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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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5 stars Every personal "best albums" list, no matter how closely in line with general consensus, should contain what I would call a "personal" favorite. That is, there should be an album or two or five on the list that could easily be considered good but goofy and moderately underwhelming from one very arguable point of view, and absolutely breathtakingly amazing from another. For many, for instance, this slot is taken up by Forever Changes, an album I've grown to like overall but which still bothers me with its low degree of stylistic variation throughout. For me, that album is this; I can see lots of people shaking their heads confusedly at the idea of me giving an album like this a perfect score, but to me, this album is absolutely AWESOME, with a sound and a vibe and melodies that are close to my idea of perfection. Cosmic artsy lush universal love-pop, that's what this is, and no matter how much additional music I hear this grabs hold of my heart like few things can.

It's another concept album, more or less based around space travel (appropriate, seeing as this was the year when Man landed on the moon), the passage of time into the eternities, and those of us who are along for the ride. Of course, specific details in interpretations may vary, but that's not what's most important. What is important is that this album, to my ears, is a collection of some of the most overwhelmingly moving, beautiful, and powerful songs ever written, and is certainly the best final product that the group ever comitted to tape.

We kick off with the usual poem, entitled "Higher and Higher," but even if you aren't a fan of Edge's verse style, there are plenty of other things that can make one enjoy this; we start with an explosion, some grandiose harmonies in the background, with the effect of emulating a manned rocket launch, and then this great electric guitar driven rock song takes over, with Pinder pronouncing Man's fate with his best voice of God imitation. And that chorus, "Higher and higher, now we've learned to play with fire, we go higher and higher and higher," is phenomenal! It simply rules, and easily falls into my list of Top Ten Moodies songs. As the opening fury dies away, a lovely harp leads us into the simply gorgeous "Eyes of a Child," with some of Lodge's best writing ever and beautiful group harmonies. And that clarinet part in the beginning is simply perfect. And we've only just begun!

Thomas' "Floating," an ode to the joys of moonwalking, has perhaps the catchiest melody he's ever written, and that "come flooooooating" part ... wow. And as the "you'd liiiike it" fades out, we get "Eyes of a Child II," which RULES! It doesn't exactly 'rock,' but it's fast, and Lodge's clever and memorable lyrical images are cemented in by simply amazing harmonies and a great melody. Oh, by the way, we're not even a third through the album. Next, we get a beautiful, majestic acoustic number from Hayward, with those angelic vocals we've come to expect, entitled "I Never Thought I'd Live to be a Hundred." It's gorgeous, and begins the 'passage of time' stretch of the concept. But don't go anywhere, because we get ANOTHER great song from Edge (two in one album? Amazing!), the 'cosmic' instrumental "Beyond." Alternating soaring, heavenly Mellotron sounds with a series of rough, almost really rocking passages, this track certainly carries the listener into space or time or whatever it is as well as one could expect from such a piece. And finally, we get Pinder's soothing Mellotron-soaked mantraesque atmosphere piece, the wonderful "Out and In." Oddly enough, I once somewhat disliked this number, but now I'm not really sure what was wrong with me. All I know now is that it sucks you in, mellows you out, and all of those great things that it so obviously wants to do.

Amazingly, though, side two is even better. I think it would perfectly reasonable to say that Hayward's "Gypsy," Thomas' "Eternity Road," and Lodge's "Candle of Life" are the best three song stretch that can be found on any Moody Blues album. The first is one of the group's signature songs (although it wasn't in the later parts of their career, it was their regular concert opener for several years), a fast rocker with a really dark Mellotron ambience surrounding the fast strumming of the acoustic guitar. The second is another one of Thomas' great songs, with some lovely Hayward harmonies, a great melody, and some lovely flute at the end. Finally, "Candle of Life," regardless of the ridiculous chorus, is beeeeeyooooooooooootiful, as Hayward and Lodge each take half of the verse parts and Pinder's piano part is as gorgeous as can be. Simply phenomenal.

Pinder's next song, "The Sun is Still Shining," isn't any worse than the masterpieces which preceded it, although it's somewhat odd to be getting such a cheerful song from Mike (especially when the last three tracks had all been so dark). It's cool, and you'll be perfectly happy to hear it when it comes on. Anyways, as we head down the home stretch, we get the Hayward reprise "I Never Thought I'd Live to be a Million," which helps bring the concept(s) of the album to a completion. Before we leave, though, we get one final dose of Justin's voice in the Hayward-Thomas composition "Watching and Waiting." It's a little weaker than the other tracks on side two, mainly because it's so obvious that they were trying very hard to make another "Nights in White Satin" (Justin has said in many interviews since that the pressure to do so was enormous, and that they were extremely disappointed when "W&W" failed to be a smash). It's pretty, though, and it seems to be a cry of loneliness from a planet with no friends or human inhabitants. Or something pretentious like that. Still lovely stuff.

In short, if I haven't yet convinced you to have this album, I say only this; side two is the best side of Moodies music ever, and side one is the second best. Plus, the overall 'atmosphere' of this work completely and totally defies description - it is like nothing I have ever heard or encountered before, nor do I imagine that this will change in the future. While it doesn't have quite the death grip on me that it once did (I once held this as my second favorite album overall, behind only Revolver), it is still certainly one of my ten favorite albums of all time, and given how much my collection has grown since I first heard this, that says something. This is THE essential album to own for a Moody Blues fan, especially since you will never hear any of the songs on the radio, anywhere. A pity, this is.

tarkus1980 | 5/5 |


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