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The Present (Remastered & Expanded)

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Album Review

The Moody Blues' follow-up to their chart-topping Long Distance Voyager lacked some of the reach and ambition of its predecessor, and was more a beneficiary of good craftsmanship than inspired songwriting or performance — a fact borne out by the accompanying tour, where the new songs went over rather flat (that was also the tour on which they were supported by a then largely unknown Stevie Ray Vaughan, whose opening set at the Byrne Arena at the New Jersey Meadlowlands blew the band off the stage for most audience members). This remastered effort at least brings out that craftsmanship in high relief — it doesn't do anything for the songs, which are mostly solid but hardly among the most memorable of their output, but the audio quality does run circles around the original CD, bringing out little instrumental flourishes that hardly registered at all on the original LP or CD. The voices are also more impressive here, and that does make for a warmer listening experience overall. The only bonus features are the single mix of "Blue World" and an extended mix of "Sitting at the Wheel," which isn't much more than filler — which is exactly what the original song sounded like, apart from a central riff that sounds like more memorable riffs one had heard on songs by Jackson Browne, et al. As with other releases in this series of reissues, there are extensive historical notes by Mark Powell, which make for good reading.

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...
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