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Strange Times

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Album Review

A lot of people will laugh at the idea of a new Moody Blues album, eight years after their last new release and 35 years after the original band started in the business. The fact is, though, that this is about the liveliest and leanest that the group has sounded in more than 20 years. Among this collection of 14 songs, ten have very pleasing melodies, unpretentious lyrics, and generally attractive performances. That puts Strange Times several steps above the last few of the group's albums. In contrast to their previous album, Keys of the Kingdom, the vast majority of songs here are steeped in romance rather than pop mysticism — nothing here is quite as catchy as "In Your Wildest Dreams," but several come close. Moreover, the group has built its sound on Strange Times around acoustic and electric guitars. The electronic keyboards are embellishment, nothing more, making for an unexpectedly lean and melodic album, less symphonic than anything they've done in decades. There are a few unfortunate digressions into the mystical side of the band's persona, but most of what's here are unpretentious love songs. Strange Times is still their most attractive album since Octave, and boasts their best album opener ("English Sunset") since "You and Me" from Seventh Sojourn. Not everything works that well, but even some of the heavy-handed work here, such as "The One," has some pretty vocal flourishes. "The Swallow" is one of Hayward's prettier slow numbers and worth its five-minute running time. There are still some mistakes, to be sure, including the pretentious title song and Graeme Edge's album-closing recital, "Nothing Changes," but Strange Times is still about as good an album as the Moody Blues have cut since the '70s.

Customer Reviews

The Moody Blues Rock On In The Nineties.

I've been a Moody Blues fan for over 20 years, being introduced to their music while in college. And, while I got my start with the album Long Distance Voyager and classic songs like Nights in White Satin, I've enjoyed the Moodies' more contemporary efforts in the late 80s. Strange TImes is surely the best effort since 1987's Sur La Mer, with An English Sunset and Foolish Love approaching some of the band's best musical efforts. You may have never heard of this album...it wasn't a huge seller and it was non-existent on the radio...but after a listen you'll feel as if an old friend has returned, updated, but still musically relevant.

Inconsistent, but good.

Several good songs. The opening tune "English Sunset" is my favorite on this album. "The Swallow" has some awkward lyrics that mix swallows and sparrows. The ending cut on the album, "Nothing Changes", harkens to the semi-hysteria that accompanied the approaching new millenium (2000-2001 computer failures to come, leading to global chaos). We are given the re-assuring perspective that life will perserver despite the gloom and doom.

Strange

is good. Saw the guys on tour with this and they were GREAT! Ray nearly stole the show with a four minute jam on flute in the middle of a smokin version of Sooner or Later. The One is my fave-rave. Words You Say and Forever Now are good tunes but limp; coulda used some heat. I feel the rest is english sons-rise.

Biography

Formed: 1964 in Birmingham, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Although they're best known today for their lush, lyrically and musically profound (some would say bombastic) psychedelic-era albums, the Moody Blues started out as one of the better R&B-based combos of the British Invasion. The group's history began in Birmingham, England with Ray Thomas (harmonica, vocals) and Mike Pinder (keyboards, vocals), who had played together in El Riot & the Rebels and the Krew Cats. They began recruiting members of some of the best rival groups working in Birmingham, including...
Full Bio