The Moody Blues’ ‘Seventh Sojourn’: A Journey All Its Own

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Its title aside, Seventh Sojourn is, strictly speaking, The Moody Blues’ eighth album and the final entry in their initial run of classic early releases. By the time of its release in Britain on October 23, 1972 (it made its American bow a few weeks later), the band had long since established itself as a leading light as far as England’s progressive rock vanguard, courtesy of such epochal efforts as Days of Future Passed, In Search of the Lost Chord, On the Threshold of a Dream and To Our Children’s Children’s Children.

Whereas those earlier albums were bathed in day-glo tones, imagery, Mellotrons and mystique, Seventh Sojourn was decidedly down-to-earth in comparison, given songs that seemingly related to more terrestrial concerns. The band had certain circumstances it was forced to deal with, including singer and keyboardist Mike Pinder’s imminent departure, and the realization that as the ’60s had transitioned into the ’70s, musical tastes were changing. Their audience had drifted away from their dormitory domiciles that had once provided the environs for the Moodies’ psychedelic soundtracks, and the fantasy and wonderment that informed the spectral sounds of that seminal style was slowly giving way to disco, punk and the rootsier elements that were suddenly taking precedence in a new corporate-dominated decade.

The Moody Blues in the early ’70s, l. to r.: Mike Pinder, Graeme Edge, Justin Hayward, Ray Thomas, John Lodge (Photo from Wikipedia)

Not surprisingly, then, the track that made the greatest impact from the album was the straight-out, unabashed rocker, “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band),” a song that more or less brought their branding down to earth while deflating the notion that there was any greater importance attached to the rock star role.

So too, “For My Lady,” the only composition contributed by flutist and vocalist Ray Thomas, maintained that emphasis on simpler sentiment, wrapping it in a beautiful ode to devotion and desire, and making it one of the only pure love songs in the band’s entire musical canon.

Despite the fact that the Moodies veered from their earlier stance, their efforts paid off. Seventh Sojourn climbed to the top of the American charts, spending five weeks at #1. It yielded two singles, the aforementioned “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” and the effusive “Isn’t Life Strange,” which worked its way into the top 20. A quivering vocal, somewhat reminiscent of the Bee Gees prior to their disco makeover, gave the latter song a somewhat tenuous introduction prior to its picking up the pace with an emphatic coda and thunderous harmonies. Notably, both tracks were written by John Lodge, who, at that point, was clearly assuming more of a leadership role.

Still, the making of the album took its toll, ultimately leading to a decision to go on hiatus for the next five years. A greatest hits LP titled This Is the Moody Blues, a concert collection called Caught Live + 5, Lodge and guitarist/vocalist Hayward’s one-off spin-off under the aegis of the Blue Jays, and various solo outings from Pinder, Thomas and drummer Graeme Edge filled the gap between releases, until the Moodies, now a quartet following Pinder’s departure, reemerged with an all new album, aptly titled Octave.

Related: The Moody Blues were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018

Granted, Seventh Sojourn rarely rises to the top of the list when fans are asked to name the most memorable Moodies offerings.  After all, it’s up against some formidable competition. Nevertheless, when judged on its own merits, it’s a demonstrative journey all its own.

Watch the official music video for “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” performed by the Moody Blues

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Lee Zimmerman
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8 Comments so far

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  1. Da Mick
    #1 Da Mick 31 October, 2021, 01:36

    While each of the Moodies original seven LPs is an enjoyable and complete journey in and of itself, as a long time Moodies fan, if forced to choose, ill have to disagree with the author and say that “Seventh Sojourn” is my favorite of the original Moodies recordings. To be honest, I’d never thought about it as a departure from their other albums, as each subsequent record reflected growth and increasing depth in their songwriting skills, and, just as importantly, the increasing fidelity of their recording techniques and musical production skills. Among his amazing talents as a singer and a songwriter, Justin Heyward has always been one of my favorite guitarists, whose skills are mostly criminally overlooked and undervalued. In “Seventh Sojourn” he never sounded better, with a tone of searing sustain that is iconic throughout the record with beautiful parts that are orchestral in nature, and, in that sense, fit in majestically with the Moodies sound. I believe it’s because Heyward’s parts are so intrinsically woven into the creation of their total sound that he’s rarely given credit for the the creativity and sonic mastery of his playing. All Moodies fans have their favorite records. For myself, whenever i want to play a Moodies record, it’s always a difficult choice. But more often than not, I’ll reach for “Seventh Sojourn. “

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    • Melf
      Melf 1 November, 2021, 02:06

      Justin Heyward’s voice is so recognizable, definitely deserves more credit. Saw then a number of times, still my favorite is the talented flutist.
      He had an angel voice and each member brought something, its hard to describe.
      It’s funny b/c Singer in a rock and roll band brought them notoriety. But there are many other favorites which I would mention , ie Question, Forever Autumn.

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    • Greg
      Greg 1 November, 2021, 23:50

      Totally agree! That was my first Moodies concert far from my last!

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  2. Chico
    #2 Chico 31 October, 2021, 09:27

    How do you mention this album without even mentioning two great songs like You & Me,and New Horizons? Of course,as one of my first albums,this is a classic and every song is too.

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  3. Jack
    #3 Jack 1 November, 2021, 05:16

    For OCTAVE, they were still a quintet, with Mike Pinder still a member.

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  4. MisfitRoxx
    #4 MisfitRoxx 3 November, 2021, 08:59

    Have to say To Our Children’s Children’s Children was my favorite album.
    I use the album art as my computer desktop.
    Followed by A Question of Balance.

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  5. Luis
    #5 Luis 8 November, 2021, 11:59

    I believe this album was somehow recorded under spacial circumstances and sound pale in comparison to “Every Good Boy Deserves a Favour”, a masterpiece. Its not a bad album by any means. But, with this album, they kind of “lost” something. “Octave” the follow up “comeback” album, is maybe their worst ever.

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