Seventh Sojourn

The Moody Blues

Threshold Records, 1972

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Decca made a smart move in remastering the Moody Blues' old catalog a few years back. The new technology fully brought out the subtleties of the group's first seven albums, revealing intricacies that were not there before and adding muscle to the group's occasionally wimpy sound.

This remastering enhances the group's final original album, which stripped away much of the overblown Mellotron and multi-tracked harmonies in favor of a starker (for this band, anyway) approach. The music is about as bleak as the front cover and the eight songs are among the group's most downbeat and legitimately introspective; as a result, this is one of the best albums the Moodies ever made.

"New Horizons" is one of Justin Hayward's most beautiful songs, anchored by a simple acoustic strum, some atmospheric keyboard work and a brief, effective electric guitar solo in the center. Likewise, "Lost In A Lost World" is social commentary with a haunting melody; check out the buildup in the verses before the release to the chorus. "When You're A Free Man" is another strong entry; it could be the most depressing sound the Moodies ever put to vinyl, but if you're in the right mood you totally feel it (the lyrics are a paean to Timothy Leary). my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

A distinct lack of silliness is noticed; other than the forgettable "Land of Make-Believe," gone is the whimsy, the dorky flute solos and the twee lyrics that characterized the worst of the band's psychedelic-era discs. Instead of hippie pot fantasies about lost chords and astral planes and crap, Seventh Sojourn concerns loneliness, broken hearts, imprisonment, loss and wandering. Even Ray Thomas tones down the silliness for the love song "For My Lady," more notable for his voice than the music.

The second half of the disc has the two brightest spots, most notably the closing "I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)," an all-out rock song with a great beat, some actual guitar solos and excellent bass work. Even more notable - in fact, going against the spirit of the band's previous philosophizing on life - are the lyrics: "So if you want the wind of change to blow about you / And you're the only other person to know / Don't tell me, I'm just a singer in a rock and roll band." 

The other upbeat piece is "You And Me," which is solid Moodies-by-numbers, while "Isn't Life Strange" is not quite the classic it wants to be but fits in perfectly with the album's context and themes and is the closest they have come to an actual epic.

Note: The recent two-disc remaster of the Moodies catalog adds a few bonus tracks, one of which is an unreleased song, "Island," that not only fits the style of this disc but would have made it better had it been swapped out for "Land of Make-Believe." It's worth seeking out for Moodies fans; as of this writing, it is available on iTunes.

Seventh Sojourn marked the end of an era; the band would take a hiatus, then reconvene for the forgettable Octave before hitting the 80s with a pop-oriented sound and a new keyboard player. As such, Seventh Sojourn marks the conclusion of the trip started on Days of Future Passed and remains the band's most resonant and personal statement.

Rating: B+

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© 2006 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Threshold Records, and is used for informational purposes only.