Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Obsession Now: The Moody Blues, "Watching and Waiting"

This one took me back a ways.

The Moodies were one of my earliest favorite bands. I'd stumbled across their singles, likely "Ride My See Saw" or "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)", on the radio, and in the '70s the orchestral-sounding arrangements weren't all that common any more so they stood out like beacons amid the legion of guitar wankers dominating the airwaves.

I didn't pick up the band's albums in release order so I had sampled not just Days of Future Passed but also The Present by the time I got around to picking up To Our Children's Children's Children. Days of Future Passed, though perhaps their best-known LP, is not representative of their core sound, while The Present is a mediocre blend of a band that is out of creative juice and early '80s production that polished everything to the same artificial slickness.

To Our Children's Children's Children is emblematic of the band's sound in its prime. Though it boasts no radio hits, it flows relatively well: there are fewer portentous interludes than on, say, In Search of the Lost Chord, and side 2 in particular is a pleasure to listen to from beginning to end. In fact, my current obsession could just as easily have been "Gypsy", the side's opening number, which has been a longtime favorite. "Watching and Waiting" just edged it out for its plaintive lyrics, which suit my current frame of mind a little bit better. It's the kind of song that gets Justin Hayward (though typically not Ray Thomas, credited as co-writer) justly tagged as "lugubrious", and though in the past I remember being a little annoyed by his keening vocal on this track, today it strikes me as just about right. It's also the perfect closer to the side and to the album.

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