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The Moody Blues - In Search of the Lost Chord CD (album) cover

IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHORD

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

3.82 | 277 ratings

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seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator
RPI
4 stars In Search Of The Lost Chord (1968) is the most psychedelic sounding album by The Moody Blues. As with its predecessor, Days Of Future Passed, it's a concept album with the central theme of this one being the search for spiritual fulfilment. There's no orchestra to stifle The Moodies on this album though, and sonically it has greater cohesion than DOFP. In particular Justin Hayward's guitar and Mike Pinder's Mellotron sound so much more modern, and this is most certainly a progressive album.

The opening piece, Departure, is one of Graeme Edge's short poems and introduces the idea of the party departing on the search of the album title. I think the best thing I can say about these poems is that they were possibly intended to add artistic credibility to proceedings. The John Lodge composition, Ride My See-Saw, follows and this is one of his typically energetic rockers. Now we're getting to the heart of the real Moodies' sound with Justin's beautiful but hard-edged guitar licks blowing his DOFP guitarwork into the stratosphere. This song was the second of two singles taken from the album, but I don't accept the view that this is just a pop song. Well, not pop by today's standard that's for sure. The Ray Thomas-penned Dr Livingstone, I Presume? is one of his characteristically light- hearted songs.

That brings us nicely to the classic closing half of Side One of the original album. One of The Moodies' conventions was to place a two-part song on either side of a central piece to create a suite of songs. Lodge's House Of Four Doors (Parts I and II) is an interesting piece, with the opening of each 'door' revealing music from different eras: Medieval; Baroque; Classical; Rock. This is an idea the band would develop on Procession from the Every Good Boy Deserves Favour album. The 'rock door' here reveals the Ray Thomas composition Legend Of A Mind. Tomo's songs had a tendency to sound as if they had been written for his children. No danger of that here though, where he truly punches above his weight and incorporates several different time signatures into the song. This is one of the greatest songs in the band's repertoire and how I miss hearing it at concerts now that Tomo has retired. As a flautist, Ray Thomas is criminally overlooked as he blazed the trail for Anderson, Gabriel, Van Leer etc. Just listen to the 2-minute flute solo here; it's utterly and outstandingly fantastic! Likewise, Mike Pinder's pitch-bend Mellotron on this song is equally groundbreaking and is light years ahead of his work on DOFP. Sublime.

The first song on Side Two, Hayward's Voices In The Sky, was also the first single from the album. What a beautiful voice Justin has, perfect for this kind of ballad. The remainder of the album has a distinctly Eastern feel running throughout its songs, with oboe, sitar, tambura and tablas enhancing the exotic atmosphere. Notable among these songs is the Hayward/Thomas collaboration Visions Of Paradise, with its dramatic change of key. The penultimate piece, The Word, resolves the mystery of the lost chord, which Mike Pinder names as the mantra Om. I have to say I laughed out loud when I read Slartibartfast's comment that 'they never did find that damn lost chord though'!

Overall this is a fine album, though still not their best. It includes striking album art that is thematically linked to a central concept. It contains songs with complex structures that involve changes in key and time signatures. It fuses different genres and in particular incorporates classical, Eastern and folk influences. The lush soundscapes incorporate a wealth of exotic instruments and make groundbreaking use of flute and Mellotron. It's unfortunate The Moody Blues are relegated to just a passing mention in the Prog Archives Guide as being representative of Crossover Prog. Is that it? Back in the day, the late Tony Clarke had apparently encouraged The Moodies to try to sign King Crimson to their fledgling Threshold label. If that had happened, I wonder if The Moodies would be held in any greater esteem.

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |

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