Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
[Welcome to Thirty Year Thursday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1986]
Artist: THE MOODY BLUES
Album: THE OTHER SIDE OF LIFE
After a string of seven classic albums from the late-‘60s through the early-‘70s, The Moody Blues took an extended hiatus that ended with the good-but-not-great Octave in 1978. Three years later, with Patrick Moraz (formerly of Refugee and Yes) replacing original keyboardist Mike Pinder, the band released the magnificent Long Distance Voyager, updating their instantly recognizable sound for the ‘80s and giving them their first chart-topping album in nearly a decade. After The Present in 1983, which wasn’t as commercially or creatively successful as its predecessor, they embraced some of the big-drums-and-heavy-synth sounds that permeated the second half of the ‘80s with 1986’s The Other Side Of Life. This was their final Top 10 album and also the last Moody Blues album I was truly excited about when it was released. In hindsight it’s not as strong as I remember, but the handful of songs I loved thirty years ago still sound good to me.
As usual, guitarist Justin Hayward and bassist John Lodge handle the majority of the songwriting, with Hayward’s hit single “Your Wildest Dreams” being the album’s most recognizable track. He also wrote its most progressive-rock song, the moody & atmospheric “The Other Side Of Life.” I’ve always loved his vocals on this one, especially during the chorus (“Baby, baby, baby let’s investigate, the other side of life tonight”). Lodge’s “Rock ‘N’ Roll Over You” is catchy and a bit silly, especially the lyrics (“Like a rock, I’m gonna roll over you”), but it’s still one of the high points of this record. He also delivered the lovely album closer, “It May Be A Fire,” with its beautiful soaring guitar figure that shares some DNA with the Jeff Beck/Rod Stewart version of “People Get Ready.” The remainder of The Other Side Of Life is pleasant but mostly forgettable. I’ll never tire of listening to Justin Hayward’s voice so even lesser tracks are worth hearing. This is another one of those records that meant a lot more to me in 1986 than it does in 2016, but at least three of its songs would fit in nicely on a career-spanning Moody Blues anthology.