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Strange Times
     

Strange Times

4.3 6
by The Moody Blues
 
"Nothing Changes," asserts the final track of the Moody Blues' first offering in eight years. The fact that the track is a Graeme Edge poem would seem to support its thesis, but this album is more like a return to form for these veteran cosmic rockers. The past 20 years have found the Moodies struggling to remain relevant in the changing musical climate, but with this

Overview

"Nothing Changes," asserts the final track of the Moody Blues' first offering in eight years. The fact that the track is a Graeme Edge poem would seem to support its thesis, but this album is more like a return to form for these veteran cosmic rockers. The past 20 years have found the Moodies struggling to remain relevant in the changing musical climate, but with this album they seem to have learned that people's love for their music is the only relevance they need. The first strains of "English Sunset" make one wonder if the Moodies were attempting to make a techno album, as other old greats have tried to do in recent years. But not to worry, longtime fans, the song soon reveals itself as a worthy addition to the Moodies' catalog of great album openers. Strange Times, the group's most consistent album since Long Distance Voyager, emphasizes strong melodies and lush arrangements, showing the Moody Blues to be ultimately, finally, content with their identity. Other highlights include Hayward's gorgeous "The Swallow" and "My Little Lovely," a wistful child's song by Ray Thomas.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide
A lot of people will laugh at the idea of a new Moody Blues album, eight years after their last new release and 35 years after the original band started in the business. The fact is, though, that this is about the liveliest and leanest that the group has sounded in more than 20 years. Among this collection of 14 songs, ten have very pleasing melodies, unpretentious lyrics, and generally attractive performances. That puts Strange Times several steps above the last few of the group's albums. In contrast to their previous album, Keys of the Kingdom, the vast majority of songs here are steeped in romance rather than pop mysticism -- nothing here is quite as catchy as "In Your Wildest Dreams," but several come close. Moreover, the group has built its sound on Strange Times around acoustic and electric guitars. The electronic keyboards are embellishment, nothing more, making for an unexpectedly lean and melodic album, less symphonic than anything they've done in decades. There are a few unfortunate digressions into the mystical side of the band's persona, but most of what's here are unpretentious love songs. Strange Times is still their most attractive album since Octave, and boasts their best album opener ("English Sunset") since "The Voice" from Long Distance Voyager. Not everything works that well, but even some of the heavy-handed work here, such as "The One," has some pretty vocal flourishes. "The Swallow" is one of Hayward's prettier slow numbers and worth its five-minute running time. There are still some mistakes, to be sure, including the pretentious title song and Graeme Edge's album-closing recital, "Nothing Changes," but Strange Times is still about as good an album as the Moody Blues have cut since the '70s. ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide

Product Details

Release Date:
08/17/1999
Label:
Umvd Labels
UPC:
0601215356526
catalogNumber:
53565
Rank:
39327

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Strange Times 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am the sort that has listened to the Moody Blues on and off over the last 30 years but they were never the top of my pops. But I really enjoyed the 'Other Side of Life' album with 'Wildest Dreams' about ten years back. 'Strange Times' has a great start. 'English Sunset' and the other openers catch a mood and feel similar to 'Wildest Dreams' and 'Other Side of Life'. But as the album progresses, the songs go down hill. The mood is lost. Then towards the end I feel like the band is lecturing me via the lerics. Yawn. I don't need that. So when I listen to the album now I cut it short after the first few tracks.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm just discovering this band, and I'm fairly young. I think this album is really great, and very mellow. Perhaps it has no one single amazing song (as someone mentioned, no Your Wildest Dreams) but it doesn't matter really. Unlike previous albums (such as The Other Side of Life) this album is very consistent and very heartfelt. I read this is the first album since the classic 7 where the band lived together while writing and recording. Anyway, the music is generally mellow, emotional, and deep in meaning; it is a shame it has (so far) not become recognized as the high quality classic it is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This will definately be remembered for years to come as one of their BEST ever!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Strange Times came as a breath of fresh air for us old Moodies fans, but is curiously underrated by those who seem to want a repeat of the Moodies’ classic seven albums. We had an 8-year wait after the Moodies’ previous studio album – 1991’s Keys Of The Kingdom, which was a bit of a hodgepodge. Strange Times is much better than Keys and the Moodies’ later 80s output. It has a more guitar-oriented sound that reminds me a bit of the Children’s Children and Question of Balance albums. The sound is fresh, but also recalls some classic Moodies’ work. And it’s nice to hear some songs with social content, like “English Sunset”, “Strange Times” and “Nothing Changes”. Many of us were attracted to progressive rock in the late 60s and early 70s both for the adventurous music and for the progressive social commentary in the songs, which was informed by the student, peace and civil rights movements of the time. There are some nice ballads on Strange Times as well. My 17-year-old daughter’s favourite tune is “The Swallow”. I’d like to hear more of Ray Thomas. His one song-writing contribution, “My Little Lovely”, is reminiscent of “Nice To Be Here” on the EGBDF album. But it’s way too short – it could have had a nice flute interlude in it. I should give Strange Times 4 stars, but I’ll give it 5 stars to counter some of the criminally low ratings it’s received.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Moodies first new studio album in 8 years, ''Strange Times'', is the bands most ''mature'' album to date. Well, it should be mature, for all four of the remaining band members are now in their mid to late 50's. If one were listening to the album for the very first time, The opening track., ''English Sunset'', would obviously be the album's first released hit single, and with the song's opening guitar lick, makes the album immediately recognizable as another Moodies album before the vocals even begin. Gone apparently are the days when the Moodies will place an upbeat rock 'n' roll song on an album (ala ''I'm Just a Singer'', ''Sitting At The Wheel'', ''Rock And Roll Over You'', etc.), as there is no such song on this album, but that doesn't take away from the beauty and simplicity of this splendid work. The second cut ''Haunted'', which fondly reflects on a lost love, is hauntingly beautiful, the third track ''Sooner or Later'' is straight, rich Moodies at their best. The title cut, lyrically speaking, is one of Justin Hayward's best compositions ever as as songwriter.The final cut on the album, Graeme Edge's ''Nothing Changes'', is a tasteful salute to the new millenium. Unlike all of their previous albums, this record features (brace yourself) lovely piano, and of course, as usual, luscious string arrangements on most of the albums 14 songs. Overall, this is the most honest album the group has ever recorded, and will please any Moody Blues devotee, die-hard or otherwise!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago