THE MOODY BLUES:
IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME
Album Review of:
‘IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHORD
by THE MOODY BLUES
(2006, Deram 983 214-7)
Hush! Listen carefully to the silence between the tracks, and you can hear the sound of history being re-written. Of course, we’re all so post-modern smart and knowingly informed we now know that Rock ‘n’ Roll is all about post-CBGB’s worn leather jacket austerity poses, and immaculately wasted junkie pallor, not polite middle-class white boys in turtle-neck jumpers and ludicrous moustaches on a prog-Rock quest to find the musical equivalent of the holy grail. Only we didn’t know that in 1968. Back then – sure, we worshipped at the altar of Gene Vincent, I had singles by the Electric Prunes, Count Five, and Question Mark And The Mysterians, but when I saw the Moody’s play the ‘Skyline’ Ballroom (over the Co-op store) in Hull I was pretty much impressed.
‘Mojo’ magazine once compiled a CD box-set of the best British Psychedelia collecting a wealth of strange stuff from mostly forgotten vinyl, but a kind of hipper-than-thou snobbery excluded anything by the Moody Blues. Yet – say, the jousting guitar interplay of “Ride My See-Saw” or the trilling Roland Kirk flute taking you into the ‘astral plane’ of “Legends Of A Mind” from this newly expanded edition of ‘In Search Of The Lost Chord’ would have fitted seamlessly into their selection. Here’s the original twelve album tracks as issued in July 1968, plus a bonus fifteen-track CD of related material filched from John Peel’s 16 July ‘Top Gear’ show, plus the regular outtakes, alternate versions, and lost ‘B’-sides (including the pretty strong Mike Pinder original version of the later Four Tops hit “Simple Game”, and a radio-session take on the haunting urban hymn “Tuesday Morning” from their previous ‘Days Of Future Past’ album). And it’s a curio very much of its time.
“Voices In The Sky” carries an effective wistfulness that still makes all the right connections, the acceptable face of yearning. And Justin Hayward plunders the play-in-a-day sitar manual for “Om”. Unfortunately the keyboard minuet, the opening ‘doors of wisdom’ and the symphonic excess of the linking sequences provide the first real symptoms of overblown pretension, and there’s evidence of wimpy limpness to come on “The Actor” and “Visions Of Paradise”. But on America’s west-coast this album was listened to with stoned awe alongside ‘Electric Ladyland’ and ‘Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’. In many ways its credentials were impeccable. They’d produced a cult album with ‘Days Of Future Past’ which failed to chart. Even “Nights Of White Satin” – now regarded as one of the ubiquitous ‘Heartbeat’-compilation bookmarks of the age, had only charted as high as no.19 so hippies could justifiably call it neglected or overlooked. In fact it was only rediscovered – and charted higher, much later. And although the Moody’s are now slagged off as the purveyors of orchestrated concept-albums, there are no strings here. Instead they use the mellotron, the kind of elaborate tape-operated proto-synth used on “Strawberry Fields Forever”. And the distorted sound-bending they contrive on “The Best Way To Travel” surely anticipates Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn”?
Originally featured on the website:
‘SOUNDCHECKS’ (October 2006)
DVD Review of:
by JUSTIN HAYWARD
(EAGLE VISION) www.eagle-rock.com
Before Justin’s Timberlake and Bieber, there was Justin Hayward. He maybe can’t dance like Timberlake, but unlike ‘Brat’ Bieber he knows his way around a good tune. You know Justin Hayward. If you don’t remember him as Marty Wilde’s sideman in the Wilde Three you’ve overdosed on all that Moodyblues classic-Rock stuff. Coming out the other side, and clearly less than loot-driven, this is a modest small-scale four-piece concert at the ‘Buckhead Theatre’, Atlanta, showcasing his songwriting across all phases of his career. “Captivated By You” – from his 2013 ‘Spirits Of The Western Sky’ album, opens (and closes) the credits over a sepia blur of old press photos, promising ‘a beautiful adventure is waiting’.
‘R2: ROCK ‘N’ REEL Vol. 2 No. 48
(UK – November 2014)