Surround Sound Would Have Saved This Album
Martin A Hogan | San Francisco, CA. (Hercules) | 09/24/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As the eighth album from the original ensemble of the Moody Blues, this is the only one not to be remastered in 5.1 (actually 4.1 as the center speaker is not used). I can only guess it is because the group recorded at the Record Plant in California and did not have the same access to the quad mixers. However, Justin Hayward and Alberto Paroldi did a fine job remastering in stereo with this 2008 release. The songs are more vibrant than the original recording and the five `live' songs are incredibly clear, unlike the Caught Live + 5 album, which had horrible mixing.
As is usual with the first song on a Moody Blues album, there is a special effect `hook' used for introduction. However, "Steppin' In A Slide Zone" falls short as a single with a repetitive chorus and forced melody. In fact, some of the songs sound terribly dated, which is unusual for the Moody Blues earlier albums. "I'll be Level With You", "Top Rank Suite" and "Survival" just seem out of synch with a typical Moody Blues song. Note that this was a tough period for the group in general, not knowing what the future held. However, songs like, "Driftwood", "The Day We Meet Again" and "One Step Into The Light" (Mike Pinder's only contribution) are represented in the classic Moody Blues ethereal sound. In Fact, Pinder's song contains lyrics that harken back to the psychedelic era and the mellotron works well without being overpowering.
The additional five live songs don't make up for the lack of the quadraphonic sound most had hoped for, but at least they are crisply and clearly recorded. Again, "Driftwood" (with its reverb guitar) and "The Day We Meet Again" are nice surprises.