follows The Moody Blues' previous Long Distance Voyager
fairly closely in terms of style and presentation, and generally succeeds just as well, even if it does seem to struggle a bit in matching that one for quality.
This is a very steady, mid-paced album, which could be seen as routine and bland, but it's helped by some pretty and fetching melodies, particularly on the first half. The opening "Blue World" is Justin Hayward at his silky best, while John Lodge's "Sitting at the Wheel" - a rare lively moment on the album - is nice and snappy. And Graeme Edge's "Going Nowhere" (sung by Ray Thomas) has its lovely moments, as well as choral sounds which hark back to the band's glory days in the 60's.
Things get a bit shakier on the second half, thanks partly to Lodge's clunky "Under My Feet", while Hayward's "It's Cold Outside of Your Heart" and "Running Water" tread a fine line between pleasantness and mawkishness. That sets the scene for another conclusion by Thomas, who first hits us with one more return to fifteen years previously with the haunting and chanting of the brief "I Am", before it's time for "Sorry", the other lively section, which is quite different from most of what had gone before (even "Wheel", really), but remains pretty rousing, although hearing that lovely flute has me wondering why it's used so sparingly. They don't have to get all Jethro Tull about it, but still ...
A constant strength of The Moody Blues has been their way with melody, and The Present
really benefits from that. It might've been in danger of falling apart at the seams, but the album somehow stays together thanks to the band's combined skill at writing tuneful songs, and making them work. Rated:
by Reviewer: The Doctor