Keyboard player Mike Pinder is one of the founder members of the famous British crossover prog band The Moody Blues. He is noted for his pioneering use of the Mellotron on the first seven classic albums of The Moodies. Just like all the other band members, Pinder recorded a solo album called The Promise (1976) between 1973 and 1978. In 1978 he left The Moody Blues during the recording sessions for Octave (1978). Next he settled in California where he pursued many interests before recording a follow-up album called Among The Stars (1994).
Now both albums have been reissued in a Deluxe Box Set which contains the remastered versions of both albums along with three bonus tracks: the Pinder song If She Came Back and Waves Crash and Empty Streets by the Pinder Brothers featuring Ray Thomas (The Moody Blues) on flute and produced by the late Tony Clarke, the band's official producer. This box set also includes a ninety-minute DVD with extensive interviews with Pinder about his time with The Moodies, his personal philosophies and exclusive performances of his music.
His first album The Promise contains some very interesting songs. Most tracks have a romantic approach: nice easy listening music for the winter time with those typical lyrics from the seventies. This means mainly sweet romantic songs about love, Mother Nature and heaven. I think Mike Pinder may be called a 'light version' of the American legendary band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young or Jackson Browne. While listening to You'll Make It Through, I Only Want To Love You and The Seed, it's easy to determine how he has influenced the music of The Moody Blues. However, the fourth song Someone To Believe is an exception; it's a jazzy song with a nice flute solo. The instrumental track Air is one of the highlights on this CD. The title track is also the final song which could have been recorded by The Moody Blues as well; it ends with a fine guitar solo.
The opening song of Among The Stars is The Power Of Love (Can Survive) which reminded me of the music of the early eighties. It's an up-tempo happy song with unpretentious lyrics including a short guitar solo and a saxophone solo. You Can't Take Love Away is a kind of romantic song that I would again call 'easy-listening'. The Best Things In Life and Hurry On Home sound quite similar to the music of the British singer Black, who had some beautiful single hits in the nineties. Another great track is Fantasy Flight holding some elegant guitar solos. The title track is an instrumental containing only some spoken words and some synthesizer sounds in the vein of the legendary album Days Of Future Passed (1967) by The Moody Blues, and the somewhat jazzier piece Waters Beneath The Bridge.
The DVD contains an interview with Mike Pinder recorded in June 2012. During this interview he explains his contributions to the most important'classic' albums of The Moody Blues between 1967 and 1973, the songs he wrote and some interesting remarks about the use of the Mellotron. He also explains why he left the band after being so successful, the reason why he emigrated to the USA and his relationship with and the musical influences of the individual members of The Beatles.
If you like some romantic music during cold winter evenings then this box set is an excellent choice. Light a candle, pour out a glass of good wine, sit beside your love on the couch and you'll have a wonderful time.
***+ Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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