One of the most magical names from the 'British Invasion' of the 1960s is The Moody Blues. They're still making music together, putting them in some rather rarified company with other super-greats. The group has sold 55 million albums in their career, producing seven considered legendary, and has had 18 platinum records.
Although very early in the group's history there were name and member changes, the current four have been as The Moody Blues together since 1967: Justin Hayward on guitar, John Lodge on bass, Ray Thomas on flute and vocals and Graeme Edge on drums. They attribute their longevity to a firm decision to create and perform only their own original material - it's what keeps them The Moody Blues, major pop phenomenon.
The Beatles might have started it, but the Rolling Stones and the 'Moodies' continued the wave of musical domination from across the Atlantic. The single 'Go Now,' began a string of international #1 hits. But in 1967, they released their first studio album, the now classic Days of Future Passed, which stayed on the Billboard charts for over two years. Two songs from it, 'Tuesday Afternoon' and 'Nights in White Satin' are among the biggest selling records of all time, the latter chosen one of the top ten songs of the millennium. Days is one of the first rock albums ever recorded in stereo, and the first successful one. Producers wanted to show that stereo, quite the new thing back then, was not just for classical music, and chose the Moody Blues as the group to accomplish it. The fact that it was recorded with a symphony orchestra was another first. Rock - combined with classical?! Classical clearly subservient to the rock?!
Days of Future Passed is distinctive for another innovative aspect: pioneering the use of the Mellotron, forerunner of the synthesizer. This keyboard instrument was able to duplicate the sounds of an orchestra for touring, and the results were stunning. Ticket holders at their concerts went absolutely wild. So, how do you top that? Well, if you're the Moody Blues, you release the album In Search of the Lost Chord in '68, with songs like 'Voices in the Sky' and 'Ride My See-Saw,' riding easily over the competition with the rich, complex orchestral arrangements fans had come to expect. And you continue to release albums year after year: On the Threshold of a Dream, To Our Children's Children's Children, A Question of Balance, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, and the magnificent Seventh Sojourn in '72, with its mega-hit 'Isn't Life Strange.' Two decades later, in 1989, you win a whole new generation of fans with Classic Blue, all the great Moodie songs performed live this time with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Tuneful British pop, the psychedelic years - the Moodies went through it all, but from the first, their songs were messages of love, brotherhood and planetary stewardship. Their lyrics are significant, to match the trademark beauty of melody, harmony, and arrangement. The Moody Blues should feel justifiably proud of the path set upon by their younger selves, from which they've never deviated.
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