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

Journey Into Amazing Caves – featuring The Moody Blues

Journey Into Amazing Caves soundtrackA bit of a surprising discovery, this is actually the soundtrack of a National Geographic-sponsored IMAX documentary film, and it’s the product of the same team that re-arranged orchestral versions of George Harrison and Jeff Lynne tunes from Harrison’s Cloud Nine to serve as the musical backdrop of an Imax film about scaling Everest.

For this outing’s almost ethereal settings, the filmmakers and their resident composers opted to rearrange some Moody Blues songs into new compositions, picking both the old (“Nights In White Satin” from Days Of Future Passed) and the much more recent (“I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” from Sur La Mer). The Moodies themselves actually contribute two new tracks not featured on any of their other albums – the pleasant rock instrumental “Water” and the uplifting “We Can Fly”. On several other tracks, Hayward and Lodge alone add guitar and vocals to some of the rearranged songs, breaking into a nifty little jazzy version of “Question” at one point. Most of the time, however, they’re serving as little more than celebrity session musicians.

The arrangements themselves are quite nice, bringing some Native American influences to bear on a score that quotes – more often than any other Moodies hit – “Nights In White Satin”. One cue, “Horizons Turn Inward”, is actually quite a good, bombastic piece of action music, mostly unrelated to any Moody Blues 4 out of 4songs, which also winds up culminating in “Nights”.

The soundtrack from Journey Into Amazing Caves may not be the new album Moodies fans are waiting for…but it’s an interesting glimpse at what else the band has been doing with its time, and features fascinating twists on old favorites.

Order this CD

  1. To Extremes (4:17)
  2. Search For Daylight (4:05)
  3. Arizona (5:00)
  4. Water (2:46)
  5. Crystal Chamber (3:32)
  6. Blue Cathedral (3:50)
  7. Frozen In Time (4:15)
  8. Home Of The Mayan Gods (5:01)
  9. Horizons Turn Inward (5:26)
  10. We Can Fly (4:04)

Released by: Ark 21 Records
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 42:16

The Moody Blues – Strange Times

Moody Blues - Strange TimesThe thought of the Moody Blues doing a millennial-themed album seems like a natural fit; after all, they have done tremendous work in the past with time as a theme, such as Days Of Future Passed and its poetic voyage through one man’s humdrum day. But apparently it seems like a thousand years is too much for the Moodies to handle.

Strange Times starts off with “English Sunset”, a pleasantly acoustic guitar number with an electronic rave rhythm. While this was a slightly jarring combination when I first heard it, I grew to like it quite a lot. After all, the Moodies have been treating us to drum machines since Long Distance Voyager, so I guess Graeme Edge just hangs around to do throaty “breathe deep the gathering gloom” monologues these days. (Seriously though, there is some much more human-sounding stick work on most of the other songs.)

“Haunted”, “Sooner Or Later”, “Love Don’t Come Easy” and “All That Is Real Is You” are standard-issue Moody Blues ballads, which are relaxing, but not as piercingly insightful as the Moodies’ ballads of old. If you want “Dawn Is A Feeling” or “Nights In White Satin”, you won’t find them on this album.

The title track itself is another acoustic-guitar-with-drum-machine number whose lyrics state, rather obviously, that “we’re living in strange times.” This song, with this title, would’ve been an excellent platform for some end-of-the-century/millennium thoughts, but I felt a bit let down.

3 out of 4Overall, I find the music appealing, but perhaps Justin Hayward and John Lodge should find someone else to write their lyrics. It wasn’t always this way – Hayward, especially, was noted for writing the Moodies’ beautifully poetic lyrics – but between Strange Times and 1991’s Keys To The Kingdom (their only other studio album this decade), the band’s lyrical inspiration seems to have been lost, saddling perfectly nice tunes with rather pedestrian words.

Order this CD

  1. English Sunset (5:05)
  2. Haunted (4:31)
  3. Sooner Or Later (Walkin’ On Air) (3:49)
  4. Wherever You Are (3:35)
  5. Foolish Love (3:56)
  6. Love Don’t Come Easy (4:33)
  7. All That Is Real Is You (3:33)
  8. Strange Times (4:29)
  9. Words You Say (5:31)
  10. My Little Lovely (1:45)
  11. Forever Now (4:37)
  12. The One (3:39)
  13. The Swallow (4:58)
  14. Nothing Changes (3:32)

Released by: Universal
Release date: 1999
Total running time: 57:40

Moody Blues – Sur La Mer

Moody Blues - Sur La MerThis is easily the best album the Moodies unleashed in the ’80s, and is the closest they’d been to their signature sound in many years. Still under the influence of keyboardist Patrick Moraz, the Moodies sported a very electronic sound, but their trademark harmonies and the songwriting of Justin Hayward and John Lodge keep the songs identifiably Moody (or is that Blue?). Most people remember the song “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” from this album, though it’s packed with good music, my favorites being “No More Lies”, “Want To Be With You” and “Vintage Wine”. There are no bad songs on this album. If you 4 out of 4like The Other Side of Life, you’ll love Sur la Mer.

  1. I Know You’re Out There Somewhere (6:37)
  2. Want To Be With You (4:48)
  3. River of Endless Love (4:45)
  4. No More Lies (5:13)
  5. Here Comes The Weekend (4:13)
  6. Order this CD Vintage Wine (3:38)
  7. Breaking Point (4:56)
  8. Miracle (4:56)
  9. Love Is On The Run (5:00)
  10. Deep (6:50)

Released by: Threshold
Release date: 1988
Total running time: 50:56

Moody Blues – Long Distance Voyager

Moody Blues - Long Distance VoyagerEven the Moodies had to evolve with the times as synths and sequencers came into fashion, and this is the product of the evolution. Not unlike their contemporaries in ELO, the Moody Blues went just a little bit overboard in the electronics department with the help of new bandmate Patrick Moraz, but the band’s trademark songwriting salvages the endeavor by keeping the music in a recognizably Moody Blues vein. The singles “The Voice” and “Gemini Dream” came from this album, along with a couple of my 3 out of 4favorite album tracks, “Talking Out Of Turn” and “22,000 Days”.

  1. The Voice (5:11)
  2. Talking Out Of Turn (7:17)
  3. Gemini Dream (4:05)
  4. In My World (7:17)
  5. Order this CD Meanwhile (4:07)
  6. 22,000 Days (5:24)
  7. Nervous (5:40)
  8. Painted Smile (3:22)
  9. Reflective Smile (0:36)
  10. Veteran Cosmic Rocker (3:09)

Released by: Threshold
Release date: 1981
Total running time: 46:08

Moody Blues – Seventh Sojourn

Moody Blues - Seventh SojournFrom the year of my birth springs this, one of my favorite slices of Moody Blues that there is. I’ve always felt that the Moody Blues’ music is bursting with an altruistic, innocent, pure, platonic love that is unmatched by anything else I’ve ever heard, not even by the Beatles. The Fab Four’s simplest and sweetest love songs still implied the presence of some adolscent hormones, but the Moodies have captured an emotion in their work that reveals their 1960s roots. I think they call it agape love. Concern, compassion, hope and nostalgia flow out of every song, especially “New Horizons”, a ballad that’s almost enough to convince even the most stalwart career bachelor to get married, settle down and start a family (!). I’m usually 4 out of 4not one to listen to music that is blandly uplifting – I’m not a fan of the Pollyanna attitude. But the Moody Blues’ message – that things will be all right if we all work to make them that way – is what makes them a staple in my musical diet. This and Days of Future Passed are their best in my book, hands-down.

Order this CD

  1. Lost in a Lost World (4:45)
  2. New Horizons (5:11)
  3. For My Lady (3:57)
  4. Isn’t Life Strange (6:00)
  5. You and Me (4:20)
  6. The Land of Make-Believe (4:51)
  7. When You’re a Free Man (6:05)
  8. I’m Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band (4:22)

Released by: Threshold
Release date: 1972
Total running time: 39:31