The Moody Blues
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2004, Volume 11, #12
Written by John Metzger
The Moody Blues always has worn its heart on its sleeve, and its songs of love typically have been laced with a sense of cosmic spirituality as well as a genuine concern for the state of the world. For more than two decades, however, the band has been treading the same ground with increasingly disappointing results. While its latest effort December is a far cry from the ensemble’s finest moments, it is a welcome return to the pop-infused majesty of its ’70s offerings. Much like its title suggests, the album’s contents are bound together by its sometimes cheerful, sometimes melancholy odes to Christmas. Rather than tackle familiar holiday fare, however — only Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over) could be considered well-known — the collective wisely looked elsewhere for inspiration, unearthing an English hymnal, placing its own spin upon a Bach chorale, and penning several original compositions, for good measure. Granted, the rock ’n‘ roll fire that once fueled The Moody Blues’ material is still missing from much of December, even as Beatle-esque flourishes continue to color its songs. Therefore, what makes the collection more successful than the group’s other recent endeavors is that both its sentimental musings as well as its soft synthesizer and string arrangements are better suited to the airy atmospherics of these particular personal affirmations. Although there isn’t enough on December to provide any semblance of hope that the ensemble is ready to resurrect its floundering career, it is a strong enough outing that more than just the usual gathering of Moody Blues’ devotees will find the set to be remarkably heartfelt and pleasing. ˝
December is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box