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John Lodge: Natural Avenue

Remaster and reappraisal for Moodies bassman’s solo spinoff.

The mid-70s may have signalled a lengthy intermission for the Moody Blues as a group, but its members put the downtime to good use. Justin Hayward and John Lodge had already recharged their batteries with the Blue Jays collaboration before each embarked on solo endeavours, 1977 bringing Hayward’s Songwriter while Lodge delivered this set, now restored by Esoteric with customary precision.

While he employed band producer Tony Clarke and recorded at Threshold, Lodge was free to cast a wider net than in Moodies mode.

Orchestrations were by Brian Rogers, recommended, as Lodge explains in a new note, by Glyn Johns, while Kenney Jones drummed hroughout and Mick Weaver played piano. Chris Spedding guested on electric guitar on some tracks, complementing the frontman’s six and 12-string acoustic and bass.

The results still give off a pleasantly relaxed aura, sometimes touching on Moodies territory on such pieces of superior, whimsical easy listening as Carry Me (A Song For Kristian). Who Could Change is a romantic piano ballad mood with orchestral underpinning, but elsewhere Lodge puts his rocking roots to good use, as on the title track and the autobiographical Children Of Rock ‘N’ Roll. Both sides of the 1980 single Street Café are added for good measure.