British Rock Group
Days of Future Passed
Search of the Lost Chord
the Threshold of a Dream
Our Children's Children's Children
Question of Balance
Good Boy Deserves Favour
In 2006 I travelled
to the Regency Theatre in Ipswich to see the Moody Blues live. With Justin
Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge still in the line-up it was a fair
reflection of the classic Moodies line-up.
It was an excellent
gig. Now in their 60s, like so many rock stars, they moved effortlessly
through their back catalogue.
In many ways the Moody Blues were the quintessential English psychedelic
band - all kaftans
and embarrassingly bad poetry. But somehow it worked as they always seemed
to be trapped in a time warp - but comfortably trapped.
Justin Hayward had,
and still has, a silky voice to kill for that always gave the band a head
start. Along their journey the Moodies left a trail of classic rock songs
like "Isn't Life Strange," "Nights in White Satin,"
"Question," etc etc.
Often the songs were
shoe-horned into quite complex lyrical albums. I had a kind of love affair
with the band. The oozing, swirling mellotron, the well designed open-out
album sleeves, the strangely titled albums all added to the mystery of the
Future Passed - 1967-
The Day Begins/Dawn- Dawn is a Feeling/ The
Morning - Another Morning/Lunch Break - Peak Hour/ The Afternoon - Forever
Afternoon (Tuesday?): Time to Get Away/Evening; The Sun Set- Twilight
Time/The Night - Nights in White Satin.
Some of my albums take on an almost
mythical proportions due to not being played regularly. Sometimes the
legend of an album will far outweigh its reality. So I returned to Days of
Future Passed for the first time in many years and found it an interesting
introduction to the group. Denny Laine was long gone and here we were
faced with a fusion of classic music with pop/rock and poetry (the kaftan
effect). At times it tips the nod to Gershwin's An American in Paris and
at others is an amalgam of styles. Somehow it maintains its freshness and
never lapses into dull repetition.
It doesn't take too much
imagination to see how the band would move from this classical
phrase into more mythical areas.
Search of the Lost Chord - 1968 - 6.5
Departure/Ride My See-Saw/Dr.
Livingstone, I Presume/House of Four Doors/Legend of a Mind/House of Four Doors Pt.
2/Voices in the Sky/The Best Way to Travel/Visions of Paradise/The
And so the trip began. The band
changed directions, ditched the orchestra and made do with the
mellotron and various other instruments. This is very late 60s and
early 70s, dealing with the search for spiritual enlightenment
which is pretty much summed up by the final two pieces "The
Word" and "Om". The fact that The Moodies stayed
popular throughout the passage of this and subsequent albums said
much for their musical abilities which were to continue to
In Search of the Lost Chord had
many of the Moody hallmarks - jaunty singalongs and soaring vocals
on the underrated "House of Four Doors." Spoken word
passages were also thrown in and today these can sound rather
dated. Overall a decent transitional album and it dies include the
Moodies classic Nights in White Satin.
Threshold of A Dream - 1969 - 6
In the Beginning/Lovely to See
You/Dear Diary/Send Me No Wine/To Share Our Love/So Deep Within You/Never Comes the Day/Lazy Day/Are You Sitting
Comfortably?/The Dream/Have You Heard (Part 1)/The Voyage/Have You Heard (Part
There is a decided jauntiness to
the Moodies dream album that continued where "In Search
of The Lost Chord" left off. All the singalong
harmonies were here. The result was quite simply a UK number one
album. which is something of a surprise as the material on this
album is arguably not as strong as the previous and certainly not
as powerful as the offerings still to come.
Never Comes the Day is a very
pretty ballad with Justin Hayward's vocals giving way to an almost
jazz fuelled singalong section. Lazy Day somehow summed up the
feel of the group at this and many other times during their
career. Elsewhere there were some lower points, that prevented
this from being a really good album. But you just knew there was
something slightly better just around the corner.
Sometimes when the reality of life
kicks in, all we are really left with is the dream!
Children's Children's Children - 1969 - 7.5
Higher and Higher/Eyes of a Child
I/Floating/Eyes of a Child II/ I Never Thought I'd Live to be a
Hundred/Beyond/Out and In/Gypsy (Of a Strange and Distant
Time)/Eternity Road/Candle of Life/Sun is Still Shining/I Never Thought I'd Live to be a
Million/Watching and Waiting
Strangely enough this album only
got to number two despite having a much stronger line-up of songs
- a number of which would become Moody Blues' classics. There is a
much greater thematic feel to this album than the previous two. It
was the first issue on the band's new label Threshold Records and
had a fuller sound which apparently made it difficult to
re-produce the sound in live concerts.
The title is intriguing enough in
itself. Were the band searching long into the future, prompted by
the thoughts of space travel and the moon landing? Well of course
they were. The album starts at a terrific pace with Higher and
Higher and then the fine songwriting just continues with Eyes of a
Child running straight into Floating and the whole thing is given
a rather surreal feel by "I Never Thought I'd Live to be a
Hundred." Gypsy, Eternity Road and Candle of Life are all
extremely good songs and the album is rounded off with the wistful
and truly beautiful Watching and Waiting which brings us down to
earth very gently. The whole albums banks and soars.
Question of Balance - 1970 - 7
Question/How Is It (We Are
Here)/And the Tide Rushes In/Don't You Feel Small/Tortoise And The
Hare/It's Up To You/Minstrel's Song/Dawning Is The Day/Melancholy
what some might deem the excesses of the previous few albums, the
band went for a stripped down sound on A Question of Balance and
it made a successful change of direction with simpler songs.
the album opens with one of the bands great pieces
"Question" which wouldn't be out of place on the
previous album and is full of forceful lyrics with pounding beats
giving way to the beautiful choruses. Much of the remainder of the
material seems to be a natural progression towards almost
folk/rock with Melancholy Man being a beautifully crafted
offering. There's still plenty of the old Moody mysticism as well.
Good Boy Deserves Favour - 1971 - 7.5
Procession/The Story in Your
Eyes/Our Guessing Game/Emily's Song/After You Came/One More Time to
Live/Nice to Be Here/You Can Never Go Home/My Song
The swirling melodies return as the
band seem to ramp things up again after the relative sparseness of
the previous album. There are some corkers here with the band
proving vocally very strong indeed.
There is a pastoral feel to Emily's
Song - a lovely piece. Elsewhere it s whimsical trip of swirling
mellotron and guitars - almost the quintessential Moody Blues
sound and in many ways this was probably more representative of
the whole raft of band styles than practically any other album.
Plenty of classical overtones as well with a fine ending in the
form of "My Song" - this was certainly one of their
Sojourn - 1972 - 6
Lost in a Lost World/New
Horizons/For My Lady/Isn't Life Strange/You and Me/The Land of
Make-Believe/When You're a Free Man/I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll
In many ways Seventh Sojourn has a
looser feeling about it, at times overtly political as on Lost in
a Lost World and at times more like a collection of individual
songs than music that clings together. Generally thought of
as the final of the Moodies seven ground-breaking psychedelic
albums, it has all the hallmarks and some very strong material. To
me, however, there seems to be a missing spark that would lift it
up a notch, despite the strength of Isn't Life Stranger.
After seven albums in six years the
band seemed to hibernate before bringing out Octave in 1978.
- 1978 - 4.5
Distance Voyager -1981
The Voice/Talking Out of
Turn/Gemini Dream/In My World/Meanwhile/22,000
Days/Nervous/Painted Smile/Reflective Smile/Veteran Cosmic Rocker
one somehow survives the dreadful opening two lines of The Voice
"Won't you take me back to school/I need to learn the golden rule."
Really corny lyrics that then give way to a really decent rocker
that Justin Hayward is so good in delivering. After Octave the
only real way was up and three years further on the Moodies began
once again to find the joy of their music. Talking Out of Turn is
arguably overlong and rather dull, but at least you could see
where the band's reference points were.