CD front cover December
Produced by Justin Hayward and John Lodge
Released on November 24, 2003
no chart information
Find it at GEMM
CD front cover  

A nother gift from children's author/musician Claire Rosemary Jane, who provided the scans, track/credit information, and the spirited review below. Claire invites interested readers to send her an email.

"I am going to review this Moody Blues album for what it is, a Christmas album. As it has been produced in what must be regarded as a post Ray Thomas era, (although I hope that Ray may well still play with the Moody Blues at least sometimes), it should be reviewed in its own right without thinking back to what it could have been like with the rich baritone voice of Ray. I am also going to review it as being a post September 11th, 2001, and post the Iraq invasion. I am saying this because this album comes with a much-needed message, a message that is very timely. And one cannot help but be impressed that what remains of the members of the Moody Blues felt both able and willing to record an album of this kind. I suppose I could be cynical and say that they are yet one more band who are cashing in on the Christmas market, a market that resurrects Christmas records year after year to provide a nice little earner for the bands whose songs are replayed every Christmas. But with the Moody Blues it must be more than this, for they have left it rather late in their careers to consider doing it for this reason.

"The album opens with "Don't Need A Reindeer". It produces a very nice start to the album, and although a far cry from the opening sounds of the early Moody Blues albums, captivated me in its simplicity and the simplicity of its words. From the very beginning, this album makes the point that perhaps many people have lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas, that one doesn't need reindeer, snow, and all the Christmas trimmings, that the Christmas message is that of a message of peace, love and hope. The next track "December Snow", the second Justin Hayward song in a row on the album, is a slow ballad and is very much a song about lost love. "In The Quiet Of Christmas Morning" is based on Bach 147, which some of us will know as the melody for "Jesu Joy of man's desiring." The additional words by Justin Hayward and John Lodge have produced a song of hope for the future. "On This Christmas Day" is the first of two songs by John Lodge. It is a very poignant little song, about the sadness that the person whom he is singing about must feel. With lyrics that read "A silent prayer on the street, is it heaven that has the final word, with the world your feet." I could not help thinking that this is a song directed to "the creator" of the world, whatever you may choose to call him/her/it. "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)"is next. This almost cynical song in some ways, by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, opens with Justin singing, and with John Lodge coming in later on. As the song is virtually a standard now, many people will know it, and it is worked very much in the same way as John Lennon originally recorded it. "A Winter's Tale", the song perhaps best-known in the UK as having been a hit for David Essex, is beautifully crafted by the three remaining Moody Blues. It has become one of my favourites on the album. John Lodge's "The Spirit Of Christmas" other than some rather badly scanning lyrics at the beginning, (the words "The Church of the Nativity" are rather crammed into the bars available within the song), once again takes up the sentiment of the first song, that we have very much lost sight of what Christmas is really all about. This slow ballad with added strings is beautiful in its simplicity, and I would think is destined to become recognised as a genuine Christmas carol. "Yes I believe" is very much a song about hope for the future, written by Justin Hayward. It is in effect a prayer for peace on earth, which is of course as much what Christmas is about as anything. It also says that he had met someone who showed him a road to tranquillity at last. I could not help feeling that for Justin at least, he had perhaps found the answer to all the questions that he was asking way back in 1970 in one of the songs for which he is best known: "Question". "When A Child Is Born" is the well-known traditional song, and is done virtually without alterations to the original. "White Christmas" is also similarly recorded, with string arrangement and the voice of Justin Hayward, as in so many of these standard songs, and then the voice of John Lodge coming in, sometimes in unison, sometimes in harmony. However it then metamorphoses into a sort of swing rhythm. The final track is the haunting "In the bleak midwinter", a song I defy anybody to be able to sing without feeling some sort of emotion if they are really thinking about what the words say. My one sadness as far as this beautiful carol is concerned is that two of the verses have been left out, probably because it would have made the song too belief specific. But I could not help but think that for Justin it must have felt like harking back to the days when he was in the church choir at St Saviour's Church, Swindon, Wiltshire. In fact, listening to the rendition of it I can almost hear him as a choirboy singing it solo in front of a packed but hushed church on Christmas morning. Very different from anything the Moody Blues have ever done before, it is for me, one of the best albums that they have made in a long time."

CD back sleeve cover CD inner sleeve gatefold
CD back sleeve cover CD inner sleeve gatefold

TRACK LISTING

  1. DON'T NEED A REINDEER    (Justin Hayward)    4:01
  2. DECEMBER SNOW    (Justin Hayward)    5:12
  3. IN THE QUIET OF CHRISTMAS MORNING (Part 147)    (traditional, arr. by Justin Hayward/Danilo Madonia, add'l music/lyrics by John Lodge/Justin Hayward)    2:51
  4. ON THIS CHRISTMAS DAY    (John Lodge)    3:40
  5. HAPPY CHRISTMAS (WAR IS OVER)    (John Winston Lennon/Yoko Ono)    2:38
  6. A WINTER'S TALE    (Mike Batt/Tim Rice)    4:28
  7. THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS    (John Lodge)    4:53
  8. YES I BELIEVE    (Justin Hayward)    4:22
  9. WHEN A CHILD IS BORN    (Zacar, trans. by Fred Jay)    3:34
  10. WHITE CHRISTMAS    (Irving Berlin)    3:09
  11. IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER    (from the poem by Christina Rossetti with music by Gustav Holtz)    3:27

CREDITS

GRAEME EDGE --
JUSTIN HAYWARD --
JOHN LODGE --
Danilo Madonia -- programming, keyboards and orchestrations, mixing
Norda Mullen -- flute (3,7)
Thanks to Elio Rivagli, Lele Melotti and members of The Orchestra of Carlo Felice, Genoa
Alberto Parodiy -- mixing
Lucio De Giuseppe -- front cover artwork

return to THE MOODY BLUES discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US November 24, 2003 Polydor CD 15630  

 

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