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The Moody Blues - To Our Children's Children's Children CD (album) cover


The Moody Blues


Crossover Prog

4.09 | 416 ratings

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5 stars Not really progressive??

To Our Children's Children's Children (1969) was the fourth in the series of Moody Blues concept albums. It was inspired by and dedicated to the 1969 moon landings, and it was concerned with the twin themes of space travel and children. This was the first album released on the band's vanity label Threshold. As far as I know the only artists to have done this previously were The Beach Boys (Brother), Frank Zappa (Bizarre) and The Beatles (Apple). This is one of the most symphonic Moodies albums and is also one of their career highlights.

Mike Pinder's Mellotron had been missing from three songs on the previous album, On The Threshold Of A Dream. Here it features on every track apart from Justin Hayward's twin acoustic vignettes. Incidentally, for those who credit King Crimson with revolutionizing the use of the Mellotron, that honour actually goes to the redoubtable Mr Pinder. While I'm on the subject of King Crimson, I remember commentators hailing their debut as the best produced long-player of the era. Well, in my non-expert opinion it must be a near run thing between Court and Children's Children. In fact due to the extent of the lush orchestration and overdubbing on the Moodies album, few of its songs could be performed live (Higher And Higher, Gypsy, Candle Of Life). The Crimson album is beautifully produced, but where I think The Moodies' album is superior is in its atmosphere. When I listen to Children' Children, preferably with headphones, I feel as if I'm in outer space. I've listened to a lot of Hawkwind et al in my time, but nothing comes close to the aura The Moodies create on this recording.

The opening sforzando of Higher And Higher might make you have an unfortunate accident if your system is cranked up high, so beware! This is the first Graeme Edge song to appear on a Moodies album, with his previous contributions having been restricted to poems. After that sudden accented chord at the start, we are treated to Pinder's keyboards simulating a rocket launch along with characteristic Moodies' heavenly choir vocals. The spoken-word lyrics are underpinned by arguably Justin Hayward's greatest ever kick-ass guitar riff and Pinder's intermittent rocket thrusts. The first part of John Lodge's Eyes Of A Child is a classic example of one of those Moodies songs that begins quietly and gradually builds to a rousing chorus. Man, they're good and Justin's acoustic guitarwork is sublime. I was ten years of age at the time of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and schoolchildren were treated to television viewings of the events. This song perfectly captures the feelings of wonder and hope that this accomplishment instilled in us children at the time. Floating is one of Ray Thomas's signature songs and this also deals with its subject matter (family holidays in space!) from a child's perspective. This song actually caused some controversy in the US because it was mistakenly thought that some of the lyrics advocated the taking of drugs. The second part of Eyes Of A Child is a brief minor key rocker that leads to another short piece, Hayward's I Never Thought I'd Live To Be A Hundred. This is another song with accomplishment as the theme, with Justin simply accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. There's a similar, and shorter, piece later in the album. King Crimson did something like this with their Peace themes on In The Wake Of Poseidon. Oh yeah, that was the following year.

Beyond is unusual for two reasons; it was only the second Moodies' instrumental, and Graeme Edge composed it. Seems like he was really on a roll here. Out And In features some of the loveliest Mellotron on the disc, and that's saying something because the album is bathed in it. Hayward's Gypsy (Of A Strange And Distant Time) continues the space travel theme, although the message of hope that prevailed earlier in the album is now in doubt as the protagonist is unable to return home to Earth. This is the song that The Moodies chose to open their Royal Albert Hall show (Caught Live + Five), and features the unsurpassable triumvirate of flute, guitar and Mellotron. Eternity Road is one of Tomo's finest songs, with the metaphor of space as an eternal road that the protagonist must search in order to find peace of mind. Flute, guitar and Mellotron in perfect harmony once again. The bittersweet Candle Of Life is a long-time favourite of mine, which now has greater significance as I myself grow old. This is without question one of John Lodge's finest songs; all of the Moodies are on top song-writing form on this album. The Eastern influence that pervaded the Lost Chord album reappears here with the optimistic vision of Pinder's Sun Is Still Shining, featuring his 'Turkish' scale Mellotron mingling with Hayward's sitar. Watching And Waiting is another in a string of successful Hayward/Thomas collaborations. If I had to pick one song that exemplified The Moody Blues, this song would fit the bill. I'm not even going to try to describe its beauty, please just seek out and listen to this wonderful creation.

In response to the 'not really progressive' statement, I guess it depends on what you mean by progressive.

Melodic, melancholic, staggeringly beautiful. Undoubtedly.

seventhsojourn | 5/5 |


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