A Six-Pack of Moody Blues

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.

Moodies Spotify playlist

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:

Spotify link

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?)

Spotify link

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.

Spotify link

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.

Spotify link

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

Spotify link

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!

Spotify link

 

34 thoughts on “A Six-Pack of Moody Blues

  1. WOW! Another great post. I fell in love with The Moody Blues in 1971. Have seen live – we were in a great acoustic hall and were very close. It was one of the best concerts Iโ€™ve seen – my husband didnโ€™t know much about them until that night. He was treated to quite a performance to โ€œschoolโ€ him.

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    1. Yeah, great band. Funny but I tend to think of some bands as what I call “radio” bands, so bands that I like listening to but it doesn’t occur to me to see. But listening to all those great songs back-to-back makes me think it might be fun to see them, whenever we get back to live concerts.

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  2. Great list! Great to see you include the oft forgotten Gemini Dream – one of my faves. My list would probably include Legend of a Mind and New Horizons in place of Wildest Dreams and Isn’t Life Strange although I enjoy those too.

    Hard to leave off Tuesday Afternoon and Nights in White Satin and Go Now, but the MBs have so many great tunes.

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    1. I don’t know New Horizons. I’ll check it out. I used to LOVE Tuesday Afternoon but then got tired of it. And I’m just so tired of White Satin I can’t listen to it anymore. Go Now was a possibility but I decided to focus on the later Moodies. Ann Wilson mentioned Legend when inducting the band.

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      1. Great selection! I know โ€œNights in White Satinโ€ suffers from overexposure, but it was so often a last dance by bands at high school dances that it has a place in my sappy heart.

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      2. New Horizons is on Seventh Sojourn, the same album as Isn’t Life Strange and Just a Singer. It’s also included on their excellent compilation, This is the Moody Blues. I’ve seen them a few times and it’s always been in the set. Really great song.

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  3. I tend to favour the middle records of the ‘Core 7″ – especially To Our Children’s Children’s Children. From that record, I’d single out Hayward’s ‘Gypsy’ as my favourite tune. ‘Your Wildest Dreams’ is a very good late career tune.

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    1. Yeah we talked about our mutual fondness for that album when I did a post on it. Believe it or not, that was almost three years ago! It’s damn hard to get a Moodies tune out of your head once it’s in there. “Wildest Dreams” now in play.

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    1. They have a lot of great stuff. Sometimes you forger how good a band really is till you slam a bunch of their stuff together. Right now, “Story in Your Eyes” is playing in my head.

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      1. Like that tune, which I had not known. Last night, I listened to โ€œIn Search of the Lost Chord.โ€ Gotta love that title! Itโ€™s psychedelic and an interesting contrast to the symphonic predecessor โ€œDays of Future Pastโ€.

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        1. I may go back and listen to some of the core 7. I know there are deep cuts I missed As to “Story in your eyes,” I realize that the Moodies music has a nice flow like our guys the Beatles. Songs like that feel natural and flow well if you know what I mean.

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    1. It’s not that gritty shit you and I like so much but it sure as hell is melodic. Their songs are like ear worms and just stay with you. I thought of doing this post when they came up in my SRV series. He opened for them back when he was breaking. Interesting mix.

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      1. We both like to mix it up. I lean towards the early stuff of the Moody’s. ‘See Saw’ and a couple you posted.’Nights’, ‘Conquistador’, ‘Lucky Man’ all had the same vibe for me. I like them all.

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        1. ‘Conquistador?’ The Procol Harum tune? Fuck, I love that song, especially the live version with the Edmonton Orchestra. I think I featured it once with some other tunes.

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        2. I think you did to. I really love the dramatics and big sound of the live cut. ‘40,000 Headmen’ is another in that style. I dont know why I didnt hook into Moody Blues more. I have a greatest hits comp I take for walks.

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        3. Very nice. When I think of ‘Prodigal Son’ I think of the Stones’ version which I love. But of course, it’s not their song. When I saw Ry his son (drummer) was there. Good drummer, not too impressed with his solo act. BTW, all the shows I was going to this year are now officially postponed till either late this year or next year

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  4. Kircherr was Stuart Sutcliffe’s lover, yeah?
    I’ve always been a resistant fan of the Moodies. I had a million intellectual reasons to hate them but somehow couldn’t seem to not respond on an emotional level.

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    1. She was and then he died. I debated doing a whole post on it. I have read about the Beatles’ Hamburg years so often I could practically write a book about it. Fascinating stuff.
      As to responding to music on an emotional level, isn’t that exactly where it should and does hit us?

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        1. It’s easy for me with music. I’m all fucking id. I can be as judgmental as the next guy. But zero intellect. I leave that to the technical jazz guys.

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