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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Moody Blues

December

Review by Gary Hill

With a band as devoted to pretty ballads and symphonic stylings, it was just a matter of time before they did a holiday disc. Really it’s surprising that it took them all the way into the 21st Century to do it. This has been out for a few years, but if you’re just discovering it, I highly recommend it as a holiday disc. It really captures the tone and feeling of the season quite well while still seeming like a Moody Blues discs. For Moody Blues fans this also comes recommended, but not as highly. It’s one of the weaker albums in their catalog, but you really can’t go too wrong with this band.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Don't Need A Reindeer

This pretty song is good, but the drums seem to be synthetic at the start. Still, it’s a mid-tempo Moody Blues rocker. It’s trademark Moodies. It’s a great way to start things in style.  

December Snow
Mellower yet, this is very pretty. It’s much more in keeping with older Moody Blues musical elements. It has a more organic sound to it, too. There’s a tasty, jazzy section later in the piece.

 

The Quiet Of Christmas Morning (Bach 147)
This is the mellowest track so far. As one might guess from the parenthetical it’s classically based and gets a rather symphonic treatment at times. It’s quite a pretty song, but I don’t think I’d call it rock music at all.
On This Christmas Day
Like the track that preceded it, this one has symphonic instrumentation in its arrangement. It’s a pretty ballad and an effective one. It is classic Moody Blues.
Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
The Moody Blues cover John Lennon here. They give it a mellower, rather classically oriented treatment. It brings a different flavor to the piece, but it works quite well.
A Winters Tale
This balladic cut is both very pretty and perhaps more in keeping with the older styles of the band than anything else presented here. I’d consider this sedate tune to be one of the highlights of the set.
The Spirit Of Christmas
Another that’s fairly ballad-like, this cut also has a very classic Moody Blues texture to it. It’s pretty and potent and another highlight of the set.
Yes I Believe
Starting off like an extension of the previous piece – right down to the lyrics, this transforms into a more modern sounding, rock oriented Moody Blues song quite quickly. It’s pretty and effective and still not a real rocker, but closer to it than the last couple pieces. The symphonic instrumentation is still present on this.
When A Child Is Born
A cut that’s more unique than some of the other stuff, it definitely is more indicative of the rockier side of The Moody Blues, but still not a real rocker. That said, this is the least “Christmas-like” of anything on show here.
White Christmas
I really like this version of the song. It seems to combine a classic Christmas music texture with the type of sound we’re used to getting from The Moody Blues. It’s one of the highlights of the album without question.
In The Bleak Midwinter
Another that’s rather balladic, this is quite prog oriented and has some classical tinges in it. I’m not sure it wouldn’t have made more sense to close with “White Christmas” but this is a good song nonetheless.
 
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