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Ray Thomas

Words & Music

Review by Gary Hill

This is a new collection of music from Ray Thomas. You probably know Thomas as a member of the band The Moody Blues. Thomas passed away in 2018, making this a posthumous release. It's sort of a career encompassing set. All the solo songs he recorded are included here along with several he did with the Moody Blues before they turned into the proggier act we all know.

This includes all the songs from his two solo albums, but I have only done track by track reviews of the numbers from his first album. That's because the second album is included on the DVD that is the second disc here. That qualifies it as a video (although it is really just the audio with graphics added), and we don't do those track by track. Let me just say that I think I find that disc to be the stronger one, and the one that's most close to the symphonic prog you expect.

The audio disc starts with three songs from the early Moody Blues. Then we get the Thomas solo songs. Two additional tracks at the end represent his collaborations with two other musicians. The DVD also includes two music videos. One of those was done back when the first album was originally released. It's more or less a performance video and representative of its era. The second is a new video put together for the song he recorded with Ryland Teifi. and it is a largely a tribute to Thomas.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
The Moody Blues
         
It Ain't Necessarily So

There is a bluesy piano vibe as this starts out. The cut works out from there with a more of a blues rock arrangement as it continues.

From the Bottom of My Heart (I Love You)
More of a soulful 1950s musical sound is at the core of this number. The track has a good balance between mellower and more rocking sounds. It's not really my kind of thing, but it has its charms, and the vocal performance is really inspired and passionate.
How Can We Hang On To A Dream
This is much the same musical territory as a lot of 1960s rock music. I can see comparisons being made to Three Dog Night. Yet, the backing vocals and some other aspects hint at the kind of music The Moody Blues would do later in their career. I really like this piece quite a bit.
Ray Thomas
              
I Wish We Could Fly

I love the intricate piano on this piece. The balladic approach on the cut definitely calls to mind the band for which Thomas is known. This feels like something that would be at home on one of their albums. The full arrangement has strings and more elements bringing a symphonic texture to it.

High Above My Head
A bouncy and somewhat jazzy arrangement is on the menu here. This feels like something Ringo Starr might do. It's a high energy and fun tune. I dig the harmonica, and there are some moments that call to mind the Moodies - particularly in the sections with dense vocal arrangements.
Adam and I
This is another number that feels a lot like something that you would find on a Moody Blues album. It's a classy symphonic prog based cut.
Love is The Key
A cool pop rock number, this has a bit of a lounge music vibe to it. That said, it also feels like it would have fit on a Moodies disc.
Rock-A-Bye Baby Blue
There is some down-home country texture built into this thing. It is very retro in texture. Yet there are still hints of what one expects from the Moody Blues here.
Migration
This is a pretty cut that comes in as a symphonically enhanced ballad. This would definitely fit on an album by the Moodies.
Didn't I
There is a cool jazzy groove to this mellow piece. This again feels like trademark Moody Blues, really. It's a powerful piece that gets quite intense in a powered up balladic way before it's over.
Within Your Eyes
There is a bit of a psychedelia goes symphonic edge to this piece. It is definitely another that would be at home on album by Thomas' better known band. This is balladic and potent.
We Need Love
Not a huge change, this cut does get a bit of Beatles-like sound brought in during the guitar solo. It's  track that starts more balladic but turns more rocking at points.
The Last Dream
With a lush arrangement, this cut is a powered up ballad that feels like The Moody Blues.
Ray Thomas and Bias Boshell
                 
The Trouble With Memories

I love the guitar sound on this mellow piece. The number is another that qualifies as ballad with powered up textures.

Ray Thomas and Ryland Teifi
        
Dada's Song

This isn't a huge change, but the added vocals bring a bit different flavor. There is a somewhat down-home vibe to it at times, too.

 
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