Friday 4 July 2008

Moody Blues "Seventh Sojourn" (1972) ('Core' Review #53, Revised Edition 2014)

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The Moody Blues "Seventh Sojourn" (1972)

Track Listing: Lost In A Lost World/ New Horizons/For My Lady/Isn’t Life Strange?// You And Me/ The Land Of Make-Believe/When You’re A Free Man/ I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock and Roll Band) (UK and US tracklisting)

In 1972 The Moody Blues had finally achieved the success many bands long for. America had finally fallen for them big time, with 'Nights In White Satin' - a song released five years earlier and not re-promoted or re-issues by the band in any way - one of that year's biggest US hits. The States were about the last country to fall for the Moodies' charms too: by 1972 they were big in pretty much every other country in the Western world, having already clocked up 206 weeks on the charts in Britain (that's near enough four whole years - ie pretty much every week the Hayward/Lodge line-up of the band was together the band had an album on the UK top 100 chart somewhere!) If you'd have offered this success rate to any other band (including the Denny Laine era one in 1965) they'd have signed on the dotted line, held a party and enjoyed being the toast of the musical world. Instead the 1972 Moodies began to worry that it had all got just that little too big. Everyone was expecting the band's seventh album with the Lodge/Hayward line-up  to be a colossus, the biggest album of the year, an all-singing all-dancing all-mellotron epic. Instead what was released into the blare of the spotlight was a shy and timid creature full of doubts and insecurities; a restless, squirmless creature that far from nailing the band's new status as numero unos sounded like it didn't want anyone' prying eyes looking at it at all. A muted and low-key album made up of just eight elongated tracks - five of them ballads - 'Seventh Sojourn' was far from the record people had been expecting. In turns angry, disillusioned, mournful and regretful, Seventh Sojourn finds the Moody Blues at the crest of their fame and the peak of their powers  – and never have they sounded more unhappy. 

The world didn't know quite what to make of 'Seventh Sojourn' and it became the first Moodies record not to out-sell its predecessor in their entire run (indeed, this album peaked at a lowly #5 in the UK - the lowest since 'In Search Of The Lost Chord' in 1968). The fact that the band broke up soon after, with this record imbued with all the sadness and frustrations so many fans felt, only compounded the misery heaped on this poor album at the time. After all, the band didn't talk about it much: they'd gone through hell making it, growing further and further apart from each other to the point where this is the first Moodies album recorded largely by each of the 'composers' on their own with as little assistance from the others as and when needed (and generally through overdubs). Bored of working in Decca’s studios where the band had spent much of the past five years, the Moodies opted for a change of scene. The band now had their own record label and were in theory so successful and revered they’d had been welcome recording at pretty much any studio in the world at that time. Rather than record in exotic locations – the Virgin Islands like Paul McCartney did in 1978, Paris like the Beatles did in 1964 or India like George Harrison did in 1968 – the band went to Surrey and recorded a good half of the album in keyboardist Mike Pinder’s converted garage. Talk about trying to fight your superstar status! That in itself, though, says a great deal about the conditions of this album: Mike had become  increasingly adamant that his touring days away from home were over, seemed so ready to leave that the others flew out to him to head him off at the pass, as it were, although even then they generally worked singly, in bits. The fact that the band, who used to be such a 'band of brothers', wouldn't even pose together long enough for a photograph (the sleeve makes use of some rather mixed pen-and-ink drawings instead and even these are of the band as 'individuals') speaks volumes. No wonder so many people heard 'Seventh Sojourn' , scratched their heads and collectively speaking moved on to whatever the 'next big thing' was (more fool them: it was a choice between Slade, T Rex or David Cassidy, all three poor substitutes for the depth of a Moodies album, even if they were all a bit happier).

In the years since it's release, though, 'Sojourn's stock has risen to the point where it's many fans' favourite today - including mine. For while 'Sojourn' might be one of the quieter Moody Blues albums there's a lot going on under the surface. Each of these songs is a 'grower' - some more than others - with each track containing a multi-layered lyric without any need for wigged out instrumentals or heavy riff-based rockers this time around. Everything is poetic and perfectly composed, with very few of the eight songs (most of which clock in at five minutes) a second too long (apart from album lowlight 'Isn't Life Strange?' - and ironically the fully unedited eight minute take of that song added to the recent CD re-issue suggests it was a lot better longer before it got chopped back to six). The melodies are all top notch, the lyrics not far behind and all five members of the band get at least one last classic in before calling it a day. Most of all, though, 'Seventh Sojourn' is the Moody Blues at their most beautiful, with some of their prettiest work, enhanced by Mike Pinder's latest toy - a chamberlain - a variation on his favourite mellotron that enables these pretty melodies to simply hang in the air. At first hearing, it sounds like the band have gone to using a full proper orchestra like they did on Days Of Future Passed - actually the chamberlain is another set of tape loops played back to sound like the real thing, just like the mellotron was, but by 1972 the technology had moved on to such a stage that Pinder’s eerie playing is even more natural and distinctive-sounding than normal. Of course this is 'beautiful' in a different way to the band's earlier work - even 'EGBDF' had a 'warm' heart by contrast - this record is beautiful in an icy-cold austere way, but beautiful nonetheless (like 'postcard' perfect scenery covered in snow still manages to look 'beautiful' as long as you're not actually caught in it yourself). Most of all, 'Seventh Sojourn' is deep, deeper than the deep in fact, the Moodies' most unrelentingly 'intellectual' album without as many u-turns into simple pop, basic rockers or poetry.  Of all the many great Moodies records this is the one I keep returning to because of a 'feeling' that the record isn't quite done with me yet; that many many decades after teasing the last titbits from 'Days Of Future Passed' and most of the 'reunion' albums this record still has lessons to teach me and meanings to unravel.

Even though this album is obviously missing the classic band interplay of the Moodies’ earlier works - with on occasions only the writer present vocally on their own song, rather than the glorious block harmonies of the Moodies at their best - all the individual group members seem to be on something of an individual high here, pooling together some of their best compositions for one last hurrah. Most of the songs are long (even by Moodies standards) and slow (even by early 70s Moodies standards), suggesting at face value that quality control had gone out the window to some extent or that the band were struggling to fill up a whole album’s worth of material (eight songs is, after all, a rather small amount for an early 70s LP, especially on an album featuring no less than five songwriters). Fear not, however - these long unwinding epic landscapes by and large deserve their epic times, giving the album its unique sound and arguable making it the memorable beast this album is. Indeed, even though many of the tracks on the album sport some career-best lyrics (notably the what-are-we-doing-here? philosophy of You And Me and the burning, brooding anger of Lost In A Lost World, a Moody Blues title if ever there was one), it’s the bits in-between that really stand out; the instrumental passages and the long fade-in and fade-outs. All of these ‘bits and pieces’ that might normally have been edited out of the band’s earlier, more naturally segues work really show off the band’s prowess well coming straight after three lengthy world tours in a row, bouncing off each other really well despite their boredom and frustration in this troubled period.

Like many a Moodies epic, the question at the core of this album is ‘what is happening to me?’ and the key word of the album is 'lost'. Less usually, the half-theme seems to be 'travel'. Just three albums ago the band knew where they and mankind were headed (the moon!), but now humanity's progress has become more erratic and less reliably for good and the band are 'lost' where they stand, unable even to make it out from where they stand. The opening Mike Pinder track, for instance, finds the band 'Lost In A Lost World' while the keyboardist's second song finds mankind 'trapped', with the hope that we'll meet again 'When You're A Free Man' sounding far from hopeful that day will ever come. The latter song even adds that 'you left your country for peace of mind' but knows that it takes more than just changing post-codes to escape the narrator's problems. 'You and Me', meanwhile, imagines two separate fates for mankind, both involving travel: the technological heights of 'Concorde' (a brand new super plane back then) or 'the pain of a burning wound'. More than that, though, the band aren't sure of themselves as individuals anymore. 'New Horizons' tries to find a new place to travel to, but even a song as lovely as this is driven on by a 'nightmare come true' back in the present, this narrator too 'lost in a lost world'. 'Isn't Life Strange?' is John Lodge's turn at addressing the 'strange' feeling within the band - the idea that they've  all 'moved on' from one another instinctively without realising ('A turn of the pa-a-a-a-a-ge...') All of these songs pretty much want answers to give to their audience - but all they can find are more questions. No wonder this album ends with the mixed goodbye kiss of 'I'm Just A Singer In A Rock and Roll Band' (also the last Moodies single till their reunion as well as their final album track): the band don't believe in themselves any more. After all, how can they be anything more than 'mere' singers when they can't even practice the peace and love they preach within their own band? Many fans were 'surprised' by this as a 'goodbye', as if the band had been 'pretending' all these years, but that's not really the message: they've been on a quest for five years to tease out the 'truth' of life - and found out it's so huge and complex and random that they're no better off than when they started; possibly worse (many have assumed that Lodge was writing of his own accord but Pinder joins in too on the opening track: 'Everybody's looking for the answer - well, look again my friend!'). Other Moody Blues albums dilute that fear of never finding out the 'answers' a little with hope and faith. This album has very little of either.  The only happy song on the entire album is Ray Thomas' delightful 'For My Lady' - the first out and out Moodies love song since 'Never Comes The Day' - and that effectively takes place 'outside' of all this; the narrator - another long distance voyager -  finding a safe 'harbour' where the narrator is happy to 'moor' and stay for the rest of his days, safe from the 'battling oceans' and 'stormy seas' outside. A welcome change of direction at the 'heart' of the album, it's one of the band's simplest but most effective recordings.

Elsewhere this is the band's 'ecology' album, impressively early compared to most of their peers who don't get into 'animal rights' and 'conservation' until the decade is much older - Justin's lyric for 'The Land Of Make Believe' worries that 'we're taking up a lot of room' and hopes that 'prayers' will be heard and an intervention created; Graeme's for 'You and Me' looks at the ill effects of man on the landscape across the world (a 'leafless tree in Asia', a 'homeless man'). This is a world that's stopped caring, For once the band are looking out as well as in - and they don't like what they see there either. Uniting both these themes, 'Seventh Sojourn' has a rather dull (by their standards) but rather apt cover sleeve: a bunch of 'driftwood' (see the 'Octave' album...) floating about aimlessly in some vast polluted looking water, looking 'lost'. The point seems to be not only that the world has lost its direction but that this fact is mankind's 'fault' - and the same kind of goes for the band too (who seem to have reached the point where being creative stops being 'fun' and has turned into a chore - all bands go through it, though not all of them split up). These are also, potentially, the 'New Horizons out to sea' as described by Hayward, though if that metaphor is true they must be eclipsed by the luscious beauty that must be taking place right behind the 'camera'.

The title Seventh Sojourn, by the way, is named after its position in the Moodies' canon (counting just those by just the Hayward/Lodge line-up). While the band did briefly try to start an eighth LP in 1973 (recording just one song, Hayward's 'Island' - a song added to the CD re-issue of 'Sojourn', which really fits both the album's theme of frustrated travel and melancholic shoe-gazing), everyone involved 'knew' that this would be their last record for a while and this album is a 'goodbye' in many ways. In fact this record actually waves 'goodbye' twice, Pinder promising that we'll meet again 'when we're all free men' and Lodge returning for an encore with the message that the band are as lost as their audience, 'just singers in a rock and roll band' (both of them worthy farewells).  Even before that Hayward looks to 'New Horizons', Edge urges us that even while the band are gone to 'never ever ever stop' and even Thomas navigates his way into a 'port' for a 'stopover'. However as the lyrics in that song imply, the Moodies didn't want this record to be a 'final' end; they'd been through too much together to contemplate never working with each other again ever and their ties to their own record label Threshold meant they would be linked together for the forseeable future anyway. Instead the Moodies did the usual sensible thing, naming this record not a 'break' or a 'conclusion' or a 'full stop'; instead it's a 'sojourn', a lovely word meaning a 'temporary rest' that also happens to bag me a nice lot of points when those letters come up in 'Scrabble' (see what I mean about this album teaching you things!)

No wonder Seventh Sojourn is often referred to as the Moodies’ ‘epic’ album -  quite a statement if you know the other six original records as they’re all pretty epic! Here the stakes seem that much bigger, with the band’s rockiest rockiers offset by their most dreamlike funeral ballads and the whole album is filled with even more exotic instruments than normal. With all that going on, it would be easy for the album to go above the heads of all but its most loyal of fan-bases, but no – tracks like You and Me and especially For My Lady are also some of the most gorgeously down-to-earth and simple of all the Moodies’ songs, offering an accessibility lacking from much of the band’s recent work. The group never quite intended this to be their last album for a while - after all, there was no bitter acrimonious ‘artistic differences’ split like there is with most bands of the period, just a sense of boredom and going through the motions  - and in fact the Moodies did start recording an eighth album in 1973 before abandoning it in its early stages. Yet during the recording of Seventh Sojourn the band knew that the end was drawing near and you can hear that in many places on this record. When most popular bands split up, it’s usually an event mourned for by a hardcore of loyal fans, while other more casual record buyers simply move onto somebody else who is similar. When the Moodies split, unexpectedly so it seemed and with no real announcement, there was no similar group to transfer our allegiance to and every fan who had ever bought a Moodies record felt at least a little jolt – how were we going to get through our lives without the gentle Brummie wisdom of these five philosophers to guide us now? The last true Moodies album by the original line-up (Pinder is there for the first re-union album, but even more than here you can tell his heart is elsewhere), Seventh Sojourn brings quite a lump to the throat because it is, quite knowingly, giving us a farewell message of sorts. As a swansong to the band’s original fame, fortune and all-in-this-together companionship, Sojourn takes some beating and is one of the most brilliantly bittersweet goodbyes in rock history, as well as being a thoughtful, intelligent and above all beautiful album in its own right. How wonderful the next joint Moody Blues album might have been based on this one - but then again without the impending split the band would never have created an album of such brilliantly austere melancholy as this one. The fact that the band managed to record an album this good out of such difficult times is a testament to their abilities - and as the lyrics to 'The Land Of Make Believe' have it, heartache can indeed be turned into joy: the sorrowful 'Seventh Sojourn' is final proof that the Moody Blues were so much more than just singers on some rock and roll band and - while they claimed not to have 'found' it - on this record they get as close to the 'truth' as anybody ever has. A truly special record.

The Songs:

A gradual fade into the opening song [103a] Lost In A Lost World implies that this piece is sequenced by Mike Pinder to follow on from the fade-out of his and the band’s last tune My Song at the end of EGBDF. After singing about his hopes for the future after seeing some sort of divine insight into life on the last track, Pinder now sounds uncharacteristically angry, even aggressive, demanding why his glorious vision of the future has not been met in the year or so between albums. Like most of Pinder’s Moody songs, Lost is calling for people everywhere to work together in harmony – but on most of the keyboardist’s works that decision is a personal calling, whereas here he’s spitting his fury at the stupidity of the outside world, unable to believe that in 1972 mankind is still at war, still acting on obsolete prejudices and dismissing all attempts to make things better on even a small scale. ‘Revolution’s just another form of gun’ he tells us, ‘we should all be changing our ideas together, not just some of us forcing others into submission’. More than any other track on this confused album, this is the megastar Moodies telling us ‘what’s the point of being famous if you can’t do anything about the world’s problems except sing about them?’ Chomping at the bit to do his part for society, Pinder is trapped, as confused as everyone else about what should be done practically to bring the Earth closer to peace and as frustrated as anything that his audience now expect and demands answers from him that he cannot give. Pinder’s vocal and chamberlain work are particularly strong on this track, making the piece sound like some grand celestial marching rally going on in the heavens and the overall result is one of the record’s best band performances, full of tightly controlled tension and surprisingly harsh lyrics. Never has such a simple line ‘I woke up today, I was crying’ sounded so hopeless, so helpless or so bitter.

[104] New Horizons offers a brief moment of solitude, being one of Hayward’s prettier songs which is so subtle in idea, lyric and melody that it’s hardly there at all. Everything about this song is slow and lazy – the vocals, the dragged out instrumental bits between the verses, the mellotron ending – but that only adds to the song’s beauty as the piece casually, tentatively makes its journey through it’s wondrous melody line. The song also returns to one of Hayward’s favourite song structures, mixing some very downbeat melancholic verses with an uplifting chorus which are both about leaving the past behind for an uncertain but possibly disappointing, possibly exhilarating future. That’s Justin double or even triple-tracked on the vocals by the way; Seventh Sojourn sadly doesn’t feature much of the fantastic block harmonies that dominate most other Moodies albums and it may be that Edge’s surprisingly mediocre drumming and Pinder’s gorgeous eerie chamberlain represent the only other presence of another Moody Blue on this track. Although ostensibly this is one of its Hayward’s most romantic lyrics, its easy to see the song as a genuinely tender goodbye to the group themselves – lines like ‘I’m never going to lose your precious gift, it will always be that way, but I know I’m going to find my own peace of mind someday’ show a great deal of heartfelt of the tug-of-war going on in Hayward’s emotions about whether to keep the band alive or quietly walk away from it. Listen out too for Justin’s line about escaping from a ‘nightmare come true’ – surely this too is about the Moodies’ deep-rooted unhappiness, as this most peace-loving harmonious and hopeful of bands succumbed to grumpiness and silent feuding like so many other bands before them, even if the Moodies were far too gentlemanly (and more charitably, far too nice) to give way to out-and-out war. A last beautiful hurrah using all the standard practices that made the Moodies the loved band they were, this is one of Hayward’s best ballads ever recorded by the group, pure and simple.

Ray Thomas hits his own career peak with his equally romantic love song [105] For My Lady. The song’s gentle, simple lyrics are among the happiest ever heard in a Moodies song – especially the perfectly fitting middle eight. One of the loveliest, most intimate and most intricate Moodies ballads, it simply oozes love and affection, as the narrator sails over his ‘stormy seas’ into the hands of his waiting lady. In the past three Moodies albums reviewed on this list we’ve said how Thomas was a terrific emotional writer and vocalist who all too often ruined his efforts with ‘novelties’ and sudden forays into pixieland territory that rather diminish his other, more serious pieces. There is no such danger here – warm, cosy and well balanced, with enough yearning and weariness in the trials and tribulations of the song’s opening verse, this song remains by far his greatest achievement. Thomas’ vocal is also well placed somewhere between joyfulness and sentimentality, while his own chirpy flute playing, Pinder’s fairground organ-like mellotron that dances all over the opening instrumental and Hayward’s delicate guitar plucking show that the rest of the band held the song in some affection too, giving the track one of their all-too-rare rare band performances on this album. If you like this song as much as I do, then find Ray’s first solo album From Mighty Oaks from 1974 which is full of tracks like this. Warmly tender, with one of the band’s most beautiful melody-lines and a simple but still spot-on lyric, For My Lady is one of the best tracks the Moodies ever released.

Unfortunately John Lodge must have heard what the other Moodies were up to and decided to come up with a slow, laborious epic of his own to bring to the table.[106a] Isn’t Life Strange? has a peculiar track record with Moodies fans who either love it or loathe it – suffice to say unlike the other tracks on this album, Lodge’s dalliance with falsetto Bee-Gees territory doesn’t quite justify the track’s six-minutes plus running time, especially coming after two straight ballads which make the song sound even slower than it does out of context. The lyrics try hard too but, unusually, Lodge – the subtlest and most interested in detail of all the five Moodies composers – can’t quite work out where he is going with this tone poem and the song’s wayward pitch does unusual things to both his falsetto lead (painfully high) and Hayward’s tenor (painfully deep). Strangely, a recently unearthed version of this track, with an even longer playing time, works much better than this released version thanks to a chillingly mysterious solo played around the four-minute mark by Pinder on the chamberlain. Eerie, yet hauntingly beautiful, this minute-long missing link suddenly makes a great deal of sense out of the lyrical confusion and isolation that has come before it and must stand as one of the best discoveries in the Moodies’ recent ‘archives overhaul’, conducted for the latest CD re-issues of their first seven albums. The ‘original’ version of the song, however, is a rare off-day for the generally consistent Moody Blues, being in turns confused, awkward and dull.

[107a] You And Me kicks off side two’s muddy boots (well done if you spotted the Moodies reference there) with a classic simple uptempo rocker that still manages to include probably more two and three-syllable words in its lyric than the rest of 1972’s top 20 releases put together. Great as Edge’s lyrics are, it’s the opening minute or so of this track that is it’s highlight; a grungy Lodge bass part is suddenly doubled by Hayward’s guitar and mixed together with swirly Pinder chamberlain, circling higher and higher up the keys until bringing the song to a memorable thundering crash into the first verse. Having nothing in common with the rest of the track, this part is ironically perhaps the best Moodies band performance of all – albeit the shortest musical section of pretty much any the band recorded and taped at the most un-harmonious time in their long history. The song thereafter is a bit of an anti-climax, but Edge’s lyrics are still among his best, mainly harking back to the band’s growing interest in the environment, with a memorable couplet dismissing mankind as ‘just a wave that just drifts around here’ before the next evolved species come along to take over. With all four Moodies vocalists joining in for some rare united harmony attack, the band give us their latest in a long line of warnings: that you and me are all we’ve got and we must do something to change our fortunes before we lose our togetherness or it gets taken away. Given the fine band performance here, its tempting to see this as Edge’s comment on the band situation too, telling his musical brothers that ’all we are trying to say is that we are all we’ve got’. The rest of the lyrics Jump restlessly around the globe, as if to prove how we are all ‘brothers’ responsible for our planet, and this gauntlet is picked up by Hayward’s adventurous melody line, all churning double-tracked guitar riffs and a classic rock and roll rhythm and tempo. For all its merits as a song, however, its the recording – one of only two ‘group’ performances on the album – that stands out. The band merge from loud electric attack to acoustic laidback gentleness with ease and the song seems to fly through its many sections with the same sense of urgency you can hear in the lyrics. Even this most basic of rock songs is long and drawn out to a degree, but like the rest of the album you actually end up wanting the song to last much longer, it sounds so good.

[108] The Land Of Make Believe is another nice Hayward ballad with some sweet flute playing from Ray Thomas as the guitarist’s only real company, although its alarming to hear Justin triple-tracking his harmonies again instead of using the other band member’s talents. Make Believe is a pretty, delicate, Kinks-like track all about our need to use fantasy as an escape from real life and although most of the song is calm and graceful its obvious at the louder points of the song that the real world is knocking at the door and trying to get in. A song about why we hide behind false smiles and trying to urge others to take them off, its easy to see this song as another cry from the heart by Hayward, a logical progression from his earlier tracks like The Actor and Never Comes The Day. The middle eight’s image, with its one lonely bird soaring above the clouds to a find a new planet away from the problems of this one, is classic Moodies and sung so forcefully you can almost see it flying into view across the album’s rather monochromatic cover. Even if the track is uncharacteristically simple by Hayward’s standards and has even less of a tune than the vague New Horizons, it’s powerful build-up over the course of the song twice over is impressive stuff and its lyrical call for an outside influence to guide us to safety and the demand to right the wrongs of our environmental woes mean it nicely links up with the other themes of this album.

[109] When You’re Free Man is the now customary Mike Pinder epic to almost-but-not-quite close the album, featuring a growling mass of low-pitched strings and another surprisingly bitter set of lyrics about trying to break free from obstacles (or perhaps The Moody Blues again). Like many a Pinder song in this period, it’s heavy going but rewarding, with the song frequently threatening to topple over under its own weight, although the song’s composer finds a typically adept mix between emotion and control in his vocal which just about makes it work. Just as fed up as on his earlier track, Pinder lyrically puts himself into some sort of life preservation freezer, calling to his partner or perhaps us – the listeners – to join him when the world is free and peaceful at last. Part drama, part gospel-ballad, this song builds and builds with only the second burst of full Moodies harmonies on the record and Thomas’ lone flute for company, all dancing in amongst a sea of droning guitars, chamberlain and percussion. This slow and stately march gets truly symphonic by the fade out with swirling mellotron, electric guitar and flutes disappearing into one mammoth cavernous build up of feedback and noise before transforming into a sweet little keyboard riff which would have made a good song in its own right had the Moodies felt like recording another album (Turn up the sound loud to hear it, it’s a bit buried in the mix!)

The Moodies realised this might be their last album for a while, however, and didn’t want to leave their fans with their usual, rather sombre, finale. Just like an encore, Lodge’s [110] I’m Just A Singer In A Rock And Roll Band fades up out of nowhere after a longer between-songs pause than normal, sporting compulsive pounding drums and the second of the two true 100% group performances on the record. Even though the band are bowing out in rock and roll style, however, there’s still something distinctly Moodies about the ambiguity of this track: Lodge seems to be celebrating his band and their achievements, just as he does on Ride My See-Saw and Candle Of Life, but the overall message of the song is still this album’s caustic response of ‘we know nothing, so don’t expect us to be able to give you the truth.’ That message isn’t really the most suitable way for the band to say goodbye, but no matter – there’s still something very infectious about this song, highlighted by Lodge’s own enthusiastic bubbly bass playing and the presence of only the second fully up-tempo track on the whole record. Hayward fits in a quick guitar solo along the way, double-tracking it so well it sounds like one guitar part not two, before the joyous chorus with its last burst of glorious block harmonies comes in, still making this at least sound like a fitting end, whatever this song’s ambiguous, doubtful message.

Seventh Sojourn acts equally well as a peaceful tonic to other hard-hitting albums and as a bitter protest in it’s own right. Moody, goody and filled with beauty, it’s yet more evidence that in the late 60s to the early 70s the Moodies were the class of the field in terms of songs, musicianship, flair and invention. The world had to wait another six years before its next dose of Moody Blues tonic, but understandably the band never attempted anything of this album’s scale or inventiveness ever again. All of the Moodies’ original run of seven albums are something very special, but this sweet little epic may be the most special of all. They don’t sound like just any old singers in a rock and roll band to me – the Moodies always had something special to say and always said it well, and it is with some reluctance that we wave goodbye to them on this list.

A Now Complete List Of Moody Blues Related Articles At Alan’s Album Archives:

'The Magnificent Moodies' (1965)

'Days Of Future Passed' (1967)

'In Search Of The Lost Chord' (1968)

'On The Threshold Of A Dream' (1969)

'To Our Children's Children's Children' (1969)

‘A Question Of Balance’ (1970)

'Every Good Boy Deserves Favour' (1971)

'Seventh Sojourn' (1972)

'Blue Jays' (Hayward/Lodge) (1976)

'Songwriter' (Hayward) (1977)

'Long Distance Voyager' (1981)

'The Present' (1983)

'The Other Side Of This Life' (1986)

‘Keys To The Kingdom’ (1991)

'Strange Times' (1999)


Surviving TV Clips 1964-2015:

The Best Unreleased Recordings 1961-2009:

Non-Album Recordings Part One 1964-1967:

Non-Album Recordings Part Two 1968-2009:

Solo/Live/Compilation Albums Part One 1969-1977:

Solo/Live/Compilation Albums Part Two: 1979-2015

Essay: Why Being A Moodies Fan Means You Can Never Go Home

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