in their heyday.

And that's okay. This is a retrospective sort of album that was clearly intended to be something the band members would approach with the dignity their elder rock statesmen status accorded them.

Graeme Edge even contributes a song for the first time in nearly two decades, his last having been the chilling "22,000 Days" from 1981's 'Long Distance Voyager'. Here he serves up the closing track "Nothing Changes", a heartfelt if not quite accurate sentiment. And as he has done before he pens spoken-word poetic vocals that recall such Moody classics as "Departure" and "The Word". Ray Thomas also provides a song, the brief but characteristically folksy "My Little Lovely". In all this is a real group effort and comes across as a labor of love, which is the spirit in which it should be received.

I'd have a hard time rating this album by comparing it to other Moody Blues records, mostly because it doesn't sound much like a Moodies album either from their traditional days or (thankfully) from their forgettable eighties output. But as a collection of original Moody Blues music that would appeal to fans I have to say this is a solid recording which easily deserves three stars any possibly four. I'll go with three for now but it wouldn't be the first time if I revisited that at some point in the future.


Latest members reviews

4 stars Moodies return after 8 year absence with this final full album of original songs, and it is quite strong, but with a bit different sound. They've thankfully fully left behind the synthpop, and feature a more stripped-down, acoustic style, with more of a singer-songwriter feel. There are still string ... (read more)

Report this review (#3055645) | Posted by BBKron | Friday, May 24, 2024 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I have come to The Moody Blues' fifteenth studio album "Strange times" from 1999 which is their second last until now. The cover picture is boring must I say, it has nothing to do with the former fantastic pictures of this band. We see how the sea begins on a shore and a little earth happens t ... (read more)

Report this review (#1117427) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Wednesday, January 22, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Strange Times came as a breath of fresh air for us old Moodies fans, but is curiously underrated by those who seem to want a repeat of the Moodies' classic seven albums. We had an 8-year wait after the Moodies' previous studio album - 1991's Keys Of The Kingdom, which was a bit of a hodgepodge. ... (read more)

Report this review (#119122) | Posted by DocB | Friday, April 20, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars All I can say is: This was where the band was at that moment in time. It has some weaker moments (a few). But overall, if you play it more than three times, it sort of grows on you. Tracks like "My Little Lovely" is a true MB song (old style) and so is "The Swallow". Give it a chance, and you`l ... (read more)

Report this review (#47430) | Posted by gromek | Tuesday, September 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Sadly,when most people listen to this album expecting the cosmic Moody sound with the melotron,they turn off...such a mistake. The genius of Justin Hayward is alive and well in all of his offerings.Lodge also performs brilliantly.Themes of the search for personal enlightenment abound,but like a ... (read more)

Report this review (#39217) | Posted by | Tuesday, July 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Yes!! Now we have another inspired record by the Moodies! Coincidentally after the departure of Mr. Moraz.. I have to say it again.. I really appreciate Morazīs solo work or in duo with Bill Bruford. Also worth of mentioning that the best record of Yes (Relayer) was with Mr. Moraz on keyboards.. But ... (read more)

Report this review (#15773) | Posted by fredfontes | Monday, April 12, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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