Rock Flashback: The Moody Blues’ “December”

Earlier this month, we mentioned The [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Jethro Tull[/lastfm] Christmas Album and how well the band’s folk-inflected style lends itself to holiday music. Find out about another holiday album that’s a perfect match for the band performing it.

By 2003, the [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Moody Blues[/lastfm] were well into a second decade of existing mostly as a touring band playing their greatest hits with orchestras around the country. They were down to a trio — [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Justin Hayward[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]John Lodge[/lastfm], and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Graeme Edge[/lastfm] — and had released only one studio album since 1991. For many bands, this combination of circumstances leads to a Christmas album, and it did for the Moodys. And like it did for Tull, a Christmas album proved to be the best Moody Blues album in years.

December has everything that old-school Moody Blues fans love — rich instrumentation, gorgeous melodies, and lyrics that communicate how life, in its best moments, can be a beautiful thing. It’s short on traditional songs, although it does include versions of “White Christmas,” “In the Bleak Midwinter,” and “When a Child Is Born,” the latter a song better-known in Europe than in the States. There’s a version of “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” too.

The two best tracks on the album may be a bit sugary for non-Moodys fans, but those people have probably stopped reading by now anyhow. There’s “A Winter’s Tale,” which was a big UK hit for [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]David Essex[/lastfm] in 1982.

Best of all is “December Snow,” a song about love and memory that leaves me wrecked every time I hear it.

December is the kind of warm, peaceful record you want to put on at this time of year. Who knew?

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