The Moody Blues: “Isn’t Life Strange” (1972)

Released between albums, this classy single mixes a bit of Bach and Pachelbel with its melancholy philosophy.

Kronomyth 7.5: Bachelbel’s fairy cannon.

Like “Question” before it, this was an in-betweener: a single released between albums, presumably to keep the band in the public’s ear. Written by John Lodge, Isn’t Life Strange is more or less a mishmash of J.S. Bach’s “Air on a G String” and Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major,” arranged for chamberlin, flute and tremulous voice. Although a bit precious for the times (very precious, honestly), it’s one of those Moody Blues tracks that shines up wonderfully during their orchestral tours. It’s also one of the few Moodies songs I can recall that makes use of the chamberlin, a precursor to the mellotron.

Since the band didn’t have a proper album in the can yet, Graeme Edge’s After You Came (from Every Good Boy Deserves Favour) was featured on the flip side. It’s notable for splitting the lead vocals between the four “singing” Moodies (which didn’t include Edge) and its (relative to the band) aggressive sound. Worth noting is the fact that “Isn’t Life Strange” is one of the longer Top 40 hits you’re likely to encounter, clocking in at just over six minutes. The song was later included on their next album, Seventh Sojourn.

Original 7-inch single version

A1. Isn’t Life Strange (John Lodge) (6:03)
B1. After You Came (Graeme Edge) (4:35)

Back-to-back hits single reissue
A1. I’m Just a Singer in a Rock ‘N’ Roll Band (John Lodge) (4:18)
B1. Isn’t Life Strange (John Lodge) (6:09)

The Players

Graeme Edge (drums, percussion), Justin Hayward (electric guitar, vocals), John Lodge (bass guitar, vocals), Mike Pinder (chamberlin, harmonium, backing vocals), Ray Thomas (flute, backing vocals). Produced by Tony Clarke.

The Product

Released on 7-inch single in April 1972* in the UK and Germany (Threshold, TH 9), the US (Threshold, 45-THS-67009), Australia (Threshold, TH-9918), Belgium (Threshold, 129/84.030Y), Canada (Threshold, TH 67009), France (Threshold, 84.030), Italy (Threshold, 45 TH-9), Japan (Threshold, TH-6), the Netherlands (Threshold, 6101 602), South Africa (Threshold, FM.7542) and Spain (Threshold, MO-1263) with regional picture sleeve; reached #13 on the UK charts and #29 on the US charts (charted on April 22, 1972 for 10 weeks). Also released as a promotional 7-inch single in 1972 in the US (Threshold, 45-67009-DJ) and Canada (Threshold, TH67009-DJ) feat. A mono on the flip. (*First appeared in 4/8/72 issue of Billboard.)

  1. Re-released with “I’m Just a Singer in a Rock ‘N’ Roll Band” on back-to-back hits 7-inch single in November 1989 in the US (Threshold Timepieces, 882 120).
  2. Re-issued as B2B hit 7-inch single in 1992 in the US (Collectables, COL 4319).

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