Moody Blues' Justin Hayward shines on solo hits CD
Justin Hayward

Justin Hayward has written plenty of hits for The Moody Blues.  Enough, in fact, to justify a solo album entitled Songwriter.

Hayward penned breezy ballads and progressive passages like “Nights in White Satin,” “Question,” “Tuesday Afternoon,” and “The Voice” for Moodys in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and extended the band’s shelf life with synth-powered selections “Your Wildest Dreams,” and “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” in the ‘80s. 

That’s fifty years of firepower.  More than enough to warrant semiannual “legacy” tours by the British band, which (along with Hayward) still features bassist John Lodge and drummer Graeme Edge. 

And which should’ve secured the Moodys’ induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame eons ago.

But lately Hayward’s maintained a delicate balancing act between rekindling fans’ Moody memories in concert and forging into the future on his own.  His 2013 album Spirits of The Western Sky occasioned several solo tours (with backup vocalist / keyboardist Julie Ragins and acoustic guitar ace Mike Dawes) and a pair of David Minasian-directed concert videos (Live at the Buckhead Theater and Live in Concert at The Capitol Theatre).

Now Hayward’s back on the road (again) with Lodge and Edge for The Moody Blues Fly Me High tour.  No better time, really, for the guitarist to drop his first-ever greatest hits compilation.

Available October 14 from Eagle Records, All The Way collects twelve Hayward favorites from his eight solo albums released between 1975 and 2013—plus reinterpretations of a pair of Moody classics from LPs issued way back in 1967 (Days of Future Passed) and 1971 (Every Good Boy Deserves Favour).

Sure, it’d be easy to dismiss Hayward’s best-of as a lite-rock powder-puff parade:  The man’s voice is as rich and smooth as gourmet chocolate, and his deliveries never overly aggressive.  But Hayward’s poetic lyrics, his moving melodies and elegant arrangements have always been staples of his solo outings—harmonious hallmarks that prevented the material from being lumped with pedestrian soft rock and elevator Pablum. 

Moreover, Hayward’s guitar chops can’t be ignored — even when he swaps his signature red Gibson ES-335 for an acoustic.   

The retrospective commences with the graceful “Blue Guitar,” as taken from 1975’s The Blue Jays (recorded with Lodge and members of 10cc) and crisp “Forever Autumn” from 1989’s Classic Blue.  “Broken Dream,” “It’s Not Too Late” and “Troubadour” dip back to 1996’s View from the Hill.  Optimistic entry “The Best is Yet to Come” hails from 1985’s Moving Mountains — and boasts Justin’s breathy baritone.

Songwriter representative “Raised on Love” features a children’s choir.  Spirits of the Western Sky selections “One Day, Someday,” “In Your Blue Eyes,” and “The Western Sky” benefit from Hayward’s romantic whimsy, unabashed ardor, and sterling finger-style guitar. 

Justin treats Don McLean’s “Vincent” with kid gloves, respectfully reworking American Pie’s tribute to Van Gogh into a proper tearjerker.  His retread of “The Story in Your Eyes” is magical, and the live version of “Nights in White Satin” mesmeric despite having been stripped down to bare essentials (just voice, guitars, and sparse keyboards, sans orchestra). 

The CD wraps with the new “Wind of Heaven.”  Recorded for Stephen Savage’s similarly named 2017 war drama, the shimmering tune tempers the fires of violence and PTSD with mystical energy and spiritual rebirth.

Naturally, All the Way is a must-have for Hayward aficionados.  But the hits disc—which cherry-picks from Justin’s best work away from his full-time band—also makes the perfect point-of-entry for Moody fans who missed the solo projects the first go-round and have hungered for something beyond the innumerable Moody anthologies and box sets of the last couple decades.

Intimate and iridescent, All the Way is choice listening for relaxing, meditation, long drives (through country or forest), fireplace cuddling, candlelight dining…or just plain-old background sweetener.

As of this writing, All the Way is available on CD at Amazon for only $6.99.