Patrick Moraz was gone, Ray Thomas was back, and unfortunately Mike Pinder was still long gone. 1991 found The Moody Blues releasing their fourteenth studio album and while they would remain a concert attraction, the sales of their albums would begin to decline.
Keys Of The Kingdom was similar to Sur la Mer and The Other Side Of Life as there were some excellent tracks mixed in among the average. There was no unifying theme but rather what appeared to be just a random group of songs thrown together. Patrick Moraz’s departure also found the group eliminating the dominant synthesizer sounds and moving in a much lighter direction, similar to Chicago and other light pop/rock bands of the time.
Justin Hayward and John Lodge were now firmly in control of the group and they would write or co-write ten of the eleven tracks. It would be Ray Thomas, however, who would contribute the most interesting material. His “Celtic Sonant” was a welcome addition as his clear baritone rising above the harmonies and his flute weaving its intricate sounds in and out of the other instruments was a look back to the classic days of the group. While you can never go back completely, this song was a fun visit to the group’s musical past. He also co-wrote “Never Blame The Rainbows For The Rain” with Justin Hayward. While his contributions on the actual track are limited, the song bears his stamp. It is a poetic and melodic look at aging and is one of the album’s stronger compositions.
There are two other very good songs by Justin Hayward. “Say It With Love” is an anthem type production while “Bless The Wings (That Bring You Back)” is a gentle love song that makes effective use of some strings to support its mood. While there is nothing wrong with his other love song, “Hope and Pray,” by this time in his career many of his compositions were taking on a sameness which made them indistinguishable from one another.
John Lodge contributed three solo efforts and while none are outstanding they are at least solid in places. “Lean On Me (Tonight)” is a thoughtful love song and “Magic” is upbeat if average.
The real miss is Hayward’s “Say What You Mean (Parts I and II)” which was outdated in 1991.
Keys Of The Kingdom was a release that came and went without much notice or fanfare. As with many of The Moody Blues post-classic, seven albums, it is enjoyable in places but certainly not essential.