Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Moody Blues - The Present

Today (August 28th) is the thirtieth anniversary of The Present, the eleventh studio album from the Moody Blues. It charted at number 35 in Sweden, number 33 in Germany, number 26 in three countries (the Netherlands, New Zealand and the US Billboard 200 Album chart), number 15 in the UK, number 14 in Norway, and number 11 in Canada. The album’s cover was done as homage to Maxfield Parrish’s painting Daybreak.

The line-up of the band for this record was Justin Hayward (vocals and guitar), Graeme Edge (drums), John Lodge (vocals and bass), Patrick Moraz (keyboards) and Ray Thomas (vocals, harmonica and flute).

Side one begins with the beautifully blended synthesizers and flute of the pessimistic “Blue World”. As the first single, it went to number 62 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 40 in Canada, number 35 in the UK, and number 32 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.

“Meet Me Halfway” is pining plea to a lover; this listener hopes that he gets a reply.

“Sitting at the Wheel”, the second single, went to number 27 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 18 in Canada, and number 3 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. This up-beat anthem has a very Electric Light Orchestra sound to it which I enjoy a lot.

The B-side to the first single was desperate cries of “Going Nowhere”.

Side two opens with “Hole in the World”, the album’s sole instrumental track. The imagery summoned up is that of a march through a desolate land, winds blowing on high. It segues into the next track.

“Under My Feet”, a song about taking chances and unexpected surprises, was the B-side to the third single. I like the organ and horns that support this one.

“It’s Cold Outside of Your Heart” shifts gears by diving into a country music genre, thanks to the whisking percussion and the gentle guitars. I would have cut back on the synth influences on the chorus though, keeping to a simpler arrangement.

The ballad “Running Water” was released as the third single.

“I Am” opens with a lovely flute solo which is then joined by a vocal of awakening self-awareness. This track moves quickly into the next one.

The final track “Sorry” was also the B-side to the second single. I am guessing radio stations would play both of these two tracks together as they fit like jigsaw puzzle pieces to make a clearer picture.

My first impression of The Present is that of an enjoyable listening experience. The Moody Blues crafted a solid record here, and there are definitely a number of tracks I am looking to add to my music library in the future.


HERC said...

Following 1981's Long Distance Voyager - one of my Desert Island Discs - The Present was a HUGE disappointment - it was like someone threw a big wet blanket on the Moodies and they followed their contemporaries Chicago into soft-rock hell.

I like soft-rock, don't get me wrong, but the sins of commercial compromise committed by The Moody Blues, Chicago and Heart are unforgivable with songs and albums that are mere shadows of their former selves.

To be fair, the Magnificent Moodies bounced back somewhat with 1986's The Other Side Of Life although their music in the late Eighties and Nineties could often be confused with that of Alan Parsons.

There are some who would argue that The Moody Blues were early architects of the soft-rock sound which I would counter with just these three rocking songs:

"Ride My See-Saw"
"I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)"

'Nuff said.

Sorry to be so uncharacteristically negative but this one really struck a (Lost) chord. My name is HERC and, for better or worse, I am a fan of the Moody Blues.

Martin Maenza said...

Herc, no need to apologize. It's all good. Sometimes some albums just don't work for us - that's the beauty of music (it is subjective).