The Moody Blues
[DTS Surround Sound Edition]
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2005, Volume 12, #6
Written by John Metzger
The Moody Blues recorded and toured relentlessly in the wake of Days of Future Passed, issuing seven albums within the five-year period of 1967–1972. By the time the group released Seventh Sojourn — the final outing of its "classic era" — its members were understandably weary. Each subsequent effort seemed more difficult than the last to formulate, and most of the material proved to be cumbersome to perform in concert. With the 1971 release of Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, The Moody Blues began to streamline its sound, utilizing fewer sonic layers and considerably reducing the conceptual flow of its endeavors. Despite these attempts to ease its burden, its stresses continued to mount, and while caught in the midst of constructing Seventh Sojourn, the ensemble also was on the brink of disbanding. Indeed, throughout the effort, one can hear the cracks beginning to rip through The Moody Blues’ foundation, and its eight songs were as distinctly divided as anything that the then-current line-up of Graeme Edge, Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Mike Pinder, and Ray Thomas ever had dispensed.
It’s a wonder, then, that Seventh Sojourn developed into such a solid outing, but almost in spite of itself, The Moody Blues’ sheer determination and collective philosophy — which largely amounted to concern about the state of human existence and an unshakable belief in the power of love — bound the tracks into a cohesive whole. Perhaps, the song that best defined the album is the concluding I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock & Roll Band), an angst-filled and edgy tune that deals directly with the tension that surrounded the group, although there were plenty of other worthwhile moments, too. On When You’re a Free Man, Pinder offered a dirge-like follow-up to Thomas’ more playful Legend a Mind, while Lodge relays a cautionary commentary tale on the brevity of life and the regrets that can fill it. Elsewhere, Hayward reflected upon the death of his father as well as the birth of his daughter during New Horizons, and Pinder encapsulated the turbulence surrounding the Vietnam War during Lost in a Lost World. Granted, the group’s biggest deficiency — its sometimes overwrought sentiments and pedestrian lyrics disguised as highbrow poetry — began to peek around the edges of its compositions, but the multifaceted music with its grand, majestic eloquence succeeded in counterbalancing these flaws — a notion that also serves to pinpoint precisely where the band’s post-Long Distance Voyager material has gone so horribly wrong.
Given the difference between Days of Future Passed and Seventh Sojourn, it’s not surprising that the DTS-encoded, surround sound rendition of the outings would be approached from different perspectives. Where the former reconfiguration enhanced the theatricality of the original production, the latter effort has had its textural dimensionality significantly embellished. On For My Lady, for example, the vocals during the chorus seem to trail one another ever so slightly; a piano accompaniment wisps through Lost in a Lost World as the haunted backing vocals flutter in the distance like ghosts; You and Me’s squiggly bass pattern is brought to the forefront; When You’re a Free Man is transformed into a dark and biting blues excursion; and Isn’t Life Strange is stretched into a sonic cosmos as drums explode like distant suns. Indeed, throughout the updated version of Seventh Sojourn, a greater emphasis is placed upon the percussion, which, of course, is fitting considering how important a role Edge’s accompaniments played in setting the rock-oriented mood for the album. In essence, by raising the profile of the underlying rhythm and utilizing it as a focal point around which the rest of the instrumentation can revolve, The Moody Blues’ more simplified material inevitably becomes all the more interesting. ½
Seventh Sojourn [SACD Hybrid] is available
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Seventh Sojourn [Remastered Stereo Edition] is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box