The Moody Blues, Seventh Sojourn
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Moody Blues end their classic period on top!!
JC from North Texas | 03/07/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Seventh Sojourn" marked the end of a run of seven brilliant Moody Blues' albums in six years(1967-1972); this was to be their seventh journey in Mike Pinder's words, and consequently the last of their classic seven albums. Gone are the more exploratory instrumental/ production passages of earlier albums, like "In Search Of the Lost Chord," On the Threshold Of a Dream," and "To Our Children's Children's Children." Even though I find I gravitate to those earlier releases as my faves, I think "Seventh Sojourn" is unique because its strength is that it displays all the components that make up a complete song. The arrangements are more concise and complimentary to the vocals. The melodicism is stronger than ever, which if you're familiar with the Moodies' sound, says a great deal. For anyone who doesn't own any MB releases from this era, this may be the most accessible. It's a safe purchase.... you won't encounter any "In the Beginning", "Om", or "Beyond" selections that showcased their more experimental side.
Mike Pinder was the Moodies' keyboardist and by far the greatest user of the English instrument known as the Mellotron. He practically conducts a sales seminar on its ability to simulate a wide range of instruments: Check out the accordion part on Ray Thomas' sea chantey, "For My Lady," which would make Gary Brooker and Keith Reid (of Procol Harum fame) proud...and those trumpet jabs you've heard all those years on FM in John Lodges' "I'm Just A Singer," aren't from some hired brass section, but Pinder's `Tron..
He also incorporated an earlier precursor to the Mellotron known as the Chamberlin to offer a purer strings sound in Justin Hayward's "New Horizons."
Hayward and drummer Graeme Edge's "You and Me" opens what would be Side Two of the original album. Justin Hayward offers some fine ES-335 guitar work on this track and segues into "The Land Of Make Believe." My favorite track on the album and I think one of Justin Hayward's finest vocal performances on any Moodies' record--exquisite melodic lines, one after the other, with searing emotional delivery...M. Pinder's second salute to counter-culture guru Timothy Leary is next in "When You're A Free Man." Probably the closest you'll find to the blues form in a Moody Blues' record, this may be Pinder's greatest MB vocal performance...its no wonder that J. Hayward cites this as his favorite "Seventh Sojourn" track.
The bonus tracks are a real treat....particularly Hayward's "Island"--a post-Seventh sessions recording that never saw the light of day until 2008, and the original expanded version of John Lodge's "Isn't Life Strange." After the bassoon line mid-way into the song (don't worry, that's Pinder on the Mellotron/ Chamberlin again, not a real bassoon), there's a simple but gorgeous section featuring Pinder on strings and Thomas on flute. It's such a great surprise to hear how the Moodies intended this classic to be released, sans any marketing or time constraints, after being hidden in the vaults after 36 years! Sorry vinyl purists, but you're not going to find this on any LP format. I know I still have all my original LPs, which I cherish, but none offer the much improved updates you'll get with this release.
I've owned this album in several issues, and I think Decca finally got it right with this one. A greater presence and brilliance is evident thru Edges' cymbal/ drum work which I always thought was needed even with the vinyl releases. The low end is boosted throughout and maybe a little too much on certain tracks, which is a trend you're going to see more in the future to satisfy younger listeners (i.e. the recent Doors' reissues, Beatles' "Love", etc.). I didn't own the `SS' 1997 Remaster release, but if it was anything like the other MB '97 issues, it was flat, noisy, lacked bonus cuts, and was omitted much of the original album artwork. Six of the original eight `SS' tracks are on the 1996 box set, `Time Traveller,' which is evidence of the strength of the material, but the sound is noisier than ever!
However, with the 2008 reissue you'll get all the original LP artwork, including the inner disc sleeve, thorough comprehensive liner notes, and valuable bonus tracks that aren't merely filler, coupled with a much needed sonic update.
This Moody Blues in 1972 were at their commercial peak: sold-out concert draws, a #1 album, and a bizarre showing of the then five year old "Knights in White Satin" on AM Top Ten radio. They took a six year break as a band, and later reformed for 1978's spotty "Octave" LP...Mike Pinder said no to a brand new tour, and left the band after relocating to America. The Moodies would continue on to commercial successes in the `80's, but the magic of their late `60's/ early `70's work would all be behind them....