Somehow this didn’t figure on The Oblique Top Albums List. So here is a brief encomium. (Ooh, I do like that word. I don’t think I’ve ever used it before.) (Which word? “Encomium”, silly.)
I guess the Moody Blues have fallen out of favour now. They don’t seem to appear on nostalgia programmes and articles. They don’t seem to be quoted as influences. They were, at the time, very trendy, if that’s still a word. Rightly so.
They were a Birmingham band, labelled as psychedelic, prog rock, maybe soft rock. They were gentler than a lot of the sounds of the time. They were one of the first bands to use the Mellotron, a keyboard instrument that made string sounds by playing tape loops. How times have changed. Apart from that and a flute, they were conventional guitar/ bass/ drums.
I saw them at the Rainbow- formerly the Finsbury Park Astoria- now a church, I think. As if you care. They were outstanding. (In the interval, a gentleman called Jesus got up on stage and told us that we hadn’t understood the first time he came to Earth. Nobody seemed to mind. I don’t remember him being ejected. Apparently he used to dance naked at festivals, but we were spared that.)
EGBDF is one of the first albums I ever owned. I still love it. It starts with a strange sound piece, ‘Procession’, which seems to be a picture of the evolution of music (they did things like that in 1971), an idea reinforced by the inner sleeve of the original LP (below). Yes, you heard me, LP.
This is followed by ‘Story in Your Eyes’, a rock song which I still thrill to remember hearing played live. Don’t worry, I won’t go on to list all the songs, but the quality is in my opinion uniformly high; unlike the following album, ‘Seventh Sojourn’, which at the time seemed to me to be insipid and still seems so now. Opinions will of course vary.
At this point it’s hard to know what else to say. The music is of its time; it certainly would seem dated to modern ears and I don’t suppose I’ll inspire anybody to listen to it. The song structures do vary, with some extended middle sections and instrumental parts, but are often conventional. The musicianship is undeniably good, especially the vocal harmonies. Poor tracks? None in your humble reviewer’s opinion. (Incidentally, I remember them playing at least one track from this live on the ‘Top of the Pops’ LP spot. There really was such a thing, also graced by the Faces and, quite unbelievably, the Groundhogs.)
Sadly, the Moody Blues gradually lost members and seem to have drifted into soft rock and decline, though I haven’t really heard any of what they have done, losing interest after ‘Seventh Sojourn’; but they are still a band whose music I play and greatly admire.
Trvia corner: Denny Laine, a member of the earliest version of the Moody Blues, was later for some time in Wings with Paul McCartney.