[Review] The Moody Blues: In Search of the Lost Chord (1968)

[Kronomyth 3.0]
Be your own guru two.

The Moodies’ followup to Days features a mantra (“Om”), a yantra, and kantya just see where this is headed? In Search of the Lost Chord is the band’s most overtly psychedelic album, a travelogue for the inner eye and ear to accompany the listener’s (wink, wink) meditative state. As good as Days of Future Passed was (is? will be?), you wouldn’t want that orchestra following the Moodies everywhere, so they morphed into a multi-instrumental psychedelic studio band a la The Beatles. The Lost Chord finds them expanding their instrumentation to include sitar, tablas, cellos and whatever the mellotron could conjure.

The results are rarely as succinct as The Beatles but occasionally more thrilling, such as the opening combination of “Departure” (one of Graeme’s recitative bits) and “Ride My See-Saw.” That experience is one of the truly indelible moments in the Moodies’ oeuvre, along with the graceful introduction to “Tuesday Afternoon” and Hayward’s anguished howl in “Nights In White Satin.” Other highlights from Chord include Thomas’ “Legend of a Mind” (beginning with the untimely prediction “Timothy Leary’s dead…”), Hayward’s pretty “Voices In The Sky” and the truly trippy “House of Four Doors/The Best Way To Travel.”

Chord is scripted as a kind of musical transcendental meditative journey, though it’s not likely to propel anyone past their current plane of existence (in other words, no Om-coming is forthcoming). Instead, the album is a trip of the cap to Sgt. Pepper’s and Magical Mystery Tour. With The Beatles about to change direction again, you could argue that the Moodies were now the most successful prog band on the planet, with Days, Chord and Dream foundational stones in the Church of Progrology.

Original LP Version

A1. Departure (Graeme Edge) (0:48)
A2. Ride My See-Saw (John Lodge) (3:37)
A3. Dr. Livingstone, I Presume (Ray Thomas) (2:58)
A4. House of Four Doors (John Lodge) (4:11)
A5. Legend of a Mind (Ray Thomas) (6:40)
A6. House of Four Doors Part 2) (John Lodge) (1:43)
B1. Voices In The Sky (Justin Hayward) (3:32)
B2. The Best Way To Travel (Mike Pinder) (3:12)
B3. Visions of Paradise (Justin Hayward/Ray Thomas) (4:15)
B4. The Actor (Justin Hayward) (3:09)
B5. The Word (Graeme Edge) (1:35)
B6. Om (Mike Pinder) (6:27)

CD reissue bonus tracks
13. Simple Game (Justin Hayward vocal mix)
14. The Best Way To Travel (additional vocal mix)
15. Visions of Paradise (instrumental sitar mix)
16. What Am I Doing Here (alternate mix)
17. The Word (mellotron mix)
18. Om (full version)
19. Dr. Livingstone, I Presume (BBC session)
20. The Best Way To Travel (BBC session)
21. A Simple Game

2CD Deluxe Edition bonus disc
B1. Departure (alternate mix)
B2. The Best Way To Travel (additional vocal mix)
B3. Legend of a Mind (alternate mix)
B4. Visions of Paradise (sitar mix)
B5. What Am I Doing Here? (alternate mix)
B6. The Word (mellotron mix)
B7. Om (full version)
B8. Simple Game (Justin Hayward vocal mix)
B9. King And Queen
B10. Dr. Livingstone, I Presume (BBC Top Gear session)
B11. Voices In The Sky (BBC Top Gear session)
B12. Thinking Is The Best Way (BBC Top Gear session)
B13. Ride My See-Saw (BBC Top Gear session)
B14. Tuesday Afternoon (BBC Afternoon Pop Show)
B15. Simple Game (single version)

The Players

Graeme Edge (drums, timpani, tambourine, tablas, piano), Justin Hayward (twelve string guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, sitar, tablas, piano, mellotron, bass guitar, harpsichord, percussion, vocals), John Lodge (bass guitar, cello, tambourine, snare drum, acoustic guitar, vocals), Mike Pinder (mellotrons, piano, harpsichord, cello, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, auto-harp), Ray Thomas (‘C’ flute, alto flute, soprano saxophone, vocals). Produced by Tony Clarke; engineered by Derek Varnals.

The Pictures

Cover by Philip Travers.

The Plastic

Released on mono and stereo elpee and 8-track on July 26, 1968 in the UK and Germany (Deram, DML/SML 711) and Australia (Deram, SMLA 711), in September 1968 in the US (Deram, DES-18017/M 77817) {red-brown/white label}, and  with gatefold cover; reached #5 on the UK charts and #23 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record).

  1. Re-issued on elpee and 8-track in 1970 in the US and Canada (Deram/London, DES-18017/DER M 77817) {brown/white label} with gatefold cover.
  2. Re-issued on elpee in 1971 in Japan (Deram, DL-115) with gatefold cover.
  3. Re-issued on elpee in 1973 in Japan (Deram/King, K18P-32).
  4. Re-issued on cassette in the US (Deram/London, DES 5-18017).
  5. Re-issued on elpee in 1978 in Japan (Deram, LAX-1022) with gatefold cover.
  6. Re-packaged with Days of Future Passed on 2-for-1 2LP in Belgium (Deram, DA 159/60).
  7. Re-issued on elpee in 1982 in Japan (Deram, L2oP-1041) with gatefold cover.
  8. Re-packaged with On The Threshold of a Dream on 2-for-1 cassette in 1983 in the US (Deram/London, 810 100-4).
  9. Re-issued on cassette in the US (Deram/London, 820 168-4).
  10. Re-released on remastered gold compact disc on March 22, 1993 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, UDCD 576).
  11. Re-released on remastered compact disc on May 20, 1997 in the UK and the US (Decca/Polygram, 844 768).
  12. Re-released on expanded super audio Deluxe Edition 2CD in 2006 in the UK (Universal, 9832147) with bonus disc.
  13. Re-issued on remastered on compact disc in 2007 in Japan (Universal, UICY-9211).
  14. Re-released on 180g vinyl elpee in 2007 in the Netherlands (Universal, 5303049).
  15. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2008 in the UK (Decca, 5307069) with 9 bonus tracks.
  16. Re-released on super high material compact disc in 2008 in Japan (Universal, UICY-93713).

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