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Record Collector Magazine - January 2011

Unhip, unhip. Who? Ray

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We’ve always had a soft spot for flautist/vocalist Ray Thomas, whose grinning countenance, Basil Fawlty ’tache and cheerfully unhip Man-At-C&A dress sense represented the approachable and unaffected heart of The Moody Blues. Thomas released two solo albums during the fat years of the Moodies’ Threshold label, both of which are compiled and remastered herein, along with an interview disc and a 5.1 Surround Sound DVD, which includes the long-lost promo film for the High Above My Head single.

From Mighty Oaks, originally released in 1975, and the following year’s Hopes Wishes & Dreams are kind of overwrought in an unprepossessing way – if that makes any sense whatsoever. The Moodies never knowingly undersold any song if they could help it, and Thomas’ albums are accordingly characterised by cloudbusting orchestration and impassioned, open-throated singing; but the compositions themselves, mostly co-written with Threshold signatory Nicky James, are modest, earthbound soft-rock affairs. The lyrics are sometimes somnambulistic (there’s no end of rivers of life, dreams/schemes and so forth) but unmistakably heartfelt, and when all of the elements click (High Above My Head’s glistening overlay of brass and tambourine; the Gilbert O’Sullivan lilt of Carousel) the overall effect fair glows with cheesecloth period charm.

Esoteric | ECLEC 42219 (3-CD+DVD)

Reviewed by Marco Rossi

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