The Moody Blues

REVIEW: The Moody Blues – Long Distance Voyager (1981 Remastered)

By request of Eric Litwiller

THE MOODY BLUES – Long Distance Voyager (Originally 1981, 2008 Decca remaster)

On album #10, The Moody Blues took it to the #1 slot.  Let’s take a dive and see what makes Long Distance Voyager work so magnificently.

Opening with a crash of soundtrack-like synthesizer, “The Voice” soon enters a comfortable 80s groove — think “The Highwayman” by Cash, Jennings, Kristofferson and Nelson.  But it’s not country, it’s science fiction-like progressive rock.  Justin Hayward’s dreamlike vocal and the the vintage keyboards create an instant atmosphere.  A brief but killer guitar solo adds the right accents.  What a song!  A masterpiece indeed, “The Voice” personifies perfect in every way, from mood to melody to majesty.

Lush strings and tinkling computers mesh on “Talking Out of Turn”, which goes Lennon/Beatles on the first verse.  Bassist John Lodge sings on this lengthy study, which was still a successful single despite its length.  If the Beatles survived intact into the 1980s, perhaps they could have recorded “Talking Out of Turn”.  In other words:  high praise.

The omnipresent Disco movement has its impact on “Gemini Dream”, a dance able rocker with a killer beat and vocal melodies to match.  Expertly constructed, and one of the best examples of a rock band stepping outside their comfort zone into the dimension of dance.

Acoustic guitars ring out on “In My World”, the side one closer and an extensive song with many guitar textures, including some delicate pedal steel.  Long and deliberate, but an instrumental tour-de-force.

The second side commenced on the upbeat “Meanwhile”, a short song with quaint keyboards and irresistible Justin Hayward vocal melodies.  An uplifting chorus, and you are hooked.  Then it’s the wicked “22,000 Days”, like a synthed-up sea shanty!  Awesome song unlike most you will hear.  Trans-Siberian Orchestra ripped off this vocal style much later on.

The acoustic “Nervous” starts very early-Pink Floyd without the THC.  It transforms into a big, bold ballad powered by strings.  Awesome song that doesn’t care that it’s pompous and overblown, nor should it.  Ray Thomas’ “Painted Smile” has an old fashioned big-top style, a bit circus-like, with rich accompanying singing and an outstanding lead vocal slot.

A final song with a big bold chorus called “Veteran Cosmic Rocker” ends the album leaving you wanting more.  A bouncing progressive rock and roll anthem, this would make a great theme song for anybody looking for a corny yet spacey cue.  “He struts, he strolls, his life is rock and roll.”

Since that last tune leaves you hungry, the 2008 remastered disc includes a single edit of “The Voice” as dessert.  It actually bookends the album quite brilliantly.  Those big Dr. Who keyboards return one last time to make sure you leave this album satisfied.

I got to hear this CD because it was Ray Litwiller’s favourite album, and that was good enough for me.

5/5 stars

#899: Gathering

RECORD STORE TALES #899:  Gathering

It was a beautiful day today.  In the afternoon I got the ol’ laptop dusted off, and brought it out onto the patio to listen to some tunes and watch some YouTube.  The laptop is at least a decade old, probably older, and has served me well as my travelling machine.  Today, it could barely do two things at once.  Obviously it will not serve me well for live streaming this summer at the lake.  It did a stand-up job last year, with Streamyard and video editing.  This year it simply will not cut the tomatoes so I pulled the trigger on a new HP.  I didn’t want to go down in screen size so I ordered a 17.3″.  I always get nervous when buying a new computer, and I’ve never bought HP before.  I’m excited though.  Whatever happens, it cannot be worse than a decade-old Acer.  It could be here as early as Tuesday.  Wish me luck — this summer’s future LeBrain Train episodes will depend on this laptop!  Meanwhile the old one will be brought to Sausagefest — if there will be such a thing this summer.

The laptop is delivering by Purolator, which is totally safe.  Amazon unfortunately is not.  Their couriers leave the parcel at the door and that’s that.  Because there is so much theft of Amazon parcels in these parts, for the last six months or so, I have been having everything sent to my mom and dad’s address.  I am still working from the office and they are home all the time.  Jen has appointments that usually has her out of the house when Amazon come knocking.  As a result, I have to pick up my parcels from them about once a week.  And, according to Ontario’s current regulations, having an outdoor socially distanced visit with them is currently illegal.

“Hey, would you guys like to come out back for an illegal visit?” asked my mom.

“Sure,” I shrugged.

We’ve all been vaccinated with the first shot and are at 50% immunity.  We distanced.  Well, my dad got a little close as he sometimes does.  But it was nice.  Something almost normal.  I would like to go down into the basement and look for some of my old sketches from when I was a kid, but we aren’t taking any chances.  We stayed out.  Doug Ford can suck it.

Ironically, one of the things I was picking up was a cheap pair of computer speakers.  Every time Doug Ford goes live on TV to open his big mouth, I can’t hear him.  It’s too quiet.  Annoying.  So I ordered some cheap Amazon branded speakers so I can actually listen next time he opens his big yap.  And they’re my speakers, so if I want to use them for my new laptop, I’m good there too.

Some music also arrived.  We will be interviewing Paul Laine soon on the LeBrain Train, so I grabbed his Zokusho album by the Defiants.  Looking forward to that.  In a previous order, I received Long Distance Voyager by the Moody Blues.  Uncle Meat told us that it was his dad’s favourite album, and he would love if we listened to it or even reviewed it.  So I listened to it, loved it, and ordered a CD so I can listen properly for review.  I’m happy to do that for him.

I have also completed my set of Whitesnakes Red, White & Blue trilogy.  In hand are the recent compilation CDs The Rock Album, The Love Album, and The Blues Album.  All tracks have been remixed and updated, while unreleased songs are also included.  John Snow over at 2loud2oldmusic did a fantastic job of reviewing them all.  The Blues Album came from Encore while the other two are Amazons.

We talked current events, we talked family matters, we had a few laughs.  All is well, more or less.  This is the first pandemic for everyone present.  In the five stages of grieving, I think my mom is at the anger stage.  Last week on the phone, when I told her that us visiting would be against the rules, she said “I don’t give a damn about the rules!”  I don’t know the last time I heard her that angry!  Let’s face it, we the people of Ontario have been getting jerked around.  She has a lot to be mad about.  I love my mom.

My dad, on the other hand, decided to watch a documentary about Ozzy Osbourne on A&E.  Excitedly, he told me all about his history with Black Sabbath and as a solo artist.  “He had a lot of success on his own, when no one thought he would!” he explained to me.  But it wasn’t easy for the Ozzman either.  My dad told me all about Ozzy’s son Jack, and the role that Sharon played in his success.  It was one of those moments you cherish.  I love my dad.

My mom also loved The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which concluded on Friday.  We talked about Sam and the new Captain America.  To my dad, there is only one Captain America and it’s not Sam Wilson or Steve Rogers.  It’s someone I’ve never heard of — Grant Gardner, district attorney and the 1944 version of Cap that he grew up with.  He has no interest in the new Cap, while my mom was really drawn into the storyline.  Hopefully next time we visit illegally, my mom will have seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier which I told her to watch next.

I realize I have incriminated myself and my family with this story, and to that I say:  oh well.  We were safe and respectful of common sense.   When this pandemic eventually ends — and history has shown that eventually it will — I will have these chapters as a document of the weirdest times of our lives.  And that has more value than a fine.