Just wanted to here acknowledge the passing of Astrid Kircherr who is HUGE in Beatles’ lore. Among other things she is responsible for the Beatles’ haircut and early (pre-Ringo) pictures of them in Hamburg, Germany. You can read about her (and Klaus Voorman) here.
If you’re new to the Six Pack thing, know that I pick six tunes by a band that I really like. Doesn’t mean that I am saying they are the six best – just a half-dozen that I dig. I found that I could easily have done 12 of them so I cheated and put 10 on the Spotify list.
I’ve done a couple other Moody Blues posts that you can find through the site search bar if you’re so inclined.
I’ll thank Wikipedia in advance for a little Moodies history: “The Moody Blues are an English rock band formed in Birmingham in 1964, initially consisting of keyboardist Mike Pinder, multi-instrumentalist Ray Thomas, guitarist Denny Laine, drummer Graeme Edge, and bassist Clint Warwick.
The group came to prominence playing rhythm and blues music. They made some changes in musicians but settled on a line-up of Pinder, Thomas, Edge, guitarist Justin Hayward, and bassist John Lodge, who stayed together for most of the band’s “classic era” into the early 1970s.”
Their genres are listed as progressive rock, art-rock, psychedelia, pop-rock, symphonic rock, proto-prog, R&B. An impressive list and for me anyway, that “symphonic rock” fits the bill when I think of the Moodies. (Listening to a bunch of their music made me wonder how much time Jeff Lynne spent listening to these guys).
The Moodies were very much part of the so-called British Invasion and had a big hit in 1964 with their cover a tune called “Go Now!” The tune was sung by Denny Laine who later became a key member of Wings.
However, somewhere along the line they shifted from a traditional R&B band to something more progressive. At one point they were asked to record a rock version of Dvorak’s New World Symphony. That never happened but it did lead to the first of their great “core seven” albums, Days of Future Passed. For all that is made of those great albums, they were still doing some great stuff later so I ‘ll post some of those as well.
First up, from A Question of Balance, one of my very favorite Moodies songs, “Question.” This song was released in 1970 when pretty much everybody was questioning everything or seeking something.
Whey do we never get an answer
When we’re knocking at the door
With a thousand million questions
About hate and death and war
This song cooks right along and I think sometimes the Moodies are underrated as musicians. I love Justin Hayward’s slammin’ acoustic guitar and it’s pretty much impossible for me not to play air bass to John Lodge’s fantastic, driving part in this tune:
Seventh Sojourn was released in 1972 and has some great stuff on it including John Lodge’s “I’m Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band.” But it’s another Lodge song I want to feature here, “Isn’t Life Strange,” This is a beautiful yet somehow ineffably sad song that speaks either of loss or of unrequited love. (Is there anything sadder than loving someone who doesn’t love you back?)
Very often when I research these posts I stumble on a song that I either didn’t know or that I’d forgotten about. “Gemini Dream” from 1981’s Long Distance Voyager is such a tune. I love this song and frankly, I’d only ever heard it on the radio and didn’t even know the name of it! Hayward and Lodge co-wrote this tune and won a songwriting award for it. Voyager was the first album with keyboardist Patrick Moraz who had previously played with Yes.
In 1986, the Moodies released an album called The Other Side of Life which contained a song you can still hear all over classic rock radio, “Your Wildest Dreams.” I love how in the lyrics they do an unusual thing by ending with “once upon a time” then starting up the next verse with the same phrase. Unusual.
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1971) is not only one of the core seven albums but is, of course, a mnemonic for the treble clef scale in music. A Justin Hayward song – with great guitar by him – “The Story in Your Eyes” is an upbeat rocker with maybe a decidedly mixed message:
Listen to the tide slowly turning
Wash all our heartaches away
We’re part of the fire that is burning
And from the ashes we can build another day
But I’m frightened for your children
That the life that we are living is in vain
And the sunshine we’ve been waiting for
Will turn to rain
Before we end this great, melodious run of tunes, I’ll tell you that the Moody Blues appear to still be very much together. Remaining members are Justin Hayward, John Lodge, and Graeme Edge. Keyboardist Mike Pinder left long ago, back in the late ’70s and multi-instrumentalist/flautist Ray Thomas passed away a couple of years ago. The only tours I see on their website are for the fall and are of Lodge and Hayward solo.
From Seventh Sojourn, how can I not leave you with “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)?” And remind you that the Moody Blues were inducted (by none other than Ann Wilson of Heart) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. Long overdue.
This song is scorching this earth!