It’s odd what a person remembers over the years. When Seventh Sojourn was released on November 17, 1972, I was in college and my car was in the shop. I was a big Moody Blues fan and so I walked the two or so miles to and from the record store where it was on sale. I can’t think of many recent album releases that I would be willing to walk four miles in order to purchase on the first day of release. A lot of people in the United States must have made that same journey to their local record stores as the album became The Moody Blues first Number One hit in the United States and stayed in that position for five weeks.
Seventh Sojourn was the group’s seventh release issued between 1967 and 1972 and completed what would become known as their classic core of albums. It would be five years before they released another album as the members of the group would pursue individual projects, all ultimately releasing solo efforts. It was a fitting memorial to leave behind before they went on hiatus.
The Moody Blues' career was now at its creative peak. They are one of very few groups who were able to produce so many excellent, creative, and commercial albums in a row. This latest release was worldlier than cosmic. The sound was polished and it had a definite progressive rock feel. Mike Pinder had retired his mellotron and now played an instrument called the chamberlin, which was named after its inventor. It was technologically superior to the mellotron, but by the time the group had returned to the studio it had been superseded by the development of the synthesizer.
When I play this album today I am drawn to the two John Lodge compositions which closed sides one and two of the original vinyl release. Both would become hit singles. “Isn’t Life Strange” has an almost peaceful feel as it meanders along to the entwining sound of Pinder’s chamberlin and Ray Thomas’ flute. Lodge and Justin Hayward provide stellar vocals. “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock and Roll Band)” is a classic John Lodge rocker and one of the group's best known songs. It has a tremendous amount of energy and remains a concert favorite over 35 years after its release. These two songs perfectly show the two sides of not only John Lodge but of The Moody Blues as well.
Ray Thomas contributed “For My Lady,” which featured him playing the flute and providing the lead vocal at the same time, making it impossible to play live except with an orchestra. The sound has a light feel to it but the music is actually dense and complex.
Justin Hayward wrote or co-wrote three of the eight tracks. “New Horizons” is a poignant balled for his deceased father and new daughter. “The Land Of Make Believe” speaks of a perfect world and features both his acoustic and electric guitar playing. “You and Me,” written with Graeme Edge, is an up-tempo rocker with some political bite. It is an anti-Vietnam War song and features the wonderful harmonies that the group is known for.
Mike Pinder provided the last two songs and they are the closest to what is considered the classic Moody Blues sound. “When You’re A Free Man” lyrically explores breaking free from psychological oppression. Despite its dark lyrics, though, the music has a floating and dreamy feel to it. “Lost In A Lost World” is about the evils of government and again is representative of the creative sounds that he could put together.
Seventh Sojourn was a wonderful way for The Moody Blues to end the first phase of their career. It is a thoughtful, mature album and remains a lasting monument to their creative power. As I look back over the decades toward this album, I have to say that it was a four-mile journey well worth taking.