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


The Moody Blues


Crossover Prog

4.10 | 382 ratings

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2 stars The Moody Blues had been busy boys as the sixties drew to a close. This was their third studio album in only two years and few groups were able to match that level of productivity. But while the hard work had obviously helped them improve in the craft of recording LPs perhaps it also had a side effect of hampering them with tunnel vision to some extent. Here's why I say that. In that same year King Crimson had burst upon the scene and revolutionized the use of the Mellotron, Yes had released their impressive debut, Pink Floyd was pushing the envelope of psychedelic music with "Ummagumma" and Jethro Tull was becoming increasingly more progressive with the notable "Stand Up." The field the Moodys competed in was getting crowded and fiercely competitive and they knew that but I'm not sure they realized to what extent.

You gotta hand it to these guys, though. They know better than most how to kick- start an album. Graeme Edge's "Higher and Higher" begins with a loud bang and a busy wall of sound that is impossible to ignore. Following their proven and familiar formula the spoken word is used to create atmosphere and drama (despite unintentionally funny utterings like "bursting forth with the power of ten billion butterfly sneezes"), the electrically charged guitar work is excellent and the group vocals singing the ascending chorus all add up to a spectacular opening. John Lodge's "Eyes of a Child" calms things down a tad by unfolding as a really nice tune that features a harp and acoustic guitar. The words aren't bad, either. ".Through life you will be/a small part of a hope/of a love that exists/in the eyes of a child." Compare those with the lyrical content of the next song, a Ray Thomas embarrassment titled "Floating" that would be more appropriate in an episode of the "Teletubbies" than being included on a rock album. It's hard to excuse banal, childish words like "Bouncing about on the Moon/guess you'll all be up here soon/the candy stores will be brand new/and you'll buy rock with the Moon right through." What the.?

Moving right along, a snippet of an alternative version of "Eyes of a Child" leads us to Justin Hayward's poignant "I Never Thought I'd Live to be a Hundred," one of the group's all-time best moments. It's nothing more than a simple folk ballad played on acoustic guitar but it is a gem and his voice is always unique. A Graeme Edge instrumental follows, the odd "Beyond" that is basically a spirited jam built around a Mellotron melody that inexplicably fades out twice for some strange psychedelic interludes. I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time but it's just damn weird. Pinder and Lodge's "Out and In" is an interesting Mellotron-heavy song, then Hayward's powerful "Gypsy" jumps out at you from the get-go and this time the words are refreshingly poetic. "Speeding through a shadow of a million years/darkness is the only sound to reach his ears," he sings. It's one of the album's highlights and, as I recall, garnered a lot of FM radio play. Thomas redeems himself slightly with "Eternity Road" in that it sounds more like a grownup tune, at least. The words are still silly but at least the tasteful guitar solo makes it palatable. Lodge's "Candle of Life" is a step in the right direction with its grandiose piano sound but with too much off-key singing and corny lines like "So love everybody and make them your friends" it's hard to take it seriously. Mike Pinder contributes an Indian raga- influenced, sitar-driven ditty called "Sun is Still Shining" next before you get a too-brief reprise of Justin's song "I Never Thought I'd Live to be a Million." They end things with a Hayward/Thomas collaboration, "Watching and Waiting," that benefits enormously from Justin's pleasant vocal and some creative Mellotron work from Pinder.

I counted and over half of these songs' lyrics have something to do with being in outer space and maybe that's a clue to understanding why this band was no longer considered cutting edge in 1969. I think they saw themselves as self-appointed gurus to the mostly media-created "let's all go on a groovy acid trip" generation but the real world (and the band's maturing audience) was moving away from that pseudo scene faster than they realized. I readily admit that they were growing as musicians, arrangers and writers but a lot of their music from that era fails to hold up as well as others' does. 2.5 stars.

Chicapah | 2/5 |


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