Moody Blues bass player Lodge doesn’t release much under his own name and this is a best-of, drawing together band, duo and solo material.
Time: 12 tracks / 62 mins
This set features their songs that Lodge wrote. Apart from speaking the big “Don’t tell me” line, this live version of “I’m just a singer in a Rock and Roll Band,” is a real joy, with some really muscular guitar. The same applies to a beefy version of “Isn’t Life Strange?” Also bookending the disc are live versions of “Gemini Dream” (which rides on a blobby synth that sounds like it has just done a stint in a Donna Summer single) and “Ride my See-saw.”
The lovely ballad “(Evening) Time to Get Away” features piano and strings, is slightly reminiscent of the quieter bits of King Crimson’s début and is one of three completely re-created tracks. Unusually, the verse is more engaging than the chorus. Another recreation, and the only track he has not written, is “Legend of a Mind,” included as a tribute to late band member Ray Thomas. This version retains the slightly psychedelic bridge, a drifting instrumental that puts his bass high in the mix.
“Saved by the Music” represents his duo album with Moodies singer Justin Hayward. The very decent “Street Café” was a standalone single, which has a somewhat dated feel, but Lodge’s vocals are pleasingly redolent of Steve Harley.
There are also remixes of tracks from his two solo albums. From 1977’s “Natural Avenue” album, “Say You Love Me” surprisingly stretches his vocals too far on the verses, redeemed on the chorus, but it shows the strength of his tunes. “Summer Breeze” also has a strong melody (it has amazed me by how often it returns to my head, even days after the last play) and may be technically more up-to-date, but it hasn’t aged too well either: it feels very much of its time compositionally and in its strings stylings and drum patterns.
By contrast, “In My Mind,” from his 2015 release, features legendary guitarist Chris Spedding and must be a deliberate attempt to create a Floydian soundscape, as it could almost be an outtake from David Gilmour’s solo début (Spedding did play alongside Gilmour on a McCartney album). For me, this is up there with – or even better than – his classic band songs.
“Get Me Out of Here” is another cut from that 2015 release and is a decent addition to the collection.
Lodge is an evangelical, but his faith doesn’t come out actively in the lyrics of this album, which is a strong, varied and tuneful microcosm of his long and acclaimed musical history. He won a Lifetime Achievement honour at the recent Prog Awards. This helps explain why.