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The Moody Blues

Long Distance Voyager

Review by Gary Hill

In the 1980’s the Moody Blues took on a more electronic sound. I know that sound didn’t sit well with a lot of fans. For them this was probably the last great Moody Blues album – at least for a while. Certainly there are hints of what was to come with the band here, but the majority of this disc feels like it could have been lifted from the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. It’s quite a dynamic album and has some great material. It still holds up quite well today. You’ll note that I already reviewed a few of these tracks on the Voices in the Sky compilation review. I’ve used those track reviews here for the sake of consistency.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Voice

I’ve played this song in pretty much every progressive rock cover band (well, even the ones that did both covers and originals) I’ve ever played in. It’s a song that is positive and potent. It also manages to be catchy. It’s got a fairly simple ABACAB structure, but what they do with that is what makes this magical.

Talking Out Of Turn
Here we get a gentle ballad that still has some of the symphonic elements of the Moodies – although I doubt anyone would really call this progressive rock. The closing instrumental section, though, might get that qualification.
Gemini Dream

I have to preface this by saying that I like this song a lot. It’s a high energy jam that works quite well. Alright – let’s get to it. The rhythmic structure of this is disco – plain and simple. The arrangement is far more ELO than it is The Moody Blues. As a song it’s a good change of pace and it’s quite entertaining, but those two factors will be ringing in your head the whole way through. The thing is, despite that this still gets me going.

In My World

This ballad has a motif that’s very much in keeping with the Moody Blues sound of the 1960’s. There are a couple lush and powerful takes on the song’s central themes further down the road, but they never really move anywhere compositionally. This is a tasty little piece of nostalgia. That said, it doesn’t feel trite or dated, but rather just an extension of where the band has been and is going. I like the instrumental rework the song gets later that has a more rocking sound, but still preserves the structure of the piece. There is definitely a 1960’s sensibility to much of this number.

Meanwhile
As this starts it feels like it might be very similar to the last number. It has a more energetic approach when it kicks in, though. Sure, this still feels like vintage Moody Blues, and there’s definitely an organic, “hippie” sort of element here. This is packed with more energy, though. It’s another solid piece of music.
22,000 Days
This song is definitely a highlight of the CD. It’s got a more hard rocking and rather pure hard rock feeling to it. It still feels decidedly like “old school” Moody Blues, but this has more energy and crunch than the last couple pieces. There’s a great vocal arrangement, but pretty much everything really clicks here. I love the recurring riff that leads us off. We get some tasty instrumental soloing on this one, too – and even a harmonica solo.
Nervous
The first half of this is perhaps the most sedate segment of the disc. In many ways this is another classic Moody Blues ballad. Still, there’s a powered up section that comes in later and there is an almost Beatles-like sound to that section. The track is definitely vintage Moody Blues. It’s a strong track, but perhaps not to the level of “disc highlight.”
Painted Smile
This type of music should definitely be familiar to Moody Blues fans, but for me it’s a bit over the top. It’s that musical production sort of piece that the group commonly did. I like this alright – and it’s got a circus element to it (both in the music and the lyrics) but overall it’s too bombastic and nearly silly. Circus sounds segue into the next cut.
Reflective Smile
This is a short piece that’s sort of a segue between the previous cut and the next. It continues the circus themes of the last, but is one of the cool poetry readings of which the group have always been fond. It moves straight into the next number with a spoken line that has the title to that song.
Veteran Cosmic Rocker

In many ways I think of this as the sequel to “I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock & Roll Band).” It’s a very prog infused jam with a hard rocking arrangement. This is a fun piece of music. I wouldn’t consider it necessarily a highlight of the disc, but it’s quite cool. There’s a great “gypsy” sort of element to the instrumental movement and it gets quite powerful.

 
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