153 565 Strange Times
Produced by The Moody Blues
Released on August 17, 1999
US CHART POSITION #93
Find it at GEMM
153 565  

T hanks again to children's author and musician Claire Rosemary Jane for her honest appraisal (below), images and track/credit information:

"The album opens with "English Sunset", a middle of the road song with a driving beat and with the simple idea of "Let's get back in time for the sunset." The next track "Haunted by your love" is a slow ballad. It is pretty but nothing to write home about, but contains, as so often in Justin Hayward's songs, references to the sea. The next track "Sooner or later (walking on air)" is another steady middle of the road pop type song composed jointly by Justin Hayward and John Lodge. The first of only three tracks to show any sort of promise whatever for me is "Wherever you are", in that it features something remarkably like Celtic pipes at the beginning. The following track however, "Foolish Love", is again very bland and nothing special. "Love don't come easy" is a slow beat love song by John Lodge. Then comes "All that is real is you", a song with a 6/8 time signature. It is the first (to me) really pretty song on the album but here again it could have been performed by just about any middle of the road singer. Then follows "Strange times”, a pleasant enough mid tempo song with a back beat, but is otherwise fairly unremarkable. "Words you say" is a slow song written by John Lodge and in some ways is almost a carbon copy of "Isn't life strange". A pity. But as a writer and songwriter myself I know how difficult it is to find anything different after such a long period of working in one format. "My little lovely" is the first and only contribution by Ray Thomas, who seems strangely absent from most of the rest of the album. With a nice fingerstyle backing from Justin, Ray Thomas sings this pretty little fairy tale, (his wording "fairy dust and pixie glue" just shout out to be mentioned!) in yet another of his often wonderful tongue-in-cheek songs. But for the most part, his flute presence and lovely baritone voice is sadly missing from the majority of the album. "Forever now", the next track, is boringly slow. "The one" has a steady driving beat and 12-string guitar, but again it is nothing particularly special. However it is followed by "The Swallow". This commences with a fine piece of guitar work by Justin who also wrote the song. It is radically different from most Moody Blues tracks, and musically is possibly the only standout track on the whole of the album. It would have worked just as well as just an instrumental track, and in some ways seemed to be spoilt by the vocal when it was brought in. Finally on the album is "Nothing changes." The only Graeme Edge track on the whole of the album, it is probably the track most reminiscent of the early Moody Blues. (Back in the era of "On the threshold of a dream" perhaps.) It even has some flute on it. I suppose we really knew it could not last forever. No noticeable Ray Thomas, and none of the magic of earlier years. And music of course, like language, is an evolutionary beast, and I could not help feeling that by and large The Moody Blues have now run out of creative steam. With the loss first of Mike Pinder, who was instrumental in all of the wonderful mellotron/strings type backings of the early albums, and now seemingly Ray Thomas in all but name on this album, two fifths of the magic (perhaps even more than two fifths), has been lost. I was left feeling that all this had become just a job, the idea that "We must churn out another album", and it also left me thinking that some of the best songs over the years have actually been collaborations between the different band members, such as the collaborations between Justin Hayward and Ray Thomas, which are missing on this album. Yes, there are collaborations between Justin Hayward and John Lodge in "Sooner or later", "Strange times” and "The One" but it was the different combinations of collaborations which produced some of the magic of their earlier years."

153 565 inner gatefold 153 565 back cover
153 565 inner gatefold 153 565 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. ENGLISH SUNSET    (Justin Hayward)    5:05
  2. HAUNTED    (Justin Hayward)    4:31
  3. SOONER OR LATER (WALKIN' ON AIR)    (Justin Hayward/John Lodge)    3:49
  4. WHEREVER YOU ARE    (John Lodge)    3:35
  5. FOOLISH LOVE    (Justin Hayward)    3:56
  6. LOVE DON'T COME EASY    (John Lodge)    4:33
  7. ALL THAT IS REAL IS YOU    (Justin Hayward)    3:33
  8. STRANGE TIMES    (Justin Hayward/John Lodge)    4:29
  9. WORDS YOU SAY    (John Lodge)    5:31
  10. MY LITTLE LOVELY    (Ray Thomas)    1:45
  11. FOREVER NOW    (John Lodge)    4:37
  12. THE ONE    (Justin Hayward/John Lodge)    3:39
  13. THE SWALLOW    (Justin Hayward)    4:58
  14. NOTHING CHANGES    (Graeme Edge)    3:32

    Japanese bonus tracks
  15. HIGHWAY
  16. THIS IS THE MOMENT

CREDITS

GRAEME EDGE -- drums, percussion, vocals
JUSTIN HAYWARD -- guitars, vocals
JOHN LODGE -- bass, vocals
RAY THOMAS -- flute, vocals
Danilo Madonia -- programming, keyboards, orchestrations
Alberto Parodi -- engineer
Stephen Taylor -- mixing engineer
Special thanks to Mike Keys, Wyn Mather, Nella Baiocco and Graziella Baiocco, Allan Terry and Ivy Stewart at The Threshold Co. Ltd.

return to THE MOODY BLUES discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK/US August 17, 1999 Universal CD 153 565 lyric sleeve
JPN March 30, 2000 Polygram Int'l CDX POCP-7452 w. bonus tracks, booklet
    Phantom 2CDLE   repackaged w. THE VERY BEST OF THE MOODY BLUES

 

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