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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Moody Blues

The Present

Review by Gary Hill

I know a lot of people disregard these later Moody Blues albums. I happen to have a special attraction to them because Patrick Moraz is on them, bringing a Yes connection. While I'd say this album is not as strong as Long Distance Voyager that came before it, it still has some strong music. I think it's well worth checking out. I should mention that I previously reviewed a couple of these songs on a different review. The track reviews here are taken from that one, either as is or with a little addition.

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Track by Track Review
Blue World
Although there is an electronic vibe to this cut, it really does have a lot of old school Moodies to it. Justin Hayward’s vocals are classic. There are some hints of symphonic textures. This is a catchy, pop rock styled tune.
Meet Me Halfway
This number comes in with a similar texture to the one that preceded it. On the pop rock side, this has a lot of Moody Blues trademark textures, particularly in the vocal arrangement. Sure, there are more modern edges over the top, but it's still The Moodies.
Sitting at the Wheel
A cool keyboard element starts this in the backdrop. The cut launches out from there to a rocking Moody Blues sound that works so well. This has great hooks and a lot of style. It feels much more purely classic than a lot of the stuff here does. Then again, I can make out some echoes of ELO for some reason. I really love the guitar solo on this thing. It feels like pedal steel at points.
Going Nowhere
To me this feels much more like classic Moody Blues. It’s a dynamic cut. It features multiple layers of vocals and some great rocking moments. Instrumental passages on this are prevalent and strong. Yet, the vocal sections never take a back seat. It’s a great cut with a real classic Moodies sound. The keyboards really bring some cool stuff on the instrumental break.
Hole in the World
A martial build up with dramatic textures is at the heart of this as it works outward. This short instrumental piece segues straight into the next song.
Under My Feet
A melodic rocker, this leans toward the balladic side of things. There are some Beatleish vibes to this. It gets a little jazzy via horns later. The martial vibe and concepts of the previous number return at the end of this one, serving as a great bookend to this song.
It's Cold Outside of Your Heart
At its heart this is a pretty standard Moody Blues power-ballad like cut. The keyboard textures bring a more modern angle to it, though.
Running Water
With a lot of magic, this ballad feels like classic Moody Blues. It's pretty and still dramatic.
I Am
Keyboards and flute start this cut. It has a psychedelic edge. That combines with Ray Thomas' vocals and some really poetic lyrics to create the most old-school sounding Moodies piece of the whole album. This gets theatrical and dramatic. It segues directly into the closer.
A fairly standard Ray Thomas ballad concept is on display as this starts. This is another example of the vintage Moody Blues sound. It gets more rocking as it works forward, but it remains a blast from the glorious past. This gets into some seriously powered up zones before it's over. This is really the prog magnum opus of the set in a lot of ways.
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