Sur La Mer by The Moody Blues

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Sur La Mer by The Moody Blues
Sur La Mer by The Moody Blues

Album Released: 1988

Sur La Mer ::: Artwork

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1.I Know You're Out There Somewhere6:38
2.Want To Be With You4:48
3.River Of Endless Love4:46
4.No More Lies5:15
5.Here Comes The Weekend4:16
6.Vintage Wine3:38
7.Breaking Point4:55
9.Love Is On The Run5:02


The Moody Blues abandon their 'symphonic art-rock' sound here, in favour of a more synthesized poppy approach, which as far as it goes is very good, demonstrating that they haven't lost their knack for composing attractive tunes.

But this album has a distinct europop feel to it, mainly due to the absence of the contrasting harmonies provided by Ray Thomas, that used to elevate the band's vocals, making this album sound somewhat like a James Last version of The Moody Blues - in other words, without Thomas, it comes across as a little bit bland at times.

Elsewhere, they emulate other styles of 'continental' pop music, the most obvious instance being "Here Comes the Weekend", which - if the male vocals were substituted with female vocals instead - would be a dead ringer for an Abba song, and good enough in fact to be the hit single that Abba never had. That should give an idea of what you're getting here ... competently written and well-arranged pop music.

So whilst this album lacks the 'potency' of The Moody Blues best work, it still stands up as a fine example of Quality Easy Listening, and as such is very good - in its own way.

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by Reviewer: bluemoon

Otherwise known as 'Sure Lamer' ... to people who bought this album, listened to it once, then never played to it again. I imagine that covers quite a few people.

I think we all know what happened to The Moody Blues in 1988 and perhaps even understand why they would release an album like this, but that won't do much to lessen the pain of this album's existence. It was the late-80's, a horrible time when pretty much every aging band had to streamline their sound to fit the times. The Beach Boys you may recall released “Kokomo” that year. Well, that's a decent song, but have you listened to everything else on that album?

This is Adult Contemporary, where the synthesizers are smooth and sterile, and the drum machines are boring. Perhaps that wouldn't have been such a big deal if the level of songwriting were still up to par, but it is my sad duty to inform you that it just isn't.

Granted, there are a few nice numbers. The album opening “I Know You're Out There Somewhere” is OK to sit through, a hooky song where Hayward sings majestically through the smoothed-over instrumentation ... it sounds a lot like the openings to their last three albums, but ... meh. Just like all Bond movies must have Bond girls, all Moody Blues albums must open with a bright and soaring Justin Hayward song.

Poor Ray Thomas. All he had to do was show up for promotional photo shoots. Graeme Edge was probably just there for show as well, since there's no actual drumming on this record. He didn't even get to write and perform his obligatory one song. Patrick Moraz's boring synthesizers are all over the place, although he's significantly toned down on this release; the synthesizers aren't allowed to have any character whatsoever and don't even come close to overpowering anything.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)

By the time of Sur la mer, Ray Thomas was out of The Moody Blues, which meant no more brief flutetations (although the band had rarely utilised his flute enough anyway), and no lyrics about dancing frogs or unicorns playing harps. And, with Patrick Moraz never writing anything, along with an absence of bad Graeme Edge poetry, this is an album full of Justin Hayward and John Lodge songs, either written collaboratively or as singular entities.

However, especially on the first half, what they have written find them at their melodious best. The opening "I Know You're Out There Somewhere" is a follow-up to "Your Wildest Dreams" from The Other Side of Life, and is just as streamlined and lovely, even though it's stretched out to a slightly too long six and a half minutes here.

Then "Want to Be With You", "River of Endless Love", and "No More Lies" combine the balladry of "Be With You" and "Lies" with the uptempo pop of "Endless Love", before Lodge produces one of the band's best rockers, "Here Comes The Weekend". After that is Hayward's delightful "Vintage Wine", a song which almost channels Thomas, and which would've fit nicely alongside the band's 60s material.

After tha track however, things go off the rails a bit. Not that any of the last four songs are bad, but it's like they were losing a bit of inspiration, and by the time of Hayward's moody conclusion "Deep", one wonders if the record has outstayed its welcome slightly.

The album is dominated by Moraz's keyboards, and they sound tacky at times, fine at others, while the lyrics range from the fair to pretty limp, although they're inoffensive. But overall, Sur la mer demonstrates that The Moody Blues (even if essentially just a duo by this stage) still had the ability to bring out effortless melodies played in a skilled and dignified manner.

Even if there are no unicorns playing harps.

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by Reviewer: The Doctor