CD Review: Justin Hayward - All The Way

All The Way is a great starting point to Justin Hayward's solo career.
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For more than 50 years, Justin Hayward has been best known for his role as guitarist, singer and songwriter in The Moody Blues, penning and singing such hits as "Nights In White Satin" and "Question." During that time, he has also forged a successful solo career, beginning with 1975's Blue Jays, recorded with fellow Moody John Lodge. A new compilation, All The Way, brings together 15 of these solo recordings, including a rare track once thought lost and a brand new recording "The Wind Of Heaven."

The album opens with the original stereo mix of "Blue Guitar." Though the song was credited to Hayward and Lodge originally, it was actually recorded by Hayward with members of 10cc. Thought lost to time, fans can now hear this mix done by Eric Stewart on CD. The song blends lush guitars with Hayward's distinctive voice, making for a dramatic, if dreamy, opening track. "Forever Autumn," a song that hit number five on the British singles chart in 1978, follows. Gentle acoustic guitars and flutes back a haunting vocal on the song's intro before it picks up, offering a memorable hook and vocal.

Hayward delivers a heartfelt vocal on "The Best Is Yet To Come," a cover of a Clifford T. Ward song. Backed mostly by piano and strings, Hayward's charismatic vocals carry the tune. Recorded in the mid 1980s, it's remarkable how unchanged Hayward's voice has remained from the 1960s to the present. This is evident on a 1998 live recording of "Nights In White Satin," with Hayward's vocals matching the potency of the original some 30 years later.

The collection ends with a pair of newer tracks -- "The Western Sky," from 2013's Spirits Of The Western Sky and the brand new track "The Wind Of Heaven," which was written for the film of the same name. The former is a lush ballad, with hints of country and a strong vocal from Hayward while the latter is a sprawling epic, building layers of orchestration over an emotional vocal. These tracks are proof positive that some 50 years on, Hayward has lost none of his vocal or songwriting chops.

All The Way is an excellent introduction to Justin Hayward's solo career. For those who only know him for his work in The Moody Blues, they are missing out on a lot of quality music.  With its strong new track, one gets the idea that the best is still to come.