The Moody Blues

Ballads/December

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This single-CD compilation, which is not made up exclusively of Moody Blues material -- Justin Hayward's solo hit "Forever Autumn" and the Justin Hayward/John Lodge "Blue Guitar" are also included -- is a pretty neat assembly of some of the most lyrical and romantic numbers in the band's 43-year history. The first nine cuts are drawn from the "classic seven" albums made between 1967 and 1972, and include the unorchestrated single mixes of "Nights in White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon" -- such is the nature of the material, that one would hardly guess from listening to it that the Moody Blues were known for their heavy psychedelic sounds during this period, but that's OK -- that material is well represented on their completed albums and in various compilations, whereas this is more of a distillation. The rest comes from the group's post-1973 history, including the complete version of "Driftwood," and extends up through their late-'90s work. The sound is excellent, and while there is no annotation to speak of the collection itself is so enjoyable that it's possible to overlook that oversight by the producers.

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