on January 22, 2004
It was 1984 when I had my first stance in the US. I was quite young and troubled and very anxious to discover new things. I met my stepcousin who was a much more experienced musician than I was at that time and after breaking some initial ice with some friendly smoke we started sharing music and information about our fave bands.
Among the stuff he showed one album made a major mark on my music approach, conception and taste and eventually came to be a lifetime influence: "In Search of the Lost Chord".
This was a very explicit conceptual album with a clear beginning and a clear end and the inherent adventures in between.
The almost perfect beauty of the arrangements, the touching melodies and the excellence of the production really caught my soul and that factory tape from my cousin remained inside my walkman for weeks.
Voices in the Sky, The Actor, The Best Way to Travel, Visions of Paradise were for me true highlights of this production followed closely by the composition tricks of House of Four Doors and each room content, Legend of a Mind, Ride My SeeSaw and OM.
The only one I was not too keen about at that time was the jumpy Dr. Livingstone I Presume which I purposedly cancelled from the tape to tape copy I made for my use.
As me and my friends were really into the 77 punk thing among other classic and heavy stuff and avant garde/industrial bands,every once in a while I use to get a hard time from them because of this record that was found too cheesy or too much of a "softie" to their standards, I never gave a damm thing about it.
To me it was and still is a great, great album.
Some years later my tape was totally worn out and I gladly discovered a vinyl which was in very poor condition inside of a vault. I did my best to restore it, then record it on tape and eventually my loyalty to this record was fully rewarded when some time later I found a remastered gold cd edition at a ridiculous price in a clearance bin. The guy at the store could not believe it as well.
This one of the records that I would look to replace right away in case of loosing it and if you are into collecting concept/trip albums this is a must to have, listen to it and tell me later.
on October 11, 2003
This album is another masterwork from the Moodies. Although it occupies third place in my private rank (behind To Our Children's Children Children and Days Of Future Passed ), it is also the very special and different one. Recorded in 1968, just in the middle of the hippie era, it was one of its important exponents, as well musically as lyrically. MB practically left this kind of hippie psychedelia on their next album (On The Threshold Of A Dream); they never tried it again. So, it is interesting as "one and the only" hippy Moody Blues. Also, they tried, even they HAD to make it great after their grandiose success with "Days Of Future Passed" where they perfectly blended rock with the symphony orchestra. Although they did not incorporate a symphony orchestra this time, they strove to emulate it themselves. The results are maybe not as stunning as on Days, but chapeau bas for rich arrangements, fine melodies, for all the grandeur. They used 24 instruments here, and all that worked perfectly! On the other hand, this is the first MB album I review here that contains some songs I just do not care so much for; nevertheless it still deserves five stars (I'd say 4.75). OK., now the songs:
Departure - a small portion of Graeme's poetry, a real departure to the trip outside and within that follows... 7/10
Ride My See-Saw - perfect song. Harder rocking than others, with hypnotising, driving rhythm section, fine guitar work (the short solo is a typical sparse, but delightfully melodic moody gem), great voices. Maybe it's this album's main manifesto: run away from everyday's slavery, ride with us and be free... but unlike many other songs of 68, not so literal - I can only guess what this ride would be... 10/10
Dr Livingstone I Presume - very 60's sounding midtempo song. Also very melodic but a bit lightweight here; pleasant but not great. Beatles fans should be pleased, but I rather appreciate that in MB what is different from Beatles, not what is similar. Still good 7/10
House Of Four Doors - I just don't get this song. I admit, it's very mystical, but I do not fully understand this mystic. If I tried an explanation, the doors symbolise different forms of human activity: visual arts, music, science... Finally, the last door is to travel within, which is the most difficult but brings a chance to find the truth. But probably there can be many explanations - just try for yourself.... The main melody is beautiful, no question, but the chorus and strange sounds here and there make me feel a bit uneasy. So, not a favorite, but for sheer artistic ambition and some (probably) profound metaphors deserves 6/10
Legend Of A Mind - killer song of Ray Thomas. "Timothy Leary's dead... No, No, No, No, he's outside, looking in..." So it starts. The longest and the most psychedelic here with its almost 7 minutes of superb performance, complex, changing melodies and rhythm patterns and interesting, although I guess not quite serious text. As far as I know, Ray was not at all so much into "opening the doors of perception" with the stuff Timothy Leary proposed...So, was it a praise or rather gentle joke? Who knows, Ray's lyrics are often strange and intelligent (check out "Lazy Day" from the next album). But the song was taken seriously and soon became one of the hymns of this era - funny thing because MB were into the flower power movement just for this one album, with some distance; very English way. Musically this song is maybe the best psychedelia in existence, beating everything from early Pink Floyd to Jefferson Airplane. Unbelievably great 10/10
House Of Four Doors part 2 - see part one 6/10
Voices In The Sky - this song started side 2 of the original vinyl album. It's offers the most ethereal and beautiful rock music ever created , bringing the minstrels of old ages to mind...Fine acoustic guitars, tablas, sitars, woodwinds, eastern and medieval flavours, beautiful soft voices and trademark mellotron create the unique, dreamy atmosphere. This song is also dreamy, also good, but maybe too pastoral and soft, on the verge of being dull. But pastoral scenes described pleasantly recall feelings we could experience lying on a green meadow on a sunny summer day...8/10
The Best Way To Travel - the killer song of Pinder. I love everything here: the praise of imagination and will as a driving force that allows us do and know virtually everything we need, to travel through endless space outside and within. Uptempo rhythm and the melody full of dignity but also very uplifting... The song that may bring the power and faith to depressed and weak, change their lives for better... 10/10
Visions Of Paradise - this song starts the most ethereal, mystical and profound part of the album. Also very psychedelic with its intriguing and varied instrumental backgrounds of acoustic guitars, flutes, woodwind instruments and eastern flavours. The dreamy atmosphere is emphasised by it's lyrics; it's a mystical love song...10/10
The Actor - again, the beautiful dreamy song. Pure escapism - dreaming, daydreaming, feelings of love...The stream of consciousness, loose pictures in a relaxing mode, so is the music. Evokes the feel of the music of old...the minstrels 10/10
"Two notes of the chord, that's our poor scope, and to reach the chord is our life's hope. And to name the chord is important to some, so they give it a word, and the word is OM" so ends the fine mystical introduction of Graeme Edge (as always, a piece of fine poetry). And so starts Mike Pinder's song that may help us find the lost chord.
The answer might be eastern philosophy that sees the unity of all things... I don't know, but I love this song, its eastern flavour, sitar improvisations, its slow pace. It really may help you find this lost chord if you try at least a little bit... 10/10
on March 3, 2002
"It's the music, Stupid!" That is what I have to say to those who fuss over this as a "concept album". In Search of the Lost Chord is one of the two most consistent and musically cohesive albums the Moody Blues ever did (the other is Children's Children). Except for the first two songs ("Ride My See Saw" and "Dr. Livingstone") it isn't rock music at all. It is simply their own sound, completely original and unique and you can't get it anywhere else. There is one bad song ("House of Four Doors") but everything else is top drawer, even the spacy Best Way to Travel. Indian and western musical influences are blended more successfully here than any other rock or pop band ever achieved, including the Beatles. "Legend of a Mind," Ray Thomas' cheeky English take on American acid-head Timothy Leary is experimental and entirely successful, working toward a thrilling climax propelled by repeated calling of Leary's name and John Lodge's thumping bass. "See-Saw" is solid classic rock. "Voices in the Sky" and "Visions of Paradise" are delightful, but I save my highest praise for "The Actor". It is the quintessential and best Justin Hayward song ever, and that is saying a lot - powerful singing, a beautiful melody, delicately textured instrumental backing of acoustic guitar and flute, gentle drumming by Graeme, and very effective lyrics. It is a song to be listened to with eyes closed. Singers today attempt to convey emotion through pre-programmed vocal acrobatics, but listen to Justin on this song. He just belts it out straight and the passion is right there, it comes right out of him, and it's much better than his earlier and more famous "Nights in White Satin". The Actor is the song on which Justin makes his strongest claim to greatness as a vocalist.
on February 24, 2001
A friend of my older brother had this record in 1968 and I briefly remember examing the cover and the yantra. I didn't have a chance to hear it as "Switched on Bach" was being played on the hi-fi, and I was heading out the door. Then in 1970 when I heard "Question" on the radio, which I immediately liked, they mentioned the group was the Moody Blues. I knew then that I had to buy their records. Out of the 4 Moody Blues in the record bin, "Lost Chord" had the wildest cover, and I was, of course, "familiar" with it. In what would become a ritual I waited until evening and laid on the floor with headphones on for a test spin. What occurred was pretty memorable- after "Departing" I immediately recognized "See-Saw" had been played by our late night AM radio jockey, Roy Cooper. This was when AM DJs were allowed to make they own playlists. I never knew the title, and hearing this on my record was akin to finding some lost jewel or something. Then "Legend" came on and again-deja vu- I heard this on our FM radio station, as well as on a local TV car commercial advertising custom paisley car tops of all things. When "Travel" came on-another FM favorite-I just couldn't believe that all these great songs had come from the same group! I was pretty impressed. The sequencing was pretty smart. One side had two of the four vocalists highlighted, and side two seemed to say-you haven't seen nothing yet-here's Justin Hayward. And to start side 2 with "Voices In the Sky" was just superb programming. Troughout the album all members are treated as equals-but I can't help noticing Haywards nice 12 string work. Sure the sleeve is 1/5 the size it used to be, and the Yantra isn't included anymore, but thats what used record stores are for. 30 years later I still get a charge out of this record.
on June 25, 2000
I don't know how many hours I have spent immersed in this CD. It grabs me and takes me on a journey of Imagination (that's right, with a capital I), and no matter how many times I listen to it, I keep finding new shores to visit. The songs are simple and complex at the same time, and I must admit even simplistic at some level, BUT THEY WORK! Nobody will ever claim that Justin Hayward has a great singing voice or that he is a great poet, in fact, when you look at the lyrics by themselves they are really insipid. What happens when they are put into the context of the music is awesome, though. Those lyrics are transformed into yearnings that can only be answered by letting your soul make a journey into the unknown. The music is filled with layers of shadow, and open spaces where every note promises new horizons, and delivers, often vistas you didn't expect. In case you hadn't figured it out, I like this CD.