Change was in the air for The Moody Blues. Founding member and keyboardist Mike Pinder had left and was replaced by Patrick Moraz. In many respects Pinder had been the spiritual and creative center of the group. His virtuosity on the mellotron and chamberlin had provided the classical and orchestral sound that had made them famous. Moraz had played with Yes for a spell and was a technically adept musician, his sound bringing a modern element to the Moody Blues.
The other change was Justin Hayward and John Lodge were emerging as a creative force. While elements of their former sound would still remain, they could now be classified as a progressive rock band.
Despite all these changes, Long Distance Voyager was a huge commercial success and would become their second chart-topping album in The United States, ultimately producing two hit singles. It was a very consistent work and is probably the best overall post-core-seven release of their career.
The album’s lead track, written by Justin Hayward, was “The Voice.” It contained somewhat mystical lyric, but the sound was very commercial and contained an excellent guitar solo. It was very representative of the early eighties yet was superior to most of what was being produced. Likewise the successful single, “Gemini Dream,” is a fun rocker that is driven by Moraz’s keyboards.
Graeme Edge would only contribute one song but it would be memorable. “22,000 Days” is bombastic rock with thoughtful and hopeful lyrics. 22,000 were considered about the number of days in an adult life and the song focused on how they should be used.
“Nervous,” by John Lodge, is one of the great lost songs of The Moody Blues catalogue. It begins slow and mellow but gradually soars with strings and an orchestral sound.
Ray Thomas would write a suite of three songs to end the album. While he would spend another two decades with the group, his contributions would dwindle. “Painted Smile” and the wonderful “Veteran Cosmic Rocker” were connected by a short poem. They used circus imagery and have a childlike quality to them. “Veteran Cosmic Rocker” would become a part of their stage act and, as time passed and the group aged, it would take on new meaning.
Long Distance Voyager remains one of the better and more interesting albums to have emerged from the early eighties. It is both powerful and uplifting, serving as a clear statement that The Moody Blues were alive and well.