The Moody Blues: Long Distance Voyager (1981)

I know, we've already tried to jettison the "guilty pleasure" appellation; you should like what you like and not feel guilty about it, regardless of what the critics or the rock snobs have to say. Right? But, hey, if ever there was a guilty pleasure, this would be it. 

By the time they entered the 80s, the Moody Blues were well on their way towards segueing from their artsy, sorta-prog, sorta-soft rock early days into a polished, middle-of-the-road adult pop band suited for aging boomers sipping chardonnay on the lawn. Long Distance Voyager somehow managed to bridge the gap perfectly, editing out some (not all) of the more dated aspects of their earlier work, while not yet delving entirely (albeit partially) into the sappy schlock of their later era.

A little too mainstream for the prog weirdos, too eccentric for the grown-ups, this one was just intriguing enough to be not just interesting, but pretty damn enjoyable. Largely because it's one of the better batches of songs they'd come up with in some time, certainly a nice recovery after 1978's disappointing Octave.

Opener "The Voice" is a killer pop song; yeah, it's radio-friendly as all get-out, but in the best way, one of the catchiest tunes of the band's lengthy career. The obligatory sappy ballads, "Talking Out Of Turn" and "Meanwhile," are perfectly pleasant (indeed, the latter is grade-A ear candy); while their attempt at new wave-tinged rock, "Gemini Dream," is not nearly as embarrassing as it could have been. And some of the throwbacks to their more artsy days of yore, while as silly as always, are just a hoot -- "22,000 Days" is totally infectious, while "Veteran Cosmic Rocker" is a festive romp. I can do without the syrupy, interminable "In My World," and the old-school daftness of "Painted Smile," but it's otherwise something I happily spin from time to time.

Here's "The Voice":
...and "Gemini Dream":
Here's a live "Meanwhile":