"The word down here/On the streets tonight/Is the truest music you've heard," declares The Other Side of Life's title track. But if that's true, who would bother with the new Moody Blues record? With over twenty years of lucrative astral travel behind them, this band hits the street only to head straight for the bank.
densely overlaid vocal arrangements. As for lyrics, the Moodys pretty much successfully avoid pomposity on this LP only on, gulp, "The Spirit" ("A broken dream seems unkind/But I can help for I am time") does the band betray its weakness for cosmic wisdom.
The catchy, upbeat single "Your Wildest Dreams" kicks off the LP and finds the Moodys at their engaging best. An unassuming reflection about a former lover, the song balances lushness and energy and keeps the action settled on the human plane. The disco pound and swirl of "Rock 'n' Roll over You" (the world's dopiest pun: "Like a rock/I'm gonna roll over you") most clearly reveals the touch of producer Tony Visconti, which is rather heavy-handed on this track. But on "Talkin' Talkin'" he soups up the beat effectively and keeps the musical parts moving.
In less accomplished hands, "The Other Side of Life" would be little more than another haunting, film-noirish bid for a Miami Vice soundtrack slot, but the Moodys pull it off with effortless elegance. And on "Running Out of Love," the band hauls off its old R&B punch, slicked up with Patrick Moraz's greasy synthesizer riffs. The album's final cut, the ballad "It May Be a Fire," features Justin Hayward's soaring guitar solos, an element of the Moodys' sound that deserves greater prominence.
All five Moody Blues are pushing or past forty, so it's hardly surprising that The Other Side of Life breaks little new ground, beyond Visconti's goosing the bottom a bit. Still, the LP's off to a hot start on the charts and may potentially become one of the band's most commercially successful records. With their extraordinary consistency and appeal it's staggering that people are "discovering" the Moody Blues in 1986 their fans' children's children's children will be picking up their records. Whatever you may think about "dinosaur" bands, that's a kind of noncosmic immortality that shouldn't be lightly dismissed. (RS 478/479)