The other night I dimmed the lights and listened to an old album that once meant a great deal to me. Long Distance Voyager (1981) was a comeback album for the Moody Blues. After dominating the FM airwaves and stoners’ dens in the 60s and 70s, the band sort of disappeared for a while, taking up solo projects with varied success.
Myself, I was nuts about the Moody Blues as a kid. For me, they were closer to my heart than the Beatles, even though I realized that, technically speaking, most of Beatles songs were more clever and musically complex.
I mean, just try playing a few Beatles jingles by ear. Chances are at some point you’ll be wondering what freakin’ key or time signature they shifted into, even though it sounds effortless and smooth on the album.
The Moody Blues are not quite as flexible, musically speaking, but they’ve got heart and soul in spades. At least, that’s how I felt about them.
This comeback album, Long Distance Voyager surprised many. Commercially it did very well back in 1981, especially in Canada, and spearheaded even more Moodies releases through the 80s and 90s, right up to December in 2003.
It was the era of the comeback kids.
A year before Steve Winwood, who had distinguished himself with The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic and Blind Faith in the 60s and 70s, came out with Arc of a Diver (1980) which was huge—again, especially in Canada.
And in 1982, Paul McCartney released Tug of War, which hit #1 in several countries and delighted most listeners with a few more Beatlesque ditties.
If that wasn’t enough, that old chameleon David Bowie was working his #1 magic with Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) in 1980 and Let’s Dance in 1983.
The time was ripe for a Moody Blues comeback, and they delivered, even if they lost one of their ‘classic era’ members (Mike Pinder) who was somewhat contentiously replaced by the Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz.
This particular song from LDV wasn’t a huge hit but I always liked it. It was easy to play on the guitar, and I spent many long hours mimicking my mellow British heroes whom my music teacher once jokingly called “The bad boys of rock and roll!”
The joke here was that the Moodies were anything but bad. They could rock but it always had some positive, life-affirming message.
What struck me the other night while re-visiting this song was its overall arrangement and seamless production. It seems Spotify has done something to the track. I’m not sure. Maybe compressed, equalized or limited it to bring up the midrange. I like the effect. You can hear its slick production like never before.
So if you have any interest, dim the lights, get relaxed, and listen… I think you’ll find that for the early 1980s, these guys were way ahead of the game in terms of creating a captivating soundscape within a relatively simple song.