The Moody Blues
I hope everyone had a chance to dig into last week’s episode of the Iron Leg Radio Show, and if you didn’t, take a sec to hop on over to the archive and pull down the ones and zeros on that and more than 50 other episodes.
This week I dipped into the crates and pulled out one of my favorite example of what – when I’m turning the gears in my head – I like to think of as ‘progressive’ beat music.
British beat is the first non-classical music I ever loved, digging deep into the Beatles and their contemporaries for a few very concentrated years in my early teens, and then forever more (if less intensely).
Other than the occasional (rare) instance of hearing ‘Go Now’ on oldies radio, it wasn’t until the mid-80s garage/mod days that I really had a chance to listen to the Denny Laine years of the Moody Blues.
When I was a kid, it was all about ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ and ‘Nights In White Satin’, so imagine my surprise when I discovered that there was a whole other Moody Blues hiding in plain sight.
The Moodys were – like most other UK bands of the day- mining US R&B and soul records for inspiration, covering the likes of James Brown and Bessie Banks on their first album.
Today’s selection appeared on that album (‘Go Now – Moody Blues #1’) and as the b-side to a 45 (‘From the Bottom of my Heart’) in 1965.
‘And My Baby’s Gone’ combines R&B roots (dig the New Orleans style piano) with more modern pop sounds. Laine’s lead vocal is tight, and the instrumentation, including some very interesting lead guitar (is that a volume pedal of some kind of just judicious knob-twiddling?) and what sounds like an electric harpsichord seconding the piano line deep in the mix, is very cool and forward thinking.
This is not to say that there are traces of the later psych/prog Moodys to be seen, but rather, like the Zombies and Manfred Mann, the Moody Blues weren’t satisfied with slavish imitation of their record collections.
It’s one of those records (like most of their pre-Justin Hayward stuff) that I can listen to over and over again and always find something new to dig.
I hope you dig it too, and I’ll see you all next week.