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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Moody Blues, The - 1981 Long Distance Voyager
Moody Blues, The - 1981 Long Distance Voyager

ARTIST: Moody Blues
ALBUM: Long Distance Voyager
LABEL: Threshold Records
SERIAL: TXS139 (UK), TRL-1-2901 (USA)
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 1986, Threshold, 820 105-2 * 2008, Decca, 530 933-0


LINEUP: Justin Hayward - guitars, vocals * John Lodge - bass, vocals * Ray Thomas - flutes, harmonicas, vocals * Graeme Edge - drums * Patrick Moraz - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Voice * 02 Talking Out Of Turn * 03 Gemini Dream * 04 In My World * 05 Meanwhile * 06 22,000 Days * 07 Nervous * 08 Painted Smile * 09 Reflective Smile * 10 Veteran Cosmic Rocker


Just when everyone thought The Moody Blues, let alone 'progressive' rock was dead, out came two outstanding albums from the genre that to this day, I still think are the best albums of their kind in the year 1981. The two records I am referring to are Electric Light Orchestra's 'Time' opus and the Moodies 'Long Distance Voyager'. Both albums are similar in style, sound and execution and while ELO's album will get reviewed here at GD eventually, let's take a crack at one of the Moodies finest offerings. According to the critics, the Blues were long gone and buried following 1978's 'Octave' despite hiring former Refugee/Yes keyboard wiz Patrick Moraz for the following tour which seemed to revitalize the band. I for one liked 'Octave' but considering the musical climate it wouldn't have surprised me if we never heard from the boys again, which is why when the release of 'Long Distance Voyager' was announced in late 1980, the planets had finally aligned and prog fans had something to look forward to.

The Songs
No one was disappointed, with the possible exception of snobbish progheads who listened to nothing recorded after 1973. 'Long Distance Voyager' was and is an outstanding album from seasoned veterans and the public agreed going number one in America and number five in the UK. FM radio naturally picked up on it right away pushing 'The Voice' to the top of most play lists with AM following suit pushing the single to 15 on the American Top 40 all the more surprising since they were never considered a 'singles' band. An excellent and instantly likeable track, with a typically Moody Blues classical introduction and Alan Parsons Project like song structure, 'The Voice' was a welcome relief from the quirky new wave sounds that were dominating the airwaves at the time. Two other singles were released from the album. The stunningly beautiful 'Talking Out Of Turn' and 'Gemini Dream' which scored just a couple points higher on the U.S. charts than 'The Voice', but it's all relative. It's on 'Gemini Dream' where the ELO comparisons really come into play, from the pompy keyboard work of Moraz to the vocal work and chorus, its as if Jeff Lynne was secretly in the studio. Brilliant music and the remaining songs on the album are just as strong and worthy of mention. The country flavoured 'In My World' is one of my favourite Moody Blues tracks and in the hands of anyone other than Justin Hayward would have sounded sappy and uninspired. 'Meanwhile' sounds very much like early Moodies while '22,000 Days' and 'Painted Smile' with vocals by Ray Thomas brings us back to the Electric Light Orchestra sound. This segues into 'Reflective Smile' which is well shall we say, is just plain weird, but cool nonetheless which leads into 'Veteran Cosmic Rocker' and this is about as progressive as the album gets. Written again by Ray Thomas featuring his flute work as well as sitar, it's a look at an aging rocker and all that goes with the fame and fortune, even after the spotlight fades. An appropriate ending to a remarkable and stellar album, 'Long Distance Voyager' continues to delight and surprise all these years later.

In Summary
I saw The Moody Blues in 1999 during their 'Strange Days' tour. It was the last tour with Ray Thomas who has since retired and I rank the show as one of the top five performances I've had the chance to see. I didn't want it to end and while even then their age was starting to show, they were professional, quintessentially English and played music for the ages making yours truly a fan for life.

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#1 | jeffduran on October 26 2008 23:27:34
Agree...One of the finest from 1981.
#2 | JuniorNB on October 27 2008 11:31:11
Excellent album. "Meanwhile" is my favorite, although it didn't get the airplay that some of the others did. This was the last Moody Blues album that I could enjoy all the way through. I think I'll pull it out right now. It's been awhile.
#3 | gdazegod on July 13 2009 05:19:05
Been listening to this lately.. quintessential English is an understatement Eric! Great stuff.. may need to investigate their back catalogue a bit more.. hmm!
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