The Present is now 26 years in the past as it was issued in August of 1983. The Moody Blues returned two years after releasing Long Distance Voyager which had become their second number one album in The United States. While this new release continued in the same progressive rock vein proven successful, it was an over all weaker album and was not a great commercial success as it did not crack the American top forty.
Patrick Moraz was the keyboardist for his first complete album after touring with the group for two years. His playing was now providing the foundation for their sound and it moved them closer to being a typical eighties progressive rock band.
While The Present retained the musical slickness of Long Distance Voyager, the lyrics were not as hopeful or optimistic which gave the album an overall depressing feel.
Justin Hayward and John Lodge would write or co-write seven of the ten tracks but it would be the three by Graeme Edge and Ray Thomas that I found the most interesting. “Going Nowhere,” which was written by Edge but sung by Thomas, is nice seventies rock ‘n’ roll. Edge’s drumming and Moraz’s keyboards drive the song along. Ray Thomas produced the last two tracks on the original vinyl release. The short “I Am” has a mystical appeal. It is, however, the five minute final track, “Sorry,” which contains a classic Moody Blues sound with harmonies and keyboards all in place that may be the best on the album.
John Lodge would write three songs. “Sitting At The Wheel” and “Under My Feet” are typical and average rockers while “Hole In The Wall” is an instrumental. All three are a pleasant listen but are not memorable or up to par with his best work.
Justin Hayward would also write three tracks. His “Blue World” would be representative of the direction that he and Lodge were steering the group. A fusion of guitar and synthesizers pushed the track toward a main stream rock sound. “It’s Cold Outside Of Your Heart” is a gentle love ballad that he was so good at creating and “Running Water” probably contains his best vocal.
The final song was written by Lodge and Hayward together. “Meet Me Halfway” may not be original but does have a nice smooth flowing appeal with good harmonies.
The Present is one of those albums where there is nothing really wrong but nothing outstanding to make it essential either. As such it gets lost among the many superior and creative releases in The Moody Blues catalogue. In the final analysis it may not be inspiring but is it solid which is faint and in this case appropriate praise.