The Moody Blues became stars because of their creative fusion of a classical and rock sound on their 1967 release, Days Of Future Past. They solidified that star status in 1968 with the release of In Search Of The Lost Chord. It was, for the most part, another concept album as it traced a spiritual journey which included a search for the lost chord.
In Search Of The Lost Chord may not have had the lushness or sonic quality of its predecessor, but it more than made up for it in creativeness. Gone was the orchestral backing and in its place the five members of the group would play over thirty different instruments. A sitar and tablas played by Justin Hayward, a cello by John Lodge, timpani by Graeme Edge, saxophone and different types of flutes by Ray Thomas, and harpsichord plus an autoharp by Mike Pinder all contributed to the unique sound of the album. The central component continued to be Pinder’s mellotron, which could mimic dozens of instrumental sounds. The Moody Blues were proving that their music went beyond just listening enjoyment as it also created an experience to be shared.
I have always felt that Graeme Edge’s 48-second song, “Departure,” was the perfect introduction to the album. The spoken lyrics announce the beginning of a spiritual and musical journey. John Lodge’s classic rocker, “Ride My See Saw,” follows and is one of the better straight rock ‘n’ roll songs in the group’s illustrious history. John Lodge would also contribute “House Of Four Doors.” This two-part composition would contain a complex interplay of instruments all centered around the mellotron. The sophisticated textures and layers would trace musical styles through history.
The sound created by The Moody Blues would often be associated with a drug trip. In fact, the six-minute, forty-second track, “Legend Of The Mind,” written and sung by Ray Thomas, was a tribute to Timothy Leary. Its relatively lengthy two-minute flute solo helped to establish this experience. The song has long been a concert staple for the group. The Hayward-Thomas creation, “Visions Of Paradise” would continue in the drug-trip vein.
Justin Hayward contributed two beautiful compositions. The music of “Voices In The Sky” just soars behind his lead vocal. “The Actor” is a haunting ballad built around his delicate acoustic guitar playing.
“Om” by Mike Pinder brings the album to its final destination. It has mid-eastern roots and places the cello and mellotron at the center of its sound. It is a meditative piece that brings the album to a fulfilling end.
In Search Of The Lost Chord is both thoughtful and fascinating and remains a timeless celebration of rock music at its creative best.