Popular Culture (Music) 20120608: Still More Moodies – Seventh Sojourn

(8 PM – promoted by TheMomCat)

Last time whe discussed Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, and this time we shall discuss Seventh Sojourn, which is the last of what I term the “canonical” Moody Blues albums.  I say this because there were some major changes after the record which we discuss, and their sound was never quite the same.

Many people consider this to be their finest record, and I do not intend to argue with them.  Although my personal favorite is still In Search of the Lost Chord, Seventh Sojourn is certainly a wonderful work.  I have an hypothesis about what that is so, and shall share it with you in a bit.

Once again Tony Clarke produced the record and Phil Travers provided the cover art.  It was a gatefold album, in accordance with the deal that Threshold Records had with Decca because of the expense of the cover format.  I also have an hypothesis about why they insisted on that format.

The reason that this is widely thought to be their best album is, in my opinion, the six (counting Clarke) were really used to working together and also had developed some maturity not before displayed.  My hypothesis about why they insisted on gatefold covers is quite simple:  many, if not most, of their listeners smoked Cannabis.  In those days I am told that Cannabis was loaded with seeds and those were removed by crushing up the seed containing buds and “carding” the material that resulted with the free end of a cigarette paper book whilst the surface on which the separation was undertaken was kept at a slight angle.  The rounded and heavier seeds would tend to roll down the incline whilst the rest of the material would stay in place.  With a gatefold album, the seeds would collect in the hinge and thus not fall onto the table of lap of the carder.  So I am told.  It stands to reason that The Moody Blues would try to accommodate their listeners.  I wonder how many extant copies of their album covers still have detectable amounts of Cannabis residue on them?

The Moody Blues were probably at their peak when this record was released on 19721117, both musically and financially.  The songwriting on the album was top rate, and the musicianship was superb.  The name itself is intriguing, and I alluded to that last time.  Seventh Sojourn was actually the eighth album released by the group!  However, the first album (The Magnificent Moodies in the UK, Go Now! in the US) was with the band lineup before Hayward and Lodge joined, so it was the seventh album released by the band that we all know as the “real” Moody Blues.  This is a rare example of a band improving after founding members left.

This album is also notable in that in addition to his Mellotron, Pinder used a Chamberlin for emulating orchestral sounds.  The Chamberlin was similar to the Mellotron (the Mellotron was actually based on the original Chamberlin design, and some nasty legal battles were waged betwixt the two companies that manufactured them), but most critics agree that the Chamberlin had more realistic sounds, mostly because of more careful microphone placement and room acoustics.  Here is an example of what the Chamberlin could accomplish, and the parent site of this link indicates that all of the sounds were produced by a Chamberlin.

The Chamberlin that Pinder was likely either a 300 series or a 600 series.  I am guessing that he was using the more advanced 600 series, but that is only a guess.  If anyone has better information please add it in the comments.  I have trouble distinguishing the Mellotron from the Chamberlin, so as we listen to the music, if you have any insights as to which is which, please indicate in comments.  In general, I tend to think that the Mellotron has a more “otherworldly” sense than the Chamberlin.

The album begins with the very introspective Pinder piece, “Lost in a Lost World”.  Since the video has the words, I have not added a blockquote with them.  This is a very nice piece of work, and I still think that Pinder was the most psychedelic member of the band. This a very underrated song.  You can also see that the band were getting more involved in social justice, the horrible conflict in Viet Nam, and the street demonstrations by then.

The second song of the first side is the biographical (FOR ME!) Hayward song, “New Horizons”.  If you want to understand me a bit better, just read the lyrics as you listen (this one also has the lyrics in the embed).  I am indeed a hopeless romantic, and this song captures that well.  A friend of mine who studies psychology tells me that in addition to being a romantic that I am also an idealist, which he says can be sort of a dangerous combination.  I have no further comment on this wonderful piece.

The Thomas song “For My Lady” is third.  His voice is just perfect for this piece, and it is one of my favorite Moody Blues song ever.  Once again, it pretty much describes me.

My boat sails stormy seas

Battles oceans filled with tears

At last my port’s in view

Now that I’ve discovered you

Oh I’d give my life so lightly

For my gentle lady

Give it freely and completely

To my lady

As life goes drifting by

Like a breeze she’ll gently sigh

And slowly bow her head

Then you’ll hear her softly cry.

Oh I’d give my life so lightly

For my gentle lady

Give it freely and completely

To my lady

Words that you say when we’re alone

Though actions speak louder than words

But all I can say is I love you so

To drive away all my hurt

Oh I’d give my life so lightly

For my gentle lady

Give it freely and completely

To my lady

Set sail before the sun

Feel the warmth that’s just begun

Share each and every dream

They belong to everyone.

Oh I’d give my life so lightly

For my gentle lady

Give it freely and completely

To my lady

The marvelous “Isn’t Life Strange”, by Lodge, is the last song of the first side.  I read that the strings are reproduced by the Chamberlin, but it actually sound more like the Mellotron to me, but as I said earlier, it is difficult for me to tell them apart.  This is the essence of the sound that The Moody Blues were capable of producing, and is one of their very best songs ever.  Note the use of the past tense “Wished..” as he recollects his love!  That is so, so sad.  This one also has the lyrics in the embed, so no blockquote.

The second side starts with a rare collaboration betwixt Edge and Hayward called “You and Me”.  The electronic sounds are almost certainly Chamberlin.  The guitar work by Hayward is excellent.  The “leafless tree in Asia” is doubtless a reference to the defoliant Agent Orange used in the Viet Nam war.  The embed also has the lyrics, so no blockquote.  This song does a good job capturing the classic Moody Blues sound as well, and does not make my tear up much.  Hayward’s guitar is pretty hot.

The second song on side two is the wonderful Hayward contribution, “The Land of Make Believe”.  Check out the wonderful flute work by Thomas!  Lodge’s bass is particularly good as well.  I am almost positive that the strings are Mellotron.  This is another biographical one for me, and I had to stop for a little while to recover.  My love will NEVER hurt her, only help her, even it if means that I have to get out of the way.  I will ALWAYS be here for her.  This embed also had the lyrics.

Next is the brilliant contribution from Pinder, “When You’re a Free Man Again”.  This is directly a tribute to Timothy Leary, even calling out his wife by name.  As I have maintained from the beginning of this series, Pinder was almost certainly the most psychedelically involved member of the band.  This is not quite as introspective as some of their songs, but since it is really a tribute to someone else I can understand that.  The acoustic guitar by Hayward is understated but wonderful.  This is just a really, really nice piece.

The last song on the record may be, at least by many people’s opinion, the quintessential Moody Blues “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)” song.  I like being able to use this word every now and then!  Lodge’s “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)” is probably the most well known song of theirs short of “Nights in White Satin”.  If you think that The Moody Blues could only do slow stuff, you are not correct!  This is REAL rock, and is probably one of the best R&R songs ever recorded.  I really, really like it, and it was actually prescient about the fate of the band later.  Next time we will have little music and much more history, because this album was the turning point in the life of the band.

Bands have lifespans sort of like married couples, but usually much shorter because of all of the fame, money, and other distractions that accompany being a rock and roll band, and The Moody Blues were not immune from that in spite of being an atypical rock and roll band.  This album marked their zenith.

Here is their opus:

I’m just a wandering on the face of this earth

Meeting so many people

Who are trying to be free

And while I’m traveling I hear so many words

Language barriers broken

Now we’ve found the key

And if you want the wind of change

To blow about you

And you’re the only other person to know, don’t tell me

I’m just a singer in a rock and roll band.

A thousand pictures can be drawn from one word

Only who is the artist

We got to agree

A thousand miles can lead so many ways

Just to know who is driving

What a help it would be

So if you want this world of yours

To turn about you

And you can see exactly what to do

Please tell me

I’m just a singer in a rock and roll band.

How can we understand

Riots by the people for the people

Who are only destroying themselves

And when you see a frightened

Person who is frightened by the

People who are scorching this earth.

I’m just a wandering on the face of this earth

Meeting so many people

Who are trying to be free

And while I’m traveling I hear so many words

Language barriers broken

Now we’ve found the key

And if you want the wind of change

To blow about you

And you’re the only other person to know, don’t tell me

I’m just a singer in a rock and roll band.

How can we understand

Riots by the people for the people

Who are only destroying themselves

And when you see a frightened

Person who is frightened by the

People who are scorching this earth.

Music is the traveller crossing our world

Meeting so many people bridging the seas

I’m just a singer in a rock and roll band.

We’re just the singers in a rock and roll band.

I’m just a singer in a rock and roll band…

Seventh Sojourn charted at #5 in the UK and spent a whopping five weeks at #1 in the US!  Two singles also charted, “Isn’t Life Strange”, which reached #13 in the UK and #29 in the US, and  “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)” which reached #36 in the UK and #12 in the US.

I hope that everyone enjoyed this piece, because I enjoyed writing it.  It caused me some emotional pain, but things worth noticing are usually worth it.  Please comment freely, because I am quite alone tonight with only my blogging friends here to be my companions.

My wrist is so improved that I rarely wear the brace anymore.  Normally I do when sleeping, just to keep from putting the wrist in an unfavorable position whilst I am asleep.  When I am going to type for a long time I still wear it, but try to wait until the muscles in the upper part of my wrist and forearm get quite tired so that they get exercise.  I think that all of the nerve damage is now repaired, and the deficiency now is just from those muscles getting almost no exercise for almost 12 weeks.  The recovery was agonizingly slow at first, but now I can tell some improvement daily.

Warmest regards,

Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith

Crossposted at

The Stars Hollow Gazette,

Daily Kos, and

firefly-dreaming

1 comment

  1. one of the greatest bands ever?

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

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