Moody Blues – To Our Children’s Children’s Children

Moody Blues - To Our Children's Children's ChildrenPossibly inspired by the moon shots of 1969, To Our Children’s Children’s Children is an interesting musical document of awe and wonder, and you can hear Hayward and Lodge turning over in their minds the implications of that decade-defining triumph of technology and determination. That rebirth of wonderment and subsequent wrestling with the realization that this triumph could be used for either good or ill is very much the theme of the album, starting with the cacophonous opening of “Higher And Higher”, evoking the sound of a rocket launch (or is that a bomb blast?) from up close and even featuring processed spoken vocals that could conceivably remind one of voices transmitted from space.

“Eyes Of A Child” furthers this theme by appearing twice on the album, in radically different forms. The first treatment is gentle and, sonically, appropriately childlike and quite relaxing. The second version is faster-paced, heavy with electric guitars, and filled with a somewhat more mature, one might even say rebellious, energy – and yet it’s the same song.. I thought that was a fascinating concept, and the Moodies did it just enough to avoid it being too repetitive. “I Never Thought I’d Live To Be A Hundred” and “I Never Thought I’d Live To Be A Million” provide another – somewhat opposite – set of matching bookends.

“Beyond” is a rousing instrumental with a dreamy, ethereal middle section, and leads directly into a quartet of some of the best material the Moodies ever put on record. “Out And In”, the churning “Gypsy”, and the wistful one-two punch of “Eternity Road” and “Candle Of Life” are a consecutive home run streak of winners. The album closes out with another winner, the gentle but eminently hummable “Watching And Waiting”.

4 out of 4Overall, To Our Children’s Children’s Children is one of the Moody Blues’ best efforts, and one of the best reflections of a lyrical style that is uniquely theirs. Their words express concerns and worries about the human condition, present and future, without taking the banal (and, for future listeners lacking the context, commercially fatal) route of making things topical. Even knowing the events that were going on when these songs were written is entirely optional – it becomes a subtext, not a context vital to understanding the songs. Beautiful stuff – there simply isn’t enough music like this around.

Order this CD

  1. Higher And Higher (4:11)
  2. Eyes Of A Child I (3:23)
  3. Floating (3:00)
  4. Eyes Of A Child II (1:22)
  5. I Never Thought I’d Live To Be A Hundred (1:05)
  6. Beyond (2:58)
  7. Out And In (3:41)
  8. Gypsy (3:33)
  9. Eternity Road (4:18)
  10. Candle Of Life (4:18)
  11. Sun Is Still Shining (3:36)
  12. I Never Thought I’d Live To Be A Million (0:33)
  13. Watching And Waiting (4:16)

Released by: Threshold / Polydor
Release date: 1970 / remastered & reissued 1997
Total running time: 40:20

Moody Blues – A Question Of Balance

Moody Blues - A Question Of BalanceFor the re-invention album that it’s supposed to be, the Moody Blues’ A Question Of Balance really seems to be less about re-inventing the seminal ’60s band’s sound and more about changing how the band achieved that sound. With some of their more eloquent numbers approaching the point where they couldn’t be duplicated outside of the studio, the Moodies tried to return to a more guitar-based sound that they could achieve on stage (keep in mind, this was over three decades ago, before they could get anyone’s symphony orchestra to back them up in front of Red Rocks or any other rocks). And yet there’s still a whiff of the epic here, largely thanks to early sampling/loop-based keyboards and synths like the Mellotron. Hence, not a huge change in the sound, but it was becoming easier to pull it off live.

And you couldn’t get much more of an epic opening to an album than “Question”‘s bam-BAAAAM! opening if you tried. That song in particular is one I’ve always loved from a lyrical standpoint, with the underlying question of “why are these things happening?” tackling the “hate and death and war” that outlasted the 60s peace movement. Hayward’s lyrics don’t bother asking where we went wrong, but instead asks why the question can’t be answered. “Question” = rock music + metaphysics. (Ed. note: theLogBook’s Assistant Editor Dave Thomer has since informed me that this is more a question of epistemology than metaphysics. And y’know, I bet he’s right.) Either way, it’s hard to beat.

And as much as I like that track, there’s a bonus – nine whole other songs! The metaphysical bent continues with “How Is It (We Are Here)?”, a nice follow-on from “Question”, and then things get a little more personal with “The Tide Rushes In” (a song, according to the liner notes interview, written by John Lodge in the wake of a fight with his wife at the time). I’m torn on “Tide” – I’ve never felt that it was up to much lyrically, and yet the vocal performance in and of itself is worth the price of admission.

“Don’t You Feel Small?” brings back the philosophical feel, with an unusual combination of the Moodies’ trademark harmonies and the exact same lyrics being whispered loudly. The harmonies return for the catchy “Tortoise And The Hare”, a classic bit of Moodies rock. Things get a bit southern-fried with the bluesy opening guitar riff of “It’s Up To You”, another song worthy of inclusion on any best-of anyone might care to put together. “Minstrel’s Song” belongs on there too, by the way, with its enchanting, last-gasp-of-the-60s “everywhere, love is all around” chorus.

“Dawning Is The Day” doesn’t stand out quite as much as the spate of excellent songs before it, but lulls the listener into a false sense of security before Mike Pinder’s haunting “Melancholy Man” kicks in quietly. This 4 out of 4leads us into some Graeme Edge poetry in “The Balance” – y’know, it’s almost a clichè by now, but it’d almost be a crime to have a Moody Blues album that didn’t close on some of Graeme’s spoken-word poetry.

A Question Of Balance is one of the Moodies’ strongest early offerings, with not a single dud in the bunch. If the worst thing I can say about “Dawning Is The Day” is that it’s a fine song that just simply doesn’t stand out among a batch of positively stellar songs, that’s not bad. Highly recommended.

Order this CD

  1. Question (5:43)
  2. How Is It (We Are Here)? (2:44)
  3. And The Tide Rushes In (2:57)
  4. Don’t You Feel Small (2:37)
  5. Tortoise And The Hare (3:22)
  6. It’s Up To You (3:11)
  7. Minstrel’s Song (4:27)
  8. Dawning Is The Day (4:21)
  9. Melancholy Man (5:45)
  10. The Balance (3:28)

Released by: Threshold
Release date: 1970
Total running time: 38:35

The Move – Shazam / Something Else From The Move

The Move - Shazam / Something Else From The MoveShazam was the first Move album I ever found on vinyl, and it’s certainly a unique slice of late 60s/early 70s rock. Having lost Carl Wayne, who wanted to indulge in smoother crooning than the rest of the band desired, to a cabaret singing career, this album saw a bit of overcompensation for that loss by leaning in a much heavier rock direction, almost on the doorstep of heavy metal. But there is still evidence of the group’s pop roots in the opening numbers “Hello Susie”, a rocking pop tune full of Beatle-ish harmonies, and the unusual “Beautiful Daughter”, which has some wonderful string quartet textures courtesy of Roy Wood and lyrics which seem to concern a situation not unlike a “farmer’s daughter” joke. Further treats include a hard rock remake of the Move’s own classic “Cherry Blossom Clinic” 3 out of 4(though it’s nowhere near as good as the original), and long, jam-session versions of “Fields Of People” and Mann & Weill’s “Don’t Make My Baby Blue”. Also, only on the CD pressing, a long-lost live EP is included, with five songs common to any rock group’s late 60s repertoire as only the Move can play them. The Move is an acquired taste as it is, but this album especially is one of the group’s most eclectic releases.

Order this CD

  1. Hello Susie (4:55)
  2. Beautiful Daughter (2:36)
  3. Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited (7:40)
  4. Fields of People (10:09)
  5. Don’t Make My Baby Blue (6:18)
  6. The Last Thing On My Mind (7:35)
  7. So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star – live (3:01)
  8. Stephanie Knows Who – live (3:06)
  9. Something Else – live (2:24)
  10. It’ll Be Me – live (2:38)
  11. Sunshine Help Me – live (5:14)

Released by: Cube / Edel
Release date: 1970
Total running time: 56:43

The Move – Looking On

The Move - Looking OnThis is the first Move album to feature new member Jeff Lynne, who, with Roy Wood, mutated the Move into the first incarnation of ELO…and the rest, one could say, is history. If one can say that, then this album is history in the making, because it’s easy to hear Jeff Lynne’s style of songwriting emerging confidently, and as I’ve noted before with the first ELO album (which was the only one to feature Roy Wood), the combination of Lynne’s Beatle-ish songwriting practices and Wood’s fondness for eclectic instruments makes for a very unique sound. This is heard most clearly in “Open Up Said The World At The Door”, which is 3 out of 4clearly a Lynne tune with all of its harmonies, but twice in the course of the song breaks into a sitar solo and then an oboe solo – obvious Wood contributions. In a way, despite later Move albums that featured such classics as “Do Ya” which was covered afterward by ELO, this is the closest the Move ever got to the ELO sound, and it’s worth a listen or two.

Order this CD

  1. Looking On (7:48)
  2. Turkish Tram Conductor Blues (4:38)
  3. What? (6:42)
  4. When Alice Comes Back to the Farm (3:40)
  5. Open Up Said the World at the Door (7:10)
  6. Brontosaurus (4:26)
  7. Feel Too Good (9:30)
  8. Blackberry Way (3:41)
  9. Something (3:11)
  10. Curly (2:44)
  11. This Time Tomorrow (3:40)
  12. Lightning Never Strikes Twice (3:12)

Released by: Cube / Repertoire
Release date: 1970
Total running time: 60:22