Hall OF Fame

The Moody Blues

The kings of symphonic rock, the Moody Blues have always been able to add an elegant touch of class, an expanse of surreal finesse that has consistently made their music sound superfluous and fuller than other classically flavored bands. And even though they haven't been able to match the quality and grace of their hits from the 60s and 70s, they never seem to come across as stale or dated in their performances. Nothing could be more appropriate than having them appear at London's Royal Albert Hall, supplemented by the World Festival Orchestra, and eloquently documented on their latest opus, Hall Of Fame.

The opening "Overture" finds the orchestra meandering through a number of signature Moody melodies before launching into "Tuesday Afternoon." Justin Hayward's singing is as reliable as an indentured servant - leading the ensemble swiftly through each cadence before melting within the final crescendo. Newer songs like Hayward's "English Sunset" and John Lodge's "Words You Say" settle in comfortably within the lush confines of such classics as "Isn't Life Strange," "Nights In White Satin" and "Legend Of A Mind." The fact that the more recent material is a throwback of sorts to the days of gold than some of the Moody's mid-80s work - represented here by "I Know You're Out There Somewhere" and "Your Wildest Dreams" - demonstrates that the band can still write and perform stirring and magnificent pieces of bravura when they want to.

Still something like "Haunted" tends to drag down the momentum. Relief comes from timeless readings of "I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)," "Question" and "Ride My See-Saw" - all managing to overshadow the minor flaws. The Moody Blues continue to age like a fine bottle of cabernet, while Metallica and the Scorpions are playing catch-up with their own symphonically embellished albums. When all is said and done, Hall Of Fame clearly indicates that the Moodies are the indisputable masters of the genre.

~ Shawn Perry

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