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The Moody Blues - Every Good Boy Deserves Favour CD (album) cover

EVERY GOOD BOY DESERVES FAVOUR

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

3.50 | 205 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator
RPI
4 stars Purely out of curiosity I had a look at the ProgArchives 'Top Albums' list while I was working on this review. As an avid follower of the band I don't suppose I can listen to the Moody Blues with a truly unprejudiced ear, and personally I don't place much credence on ratings in any case, but I do find it preposterous that there is not one Moodies album in PA's Top 250 albums. Hey-ho. Possibly one reason for that apparent anomaly is that their albums were often encumbered with some rather twee songs. On this album for example there's the John Lodge lullaby 'Emily's Song', written for his daughter, and Ray Thomas' 'Nice To Be Here' which centres on the antics of anthropomorphised animal characters. However fey, I do like the latter's imagery of an omphaloskeptic owl: 'A mole came up blinking / Underneath an owl who was thinking / How he came to be sat on a hill.'

Depending on your point of view songs like these might be seen as blemishes on the epidermis of 'pure' prog but on 'Every Good Boy Deserves Favour' they at least share that skin with some of the band's more progressive tracks, and after toying with a more stripped-down sound on 'A Question of Balance' the Moody Blues thankfully resorted to type with this album's rich textures and intricate details. With the exception of Graeme Edge's 'After You Came' every piece is drenched in Mellotron although this song does seem to share the same pessimistic tone that runs throughout the other tracks. 'The Story In You Eyes' is fraught with anxiety ('But I'm frightened for your children') and 'Our Guessing Game' speaks of self-doubt ('There are times when I think that I've found the truth / There are times when I know that I'm wrong'), whereas the words of Justin Hayward's multi-part ballad 'You Can Never Go Home' are at best ambiguous ('Weep no more for treasures you've been searching for in vain / 'Cos the truth is gently falling with the rain.')

The album title obviously relates to the mnemonic for the treble clef and the notes on its five- line grid. The opening track 'Procession' reinforces the musical concept with its portrayal of the evolution of music in parallel to nature, but mysteriously it begins with the sound-effect of a spaceship landing. The cry of 'Desolation!' heralds elemental rain and thunder, and from the fish pond of history comes the call of 'Creation!' Tribal drums are then accompanied by birdsong before prehistoric voices learn 'Communication', and after a pastiche of Eastern, Renaissance and Classical music we are propelled into outer space and the future with a blistering guitar riff and a seamless transition into 'The Story In Your Eyes'. Side 2 of the vinyl album opens with 'One More Time To Live', one of the band's trademark symphonic mini-epics and a song that reintroduces and develops the theme of man's progress hinted at on 'Procession'.

'Procession' was a group composition and apart from that there's only one Mike Pinder contribution here, although in this case it's very much a question of quality over quantity. 'My Song' contains a reference to aliens arriving on earth to help mankind and the song's instrumental passage could be interpreted as a journey through outer space, although I prefer to think of this track as an inner journey of self-discovery where Pinder goes through a transformation like Joseph Campbell's 'hero with a thousand faces'. Campbell argued that in primal society a shaman experiences a vision or hears a song that represents a summons but is in effect a psychological break-up. The shaman therefore has to undergo trials that result in psychological breakthrough and enable him to return safely to reality i.e. he has to sing his song: 'I'm gonna sing my song / And sing it all day long / A song that never ends.' The summons, or call to adventure, leads to the personal growth of the individual through a transformation of consciousness and the summons typically arises from some repressive environment or thought: 'The change in these past years / Has made me see our world / In many different ways.' Pinder's laconic style conveys a genuine sense of perplexity and solitariness as he stands alone at the doors of perception, before a Mellotron crescendo and militaristic drums depict his crossing of the threshold into the inner realm. Electronic effects and dimly audible breathing, like the inhaling of smoke from an opium pipe, represent him sinking into deep unconscious while tinkling sounds conjure images of the mythic sprite that brings magical aid to the hero on his journey. Flute and acoustic guitar herald his arrival in the strangely beautiful but dangerous land of the imagination, and three immense convulsions of heavenly choir, guitar and Mellotron represent his psychological trials there. The third of these outbursts brings about his apotheosis and the end of the journey, and with the reprise of the song's original theme Pinder is returned to the world of reality with the insight that brings inner peace: 'One day I hope we'll be / In perfect harmony / A planet with one mind.' 'My Song' is a wonderful visionary drama that is as radiant as the glistening jewel on the beautiful Phil Travers cover. It is a song that contains the Moodies' core messages of peace and compassion, although forty years after the band recorded this song we still find man building nations and regimes that he in turn invades and destroys.

The Moody Blues will probably forever be in the shadow of some imagined 'big six' of progressive bands, whosoever they might be. However if I'm not mistaken 'Every Good Boy Deserves Favour' enjoys the prestige of being the favourite Moodies' album of a certain wise Jedi. And I think that's all the recommendation this album needs.

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |

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