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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Moody Blues

To Our Children's Children's Children

Review by Steve Alspach

The middle of the seven albums released by the Moodies between 1967 and 1972, "…Children…" has space exploration as its theme. No small wonder - it was 1969, and space travel was quite the thing back then. If you have never really checked out the Moody Blues, this is not a bad place to start. It's very indicative of what the band was up to back then - there are adventurous tracks coupled with more conventional pieces that show the band still had a good sense for crafting tunes.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Higher and Higher
That initial sonic blast, the door closing, the 2001-like vocals - who can forget? The lyrics, by Graeme Edge, may be a bit silly ("The power of ten billion butterfly sneezes"? Do they make Claritin for butterflies?), but the lines from the chorus ("Higher and higher / Now we've learned to play with fire") give pause. Justin Hayward's fluid solo at the end shows that he was one rather under-appreciated guitarist.
Eyes of a Child, Pt. 1
After the wall of sound of the previous track, "Eyes of a Child" treats the listener to an opening of harp and woodwinds. This is an acoustic folk-rock number that builds slightly in the chorus but remains a sense of delicacy.
Floating
"Floating" simply jumps right in (the Moodies were big on cross-fading, but here they just start right up), and Ray Thomas contributes one of his signature light-hearted songs.
Eyes of a Child, Pt. 2
Unlike part 1, this is a hard rocker, though a bit abbreviated at 1:20. The lyrics for the chorus are the same as part 1, but the music is entirely different. 
I Never Thought I'd Live to Be a Hundred
A double-tracked acoustic song from Hayward, this sounds like an idea that could have really been developed. 
Beyond
I remember reading a review of "This is the Moody Blues" in 1974, and the reviewer said that half of their stuff was brilliant, the other half filler. I always think he had this song in mind when referring to the latter. The cut flips back and forth between a tuneful instrumental and parts of floating mellotron, kind of a yin-yang thing between the hustle and bustle of earth and the serenity of stars.
Out and In
A mid-tempo piece, Mike Pinder's sentiments seem to be that we're all able to do exploring within and outside ourselves. The mellotron is featured heavily in this piece (as it pretty much is in the whole album).
Gypsy (of a Strange and Distant Time)
One of Hayward's harder rock numbers, this has an infectious riff to it, Pinder adds the right contemplative fills on the mellotron, and the whole package works about as good as anything they have done. It shows that these guys could rock out if need be. 
Eternity Road
Unlike "Floating" and the other "light-hearted" songs I referred to, this offering from Ray Thomas has some considerable punch to it. Hayward's solo is impressive in that it's mostly chordal work, and Thomas' flute playing lets loose at the end. 
Candle of Life
A rather lethargic piece, Hayward's distinctive voice gets center stage in the verses, and Lodge joins him for some effectively simple harmonies on the chorus. The middle section may be a bit hokey ("So love everybody / and make them your friends"), but it was 1969 and there are worse sentiments, I suppose.
Sun is Still Shining
Usually Mike Pinder's tunes don't have this much oomph to them, but this one does as Pinder uses a slight eastern feel in the main riff. In the middle 8 section the mellotron shows what kind of glissando it can do. In the end, the band kicks in to a groove that sounds like they're having a fun time - another minute or so on it wouldn't have hurt. 
I Never Thought I'd Live to Be a Million
A recap of Hayward's earlier like composition, this one is only one verse and 34 seconds long. But who is Hayward singing about? Earth, perhaps?
Watching and Waiting
I had a friend in high school - big Moodies fan - and he was of the feeling that this song was about Earth. It makes sense - one of the more popular non-singles from the Moodies, this Hayward-Thomas collaboration may be a precursor to "Close Encounters." The lyrics pose "Why have I been alone so long?" (Maybe the aliens caught our TV signals and decided to stay away) The song has a slow, 6/4 feel to it. Pinder's mellotron has a nice counterpoint in the chorus to the vocals.
 
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