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Rediscover:

The Moody Blues

To Our Children’s Children’s Children

1969

Rediscover is a series of reviews highlighting past releases that have flown under the radar and now deserve a second look.

Like most of us, I never thought much of the Moody Blues. They were a group I’d only heard in passing. My father and his wife went to one of their shows at a chintzy pseudo-casino on an Indian reservation. I basically mashed them in with that clique of maudlin ’70s prog-rock of the likes of Journey, BTO, or Styx; they were certainly no Yes or King Crimson; throwaway music, the kind of music one’s parents would go see or that would be mocked on The Simpsons.

All that changed after a mind-altering night with a buddy of mine. It was definitely past midnight, we were just starting to fry, and then this music came on his record player. I almost didn’t notice at first, but then it all hit me. “What is this stuff?” I asked him excitedly. When he tremulously told me it was the Moody Blues, a record he had found in–surprise surprise–his father’s old collection. The Moody Blues made music like that?

The album, To Our Children’s Children’s Children is just that: a record of music made for future generations. A theme album clearly reminiscent of the likes of Pink Floyd, namely Dark Side, it’s ever-more shocking that Children’s came out nearly five years before Floyd’s magnum opus. In the liner notes, the Moodies speak largely about their influence on and by Floyd, purposely trying to make an album that “sounds like something that would be hidden under a rock on the Moon and discovered centuries later.”

They attempted, in 1969–right around the historic moon landing–to create a piece of art that would stand for what we as a people and culture were thinking, feeling and going through right before and during this auspicious sea change in our heritage. We were on the Moon at last, and so too should the music of the era exemplify such an accomplishment. In fact, much of the record–still a vibrant and vitriolic prog-rock sound–is infused with a fantastical element similar perhaps to Hawkwind or, heck, the soundtrack to those early BBC Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio shows.

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Months after hearing the album for the first time, I listen and hear not only Floyd but also various aspects of those early and notorious Smile recordings of Brian Wilson, I hear a bit of Buffalo Springfield, and–more contemporaneously–clear echoes of the Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Heck, there’s even a hint of the Velvets in there–think White Light White Heat–particularly with some of Lou and the gang’s more ambitious creative machinations.

And this is really what To Our Children’s is all about: ambitious experimentation. A new era, and thus new music, new instrumentation: take advantage of the technology of the day. The Moodies in fact took their much-needed royalty checks from previous work and purchased an entire studio that they put together themselves with the sole purpose of creating something wholly new. “What happens when…” became a main fulcrum for the work on this album, and it shows.

As with most truly great music, you can hardly hear or understand the lyrics… if you were ever meant to. It’s alike the world over: admit to yourself, can you really understand what the hell Bob Dylan is caterwauling about half the time? What were the words that Kurt “Mumblecore” Cobain spat into the microphone supposed to mean? I may not understand Italian, but I can still enjoy an opera or two, no? It’s the music that counts, and with To Our Children’s, it’s all there: fast, hard, slow, organic, electronic. A true kaleidoscope of emotions that will keep your mind buzzing, your heart pumping, and your spine tingling.

A true blast of energy and of something you would never expect, To Our Children’s Children’s Children continues to be perfect music to listen to in total while walking around my new home of Portland, and I’m sure would well accompany hikes, bike rides and lonely night-time road trips.

Meanwhile, I’ll stay back here, listening to the album ad nauseum while I–along with the record’s perhaps not too surprisingly large cult following–await a well-deserved 5.1 transfer.

by Mathew Klickstein

2 Comments

  1. Michl

    September 5, 2018 at 5:44 am

    Concerning the photo: must be pre Hayward/Lodge: Ray Thomas in the middle. Is it Denny Lane playing the Rickenbacker?

    Reply

  2. Rob Conzett

    June 17, 2021 at 11:00 am

    For someone who has owned a straight-ahead jazz club and developed a palate for 20th century classical music (Shostakovich, Bartok, Barber, Copeland etc.) I guess I kinda understand how the Moodies fell through the cracks. Nights in White Satin may have turned hard core rocks fans off, but then they probably missed the opportunities to dive into the heady metaphysical pronouncements offered by In Search of the Lost Chord, On the Threshold of a Dream and especially to Our Children’s Children’s Children.

    Note for note, those albums matched or surpassed anything the Beatles did between 1967 and 1969. I would encourage anyone to go back and give a listen to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. You’ll immediately notice how dated the album feels.
    It’s a listening experience that only requires you to be stoned and vegetate. Now listen to OCCC.
    Fifty years later, it remains as fresh and timely as the day it was released (production values not withstanding). It’s deep, lush and multi-layered with all five band members contributing their insights on humanity’s despair, yet hope for the future.

    One of the best rock albums ever produced!

    Reply

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